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Heavy Lifting

Daryl Conner//July 8, 2013//

Heavy Lifting

Daryl Conner //July 8, 2013//

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Pet grooming is hard work, no doubt about it.

Investing in high quality tools that make that work easier is both good common sense and an excellent business practice. One basic tool that is sometimes overlooked as stylists choose to upgrade their equipment, is the grooming table.

Most every groomer needs a platform to keep pets safe and elevated while they work on them. Over the years grooming tables have evolved to suit the specific needs of the industry, and save groomers’ backs in the process.

“Let your table do the lifting,” Jeanne Caples, of Forever Stainless, said. “Any groomer needs an adjustable-height table. Ergonomically, it just makes sense. When choosing a table, whether foot-pump hydraulic or electric, ask how high and how low will it go, get the dimensions of the working surface area and find out what the tabletop surface is made of. Ideally, you want your table to adjust to the heights best for you, remain steady as you work, be durable and easy to maintain, and be safe for you and your client pets.”

Originally, tables designed for groomers were stationary affairs, sturdy with a non-slip top. The first adjustable tables were introduced by Pet Lift. They used a hydraulic chair base designed for the beauty industry and put a table top on it. This was wildly innovative at the time.

“It was so successful that we still make a similar model to this day,” Steve Apatow, president of Pet Lift, said. “However, this type of table has a center shaft, and the movement from very large dogs can cause it to wobble. Another drawback is that the hydraulic pump is located on the shaft, limiting how far the table can be lowered. Pet Lift and other companies have developed newer designs that offer a scissor or ‘z’ base, giving greater stability as well as the ability for the table to go very low; some models can be as close as 6” to the floor.”

Hydraulic or Electric?

Hydraulic tables are human powered. The stylist operates a foot lever to raise the table, and then depresses the lever to lower the table. They are typically less expensive to purchase than electric tables which are powered by, yes, electricity.

A mere touch of a button offers smooth and effortless movement. Many groomers find that the convenience of push button motion is worth the extra cost.
Beyond the basic choices of hydraulic or electric movement, keep an eye out to see what other options there are to choose from, as more innovations continue to be available.

Eda Arafat has developed something totally new to the industry.

“The Viper Grooming Table is designed to accommodate people with all types of aches and pains, injuries or handicaps,” Arafat said. “Intended to aid groomers with the heavy, difficult to handle dogs, and those with hip and knee issues, this table has a built in, one of a kind, pet control arm.

“The primary benefits of these features are to control the pet and allow the groomer to save anywhere from 30 percent to 40 percent of the grooming time. Just as importantly the arm helps to reduce the wear and tear on the groomer from having to physically keep the pet standing and maintain control while being worked on.”

What are some other options available when shopping for a new table?

Some, such as the Edemco F900, boast illuminated tops designed to help groomers see the undercarriage of the pet more clearly. Others, like the Wahl Professional Grooming Center, offer a wealth of nooks and hooks to keep grooming tools safely stowed yet at your fingertips while you work.

Other tables, such as the Hanvey Elevator boast sturdy casters so the table can be rolled right over to the bathing area, eliminating the need to lift the dog from table to tub; pets go for a ride then step in for their bath. If you like to stay in one place while you work, consider a table with a top that rotates.

“I’ve worked in shops with inferior quality tables,” Sean Dowling, owner and groomer at Sean Patrick’s Pet Spa in Maryland, said. “They don’t last long and begin to look decrepit. When I opened my own spa I understood the importance of buying quality equipment. I invested in Forever Stainless tables and they still look and work like they did the day I bought them. They have a padded top that makes the dogs feel comfortable and secure, and all of this makes my job so much easier.”

Hydraulic and electric tables are an investment, but one that should last for many years. This is an item that one should not scrimp on.

“Be realistic as to how hard this table needs to work and how long you plan to use it,” Caples said. “If you and the table are in for a long, productive relationship, it needs to serve you well and not become an annoyance, a hazard or a source of frustration. Having a great table to work on every day can really make a difference in how you work and how you feel.”