Before buying Blue Wheelers with her husband, Janie worked for Village Roadshow Ltd, actively marketing movies, theme parks, and cinemas. May, on the other hand, was managing a financial planning practice when she decided she was looking for better job satisfaction, less stress, and more earning potential. So she became a Blue Wheelers Mobile Dog Groomer in 2008.
In the interview, we discuss all things dog grooming, from the types of dogs that require the most grooming to how you can get started if you LOVE dogs and want to become a groomer yourself.
Find out more about Blue Wheelers here:
Will: This episode of “The Dog Show” features Janie Rose and May Wilson. Janie and May are part of the team at Blue Wheelers, Australia’s number one mobile dog grooming franchise. Before buying Blue Wheelers with her husband, Janie worked for Village Roadshow Limited actively marketing movies, theme parks, and cinemas.
May, on the other hand, was managing a financial planning practice when she decided she was looking for better job satisfaction, less stress, and more earning potential. So she became a Blue Wheelers’ mobile dog groomer in 2008. In the interview, we discuss all things dog grooming from the types of dogs that require the most grooming to how you can get started if you love dogs and want to become a groomer yourself. Janie and May, welcome to “The Dog Show” today. Thank you so much for coming on.
Janie: Thank you for having us.
Will: It’s a pleasure to have a couple of the Blue Wheelers’ team on the podcast. And we’re going to talk all things dog grooming today and everything that you’re…all cool stuff you’ve been doing at Blue Wheelers for many, many years. But to get things started, I’d like to hear a bit more about both of you personally. Janie, let’s start with you. I believe you’ve got a dog. If you have, what kind of dog do you have?
Janie: I have Lulu, a labradoodle. She has been in our lives for about six years, and the best thing ever, just a complete game-changer in our house. And, funnily enough, and May will be knowing this story, but my partner who owns Blue Wheelers with me didn’t want a dog originally. And it took a little bit of real encouragement. But now, of course, the dog loves him the most because that’s what always happens. And yeah, they’re inseparable.
Will: Yeah. So the labradoodle, I believe…when we start to talk more about grooming, later on, labradors are a breed that do require quite a lot of grooming. Is that right?
Janie: Absolutely. So we’re very happy today because our Melbourne groomers are back on the road as of today. And they are just so pumped to get out there and get grooming because all…and they’ll be cutting them right back, unfortunately, because they’ll all be very matted. It’s been how many weeks, 10, 11 weeks?
Janie: Yeah. So and if they were at the end of the cycle due for their groom the following week, you know, they’ve possibly not been touched for five months or more. So yeah, they’ll be getting clipped back. Shot back [inaudible 00:03:11].
Will: Is there anything about labradoodles that the average person wouldn’t know which you could share as an owner?
Janie: The thing that I would say…in terms of grooming or just in terms of the actual breed?
Will: Yeah, just in terms of their personality or any of that kind of stuff.
Janie: They are the best family dog. Any doodle really is a great dog to have because they’re super friendly, they’re easily trained, they’re absolutely loving and gentle dogs. So, basically, I was just saying that they have a little bit more energy than a caboodle. And they do like a little bit of exercise. And you can get them in all different sizes. So I’ve got a mini but she’s probably more like a medium dog, but you can get much bigger ones. And then you can get a groodle that’s even bigger again, and they’re just stunning.
Will: Very trainable I understand as well. Would that be fair to say?
Janie: Very trainable. Yeah, absolutely. So I think I would recommend to anybody that gets a new puppy or a dog to have a trainer come to the house and sort you out pretty quickly. It’s not about training the dog. It’s about training the owners.
Will: Yeah, absolutely. And as you said early in the life of the dog, those formative years are very important for the training aspect.
Janie: Absolutely. Yeah, yeah.
Will: So May, how about you, you’ve got your own dog as well, I believe?
May: Yes. I’ve got two actually.
May: I’ve got Spider, a kelpie, who’s 13 years old now, 13-and-a-half. And a koolie called Bonnie, she’s 11-and-a-half. And they’re both rescue dogs. One was rescued from my hairdresser and the other one rescued from a rescue center in [inaudible 00:04:54]. And I just love them to bits. I didn’t get a dog to groom because I had just started that year in 2008 with my mobile dog grooming salon. And we’d lost our blue heeler, Cross [SP], I used to run with every morning. And people said, “Oh, you must be getting…you’ll have to get a fluffy dog now, you’re a dog groomer.” And I said, “Oh, I don’t know about that because it might be like the cobbler’s children that go around barefoot [inaudible 00:05:21].” But I just love my two dogs. They’re just so beautiful and they’re very active, and that’s what I wanted. I wanted a very active dog that I could run with. Things like that. So yeah.
Will: Yeah, I think it’s like if you’re a groomer, probably the last thing you want to do at night when you come home from work is groom another dog. So it might be good to have a low maintenance breed.
May: That’s what I figured. That’s what I figured. So, you know, of course, they need their baths as well and they need the…especially the Australian kelpie, people don’t realize they’ve got a double coat, so they do need to be brushed out regularly and bathed. And yes, but otherwise, they are fairly low maintenance and beautiful dogs as well. I mean, any dog, I just love all dogs.
Will: Yeah, yeah. So do I. What age were they when you rescued them? You mentioned…
May: Yes, Spider, the kelpie, he was 16 months old and my hairdresser, she got him from her brother who actually bred the kelpies for farmers as working dogs. And she had two kids, running a business, and she couldn’t walk him or run him. He wasn’t allowed in the house. And she knew how I would look after him. So when we lost Scooby and she said, “Do you want…you know, are you gonna get another dog?” And I said, “Yes, but I’ll wait.” “Oh, well, you know, poor Spider, I can’t look after him properly and I know you will.” So I took him on. And then we got Bonnie then about a year later to be his mate. So one just to keep him company.
Will: That’s nice. Yeah, I think especially with the kelpie, not being able to exercise them a lot could be a real big challenge because they need a lot, don’t they?
May: They can run 35 kilometers a day. That’s what they would do in a working day. They wouldn’t be running the whole thing but they…yeah. And, actually, now Spider does have a bit of back issues and muscle issues because of the way he runs, or stops-starts, and spins himself around, and that sort of thing. He has to have that…he gets a massage every month. I take him to a canine masseur.
Will: That’s nice.
May: He has a massage and Bonnie started to now as well. They’re getting on and they need to be looked after. If you have a dog, you have a dog for life and they are your responsibility, and you need to look after them. Grooming, health, massages, all that sort of thing.
Will: Yeah, absolutely. I actually haven’t heard a lot about dogs getting massages often. Is that part of, kind of, the grooming ecosystem or is that something separate?
May: No, it’s not to do with Blue Wheelers. She’s a canine masseur. She’s physio. She’s a physio for dogs. So, and yes, she’s very good. You know, I’ve been using them for about three years for Spider. And now, Bonnie’s starting to get…even though she’s a bit of a princess, don’t touch me here, don’t touch me there. But, yeah, Spider just loves it. He just loves it.
Will: Because it makes a lot of sense, right? I mean, humans need treatment on their muscles and things like that to improve movement, and mobility, and everything like that. So dogs are the same.
May: Yeah. He hasn’t gotten any arthritis, which is good. I’ve always maintained…you know, been very careful with running him as well. And he doesn’t run anymore. He wants to but I don’t let him. It’s just gentle walks now, even though he pulls me along to keep going.
Will: Okay, so Janie, jumping back to you for a moment, how did you end up getting into the dog grooming industry?
Janie: So my husband and I bought this business back in 2006 when it was in its formative brand, which was called Hydro Dog at the time. And we had been in retail franchising, and my husband just was completely over having to deal with shopping center managements, and rent renewals, and all sorts of issues that come. You know, a new [inaudible 00:09:23] is demanded every, you know, five years and all of these types of things. And he just was getting more and more stressed. And so it took us probably about two years to get out of that business. And then he spent about six months thinking about what he wanted to do.
And one day he came home and he said, “I found our next business, and it’s a dog grooming business.” And I just laughed, I’m just like, “You’ve got to be joking. You know, you’re not even…you’re not a doggy person.” And he is now. And he said, “It just ticks all the boxes. There’s no shopping center management to deal with, no staff, it’s owner-occupied.” And, you know, basically, we both agreed that anybody that owns a dog…anybody that wants to work with a dog is a good-hearted person. And that was really important to our values. That’s what we wanted.
Will: So you were the pioneers behind the Blue Wheelers’ brand and that iconic look…
Will: …that your, kind of, mobile grooming centers have?
Janie: Sort of. So we didn’t come up with the notion of the blue dog. That was the original owners came up with that idea. And I think they were very much inspired by the “Dumb and Dumber” dog in the movie.
Will: Actually, that’s what it looks like now that I think about it, yeah.
Janie: It does look like that. So they came up with the notion and they had one made. And they kind of grew the business from there, but unfortunately, they weren’t really business people. They were big idea people. So when we bought the business in 2008, I’d say half of the franchisees we’re just not really right for the way that we wanted to take the business forward. So we stripped the business right back, we actually got some practicalities built into that mobile salon. And in 2006, we rebranded from Hydra Dog to Blue Wheelers.
And the reason that we did that was because in all of Australia, we had different trailers all over the country. So we had a square box trailer, we had a metal trailer, we had a few blue dogs, but not really anything of value. So we just stripped it right back and aimed to become The Blue Dog Company. We tried to get that name, The Blue Dog Company, but we couldn’t get it. And we connected up with an advertising and branding agency and they came up with the name Blue Wheelers and we went, “That’s it.” Because it sounds so like blue heelers, Blue Wheelers.
Will: Oh, no, it’s a great name. It’s catchy and it’s, like, immediately memorable, right? So…
Janie: Yes, absolutely. And we just redevised all the systems. We came up with, you know, a proper operations manual, proper systems, and May was very integral to that whole system. It wouldn’t be what it is today if May hadn’t come on board as well.
May: Absolute lie. Total lie. Total [crosstalk [00:12:26].
Will: That’s a great segue then because May, you know, has been a groomer for over 10 years now. Is that right, May? And you’re in the blue heeler system and all that. So how did you get into the industry?
May: Well, I was in the financial services industry. So I was managing a financial planning practice and I had been the financial planner and that was stressful. So then I was managing the practice. And then that was very stressful. And I thought there has to be something better. And my sister and her partner had bought Hydro Dog. And so her partner was running the Hydro Dog mobile grooming. And my sister bought a salon and she said, “May, May, you’ve got to do dog grooming. You’ll love it. You’ll love it.” “And he has?” “Yes, he has.” So I said, “Oh, I’ll have a go at it.” And Paul was selling his business because he was…he finished his…he could do it while he was studying accountancy at uni. It’s a good…you know, you can have the balance of doing different things.
And I went out with him one day, and I came home, and I said to my husband, “I’m going to buy the business. I’m buying Paul’s business.” And I told my sisters, and they said, “What?” And friends, “What? You’re going from managing a financial planning practice to washing dogs?” And I said, “Yes.” So I met with Martin. So this is a totally professional person. I’m happy to be going into it because you’re very professional. And I started in 2008. And I did that for nine-and-a-half years when I sold my business to Ursula. And Janie and Martin, before I sold it, they said, “May, what are you going to be doing? And I said, “I don’t know, maybe still stay with big support.” Because I was looking after Victorian teams, and they offered me the position of operations manager and trainer as well. And that was back in 2017. And I just love it. I love the people, I love the franchisees, I love being with the dogs, all of it. And I haven’t looked back. It’s been a wonderful career. I wish I’d done it 20 years ago.
Will: Isn’t it funny when you find that one thing that you really love doing, and you know, you just wish you could have found it earlier. But often, it takes that journey to be able to discover it. So…
May: We’re a very doggy family. We’ve had dogs since we got married, since we bought our house over 40 years ago, our first house, we’ve had dogs [inaudible 00:14:53]. My sisters have dogs, they’ve got four or five dogs. You know, we’re just doggy people. And, you know, you must love dogs to do this but…yeah. When you walk down the street, you haven’t got your dogs and you walk down the street and you see a dog, you don’t look at the person, you look at the dog, and you’ve got to talk to the dog.
May: You know, that’s just the way…
Janie: I’ve been known to stand outside shops where dogs have been tied up, I can’t bear you to see it. And I often will stand there until the owner comes back. Because I just think, someone’s going to steal that dog.
Will: I never quite understand that actually, when there’s…you can’t see anyone within [inaudible 00:15:34]. Like sometimes if the owner is right nearby at a cafe or something, maybe it’s all right. But sometimes they’re just left there, which I don’t quite get it, but anyway.
Janie: Yes. Outside the supermarket. And it has happened, you may come out and their dog’s gone, you know, which would be devastating, but anyway.
Will: It sounds like for both of you what I’m hearing is while Janie, yours was more of a business decision originally, the reason you like the idea of the dog grooming industry is because, you know, dog people have kind hearts. They’re passionate about what they do. And then May is obviously just showing that by being a dog person and absolutely loving everything to do with dogs, both of you. And that’s probably why it’s been such a successful business to this point.
Janie: Absolutely, absolutely. I mean, you know, it’s interesting. I think when we first bought the business back in 2006, I think we had 110 franchisees thereabouts. And now we’ve got 185 franchisees nationally. And we’ve seen lots of people come and go, it’s definitely not a business for everyone. But if they’ve got the right attitude, if they’ve got the right, you know, the right feeling towards it, and they’ve got a personality, they will fly in this business. I mean, dog ownership has just…particularly through COVID, has just skyrocketed beyond belief.
Will: Yeah, it has, but I guess there could be a flow-on effect which will cause some issues, I believe, with so much more dog ownership people. Because as May touched on, like when you get a dog, it’s a big responsibility. You’ve got to look after that dog for its whole life and you’ve got to give it everything it needs for medical and care perspective. I’m assuming that a lot of people might have jumped into things before they were necessarily aware of that. But anyway, we’ll see what happens. Hopefully, it doesn’t result in too many additional rescue, kind of, situations.
Janie: Hopefully not. And I think also a lot of the breeders…I’m a little bit off-topic, but you know, the prices of dogs have just also skyrocketed. I mean, our dog that we bought 6 years ago and was just over $2,000. And I can tell you that same breeder is now selling them for $9,000. Which it’s a little bit on the noise to me. It’s not quite, I feel. But anyway, it’s another topic and I don’t want to get political but it upsets me because it’s kind of just taking advantage of a situation and I don’t approve of it. But…
Will: Yeah, the ethics of the breeding ecosystem is very…that’s a huge topic in itself, I think.
Janie: Absolutely, absolutely.
May: Yeah, it is. It might stop people who, you know, if they’ve got to invest $9,000, it might stop…you know, it might make them stop and think, “Okay, we really need to look after it,” and make others not be able to purchase and then, “Oh, well, if they’re cheaper, oh, I will just buy.” Or okay, abandon it, take it to the pound if we decide it’s not the right fit for us. So yeah, you know, hoping $9,000 is going to sort the wheat from the chaff. Do you really want the dog, are you going to look after it? If you can pay $9,000, you can pay to have it groomed. As you know, Janie, a Labradoodle, or any of your oodle mixes, you can’t just maintain them at home. You would have to do a grooming course yourself to maintain that dog. They have very special grooming needs and can’t be left to just…from, you know, three months, four months to go without being groomed at all. They need real grooming and it’s a very big investment to make [inaudible 00:19:33] responsible one.
Will: That’s a good point, May. I think, yeah, maybe the price going up, even though it’s potentially unethical, it could actually help weed out the owners that might just kind of lose interest at some point. But May, it’s interesting that you mentioned the types of dogs which require regular grooming and professional grooming. So it seems like all the oodles or all the, kind of, doodle mixes and everything are, kind of, on the top of the list. But what other types of dogs are most likely to need professional grooming?
May: When I started in 2008, Will, the national dog was the maltese-shi tzu cross. Everything, you know, every second one you went to groom was a maltese-shih tzu cross. They were the dog of the…and they were relatively easy to look after. Some of them, they could have a clip every three months and then the customer could…you know, the dog owner could maintain them in between [inaudible 00:20:29]. But as we went along, poodles were another one that were very popular at the time. And they needed to be groomed, you now, every three, four weeks, regularly groomed to keep their shape, the coat and that. But over years, seeing the oodles, where I think a lot of dog owners don’t understand that you’re breeding…their dog’s being bred from a breed that sheds its coat with a breed that doesn’t shed its coat, or sheds every three years like a poodle.
And a labrador, golden retriever, spaniels, they all shed seasonally or continuously. So they will mat very, very quickly. And just a bit of a brush doesn’t cut it, actually, some of them need to be combed as well. And we can get them…say they haven’t been groomed for 10 weeks, had a groom, and the coat will be matted to the skin. And sometimes the owner doesn’t understand when the groomer says, “I’m sorry, I can’t keep that nice, tight, curl in it because it’s actually so tightly matted across the skin, it’s pulling on the dog’s skin and it’s causing bruising and other, the skin to stretch, all sorts of issues.” Seeds getting caught and not being able to come out, they embed into the skin, there’s a lot of responsibility that goes with owning an oodle.
Will: That can result in infections and things like that as well or…?
May: Yeah, they can…you know, if a seed, one of those little arrow…I don’t know what they’re call…
Janie: Grass seed, a grass seed.
May: Grass seed goes into the…and works its way in, it can’t work its way out again. It’s only got one way to go and that’s straight into the skin of the dog through the fur. And it will embed in there. And you can’t just pull it out because the little spikes get caught. And it’s actually a surgical procedure for the vet to remove. If they scratch themselves or cut themselves, you know, like scratching and that, the skin can break and bacteria can get in and they can get a hot spot. And it’s just bacterial growth and it’s a lot of pain and anguish for the dog.
Janie: And expensive for the dog owner…
May: And expensive for the customer.
Janie: …because, yeah, they usually end up at the vet. Which has also been happening quite a bit during COVID, and people have been taking clippers to their own dogs or scissors to try and…yeah, there’s been lots of terrible accidents because they just don’t realize how sensitive and how thin some of their skin is, depending on where they’re actually…like under the tummy and…anyway.
May: The dog gets really badly matted, and you shave the coat off because that’s the only option you’ve got. You can’t get those mats out. It’s too painful for the dog, too stressful. So you shave it all off, the skin actually is stretched, the matting causes their skin to stretch, and it’s out of condition and everything. And it takes a while then for the skin to get back its suppleness and the dog’s little nerve endings, the blood rushes to the nerve endings of the skin and causes little irritations and that. So sometimes the customer thinks that you’ve caused the dog to get a rash with the thing, but it’s not, it’s the nerve endings suddenly having the blood pulsing through it to the ends because it’s been…circulation has stopped to them. Yeah, it’s really bad.
Will: I was a little bit naive to how important regular grooming was based on what you’ve told me today. I mean, I’ve always had short hair dogs which don’t require the same level of maintenance from a grooming perspective. I didn’t realize, you know, how easily these implications could come in. I mean, so you think a three to four-week window is the optimal time to be getting grooming done?
May: Absolutely. When I was out on the road, and especially with the oodles, I used to encourage my customer to book in every three to four weeks. And one would be a maintenance, you know, doing the hygiene areas we’d wash out and all the rest of it. And then the next one, we might be able to take a little bit off, especially if they want the coat to stay that nice bit of a long coat, curls, or whatever. But every three to four weeks I would suggest and certainly, I say to them, “If you’re going to leave it for eight weeks, you’re going to find that I’m going to have to shave it off again because it will get matted very quickly.” And sometimes the customers say, ‘Well, I’ll bath the dog myself in that.” And then they cause more matting because they don’t brush the coat out properly and it causes wet matting that tightens even further. And it’s like [inaudible 00:25:30] on them. It’s really…you know, there’s a lot of implications to not grooming your dog. And the other dogs as well, like your golden retrievers will get hot spots easily because of the combination coat.
May: Huskies are a big one.
May: Yeah. They need to be de-shed properly. So owning a dog isn’t just about taking it for a walk around the block and things like that.
Will: So I guess any breeds that have the longer hair or have a very thick coat are the types that…yeah.
May: Double-shed. Yeah, double-coated dogs, as Janie mentioned, the huskies, malamutes, border collies, classic border collies, you know, they need to be de-shed and raked out and everything. You can’t shave those dogs, they shouldn’t be shaved, they have a double coat for a reason. And to just think that, “Oh, that’s all right, I’ll just get the coat shaved off because it’s going to get hot and, you know, the dog will be more comfortable.” You’re doing more harm for the dog by taking that coat off because the undercoat and the topcoat, God put it there for a reason, to keep them cool in summer and warm in winter. So they have to have a proper de-shedding regime.
Will: That makes sense. So you did mention though that the owners probably shouldn’t be doing too much bathing and stuff by themselves if they’re going to a groomer regularly. But what can owners be doing, you know, in between their grooming sessions just to keep the maintenance up?
May: Oh, definitely combing and brushing the dog.
Janie: I think that’s the biggest mistake that people make because they go and buy a slicker brush. And they just brush them, think they’re doing the dogs a favor by using a slicker brush, but all they’re doing is actually brushing the top layer, they’re not getting into actually loosen any mats underneath. So I’d say a wide-tooth comb…actually got one right here.
Will: Very good. Props are always good.
Janie: You know, that’s really the best thing to be using.
May: That’s a [inaudible 00:27:44] comb. It’s called a [inaudible 00:27:45] comb.
Janie: Yeah. And do it while you’re dog’s sleeping. Sorry.
May: I always suggested to my customer to get their dog used to grooming and to groom them on a regular basis at home. Find a spot in the laundry or [inaudible 00:28:01] on a table and that is where you groom them. This is where you brush them and comb them and clean their eyes with a wipe, wet wipe, things like that. Because being on your lap is supposed to…you know, that’s when you love them and you’re, you know, giving them the loving and kissing and cuddling. But put them on somewhere and make them stand there or sit there and do it, and train them to enjoy it as well. Don’t do anything that can hurt them. Be gentle, talk to them soothingly. And they’ll get used to it, you know, as puppies.
Will: That’s the thing, they’ve got to get used to any process that you’re doing to them, right? Because it’s a foreign thing to them. So if it’s something new, like you’ve got a big brush with metal prongs on it in your hand, they’re probably going to be a bit tentative about it. They’ll get used to it, as you said.
May: And I tell customers, you know, “Your pup is going to need 15 years of this.” So make it pleasant from the start, have them professionally done with a groomer that knows, you know, that is very patient with their dog, and they will learn to enjoy it. Because they’ve got to have it done for the next 15 years, 16, 17 years.
Will: Yeah. And I think what I’m hearing is like, you know, if you’ve got a dog that is going to require that regular grooming, go and see a professional groomer and just get the advice that you’re giving now, which is, you know, understanding what maintenance you can be doing at home, but also understanding how regularly you should be going back, what are the most important things to be getting done when you go and see a groomer? The groomer is going to have experience in actually, you know, making the dog feel comfortable and all of that kind of stuff. So it’s just going really shortcut everything for you.
Janie: Absolutely. Yes.
May: Very important, very important.
Will: So May, you obviously were doing financial planning before you became a groomer, which, I guess, what that tells me is like, just about anyone out there that loves dogs could become a groomer. So Janie, do you wanna tell me a bit more about if I wanted to become a grooming myself, or someone I knew wanted to become a groomer, or one of the listeners of the show wanted to become a groomer, where would they start?
Janie: Well, I would say that they need to start by asking themselves some easy questions, to begin with. The first one, which is a very obvious one, is do they like dogs, or do they love dogs? Because you really need to love dogs in this industry. Just liking them, and particularly just liking your own dog, isn’t going to cut it. So it’s a little bit like becoming a nanny if you don’t love all kids, don’t become a nanny. And so yeah, you’ve got to love dogs, you’ve got to just do a little bit of introspective work of knowing what sort of personality you are. If you’re somebody that’s really introverted, that is more a dog person than a people person, you have to know that you’re going to have to step out of your comfort zone in that respect. It’s not the dog that makes the booking, you’ve got to be able to sell your services on the phone, you’ve got to be able to connect with customers because that’s really what it’s all about.
And after that, I would then be looking around to making some decisions between, do you want to join one of the three franchise chains? Obviously, I’m going to be biassed and say we are by far the best for a number of reasons. We’re Australia’s number one choice, for starters. And we only do dogs, that’s our specialty, we don’t do anything else. We don’t have, you know, 30 different services under our belt, we are all about dogs. So I’d start looking at the different companies, they are all very different. And the only thing that I would advise whilst there will be many people that will think, “I can do this by myself, and it’s cheaper to set up a business by myself, I’ll go and buy the trailer, you know, I’ll do an online course,” whatever, I would say, don’t do that. I don’t care which franchise system you join, but starting a business is challenging and dog grooming is a skill and you have to learn that skill, and it takes time.
And marketing a business and all the things that you need to set up your business legally is what we do, we hold your hand right through the whole process and we’re there to support you all the way to success. Whereas if you’re on your own, doing it independently, it’s definitely much tougher. All right, our little tagline within the office is, “With Blue Wheelers, you’re on your own but you’re never alone.” So that little bit, you know, you’ve always got the support there, you’ve always got a fellow franchisee, you know, next to you that can help you. You’ve got a whole bunch of support team members. And, you know, we want your success. It’s interesting with an independent business, nobody wants your success except you. But with any franchise system, be it dog grooming, or lawn mowing, or whatever it is, a McDonald’s, the system wants your success. We don’t like to have anybody that doesn’t succeed. So, to me, that’s a no-brainer in actually establishing a business.
Will: Absolutely. I guess having that support, the marketing engine and the support of the other franchisees and everything like that is something that if you were to do it yourself, you don’t have any of that support network, you need to build it up from scratch yourself. So it was an interesting point that you made in terms of being like liking dogs or loving dogs because you’re going to be seeing a dog every, you know…well, every day but also you’re going to be seeing the same owner every three to four weeks and you need to build rapport with them and all that kind of stuff. They’re all important things to be thinking about if that’s the path you want to take. From a training perspective, like if someone doesn’t currently know how to groom a dog, is there, you know, some sort of best practice training program they can do, or do Blue Wheelers provide that for new franchisees, or how does that all work?
May: We do our training that runs over about four weeks. So they have on-road training with an experienced franchisee who they go out with and they learn how that person, that franchisee runs their business. And they do on-road training with them, washing the dog, brushing, learning how to handle the dog as well, [inaudible 00:34:27], learning how to use the equipment as well, clippers, scissors, but not with…you know, some of them will show them how to do it and let them prep a dog, this sort of thing. And then they have a fairly full-on formal training at a dog clipping school that we use. And they do that and then when they come out and they take over their business, whether they’re starting a new business or taking over an existing one, or buying one, then we have a support person that goes out with them. Each state has a support person. I currently look after Vic, and I was looking after New South Wales, but because of the border restrictions…but we go out with them for the first week just to ensure, you know, at least a half a dozen full clips and a few washes. That way, they’re observing making sure that they’re okay with it.
And then for the first month, it’s pretty much calling them, going out with them, video calling to make sure that they…And they have to…they just practice. They have to keep doing it over and over again. And then we’re constantly ringing them, they’re calling us. I’ve done video calls all around Australia, talking. Even an existing franchisee had to do a specific groom, you know, over a video call. So, as Janie said, they’re on their own, but they’re never alone. Because there’s always someone that can call, me or one of the other team support persons that they can call on to help them out, go out to see them, help them out with something. So yeah, we’re pretty proud of our training. And then we do the business training as well. Spend a full couple of days with them going through all the…well, I don’t like to call it compliance. I like to call it a best practice.
May: But there’s also compliance about road regulations, APA. We don’t just cover all what you have to do to be a Blue Wheeler with your uniform and your standards and that. But there’s also, you need, you know, taxation, GST, APA, road traffic, we cover all that, insurance, you know, that’s all part of running a business.
Janie: Even to the point of teaching people how to actually reverse their trailer. We always joke, we’ve had so many females join the company, and they always say it’s their biggest fear. We’ve never had a man actually say that, but we think that they secretly hold the same fear.
Will: They’re thinking it. Yeah, absolutely. What I’m hearing anyways is if you were to become a Blue Wheeler, grooming, like take over a grooming business, or start a grooming business with Blue Wheelers, you’d have a huge amount of support in that first few months and ongoing just to kind of make yourself feel confident with the grooming aspect, the business aspect, everything you need to do.
May: Yeah, it’s not just when you first start out. Yesterday, I was on the phone for nearly 50 minutes with an existing franchisee in Melbourne who’s having trouble with a trailer pump. And then she ended up spending another couple of hours with our New South Wales guy, Cole at BDM, who knows trailers inside out. Absolutely. And he spent a couple of hours with it. This is on a Sunday. Now, if you’re an independent, who are you going to call on a Sunday to help you because you can’t get your trailer pump working?
Will: Yeah, that’s true.
May: And she’s been around for nearly four years. This one, yeah.
Will: Your mechanics, you’re not really getting it. You’re not becoming a mechanic, are you, by…
May: But we cover everything. We support them in everything in, you know, the accounting, the booking and accounting system that is exclusive to Blue Wheelers. We help them with that. The trailers, with dog grooming, with handling customers, full…you know, all, everything. “How will I do this, May?” Jane, Matt, Kelly, you know, “I’m having a problem with this, you know, what do I do?” And we’re there.
Will: That’s good to know, a very supportive franchise business. Okay, well, Janie, May, thank you so much for everything you’ve shared today on “The Dog Show” about dog grooming, and running a dog grooming business, and basically all things dogs, which we all love. So it’s been fun to chat. Where’s the best place people can go to find out more about Blue Wheelers?
Janie: Obviously, the website, bluewheelers.com.au. Or they can flag one of the blue dogs driving down the street and have a chat to one of our franchisees. That’s part of the process, we make sure that they speak to everybody. And yeah, or through our Facebook, any socials, Blue Wheelers [inaudible 00:39:35].
Will: Yeah, perfect. So I’d recommend everyone check out the socials, you’ve got all the socials on there. I’ll share the links. You’ve also got YouTube. You’ve got the website, everything’s going on online so people can get a really good feel for what it’s like to be in the Blue Wheeler family, I’m sure, just by checking all of that out.
Janie: Absolutely. And they get to ride for an experience day is one of the first things that we organize so they could go out for a day with a groomer. And usually, by the end of that day, it’s pretty black and white. They eithergo, “Completely not what I thought it was going to be,” or, “Where can I sign?” Desperate to get going.
Will: Try before you buy. Try before you buy.
May: That’s what I did, and I’ve never looked back.
Will: Perfect. Well, thanks once again for coming on the show today.
Will: I’ve really enjoyed the chat.
May: Thanks for having us.
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