Pet Salons 101

How to Encourage Cold Weather Appointments

December 15th, 2016 by Kara Adams

cold-weatherDo you live in a climate where you have seasonal changes in the weather patterns? For many groomers, the number of grooming appointments dips with the temperature. This can be a real problem if you rely on your grooming income to pay your bills!

How do you combat that problem? Encourage pre-booking.

It always amazes me how many clients have no idea what their pet needs in terms of coat care when the temperatures plummet.

Professional pet grooming is service driven. That means you must be a problem solver – even when your clients don’t know they have a problem! Thus, you become not only the problem solver but also the educator!

Just prior to some of the coldest weather of the season in the northern hemisphere, we have one of our busiest seasons – the holidays. Take advantage of your good fortune.

Here are 6 of the most common problems associated with colder weather:

  1. Pet Hygiene: regular bathing is essential for pets that share our lives – and our homes.
  2. Regular Brushing: keeps the tangles away along with other benefits such as distributing oils through the coat and promoting circulation of the skin.
  3. Nails: they need to be trimmed and/or filed all winter.
  4. Feet: many breeds need the hair between the toes trimmed to keep them comfortable while outside.
  5. Coat Growth: it does slow down but trimming is still essential.
  6. Dryness & Static: both the skin and the coat can dry out – special shampoos and conditioners can combat the both dryness and static.

As you check out every pet, assume the client is going to rebook in 4 to 6 weeks.  Let them know that most pets benefit from regular grooming – even in the winter. It can be very helpful to have a marketing piece outlining the benefits of cold-weather grooming ready to hand out. Focus on the six items outlined above.

Most pets benefit from regular grooming – even in the winter.

Always suggest the ideal time frame between appointments based on their dog’s coat type. Let them know you’ve saved a particular date just for them. If you know the client well enough, you’re going to know what they prefer for an appointment time. Offer that time to them.

If your clientele is price sensitive, try sweetening the deal. Offer a special winter incentive to book within 6 weeks of their last appointment date. $2-$5 off their normal grooming price is a common enticement to get them back on the grooming table.

Oops. You didn’t ask your clients to re-book?! Now what?

If you didn’t ask every one of your customers to rebook when they were in for their holiday appointment, don’t despair. For many grooming businesses, it is a bit slow right after the holidays. Take that down time to simply pick up the phone.

Systematically go through your appointments starting in the end of November and work your way to Dec 24th. Make a simple and friendly “courtesy call” to get their pet set up for their next appointment. Don’t forget to include your special discount for booking within 6 weeks of their last appointment.

pl-animalwallpapers-214 Typical Cold Weather Issues Associated with Grooming

  1. It’s important to remember that coats and sweaters continually rub against a dog’s fur, constantly causing friction against the hair. If the coat is fur is longer, this can lead to mats and tangles. It’s best to remove doggie garments before they come inside. Remember, most of us don’t wear our heavy coats indoors. The same should happen with our pets. If they need a little added warmth, most folks opt for an indoor sweater. They can do the same with their dog.
  2. For dogs that are very short coated or the coat is very thin, doggie garments for both outside and inside are great options. However, constant sweater wearing leads to doggie odor, dry skin, and lots of static. All problems that can be addressed with regular professional grooming.
  3. If the dog normally gets a haircut, many owners enjoy a slightly longer style in the winter. Many of these longer styles are still low maintenance and easy to care for – especially if the dog is going out into the snow for a romp.
  4. Some owners extend the time between haircuts. If their pet has the type of coat that could easily get out of control without regular brushing, you’ll definitely want to encourage maintenance appointments between full haircuts. Maintenance appointments would include a bath using a moisturizing shampoo and conditioner, a full brush out, minor trimming around the eyes and feet, and sanitary areas. Nail trimming, ear cleaning, and fresh bows or bandanna are nice touches. Generally, these types are booked every 2 or three weeks and offered at a reduced rate.

Still slow? Plan for it. (Okay, maybe NEXT year plan for it…) But for now – bask in the glory of a little time to yourself! Use the time to dig into those shop projects you’ve been putting off. Shorten your workweek to 4 days or knock off a tiny bit early on select days. Or best yet – schedule your OWN vacation!

Happy Trimming!

~Melissa


Thinning Shears are the Pet Stylist’s Eraser

September 15th, 2016 by Kara Adams

Are you thinking about upgrading any of your pet grooming tools? For many dog groomers, The Groom Expo in Hershey, PA that is coming up later this month is a perfect time to see and test new items for your tool kit. If you are saving your tip money to buy new thinning shears, this blog is for you!

pencilThinning shears (or blending shears) are the best-kept secrets in the grooming world. Used properly, they can make mistakes much less noticeable. For a new stylist, this is one of the first shears I always recommend upgrading in your toolbox.

It doesn’t matter how long you’ve been grooming or how talented you are as a pet stylist – sometimes you just need a little help. An “oops” can occur at any time. Mistakes happen.

Maybe there is a spot on the coat that you just can’t get smooth. Maybe there is tracking in the coat from the clippers or guard comb. You may have left scissor marks in the coat – or a hole in the coat you accidentally made with clippers or scissors. You might even be working with a dog that will not hold still long enough to work safely with clippers or scissors – leaving the coat rough and jagged.

Thinning shears can be your savior. They erase rough spots. They blend out jagged edges. They smooth out transition areas. They fix mistakes.

The difference between a good stylist and a great stylist can be determined by how much value they place on their blending shears.

ToolboxStylists that understand the value of this type of shear will invest in multiple pairs. Just like straight edge shears, there are wide varieties from which to choose. Some are for more general use while others have more specific usage. The key is to know how you want to use the shear. Do you need it for light wispy coats? Drop coats? Terrier styling? Working around the head or eye area or dealing with large surface areas? There is a blender to fit every single one of these needs.

I always suggest you personally try out thinning shears before you purchase them. Just like Colin Taylor says, shears are like shoes. You need to find the ones that fit you! They have to fit properly as well as cut smoothly and run effortlessly in your hands.

So how do you narrow down your choices? Ask. Find out what other groomers and stylists are using. Determine which thinning shears they rely on every day in their salons. Believe me, they have opinions! There are lots of fabulous thinning shears out there – but there’s also a lot of junk.

Most high quality blending shears will have an average cost of $150 – $350. Of course, you can spend more if you like. Your equipment is an investment in your career. You may not need the Rolls-Royce when you first start out – but you do need something that is reliable and dependable. Luckily, there are many styles and varieties from which to choose.

royale-double-teeth-thinning-shear-bladesThe difference between a good stylist and a great stylist is that they know how to fix mistakes. Every one of us makes them. Having a nice collection of thinning and blending shears will be the erasers you need when that “oops!” happens.

What are your favorite shears? What do you look forward to shopping for when you go to Hershey? Jump over to the Learn2GroomDogs Facebook page and tell us about it!

Happy trimming!

~ Melissa


Help! I Have Too Many Clients!

June 22nd, 2016 by Kara Adams

Did you know about half of all small businesses fail within the first four years? It’s a scary statistic, but fortunately, you’re not one of the fallen. Your books are full. You’re grooming steadily all day long. The phones are ringing off the hook – it’s a dream come true, right?

There can sometimes be a dark side to all of this success. Do you feel like no matter how hard you work, how efficiently you groom, you just can’t get ahead? Is your first available appointment still three weeks out – or more? Is your cancellation list getting longer and longer?

I’ll bet you’re tired.   

Stressed.

Frustrated.

Wondering why you ever opened your own business.

After all, wasn’t it supposed to be fun and satisfying to finally be your own boss? Yet somehow, grooming all those cute little fluffy puppies has lost its appeal.

Sound familiar? I’ve been there more times than I care to admit!

What are you going to do?

The easy solution would be to hire another groomer. Unfortunately, finding someone talented, reliable, and a good fit for your team can be quite challenging. Most grooming schools have far more job requests than their graduates could fill. Placing an ad in any type of help wanted advertising outlet yields only crickets when it comes to finding anybody even remotely qualified to groom dogs and cats.

telephone-hammer-848x478 This is an age-old problem. I don’t know of a single successful grooming business that has not faced this dilemma at some point.

Don’t fret. You have options. Some are more long-term solutions. Others can be implemented instantly for immediate relief.

  1. Train your own groomers and stylists from scratch.
  2. Delegate basic tasks.
  3. Hire an assistant.
  4. Become exclusive by raising your prices, which will instantly lighten your client load.

Training your own groomers and stylists from the ground up is a great long-term solution – and sometimes the only option. It’s not a quick fix, but it is something you will want to keep in the back of your mind for the future. If you opt to go this route, keep in mind it will typically take six months to a year to train to someone who can independently groom dogs.

If you are a salon owner, my guess is you wear many hats when it comes to running your business. What if you could have someone else do some of the NON-grooming related tasks? Hire someone full or part-time to do the tasks you really don’t need to be doing. Things like:

  • cleaning
  • laundry services
  • running errands
  • bookkeeping
  • payroll
  • data entry

Delegate anything you can to assist with the smooth running of your business – or your home – which is not directly related to grooming.

Training a grooming assistant is a great option. Having someone to help with the more elementary tasks of grooming pets isn’t as time-consuming or difficult as training a full-fledged groomer. Yet, a well-trained assistant can almost double your productivity. A large bulk of the time grooming dogs is eaten up in the wet room.

Yes, training an assistant takes time but you will make that time up quickly! It will go even faster if you utilize the Core Skills videos in the Learn2GroomDogs.com online library. Combine that with select sections from the first 80 pages of Notes From the Grooming Table – Second Edition, and you have a winning recipe for success. Let’s face it, half of the time spent grooming dogs is spent in the bathing, drying, and fluffing areas.

There are other benefits to having an assistant work with you. They can jump in to help with other simple tasks when you really need another set of hands. Wouldn’t it be great to have someone who could:

  • help handle a challenging pet
  • answer the phone
  • run dogs and do potty breaks
  • help with customers
  • clean and sanitize
  • do laundry

…the list could go on and on.

Many successful stylists just don’t want to deal with a staff. They want to keep it simple. Uncomplicated. Stress-free. Yet if you have way too many clients, the demands on your time and your sanity will be quickly tested.

If the other three options are not good fits for you, maybe raising your prices and becoming exclusive is the best option. If you stop and do the math, it can be pretty enlightening. Raising your prices by $5 to $10 per dog will weed out your client load almost instantly, freeing up your time – and giving you time to breathe.

When you feel you could work twenty-four hours per day, seven days a week, and still not have sufficient time to get everything done – it’s time for a change. Situations like this are what contribute to safety issues, affect your personal life – maybe even your health.

Success is a great thing as long as you manage the growing pains of your business. If you don’t, the business is going to be running you instead of you running your company.

If you are one of the success stories with an abundance of pooches (or felines) coming through your doors, congratulations! Remember – managing growth is just as important as creating an amazing service for your customers. If you are feeling frustrated and stressed out, make the change you feel best fits your situation. Get off that work overload treadmill. Once you do, you might even enjoy your business again!

Has this ever happened to you? What did you do? Jump over to the Learn2GroomDogs Facebook page and tell us about it!

Happy Trimming!

~ Melissa

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Get ’em Talking

May 19th, 2016 by Kara Adams

The lifeblood of any successful business is positive word of mouth marketing – but how do you get people to talk about you? The answer is simple.

IMAGErrDynamite customer service.

When it comes to creating amazing customer service, there are a few things you need to focus on.

  1. delight your customers
  2. earn their trust and respect
  3. be interesting
  4. make it easy for them to talk about you

Going the extra mile pays huge dividends. Yet sometimes you don’t have to even go that extra mile. Sometimes it’s the simple things like:

  • helping people and their pets
  • solving problems
  • treating both the client and the pets with dignity and respect
  • creating a warm, clean, and safe environment

If you genuinely care about your business and your career – none of the items listed above are difficult.

One my companies, Whiskers Resort and Pet Spa, is phenomenal at impressing people which in turn gets them talking. We do virtually zero paid advertising. Instead, we focus on those four key elements listed above; delighting our customers, being interesting, earning our clients’ trust, and making it easy for them to talk about us.

Here are a few examples.

We offer full facility tours ANYTIME we are open to the public. We have extended hours from 6 AM until 9 PM Monday through Friday. On Saturday and Sunday, the resort is open from 7 AM to 8 PM.

When folks tour the facility, it is an automatic wow factor. Even though we have 180 rooms for the dogs, it is always spotless. It’s wide open and inviting. The noise levels are not out-of-control for a facility the size. One area of any pet care facility most people do not give a lot of thought to but it makes a HUGE impression. The smell. Rarely is a tour given where the participants don’t comment on this fact. We normally get that wide open expression people get when they are surprised. They look at us and say, “I would never guess there are over 200 dogs here! There is NO doggy odor!!” We pride ourselves on the fact that it always smells fresh and clean.

Our tours get people talking. Stop and think about it – what do you think someone is going to do as soon as they leave the tour? They have just experienced an amazing place that can help them solve many problems when it comes to their beloved family pets. Most of our prospective clients race home to tell their friends and family. Almost all of them become customers.

Here is another way to foster word of mouth marketing. Photos and events. Over the years, the Whiskers team has hosted many special events for both our overnight guests and doggie daycare clients. The entire goal for these events it to get people talking in the community. The parties are promoted through our monthly client newsletter and Facebook page. It works.

In fact, parties and photos worked so well, we’ve scaled back the amount of parties we offer. Why? Because we operate at over 100% occupancy rate during most of the summer season, almost all weekends through the year and major holidays we’re booked out weeks – if not months – in advance.

Even though these examples are talking about a pet resort – the grooming spa feeds off the same frenzy the word of mouth marketing creates. At the resort, the grooming department is open 7 days a week and with two shifts running on most days.

So how do you apply this type of marketing to your business?

First, make sure you have remarkable grooming and customer service skills. If there any weak links – fix them. You need to be able to delight your customers with your grooming skills while winning their respect and trust. Once you have done that, then you can start getting creative with the fun stuff. How to get clients and prospective clients talking about you. What will make you interesting? What will make you stand out from your competitors? If you are successful – people will start talking about you.

Remember, you need to make it easy for your customers. If they adore what you were doing – they will automatically love talking about you with their family, friends, coworkers, or anyplace people gather.

So here are a few ideas that you can use to help spread the word while making it easy for others to find you. On every piece of promotional material that goes out, whether it be print or in digital format, your name, address, and contact information easy to find and readily accessible.

  • Facebook Page – Make it appeal to your customers. Have fun with it. Post appealing photos you take while working. Add items that would be of general interest to the bulk of your customers. Pet general health. Fun things to do with your dog. Behavior and training articles. Recipes that cater to dogs or cats. Find things that will make people smile and laugh that are pet related. Always keep it clean. Always keep it professional.
  • Email Addresses – In this digital age, capturing an email address is more important than a street address. Having a robust email contact list will be your most economical source to stay in touch with your customers and potential customers. Always – always look for ways to collect email addresses.
  • Create a Monthly or Quarterly Client Newsletter – Electronic newsletters do not have to be long. Two or three smaller articles or points of interest are generally enough in our fast-paced information loaded society. Combine the articles with a few promotions you have scheduled for the month or for the quarter. And make sure it easy for your customers to share the newsletter through other social media outlets.
  • Special Events – Even if you do not have room to host a full-fledged party, don’t let that stop you from doing something special for your customers are participating at events. Most small towns have a parade – maybe they are taking part. What about charity dog walking events? Matching themed T-shirts and bandannas combined with freshly groomed dogs from your salon can make a big impact in the community. Maybe you give them a free spa upgrade with a special gift to take home. On Valentine’s Day, make sure every dog leaves with a special treat – maybe a rose with a card attached to it “signed” by the dog. Maybe you do a free pet facial or pet-i-cure. Whatever the event – make sure you have the promotional materials at your fingertips. That will make it easy for them to pass along your contact information when they talk about whatever interesting event you just hosted. Pay attention to details.
  • Encourage people to talk about you – Post signs around your salon. On your front door. Add it to your receipts. Make sure it is on all your informational handouts and service menus. Encouraged people to speak in a positive light about your services. Make it a personal goal to make your customer smile – or better yet – aim for a reaction that makes them gleam as they say thank you. Do something memorable!
  • Business Website – Make sure that it is clean and easy to navigate. It doesn’t have to be long or lengthy. With smaller businesses, simplicity can go a long way. Pictures are worth 1000 words – so make sure you use high quality images to support your text. One of the most popular pages on any website is the gallery. This is a wonderful place to showcase your facility and or your work. You don’t need 100 photos – that would be overwhelming and too difficult for most devices to download. 10 to 15 of your best images will do. Also, don’t forget to make sure your website transfers cleanly between computer and handheld devices.

These are just a few ideas to help you get folks talking about you. There are thousands of ways to get the ball rolling – it just takes a little forethought and creativity on your part.

Happy customers are always your greatest advertisers. If you expect them to share their experiences with you, you’re going to have to help it along. To spur it along, make sure you give people a simple message to share and then ways to help them pass it along to others.

Remember, you need to give prospective customers and clients a positive reason to talk about you. People do not talk about things that bore them. They do not talk about just acceptable service. The only talk about things that excite them. Delight them. Wow them. If you focus on making your customers happy, earning their trust and respect – they’re going to start talking about you.

Word-of-mouth marketing is the most effective form of marketing any service company can do. It will far outperform any coupon or paid advertisement you can run anywhere. When people share their experiences about your company to their friends, family, coworkers and associates, It’s the highest compliment they can get. They are putting their trust in to you. They are encouraging people they know to use your services. That’s success and that’s the reason you need to get them talking about you!
Happy Trimming!

~ Melissa

P.S.

How do YOU deliver amazing customer service? Go online and tell us about it on the Learn2GroomDogs Facebook page.


Is Your Image Newsworthy?

May 12th, 2016 by Kara Adams

If your local TV news station were to drop by – unannounced – to do a story about you and your business, would you be prepared? What about your local newspaper? Could you make a great impression to the community as they interview you with cameras flashing? Would you be proud of your shop? Your staff? Yourself?

Impressions are made in an instant. It doesn’t matter whether it is a TV news crew, reporter, or client. If you are open for business, you need to be prepared to be splashed across the screen or featured on the front page of your local newspaper.

Be honest. Can you proudly flaunt your business, even if the local media showed up without notice?

If you shudder at the thought, you need to take the steps necessary to create a professional image. You want to create a lasting, positive impression on your clients – and prospective clients.

It takes less than 30 seconds for people to form an opinion about you and your business. Don’t forget, we’re not just talking about what the client sees, but what they smell and hear.

I’ve been in this industry over 30 years with multiple businesses and this has happened many times. If there is a slow news day, nothing can fill the space better than our furry friends! I make sure that my companies understand that cleanliness and professional appearance are a top priority. They need to be prepared and ready to be front page news – at all times. You never know when an opportunity to shine will present itself.

As pet care ambassadors, it our job to groom pets but also our job to present a professional image for our industry. We cannot afford to look like we just rolled out of bed. Take a moment each day to put yourself together so that you would be proud to be featured in your local media.

Which side looks more professional?

Which side looks more professional?

I don’t know any successful person who doesn’t sweat the details. Being impeccable, both personally and in your work space, shows the client that you care about yourself. The message you are sending out is that you are confident with your skills. That you are successful. That you respect yourself enough to do the same for them – and for their pet. It also shows that you care about your client.

I know it can get tiring to dress up a little every day. However, our clients are entrusting us with the care of their pets. Like it or hate it, you can easily influence their trust by simply changing the way you look when you greet your clients. Think of yourself as your own brand. Don’t you want your product to be consistent and look great? Of course! And your clients are looking for that, too.

A neat, well-groomed appearance is essential when it comes to professionalism in this industry. You need to dress in a way that attracts clientele.

Come to work each day looking crisp, clean, and pulled together. Blue jeans, sweat pants, and athletic shorts ARE NOT professional attire! They don’t inspire confidence. Black, white, or khaki slacks work well. Longer skirts are great for women in warmer climates. Conservative shorts or Capri’s may work for your environment, as well. Matching grooming pants are also nice. I’ve even seen dressy leggings work when paired with an over-sized, long, top or smock. Look for clothing that is not prone to wrinkling or be prepared to learn how to iron!

Today, there are many options for hair-repelling garments. There are all types of tops and bottoms in a wide variety of styles. If you work in a salon with a dress code, this may be easier. If not, have some fun with the pet styling fashions that are available. It may even be a good idea to keep an extra outfit or smock around the shop as a back-up. If you get drenched or messy, a quick change will instantly boost your comfort level and mood.

Consider the color of your outfit, as well. If your logo is blue, you may want to consider this your brand color and wear it everyday.  It will make you instantly recognizable to your clients.

Remember, low-cut tops and short-shorts are never appropriate. If you have shorts that are too short or a top that is too revealing (especially when you are squatting down to pick up a dog), it just doesn’t look professional. Muscle shirts and shirts with the sleeves cut off don’t make the grade, either.

Being professional means speaking, behaving, and dressing in a manner that tells people you are qualified to do the job. If your appearance causes anyone to doubt – even for a second – that you don’t know what you’re doing, you could lose their business before they even see your work.

Proper hygiene is also crucial. It should go unsaid, but being clean and odor-free is a must. There is nothing more offensive – and embarrassing – than personal body odor. The famous motivational speaker Zig Ziglar, noted, “People often say that motivation doesn’t last. Well, neither does bathing – that’s why we recommend it daily.” Nothing could be more true!

Your own hair needs to be clean and neatly styled. If your hair is long, tie it back and away from your face. As your work with clippers or shears, you don’t want to be trimming a lock of your own hair as you scissor that leg. I hate to think of how many people with long hair have caught their tresses in the spinning grinder as they worked. Ouch! Or worse yet, drag it through anal gland expressions, defecation, or urine.

Having a touch of jewelry is a nice finishing touch. Done well, it always reflects positively. However, just like with fragrance – go light. A few simple rings. A durable watch (and you always need to know the time!!). If your ears are pierced – stick with super simple earrings – something a dog can’t accidentally catch in a paw, ripping your ear lobe. If you opt for a necklace, keep it tasteful. Don’t be in love with it. Dogs will catch it in their paws and break it, eventually. The same thing with is true with bracelets.

Having well-groomed fingernails is what I consider a bonus. Working with dirty dogs and trimming toenails lends itself to dirty fingernails – even if you do a lot of bathing. Trimming Poodle feet has a tendency chip fingernails. Personally, I liked to keep my nails painted. Painted fingernails will hide all sorts of flaws. Unfortunately, when you do a lot of bathing, standard nail polish has a tendency to peel off quickly – sometimes in as little as one day. My solution was to have my fingernails professionally done every two weeks. Both acrylic and shellac nail applications seem hold up well to the abuse groomers put their hands through. Ragged nails on women or men can be easily tidied up. When you give the pet to the owner, their eyes are naturally drawn to your fingers as you hand over the leash. Wouldn’t filed nails make a great impression? Plus, it gives you a little time to pamper your most valuable asset – YOUR HANDS!

Pay attention to the details. Judy Hudson is one our popular Learn2GroomDogs.com Training Partners. In her video, What I Know For Sure, she shares this tip: “It doesn’t cost a lot to be clean. It doesn’t cost a lot of money to be neat and tidy. All it takes is a little elbow grease.”

The next time your local news company calls for an interview, you’re going to have the confidence to greet them at the door even if you only have a few moments notice before they arrive. When your image is splashed across the TV screen, you’re going to be proud of what you see – and your clients and prospective clients will be impressed.

There is no amount of marketing dollars that can buy free publicity. Are you ready for the media to show up on YOUR doorstep?

Happy Trimming!

~ Melissa

>P.S.

You never know when the media will knock on your door! Has this ever happened to you? Go online and tell us about it on the Learn2GroomDogs Facebook page.


The #1 Strategy to Build a Thriving Clientele

April 28th, 2016 by Kara Adams

Marketing has always been an interesting component to running any of my companies. After all, if I don’t have customers, I don’t have a business. And if my business isn’t flourishing, I do not earn a paycheck – and speedneither do any of my team members.

Here are a couple of questions I’m asked all the time:

  • What’s your secret to creating a thriving company?
  • How do you get repeat clients?

Do you know what’s at the heart of all businesses?

People.

I don’t care how much you love the animals, it’s the people who make companies thrive. And people are experts at knowing if they FEEL valued. That goes for both your staff and your clients. If you’re working with a team of people, it has a trickle-down effect. It’s important to treat your staff with respect. With dignity. With fairness. Bottom line, make them feel valued. If you can do that successfully with your team members, they will in turn treat the customers in the same manner.

When it comes to service-based businesses, you’re not selling the service of grooming dogs or cats. In professional services, you’re not really selling YOUR expertise. It’s taken for granted that you must know what you’re doing. What you are selling is a personal relationship. A relationship with the owner.

Over the years I’ve had the opportunity to work with all types of professional groomers and stylists. I have seen some of the most talented pet stylists struggle to maintain a healthy clientele. Even if they were passionate about their trade, maintaining a robust clientele and growing a business just wasn’t in the cards for them. At the same time, I have seen mediocre groomers grow an amazing repeat client base that keeps their appointment book overflowing.

What’s the difference?

It stems from the ability to interact positively with their staff and the clients. In the end, the most successful grooming salons are professionally run AND highly personable. They have the ability to win over the customers, building their trust with their precious four-legged babies. Simply put, it’s a personality contest – just like in high school!

Always remember, most clients of complex services cannot gauge knowledge.

They can’t tell…

  • If their tax return was done exceptionally well.
  • If they have had an insightful diagnosis on a complicated illness.
  • If they have a brilliant attorney that’s going to win their case.
  • If they are going to get a fabulous grooming job on their pet.

What a client or a perspective client can tell is if they were involved in a positive relationship.

They can tell…

  • If phone calls are returned.
  • If they are treated politely.
  • If the job was completed when it was promised.
  • If their pets are treated with compassion.

In a service-based business like pet grooming, having a highly personalized team of people handle your clientele is the key to a thriving business. Technical skills will only take you so far. Being able to win over the trust and hearts of your clientele is the real key to a successful grooming business.

Grooming salons and pet stylists who have captivated more than 60% retention rate of their clientele is going to succeed in any market. If your salon or stylist isn’t retaining over 40% of their appointments, you need to look deep within your level of service – dissected and fix it.

Make your clients feel special.

  1. Listen to their needs.
  2. Solve their problems.
  3. Treat them with dignity and respect.
  4. Handle their pets with kindness and compassion.
  5. Under-promise and over-deliver on everything you can do for them.
  6. Always be grateful and thankful they are giving you the opportunity to serve them.

 If your technical skills are not up to par – improve them.

  1. Become a more talented groomer/stylist by increasing your knowledge base.
  2. Continuously practice to improve your current technical skill base; bathing, drying, clipping, scissoring, thinning, and hand-stripping.
  3. Learn to be more efficient with your grooming time.
  4. Always work with safety, quality, and compassion worked into the equation.
  5. Constantly push yourself to a higher level in everything that you do.

If you focus on making people feel valued – while offering a solid service – people will follow you. It will seek out the services you offer. I’d love to say people will flock to you just because you are the best groomer in the area, but they won’t. You have to win their respect – and their trust. And you do that by being personable.

And the real beauty of this? Treating people with respect so that they feel valued doesn’t cost anything. It takes is a grateful attitude, a smile, and the willingness to serve with a heart.

Happy Trimming!

~ Melissa

P.S.

Go online and tell us what you think on the Learn2GroomDogs Facebook page.


Surviving the Holiday Rush

December 10th, 2015 by Kara Adams

After working professional in the pet grooming industry over 35 years, the only time I worry about dealing with clients is the Christmas holiday season.

christmas-dog-wallpaperThe two weeks preceding the actual day can be a chaotic mess.  With Christmas shopping, decorating, baking, family gatherings, holiday socials to attend, and every regular client you have wanting to be booked as close to Christmas as possible . . . phew!  December can be an exhausting month!

But, wait – t doesn’t have to be!  Christmas organizing all year round will let you create that picture perfect holiday without nearly the stress.

Getting Organized & Ready

The Salon

  1. Is it clean – really clean? Floors, walls, kennels?
  2. Is the lighting up to snuff?
  3. Are your laundry machines working properly?
  4. Are the tubs draining?
  5. What are the conditions of your pet dryers?
  6. Are your blowing fuses on a regular basis in one outlet?
  7. Does your computer need to be de-bugged for a glitch free running machine?
  8. Do you have a stock pile of all the office supplies you’ll need?
  9. Are your blades shears all sharp and ready to go?
  10. Are your clippers operating smoothly?
  11. What is your stock level of all your dispensable products? Shampoos, conditioners, cologne, flea foggers, cotton balls, ear cleaner, etc.
  12. Are there plenty of towels on the shelves?

The Holiday Image

  1. Are your holiday decorations fresh and up-to date for your salon?  Keep it simple and easy… pick a simple theme and work with it.
  2. Do you have your client’s gifts ready to go so they can easily be passed out when the client is having their pet groomed?  Remember, expense isn’t the key, packaging is. Pay attention to the details.
  3. Have fun with festive accessories.  Head gear, costume jewelry – anything that can bring a smile to someone else is a good thing.
  4. Are all your holiday bows special and pre-tied?  Are bandanas ready to be attached to the pet?
  5. Do you have red and green nail polish that is actually usable?  What about other colors?
  6. Do you have plenty of air freshener to lend a sparkle to the air without being overly powering?
  7. Music is everywhere – is your holiday collection handy or is there an ‘all Christmas’ station you can tune into?
  8. Have you brought extra clothing or makeup to freshen up after work before heading out?
  9. If you’re worried that you’ll be slow after the holiday season, do you have any grooming promotions for January and February that you can be handing out now?
$$ Saving Tip: Buy all your holiday items the day after the holiday to save up to 50% the retail price;
fabric for bandanas, decorations, Christmas cards…

Getting Through the Dogs

  1. What are the pros and cons of working extra hours?
  2. Should you take on new clients?
  3. Make sure all your regular clients have their holiday appointments BEFORE taking on new clients or ‘non- regulars.’
  4. Hiring extra help – is there something you can easily delegate with some basic training that would free you up to deal with clients?  Cleaning? Answering the phone?  Taking out the trash?
  5. Have you worked out a system to maximize the types of pets you take per stylist?
  6. Work out a drop-off and pick-up schedule that allows you to stay focused on grooming pets.
  7. Stay calm, cool, and collected no matter what happens during the course of the day.
  8. Set realistic time goals that push you, but stay on target.  Use an egg timer if necessary or place a clock where you can’t miss it – no matter what.
  9. Use every speed trick in the book from prepping – to bathing – to drying – to trimming.
  10. When clients pick up their pet, are you offering a promotion to assist in re-booking 6 weeks down the road when it can traditionally be really slow?

Organization on a Personal Level

  1. Do you have a master list of all the things you need to do for the holidays?  Is it broken down into smaller do-able chunks?  What about a master gift list that’s simply updated year to year?  Master Christmas card list?  Weekly meal planner? Regular shopping tick-sheet list?  For great inspiration go to www.organizedchristmas.com
  2. Are you are a store, catalog, or Internet shopper?  Are you prepared to have ALL your holiday gift shopping done by December 15?  What about the wrapping?
  3. As time gets closer, demands get greater and healthy meals go by the wayside…  If you are in a city, do you have a full selection of menus at your fingertips?  Who has great take-out that you quickly sweep in and grab on the way home or while you are at the shop?  If you are a country dweller, is your freezer packed with great frozen meals that only require reheating whether homemade or store-bought.
  4. Does a messy house stress you out?  Before is gets really busy, clean and organize the house or hire someone to help you… (or if you have kids, enlist their help.)  Also think about having carpets cleaned, windows washed, or dropping you heaping laundry off at a laundromat, letting them do it for you.
  5. Do you need a masseuse or chiropractor to help you stay loose and limber ? If you do, book your appointment early.

After the Holiday?

  1. Take the week off! Trust me – your clients don’t need you for the week between Christmas and New Year’s!  Take that time and spend it on yourself and your loved ones!  You’ve earned it.

With a little bit of pre-planning, you’ll be breezing through the holiday.  It’s so much more enjoyable for everyone to be in a festive spirit instead of being the Grinch.  Put some effort into setting yourself up to enjoy the best of the season – it makes the time fly by.  And you might even get a few moments to relish this time of year!

Always remember, to be successful – to thrive – you need to put forth effort today so that your future will be bright.

Happy trimming !

~Melissa


5 Phone Calls That Can Build Your Business

November 12th, 2015 by Kara Adams

Welcome to my blog!  For the next few weeks, my marketing expert, Joelle Asmondy, will be filling in for me while I work on a large project.  Joelle is a whiz with marketing.  I can’t wait to see which helpful tidbits she shares with you!  Enjoy!

phoneI recently spoke with a new salon owner who is struggling to fill her days with pets to groom. She has a good client base, a website, and a Facebook page but she still has lots of time to fill.

“What am I doing wrong?”

We all know that you can spend a lot of money on big-ticket ways to build your business. Few of us use our most common tool – the phone – to its best advantage. Let’s discuss these simple and effective methods to boost your client list. The best part is that you get immediate results – and they won’t break the bank.

It’s time you learned the 5 phone calls that can build your business.

THE RINGER

This is the client that calls YOU. When phones are ringing off the hook, it’s music to my ears! They are the time savers – you didn’t have to go searching for them… they found you! Make the most of it!

One mistake people make with these calls is that they treat them like an interruption. Even if you are grooming another dog, have another call on hold, and are trying to eat your lunch at the same time, you still need to treat that caller feel like s/he is the only thing on your mind.

Here are a few simple tips to make the most of that call:

  • Answer the phone in 3 rings or less.
  • If the call needs to go to voicemail, make sure you call back as soon as possible. (Make sure your voicemail message is clear, friendly, to the point. After all, they’re busy, too!)
  • Put a smile in your voice. People can hear it over the phone. (You know what else they can hear? When you’re eating. Don’t chew while you’re on the phone.)
  • If you have another client in your salon while you are on the phone, don’t roll your eyes or in any other way demean the caller in front of someone else. You may think you’re being friendly with the client in the waiting room, but what you’re really doing is showing them how they’re treated while you’re on the phone with them. Be professional with everyone, in what you say and do, regardless of whether or not they can see you doing it.
  • If you have to check on something, use the HOLD or MUTE button. No one wants to hear you rummaging around for things – it makes you sound disorganized. Putting people on hold allows you to get your thoughts in order, as well. When you get back after a brief hold, thank them for waiting.

The thing to remember is that you invited them to call, so treat them like the valued guests they are.

THE REMINDER

Another way you might be losing opportunities is not making the most of the client base you already have. Many clients are like us – juggling work and family needs – and we tend to forget things. If you are setting appointments for your clients, do yourself a favor and give them a reminder call the day before the scheduled appointment. (Texting works well, too. Find out what your client prefers and stick to it.) Many clients come to rely on it, so don’t forget. Make it a part of your morning routine.

THE ROOKIE

New clients aren’t used to you, yet. That means that don’t know how special you are and that you treat new clients like royalty. Give new clients the royal treatment with a follow-up phone call after their first visit. The day after their first appointment, give them a call to ask how their pet felt after the groom. Ask if they like the trim. Ask for feedback. And most importantly (if they didn’t rebook at check out), set up the next appointment.

THE RECLUSE

This is the client who doesn’t have an appointment on the books for 6 weeks or more. If you have gaps in your day, it’s might be because these clients do not have recurring appointments. Another way to make the most of your client base is to get everyone on a recurring schedule. If you have 50-75 valued customers, your books should be pretty full – if you take the time to rebook people and get them on a regular grooming schedule. When you look ahead and see gaps, look back 6 weeks and see who’s missing in the days ahead. Give those folks a call and welcome them back. Chances are they don’t even realize how long it’s been since their last visit and will be glad you reminded them to drop by.

THE WRECK

Ok, it’s not a wreck. Most likely it’s nothing more than a minor scratch, but we’re talking injuries, here. Brush burn, nicks, cuts, clipper irritation, quicked nails… any injury. The important thing is that you communicate with your clients. If an injury has occurred, talk about it openly before they leave your salon. Admit any mistakes. Apologize. Most importantly, call them the next day to follow up. Ask how the pet is doing. Ask if they have any questions. It’s crucial to your relationship that you can talk despite any accidental injuries that might happen. If you aren’t comfortable talking to people after an incident, you’re in the wrong business. Pretending it didn’t happen and “hoping they’re ok with it” is not going to retain clients. You need to talk it out.

BONUS TIP – THE RINGTONE

If you are using your personal phone for your business, make sure that your hold music is appropriate for a business. Your friends will think certain songs are hilarious as they wait for you to pick up, but your clients will lose respect for you if your music is inappropriate. It’s your phone – but it’s also your business lifeline. Treat it with care.

There are plenty of big-ticket items that are a part of being in business. You can do so much to build your clientele by making the most out of every customer relationship. Simply pick up the phone. It’s effective – and – inexpensive! These tips are just the start, but used consistently, you can start filling your books fast without draining your bank account!

What topics would you like us to cover?  Jump over to the Learn2GroomDogs Facebook page and tell us.

Click here for a complete video list to make searching Learn2GroomDogs.com even easier! 

Make it a great day!

~Joelle Asmondy


Clocks Are Your Score Keepers – It’s time to revisit an important topic!

October 28th, 2015 by Kara Adams

We once asked a salon owner about her biggest challenge. The answer was simple – speed.

Most of her staff struggled to get even the simplest trims done in under an hour. That included bath, blow dry, and haircut. Even a basic #7F all trim on a smaller drop coated breed was daunting to some of them.

clockWe walked in and saw a well-organized salon. It was bright. It was clean. The layout allowed for efficiency. The equipment was all top-notch.  Hmmm, we wondered. Why was turning a small to mid-sized dog such a challenge for them?

Then it hit us. There were hardly any clocks around. We only spotted one clock in the main room. It was a smaller digital wall clock set on military time. The owner of the salon was a career military gal who is now retired. I understand why she opted for that style of time keeper, I’m just not so sure that style of time keeping is the right one for a staff of non-military groomers.  Plus, when I was across the room, I could barely read it clearly. The clock was just too small!

If you want to be a successful groomer who can pay your bills while bringing customers back again and again – you need to embrace time.

Watch the time.

Track the time.

Race against the time.

Everything we do with professional pet grooming involves time. You need to be highly aware of every hour, minute, and second. Ideally, a professional groomer should be able to turn a small- to medium-sized simple trim in an hour or less. That includes the bath, the dry, and the trim.

The first thing we suggested to this team was: GET CLOCKS! Nothing fancy, they just needed to be large enough to be easily seen from across the room. The simpler, the better. Every room in the salon needed one hung on the wall. By having a clock in every room, it makes it easy for the groomers to track their own time with just a quick glance. But clocks aren’t enough. Every person working on the pets needs to have a watch on, too.

For those individuals that are really looking to increase their speed, having a timer at their stations can be really beneficial. Before you can start timing yourself, it’s helpful to know what your starting point is.

Break the groom down into sections. Bathing. Drying. Clipping the body. Trimming the feet. Rounding the feet. Scissoring the legs. Styling the head. If you don’t know how long it takes you to do each one of these items, you’ll never be able to improve upon your “best time.”

And it’s far easier to break it down into segments than to look at the dog as a whole. After all, who doesn’t want the opportunity to win at even one or two smaller segments than to get frustrated when they don’t hit the time goal with the overall trim?

Once you know how long it takes you to do each segment, you can set goals and objectives to beat your “best time.” Push yourself. Make a game out of it. The clock will be your score-keeper. Each time you gain even a few seconds, you’ve won a mini victory!  But you’ll never be able to do that unless you can easily watch the clock. Even with all the clock watching, always remember, speed and efficiency can never come at the sacrifice of quality or safety.

2015-10-28_1529rrWhat are your time saving tricks? Jump over to the Learn2GroomDogs Facebook page and tell us.  You can even click here for a quick lesson in how to use the site.

FREE TIME SAVING LECTURE HANDOUT

Click here for a complete video list to make searching even easier!
 

Happy trimming,
~Melissa


Tricks to Keep Your Appointment Book Full – Great Ideas to Stay Busy All Year Long

October 8th, 2015 by Kara Adams

When your appointment book is totally full, how does that make you feel? For most of us, it’s a sense of security. It’s a source of pride. It’s a guarantee that you are satisfying your customers’ needs. You are doing a good job.

But how do you feel when that appointment book has empty slots? Maybe you are just starting out on your own and have an open book. Maybe you are new to the salon and need to build a fresh clientele. Or maybe you have been at your salon for a while, yet you’re just not getting traction with repeat customers.

Long-time pet stylists know this unspoken rule: a full appointment book offers job security.

So if your appointment book is lighter than what you would like, how are you going to fix it?

Here are a few ideas to help you boost your number of daily grooming appointments.

SERVICE MENU

If you went to a restaurant and the server did not hand you a menu, how would you know what to order? Pet grooming is very similar. Owners know they’re coming to you to get their dog cleaned up, but they probably don’t know all the services that you offer. Services that could help them keep their pet looking and feeling great.

A well-organized service menu makes it easy for the client to select a service. As a bonus, it also makes it very easy for you discuss optional services such as de-shedding treatments, shampoo upgrades, skin conditioning treatments, tooth brushing, nail filing, or other add-on services.

A service menu allows you to quickly summarize maintenance grooming services. Use it to  highlight the benefits of regular professional grooming appointments. This is a great place to outline the suggested frequency of appointments. Depending on a number of factors, most pets benefit from being groomed every 3 to 6 weeks.  Others may benefit from weekly or biweekly appointments. Having a comprehensive service menu makes it easy to rebook clients on a regular basis.

DEVELOP A RESCHEDULE FILE

Actively encouraging clients to reschedule on a regular basis ensures that a salon will have a steady stream of clients. Plus, the pets will be in the best possible condition.<

Rebooking and rescheduling is all about helping your clients keep their pet looking and feeling its best. It’s about helping them understand the hygienic needs of their dog or cat, such as why it’s important to properly brush and bathe their pet between visits. Those are the goals. You are a problem solver. If they do not want to do the tasks necessary to maintain their pets at home, they will turn to you to do the job for them. Education is the key.

There are number of ways to rebook that next appointment:

  • on the spot.
  • reminder calls.
  • wake-up calls.
  • e-mail blasts.

Rebooking on the Spot

Offering to schedule an appointment at checkout is the best way to get a client to rebook. Develop a couple different scripts and use the one that best fits the needs of that client. For best results, use the tips below.

Referral card example.
  • Ask every time. Think of fast food chains. They ask you every time if you would like something else with your order – every time. When the client checks out, offer to rebook their next appointment to ensure their pet continues to look amazing.
  • For the busy or in demand pet stylist, reschedule a number of appointments at once or book the entire year. This will guarantee the client will get the premiere dates they are looking for.
  • In areas that are price sensitive, offer incentives. Maybe it’s $5 off their next grooming if they book within six weeks or less. Or maybe you offer them free upsells like tooth brushing or a spa package upgrade.

Reminder Calls – If the Client Does Not Rebook on the Spot

Ask the client if they’d like a Reminder Call a week before “Buffy” would be due for his next appointment. This could be done via phone, e-mail, or text message.

Discount card example.

Wake-Up Calls

Actively call clients that have not returned to the salon in 8-12 weeks.

E-mail Blasts

This is a great way to market to existing clients. If you are going into a slow day or week, offer an incentive to get clients in the door for those days.

IMPLEMENTATION

Rebooking is something you must do regularly – the same way – every time. Make it a habit to ask if they want to rebook at check-out. If they don’t, make sure to call and remind them one week prior to the preferred grooming time for their pet and don’t forget to do the Wake-Up calls once a month for any client you haven’t seen in 8-12 weeks.

Referrals

People are physiologically wired to make referrals. Many businesses can grow and flourish just by tapping into this business building strategy.

Referrals come from a number of different sources:

Incentive coupon example.
  • existing clients.
  • other service providers.
  • pet professionals.

Existing Clients

  • Encourage them to pass out your business cards. Let them know you are looking for more great clients like them. Always keep a supply within easy reach and generously hand them out to clients.
  • Use an incentive-based referral program. Offer a discount for first time clients PLUS give the same discount to the client that referred them. You give them even more reason to pass your name around – plus – it’s a great way to thank them for the referral!
Welcome flyer example.

Other Service Providers

  • hairdresser
  • local pizza joint
  • coffee shop
  • anywhere people gather and talk

Leave a stack of Discount Incentive cards with the owner or someone that is happy to pass them out. Code the back so you know where they came from – that way you don’t have to ask the customer when they turn them in. You do want to track where the cards are coming from so you can thank the service provider in an appropriate fashion.

Pet Professionals

  • vets
  • pet supply businesses
  • rescue organizations
  • trainers
  • pet sitters

Leave them with a basic welcome package they can hand out to clients that would benefit from your service. Participate in and support their events. They are more like to refer and support you in return. Offer a thoughtful thank you gift to those that refer you on a regular basis. Food or flowers never go out of style but there are many options.

Did we miss anything? Jump over to the Learn2GroomDogs Facebook page and tell us. You can even see a video on Learn2GroomDogs.com on this topic!

Happy trimming,

~Melissa


 
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