• Brian Lane is the owner of Bingo Pet Salon. BTL Photo: Andrew Potter

Gay-Owned Bingo Institute of Grooming Outgrows Old Location, Moves

By |2021-02-17T19:32:34-05:00February 17th, 2021|Michigan, News|

The Bingo Institute of Grooming, where would-be doggie-stylists train and learn the tricks of the trade, is expanding. Originally opened in 2015, the Institute, created by Bingo Pet Salon owner Brian Lane and Director of Education Jessica Conway, has moved from Royal Oak to a new, nearly twice as large, 2,500-square-foot space in Madison Heights.
“We started putting together the groundwork for the school back in 2013,” Lane said. “Our initial class of three students graduated in 2015. We currently have 12 enrolled students, and the average full-time student finishes in six to eight months, while part-time students finish in about a year.”
Conway had been thinking of opening a grooming school even before that.
“I had been researching the process for about a year before meeting Brian,” she said. “A mutual acquaintance introduced us after hearing both of our frustrations with not being able to find qualified help and wishing we could open a training facility.”
While there is no state certification for pet groomers and no required training, taking time to learn essential skills of the trade is imperative for new groomers, said Lane.
“Currently no state in the country requires any training for someone to be a pet groomer. This is extremely dangerous and the main reason we opened the Institute. We noticed that not enough groomers in the area were professionally trained and some had even just been self-taught. This puts animals and groomers at risk. If they do not know proper techniques to hold an animal, deal with a difficult or old pet, they could cut themselves or put themselves in danger of getting bit.”
Conway agrees.
“There is a definite need for some standard of care and safety practices in this industry. We are working with other industry leaders to [create] the Michigan Pet Groomers Association with the hope of establishing some standards in Michigan.”
Currently, the Institute offers a professional dog grooming program and a dog and cat grooming program, too. Starting with bathing, drying and handling techniques, students who enroll move on to nail clipping and, finally, fur trimming and final touches. Students also learn safe handling of the pets, cleaning and sanitation, equipment maintenance and client relations.
The most successful students “are the ones doing it for the passion and love of the work,” Lane said. “We have had students in the past who thought grooming would be easy, or a fun side job working with puppies. They quickly learned how physically and mentally demanding this industry is.”
Conway agreed, citing patience as the key to being a successful groomer.
“They also have to be self-motivated and adaptable,” Conway said. “Above all, you have to have care and compassion for the animals.”
And for those who do have those qualities, pet grooming can be a lucrative trade.
“Our groomers can make anywhere from $500 to $1,200 a week not including tips, which usually range from an additional $200-400 a week,” Lane said. “This doesn’t require an expensive degree that takes four years to get, so many groomers have less debt moving into their profession.”
Plus, added Conway, there are added benefits.
“Grooming is a skill that you can take anywhere and offers flexibility in a work schedule. I love that no two days are ever the same, so it keeps things interesting. Some dogs really love the attention they get during the grooming and that brings joy to the job,” Conway said. “That being said, grooming is not a glamorous job. You get wet, covered in hair and you have to deal with pee and poop sometimes. It’s a demanding job, but I love it.”
And for those who think grooming is just about vanity, Lane emphasizes that there are often health benefits for the pets well, like when matted fur is removed.
“Pets who get regular grooming also are less stressed and handle the process better in most cases,” Lane said.
“Nails that are too long can grow back into the pad or affect the way a dog walks and eventually cause joint pain or arthritis,” Conway added. “When the coat becomes matted it can trap moisture or debris that can cause pain and skin infections.”
At the moment, four of the five groomers at Bingo Pet Salon are graduates of the Institute. And over at Conway’s salon, Pet Spa Grooming in Plymouth, all four groomers are graduates of the school.
Molly Graham now works for Conway.
“I was at the Institute for seven or eight months,” she said. “It was a great hands-on learning experience. They were very patient and allowed you to work at your speed. They don’t rush you through the program.
She added that because the Institute accepts rescue dogs through the Bingo Cares program, there’s a huge variety of clients that offer a lot of great experience, not to mention the health benefits for the participating dogs.
“You get to see all kinds of dogs that come in and in all kinds of shapes, good condition and bad condition,” Graham said. “Going through the school you learn so much and there is no pressure on you.”
Working at the Bingo Salon is Christi Knight.
“I thought it would a little bit easier get into [grooming],” she said. “It was definitely more challenging than I thought. But fun at the same time. There’s a lot more emotional, mental work that goes into it. I would recommend it, because if you like working with animals, it’s just a great thing to do.”

The Bingo Institute of Grooming is located at 28003 John R Road in Madison Heights. For more information, email [email protected], call 248-677-1540 or visit bingogroomingschool.com.

About the Author:

Jason A. Michael
Jason A. Michael joined Between The Lines as a contributing writer in 1999. He has received both the Spirit of Detroit Award (presented by the Detroit City Council) and the Media Award from the Community Pride Banquet & Awards Ceremony for his writing and activism. Jason is also an Essence magazine bestselling author for his authorized biography "Strength Of A Woman: The Phyllis Hyman Story," released on his own JAM Books imprint.