Okay, I know this post is pretty old but I just joined this forum and really want say some stuff here. First, after reading this thread I hope you haven't given up! There were certainly a LOT of responses, and towards the end I only scanned some of them. But wow.
Here's a little of my story (I have a tendancy to make a short story long, so please bear with me). I've had a dog at my heels all of my life and I can't imagine not having that spirit around me all the time. Being a groomer is something that has been in the back of my mind for years. I've worked in the hospitality industry for over 16 years, and this year I knew it was time for a serious change. I started looking into learning grooming, and oh my gosh, there're a LOT of opinions out there, but seemingly very little actual "help". Grr.
I found what I saw on your thread, the Petco vs. Petsmart stuff. All the same wherever you look. There's a lot of hate out there. But really, like other people trying so hard to get into the field, I could care less if someone hates the chains...I just want to learn and do the work, and see what my own potential is. I did what a lot of others do, and applied for bather positions at all the local chains. None of them called, and trust me, I've got a pretty resume. All that told me was that I had to get off my ass and do the actual footwork...the old-school way. =)
I have to backtrack for a sec. I searched locally for grooming schools and I found 3, but when I called the numbers, none of them were in existance anymore. Frustrating. So my options looked to be getting into a chain and praying that I got a good instructor. Flip of the coin, right? Again, frustrating. So I went to the chain closest to my house (I won't mention anymore names here. I don't see a point to that) and introduced myself to the salon manager. But I was careful about it! The store near me has the salon on the corner of the store, and it's all windows so you can see exactly who's in there and how busy it is. I like that. The first time there was one groomer and she seemed to be working at a relaxed pace, so I went in. I chatted with her and got the manager's name. The next week, I went back and scoped it out for a slow time (it's really close, I had a chance to drive by at different times of day), looking for a new face. I saw one, went in, and asked her if she was P****. Yep, she was.
I chatted with her, asked her about her history of grooming, and we got along great. Doing this, I learned that the salon manager had no idea that her Corp. ran an always posted opening for bathers/groomers. I also learned that she didn't have a budget to hire bathers. Not right now, anyway. Grooming, like many other businesses, is subject to seasons. There are busy and slow seasons, and I happened to go in at the start of slow season at a chain store, where the manager has to follow the numbers she's given. She has no way around that. I learned a lot from taking that action, including the fact that this was a woman I'd probably enjoy working with. That's a big deal to me.
The next week I stopped in again. This time the salon was crazy-busy. There were dogs and groomers everywhere. I asked the gal at the desk if P**** had a second for me, and she got her. She came out of the back room dripping wet, which I thought was a hoot! She seemed happy to see me, and I apologized for interrupting her and gave her my resume along with a casual cover-letter telling why I wanted to get into the business. Then I left. On my way home, I stopped at a cute little private salon near my house. I talked to the owner and asked her if she knew of any grooming schools that were local. She was SO nice! She also explained that it was the start of the slow season and she couldn't take on an apprentice, though she'd like to. But she asked for my email address and said she'd investigate for me. See, the school she went to was in Wisconsin...about 300 miles from where I live. Not an option for me.
Less than a half hour later this nice person sent me an email with a link to a school she found that is only 20 miles from my house. I called the school, scheduled a tour date, and I stopped into the chain again a few days later and asked P**** if she'd looked over my resume, and if she'd consider hiring me if I had the training. Her answers were yes, she'd looked over my resume, and yes, she'd absolutely consider hiring me when I was done with school. Absolutely. You see, I bonded with her knowning damned well she couldn't hire me unless I had some experience. So I kept working on it. She also pointed out that it was obvious that I was very serious about customer service, and that was a big deal to her. People don't tell you that's a huge part of success in any business, but working in hospitality...I AM customer service. So when I stop in the store to talk to P****, I make a point to smile and greet any clients who come in, and also to acknowledge the pet they have with them. That's just the way I am. I also talk to people in grocery store lines. I'm one of those.
Skip ahead a couple months to right now. I've got a connection to a manager in a major chain, I started grooming school on Saturday, and rather than waiting for this thing to come to me, I went out and figured out how to make it happen...with a little help from a complete stranger who was more than willing to give me a hand--and who is no longer a stranger. It took me several months, but I welcome a challenge!
And this, my dear, is key: Anyone can go to school to learn anything. Just because you learn something doesn't make you good at it. Anyone can come to this forum and say someone else or something else is crap. Freedom of speech and all. But you know what I know? I know that if I do end up working for the chain, I'll learn from the good groomers, and I'll learn from the bad. What I'll learn from the bad is what NOT to do. I'll also build clientele and gain experience. I'm not in this to whine, complain, or judge. I'm in it to learn and to excel, and to connect with people and their fabulous pets.
So, I just wanted to share that. I hope you haven't given up on your quest.