Featuring professional Groomers and Educators from around the country, and their insights on pet grooming and the industry.
PRIDE+GROOM is extremely proud to continue our “pupular” dog groomer interview series. We are grateful for our growing professional pet groomer community and their feedback.
Dog grooming is not an easy job. This business comes with often harsh conditions, long hours on one’s feet, and a demanding schedule. Groomers have supported our company from day one with such passion, testing products, providing feedback and making helpful suggestions for product development. We want to share some of the best dog groomer experiences, skills and advice about the entire grooming industry, including their favorite grooming tools, stories from their customers, dogs they encounter, and much more.
Each month, we feature a new groomer or grooming educator answer interview questions and share a special inside look at their grooming process, challenging situations and background. Today, we had the opportunity to sit down with Joe Zuccarello, MBA, President of Paragon School of Pet Grooming. Paragon offers online dog grooming courses that train the next generation of highly-skilled dog groomers in grooming operations and techniques.
P+G PRO: When did you start working at Paragon? What is your current official title?
Joe Zuccarello: February 2018. I lead the company as the President.
P+G PRO: You have already had a long history within the pet industry before joining Paragon. Can you share a bit of your journey?
JZ: My journey in the pet industry started in 1986. I spent over 22 years in the pet services industry, a majority of which included helping develop and advance one of the nation’s most prestigious chain of pet resorts. I then began a 10-year focus on new product development and management as Director of Innovation and Product Development for a leading grooming and dental products manufacturer.
In 2018, I joined the team at Paragon School of Pet Grooming and Learn2GroomDogs.com, the leading pet professional development and education solutions company. As President, I lead the company’s educators in providing learning solutions for the pet grooming services industry which are used by individual career seekers, pet salon owners, and multi-unit retailers as their core training tools for staffing, developing new groomers, and enhancing the skills of existing grooming producers.
I have a Master’s Degree in Business, I am a freelance pet industry consultant, and I am also the creator and host of the popular ‘Hey Joe!’ Podcast. I have been invited to present to grooming professionals and pet industry businesses all over the world including China, Hong Kong, Japan, Italy, UK, and Canada. As a consultant, I have counseled hundreds of pet business owners, focusing on profit and productivity maximization. My unique background of pet services, product development and sales, education, and business consulting makes me a valuable asset and addition to any pet business.
P+G PRO: What is an example of your biggest challenge when joining the Paragon team?
JZ: The curriculum developed (and in use) at the on-site location in Grand Rapids, Michigan was so special and impactful to career seekers that we needed a way to bring this to as many people in the industry as possible. But we didn't have an effective way of doing so. Now with the web-based Paragon Grooming Education and Training platform, we provide this skills development to hundreds of aspiring pet grooming professionals every day!
P+G PRO: What are two of the most memorable experiences you’ve had working with Paragon
JZ: At trade show events, countless current students, employers, and alumni share their stories with us in our booth of how they started, learned, and are now working in their dream job as professional pet groomers!
When we first launched our web-based education platform, we were thrilled to see (and still witness today) the overwhelming interest and successful graduation of thousands of students every year! To know we are having such a profound impact on the industry is one of the most rewarding feelings for myself and the entire team at Paragon!
Image courtesy: paragonpetschool.com
P+G PRO: In your opinion, how has the pet grooming industry changed and/or evolved since you got started?
JZ: Pet parents continue to take better and better care of their pets in all aspects of their lives, specifically having to do with nutrition, wellness, and overall well-being. The profession of pet grooming continues to elevate and become more respected by all and this will continue to have positive results for all of us in this incredible industry.
P+G PRO: Do you think the quality and care around grooming and grooming products has improved?
JZ: Absolutely! Skin and coat care, as well as partnering with pet parents in the care of their pets, makes professionals in this industry more and more valuable to pet parents everywhere.
P+G PRO: What are three tips that all professional pet groomers should know when starting their careers?
JZ: Consider yourself a professional and work toward being your best every day. Continue learning and honing your skills. Take care of yourself, physically and mentally, as you and your clients deserve your very best!
P+G PRO: What do you think are some of the most important characteristics of a successful pet groomer?
JZ: Loving pets is number one. Good communication skills are paramount. And a genuine interest in the pet and pet parent relationship will help you relate to, connect with, and grow your clientele.
P+G PRO: Can you identify some of the typical pitfalls you have seen professional groomers fall into that hurt their careers?
JZ: Some enter this field because they feel they are not great "people people" and won't have to spend time with clients. This is a mistake as pet parents need pet grooming professionals to be the expert and make recommendations that enhance the overall pet's hygiene and well-being.
P+G PRO: Do you believe in groomer burnout? Any advice on how to avoid that?
JZ: It happens for sure! This is caused by overworking, undercharging, and mismanaging your schedule. Do only what you can do, with excellence. Find ways to learn tips and tricks to help make every day better, easier, and know your limits. Careers can be cut tragically short due to injuries.
P+G PRO: Grooming salon owners are sometimes not groomers themselves. Any advice on how to support and better understand these professionals?
JZ: The best way to support professional groomers is to have a good understanding of what grooming is all about and this will drive an increased appreciation and cooperation with grooming professionals. Help grooming professionals be their 'best selves' and this partnership will go a long way! Provide environments for encouraged continued learning and sponsor those activities financially and with intentional effort.
P+G PRO: They say communication is a two-way street. Do you have any tips for groomers who are sometimes reluctant to talk with pet parents about a good maintenance program for their pets?
JZ: Sharpening your communication skills with people is as important as sharpening your grooming skills. Don't expect your clients to be anything more than the pet lovers they are, and try to be the expert they depend on for advice and guidance. That's what they pay you for. And they pay really well if given a reason to do so.
P+G PRO: What do you see for the future of professional pet grooming? Any special upcoming plans for Paragon?
JZ: Professional Pet Grooming will become more and more professional if everyone involved dedicates themselves to elevating the profession in everyone's perspective. It is our mission at Paragon to foster that. The Paragon motto is "Helping Others Find Their Success" no matter where they are starting from. Paragon will continue to develop resources, tools, and education solutions to assist the Professional Groomers and the people they work for, and with.
WHO IS PRIDE+GROOM?
The very first clean beauty brand…for dogs!
PRIDE+GROOM is a female and minority-owned all-natural pet grooming company born and bred in New York City. We designed our coat-specific dog shampoos with a light, fresh signature scent that says goodbye to the overwhelming fragrances currently in the dog grooming market. Our packaging and branding humanizes our pet products making them attractive and user friendly.
We offer wholesale pricing for professional use or resale, discover our product here.
Our company is rooted in our love for dogs and cats, and we’ve put all our energy into creating products that let us care for them, their coats and their skin in a way that is natural, nurturing, and specific. Our formulas are a unique blend of essential oils sourced from around the world. Each ingredient has a purpose, like Marshmallow Root Oil, in our NON SHEDDER, helps detangle and nourish those dogs, like doodles, with hair that grows and is prone to matting.
PRIDE+GROOM is deeply committed to giving back to the community. We developed the gallons of our ONE FUR ALL conditioning shampoo that we have donated to over 1000 shelters around the country. This amounts to over 50,000 needy rescue dogs getting the PRIDE+GROOM treatment before heading to their forever homes for adoption.