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10 Ways to Keep Your Sanity This Holiday Season

firstBy now, busy salons are bracing for the holiday rush. Thanksgiving. Hanukkah. Christmas. Are you ready?

This isn’t only your busiest season, it’s also the end of the year. It can make or break your earning goals. Will you finish off 2016 with a bang? Will your books be full for January and February of next year?

I love this time year. It forces us to be on top of our game. To be organized. To be ready. To have our days planned. To keep our communications clear with fellow team members and our customers. To know our limitations.

Let’s not forget what the real reason of the holidays is: to spend time with your family and friends. Sure, we want to be there for our customers but not at the expense of our family and close friends.

Back at the height of my mobile grooming business, I lost sight of this. I, along with most of my team, were booked the gills. I often joked if my clients didn’t tip me in cookies and nuts, I would’ve forgotten to eat altogether during this time of year.

My work day would typically start at 5 o’clock in the morning. It would start by preparing all the client’s holiday gift bags for my team of stylists.  By 8 o’clock in the morning Istress was at my first stop. I would typically groom seven, eight, or even nine dogs a day in my mobile unit. This was before the age of generators. With each stop, I had to plug in. What a pain! Those chords were long, heavy, and cold on your hands! Running out of water was a real concern, too. After all, it was Michigan. The temperatures were plummeting below the freezing zone. Many times I would not get back to base until well after 9 o’clock at night. By the time December 24 rolled around I was so exhausted all I could do was fall into bed. One year I totally missed all Christmas Eve activities as well as most of Christmas morning.

That was the year I came to my senses. I love to be busy. I also love to take care my customers. But I had pushed myself too hard. I learned that year how take control of my schedule, to create a plan, and how to use the word “No.”

Here are the few of the things I did to reclaim my sanity so I could enjoy the holiday season with my friends and family.

1. Blocked out time for myself. Long before the holidays arrived, I blocked out times for myself and family events. Holiday parties. Holiday shopping. I made sure I had enough me time scheduled so that I could be at the top of my game for both my customers and my family.

food2. Maintained a healthy diet. Seriously – we cannot survive on cookies alone – although I have tried! After a long day standing at a grooming table – who wants to spend time cooking! Long before the holidays hit, I would prepare healthy dinners and freeze them in individual portions. I learned my crockpot was my friend. For breakfast and lunches, I made sure I had plenty of healthy items that I could just grab. Cut up fruits and vegetables. Lean proteins. Water. Today, with Pinterest – there are plenty of ideas of how to put this together. And when all else failed, a collection of my favorite restaurants I could call for takeout as I drove back to base.

3. Stockpiled supplies. As we went into the holiday season, I made sure that we were well stocked. Shampoo. Conditioner. Specialty shampoos. Paper towel. Laundry soap. Cotton balls. Quick stop. Kool Lube. We were very proactive with our ordering activities to ensure we had everything we needed and would not run out.

4. Maintained my mobile unit/salon. The last thing any of us need is a hiccup with our equipment during our peak season. With our vans, I made sure everything was serviced prior to the onslaught of the holiday season. Oil changes. Brake jobs. Maintenance to the interior workings of the units. Replaced old or tired equipment. I carried this pre-maintenance over to my salon, as well.

5. Premade bows. I am a bow girl. I love their creativity and the sparkle they add to the finished grooming job. It’s like icing on the cake. During the holiday season, our most festive bows were all premade. Glitter bows. Sparkle bows. Pom-pom bows. Tulle bows. Beaded bows. Ribbon insert bows.  I hated taking the time to make them on-the-fly. All our special holiday bows were made well in advance. I would choose the bows myself based on what I saw in the client’s home or I would let the client select their own bows in the salons.

focused_interviews6. Focus. Focus. Focus. When grooming, I used every speed trick in the book. Prepping. Bathing. Drying. Trimming. Wherever I was, in an instant, I could see a clock. I paid attention to minutes – not hours. I would set mental time goals on every single step of the grooming process and fight to stick to them.

7. List keeper. I love lists. Once it’s on paper I can get it out of my mind. My lists allow me to remember the finer details and stay on track. There’s great gratification in crossing things off a list. When it comes to holidays, I have master lists for everything. Shopping lists. Cleaning lists. Gift giving list. To do lists. Decorating lists. If it is something you must think about each year, consider building a master list for the task. I have a folder on my computer called organizational templates. I store all my master lists in that single spot.

8. Took care of my best customers first. I started pre-booking my most regular customers starting in September. I would start with my weekly and biweekly customers. Once they had their appointments locked in, then I would move to the three-week and four-week clients. I would finish off the pre-booking with my five and six-week clients. Typically, by that point, there was very few openings left in my schedule.

9. Pre-booked appointments. Traditionally, January and February in the northern climates can be somewhat slow for most grooming salons. Pre-booking is so important this time a year. By taking advantage of the high traffic in November and December, it’s easy to pre-book January and February 2017. Smart pre-booking can increase your income without adding a single new client.

relax10. Took the week off between Christmas and New Year’s. For my businesses, which are strictly grooming-related, I always reserved that week to regroup. To rest. To allow myself some “me” time. Some years the entire team would take the week off. Other years we would take a more relaxed approach to work by not grooming any pets. After all, most of your clients have already been groomed. We would take that time to address special projects needing to be done in the business.  Deep clean. Paint. Replace worn and tired equipment. By the time January 2 rolled around, we were all refreshed and ready to begin a new year.

At one point my life, I dreaded the holiday season. The demands of my grooming services and my time made it so that I couldn’t enjoy this time of year. Once I reclaimed my time – my life – the holidays once again became that special time of year.

With a little forethought, you can set the stage. You will be able to generate the maximum amount of income from your busiest time of the year without losing your sanity.

Happy trimming!

~Melissa

Do you have suggestions for having the best holiday season?  Jump over to the Learn2GroomDogs.com Facebook page and tell us about it.


Why Should I Schedule Holiday Appointments in September?

dogIt’s hard to think about scheduling for the holidays with apples still growing bright on the trees and pumpkins still turning orange in the fields. Warm weather makes it hard to start thinking about holiday plans. What if I told you that this is the perfect time to avoid holiday stress?

The secret to avoiding holiday madness is to put your festive season pre-booking plans into gear before the chill hits the air. Are you surprised? It’s true! Here is an added perk to pre-booking holiday appointments. ‘Tis the season to guarantee the typically quiet months of January and February are lively and robust. This is the perfect time to ensure you have a holly, jolly, and profitable grooming season.

When you count it out, we are not that far out from many prime holidays. In just six short weeks it will be Halloween. In 10 weeks we celebrate Thanksgiving in the United States. In about 15 weeks we will celebrate Christmas and Hanukkah. All of these holidays revolve around friends and family.

holiday-stress-600x300pxOne of the biggest ways to eliminate being frazzled by all the holiday pressures is to get organized, now. The last thing your clients want to worry about is having their four-legged fur baby looking unkempt and bedraggled as friends and family enter their homes to celebrate the season.

Years ago we discovered that pre-booking was a great way to get control of our salon schedule. It offered a great benefit to our customers, as well. We even found a few hidden bonuses. One of those bonuses was shortening the time frame between appointments on our five and six-week clients. Our customers often opted to shave off a week or two from their regular schedule just to make sure their dog was looking fresh and festive. By doing so, the added revenue dropped directly to our bottom line. Another bonus was the generosity of tips around the holiday season. The third bonus was our ability to pre-book into the typically slower January and February appointment time frames here in Michigan. When done correctly, our January and February can be some of our more profitable months.

So how do you kick this off?

Start by going through your client list. Identify your premiere clients. You know who they are – the clients that book regular appointments every one, two, three, four, five, and six weeks. You will start pre-booking appointments based on the frequency your clients typically come into the salon.

5-phone-calls-that-saved-me-100Once you have them identified, it’s time to pick up the phone and get them scheduled. I consider it a courtesy call to our most important and regular clients.

Your weekly and bi-weekly clients should have automatic standing appointments throughout the entire year. Those clients are your most valued premier customers. Confirm all of their appointments. They should be dropped into the schedule first, getting premium appointment choices. Once all your one and two-week clients are booked, move to your three-week clients. If they do not already have pre-scheduled appointments through the holiday season, pick up the phone to get them scheduled. Continue to move down the list to the four-week clients. Finish up with your five- and six-week clients.

By the time you are done, you will have very few appointments left. Why? Because you’ve done such a good job taking care of your most valuable clients. If you do have any appointments left, you can be selective about what you take. You will have the control and confidence to know what can be done or what needs to go on to a cancellation list or when you simply need to say, “I’m sorry, but we are full.”

Once the schedule is set – stick to your guns. Sure, the holiday season can be extremely profitable for grooming establishments, but do you really need to push yourself beyond your limits?

No. Not if you value your mental and physical health.

istock_83916991_mediumOnce you get into the final countdown in November and December, looking forward six weeks will be January and February. Before those clients leave, they should have their January and February appointments pre-booked. If you struggle to get clients to pre-book during the colder months, think about incentives to help encourage pre-booking. Maybe it’s a discount off their next grooming. Maybe it’s a free add-on, upsell, or spa treatment. Get creative – but make sure you’re ready to offer the incentive at checkout to get those deep winter appointments booked.

Don’t forget, the holiday season is about friends and family. You have a right to enjoy them, too. How can you fully enjoy family time when you’re totally drained? Some of you may miss festivities altogether! I can’t tell you how many Christmas Eve’s and even Christmas days I totally missed because I was simply exhausted. Most successful groomers have to learn this lesson the hard way – including myself!  Don’t believe me? Click here to check out my video on Learn2GroomDogs.com!

When you have a pre-booking priority system, you are in control. You’ll be able to recapture your holiday spirit and sanity – and so will your team!

Remember, as the holidays draw closer, the dogs get easier. Typically, these are the one- to three-week regularly scheduled pets. Simple spruce-ups are usually all that’s needed to make them look amazing for their families.

This system works best when you start pre-booking in September. Don’t wait. You’ll thank me later when you have time to enjoy loved ones and some holiday cheer.

What steps do YOU take? Jump over to the Learn2GroomDogs Facebook page and tell us about it!

Happy trimming!

~ Melissa


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