When Should You Just Say No?

July 30th, 2015 by Mike

Agressive dogrrGroomers. Pet stylists. We’re in the service industry. We want to help people and their pets. That’s the role of our business. When we do it well, we make people happy.

What if you can’t make them happy? What if you can’t groom the dog safely? What if the dog is highly aggressive? What if it has a serious medical condition? Should you still do it?

If you have been in business for any amount of time, I’m sure you’ve run into this scenario. Even seasoned professionals struggle with this dilemma at times. Should you groom the pet or turn the client away?

The easy answer is to refuse to groom the pet. However, there are many variables. If you feel the situation presents a high risk of danger for the pet or you – simply say no. Do not groom the pet. That’s your right as a business person or a conscientious employee.

Let me explain.

First and foremost, you must put the safety of the pet and yourself in the forefront. Once you have that clearly established in your mind, then you can start analyze the situation.

  • What is the situation that is raising the red flags in your mind?
  • What are your qualifications when it comes to handling a difficult grooming situation?
  • Is this a new client – or a long-standing client?
  • Can the pet be done safely with an assistant?
  • Will the pet cooperate if the owner stayed on premise or assisted the grooming process?

When I think about the above questions, I always play out the worst case scenario. The last thing that I ever want to have to tell an owner is that their pet was injured while in my care. Or that we had to take him to the vet for treatment. Worse yet – that their dog died during the grooming process.

Let’s face it. There are a host of things that could go wrong in any grooming salon even under the best of circumstances. We are working with live animals. Sharp instruments. High tables. Bathtubs. Dryers. Abrasive brushes. Stacked kennels. Slippery floors. The list of dangers working in every grooming salon is massive. Even in the best run salons.

On most days, an experienced trained bather, groomer, or pet stylist takes all these dangers in stride. We know how to avoid accidental injuries to our four-footed clients.

So what do you do when that internal gut instinct kicks in?

You are standing there, looking at a dog (or cat) and listening to a client talk about their precious fur child. Deep down – some type of internal fear grips you. You just have a bad feeling about this particular groom. You know the old saying, “trust your gut instinct?” Well folks, that natural instinct it working in full force. Listen to it.

It’s okay to say “no” to a grooming client. It’s never worth grooming a dog you honestly feel over your level of experience. If it’s more than you can handle – you have a potentially dangerous situation. The pet and you are the ones at risk. Not the owner. I don’t know a pet care specialist alive that ever wants to intentionally harm a pet. As a pet professional, the last thing we ever want to do is hurt an animal.

Yet, if something goes wrong with the groom on that day, whose fault will it be? Yours.

Weigh out the risks. Whenever you need to decline service to a client, it’s an uncomfortable situation. But the alternative is much – much worse. Telling an owner their pet has been seriously hurt or died in your salon it the most difficult task you will have to address. You want to avoid that at all cost – even if it makes the client angry or upset.

If it’s a new client, it’s much easier. There isn’t that emotional tie that comes with repeat or long time clients. It’s much easier to refuse to groom a dog that is too big or too aggressive for you to handle.

It’s the long time clients that are tough. The longer they have been a regular client, the harder it is. If a pet has physical ailments – those are the tough ones. This is when you need to weigh out the risks and look for alternatives to your standard grooming practices. The health and wellness of the pet has to be a top priority.

Here are the questions you need to ask.

  • Could the pet be done safely with an assistant?
  • Would the dog benefit from the owner staying with the dog during the grooming process?
  • Would a different time of day work better for the pet? Maybe a time when you can focus solely on the pet without distraction.
  • If your salon is busy, would a solo stylist or mobile stylist be a better option?
  • Would it be in the best interest of the dog to get the grooming done without stopping? Or break the grooming into sections, letting the dog rest between sessions? That might be over the course of the day or even over several days.

Years of experience has taught me there is not a straightforward answer. Whenever you need to decline services to a client, it’s an uncomfortable situation.

However, if you decline service, do it from the angle of care and compassion for the pet. Be prepared to offer alternatives to the client, even if that means you simply tell them “no,” you cannot groom their dog. List all the reasons WHY you cannot and will not groom their pet. Do it with the confidence of a professional.

In the end, as difficult as it is to say “NO” to clients, you will sleep a lot better at night when you do. Trust me on this one.

I know this has happened to many of you.  Jump over to the Learn2GroomDogs Facebook page and tell us about the time you experienced this in your salon.

Happy trimming,