On the Table
Grooming tables and lifts are among the most important pieces of equipment in the pet salon, which makes careful selection, safe operation and regular maintenance vital.
While they may look like simple work surfaces to the uninitiated, grooming tables are among the most important pieces of equipment in the pet salon. These fixtures are the center of much of the action within the groom room, so they must be able to stand up to the rigors of constant use, while providing as much efficiency and comfort as possible to the groomer. To meet this need, table manufacturers have incorporated a variety of features, such as electric and hydraulic lift systems, that have elevated this vital piece of equipment well beyond a simple surface.
“The grooming table will be one of the most significant purchases for a business, and investing in a high-quality product that will be durable and look professional sends a strong message to clients,” says Brian Gomen, sales director at Shor-Line, manufacturer of the Elite Grooming Table.
With that in mind—and given the fact that this equipment may require a significant monetary investment—it is essential that groomers select the right table for their situation. According to Billy Chen, vice president of sales for Comfort Groom, it all starts with determining the groomer’s space limitations. “The groomer should decide on table size first,” he says. “Are the furry clients mostly large, small or a combination of both? Is the groomer a mobile groomer that is restricted on the size within the van?”
Chen says that Comfort Groom, which manufactures the Ultra-Low Z-Lift Electric Table and the Accordion Lift Electric Table, typically recommends a standard 24-in. by 42-in. table for most situations, because of its versatility in accommodating a variety of dog breeds. However, for groomers who have more space and usually handle large dogs, a 24-in. by 48-in. table sizes may be more appropriate.
“Weight capacity is also important,” he adds. “You want to be able to have a table that can support up to a minimum of 300 lbs. This shows that the table is strong and can lift tables from small toy breeds up to large breeds.”
According to Gomen, selecting the right grooming table ultimately comes down to providing the safest experience possible for pets. “Animal safety is the number-one trend in grooming tables,” he says. “We have continuously improved our products to put the animal handler in the best position to keep the pet as safe as possible. Also, we have the only CSA/UL-certified grooming table. A pet that has a good, safe experience keeps coming back.”
Jeanne Caples, director of operations at Forever Stainless Steel, agrees that a pet’s safety and comfort should be among the top considerations when shopping for a grooming table. “One of the most important features is a comfortable surface for the dog to stand on,” she says. “A hard surface can result in a dog constantly shifting position to get comfortable. Another must-have is a durable grooming arm or restraint system that is resistant to bending when pulled on by a large dog. Most table safety issues are related to either a large dog pulling the grooming arm and tipping the table, or a dog falling from the table surface while restrained. Use of a durable, stable table, a heavy-duty grooming arm or restraint system, and a quick-release system for restraints will help prevent these problems that can lead to disaster.”
Of course, the need for safety and comfort extends beyond the animals in the salon. A groomer’s ability to work safely and efficiently must also be considered when evaluating the many bells and whistles that come with today’s grooming tables.
“The biggest challenge in choosing a grooming table is understanding how to balance the features and benefits of the table with the needs of the grooming salon,” says Gomen. “A well-designed, durable table makes it easier and less physically challenging to groom more animals. The safety features both protect you and the pet, as well as allowing you to work both safely and efficiently.”
While it may be relatively easy to meet the needs of a single groomer who works alone, a busy salon with multiple groomers can present more of a challenge. “We understand that grooming businesses will have several groomers, and they may vary greatly in size and grooming style,” says Gomen. “That is why we have foot-controlled electric adjustment on our most popular tables.”
While a table’s lift system can go a long way in making the grooming process safer and more efficient for the professionals using it, Caples points out that the incorporation of a lift does not automatically make a table safe to use. “Choosing a table that remains steady while in use and does not shake either while lifting or with the shifting weight of the dog is paramount to a good, long-term relationship with a lift table and safe grooming,” she says. “While it may seem very desirable to have a table with an extreme range of high or low elevations, it is important to be sure that such features do not detract from the overall stability of the table.”
Caples also says that having the right table accessories can also help foster a safe grooming environment. “A well-organized workspace can result in much safer, more efficient grooming,” she says. “A variety of grooming table accessories exist for this purpose, including the Professional Grooming Caddy by Kennel Gear. If all the tools and products needed are within sight and within reach, a groomer can concentrate on the dog on the table without having to turn or look away.”
Once a grooming table is being used in the salon, ongoing maintenance becomes paramount; and this process is obviously made more challenging when lift systems are involved. For example, Chen says a common mistake made in grooming salons is forgetting that an electric motor is underneath a table surface that is being washed. “Always make sure to clean with caution and try to avoid exposing moisture to motors underneath,” he says. “Another important maintenance step is to try to clean up any fur around the motor and foot pedals.”
To help in this regard, Chen recommends that groomers who have the budget for it, consider buying a table—such as Comfort Groom’s Accordion Lift Table–that incorporates some type of shield over the lift system, to both keep fur from getting into the motor and protect the groomer from any of the exposed mechanics underneath.
At the end of the day, Chen says that finding a supplier that is willing to stand behind its products should be a groomer’s top priority when making a final decision on their table purchase. “It is most important to select a table that has good reviews and is backed by a structural lifetime warranty,” he says.