Keys to a Successful Salon

by Mitzi Hicks, NCMG, Golden Paws School Consultant

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I have been involved with all aspects of the pet styling industry for my entire life and we have had successful businesses. We attribute our success in the pet industry to our mother, Jacqueline Rauch. She expected the highest level of perfection in work and life values from herself, her employees, including her children. I still live by her motto, “If you are not going to do it right, don’t do it all.”

I am very blessed having my mother as my mentor. All of her pet-related businesses were built from the ground up. All of them were successful due to her hard work, talent, business knowledge and values. Like so many other grooming business owners then and now, she faced the biggest of our challenges, hiring and keeping professional groomers. She began by paying training wages to some employees and accepted losing some income while training them. They gained a valuable education while earning wages and yet we lost many of them. It seems to be a fact of the grooming industry.

Eventually she hit upon a fantastic solution, and opened a state licensed pet styling school within her established salon.

She had professional stylists who actually paid for their well-rounded education! Thus began the Golden Paws Pet Styling Educational System. This system can have students grooming better in 3 weeks than some experienced groomers.

In her footsteps I co-authored the Golden Paws Complete Guide to Dog Grooming, the cornerstone of our training program, and produced DVD’s based on the Golden Paws Teaching Methodology helping students or pet stylists to improve and be in the top 20% of the field if desired.

I would like to share more thoughts on other keys to a successful pet salon.

HIRE THE RIGHT EMPLOYEES

The number one ingredient of a successful salon is skilled employees known for being not only professional but trained to your standards as the business owner. Your employees must be willing to do things your way! You pay and supervise them to do so.

A fast way to lose business is to 1) be understaffed and 2) turn away appointments or booked too far out making it inconvenient for your clientele. In as little as three months your salon could be in trouble. Hire right and adequately to meet demand.

KNOW YOUR STANDARDS OF QUALITY AND ENSURE THEIR DELIVERY

Salon owners must know when to step in and assure the work of their employees meets standards for quality. When owners cannot, or do not, do this some employees may hold their employers hostage.

YOUR ATTITUDE AFFECTS EMPLOYEES

Your success ultimately depends on how you manage your salon from the top down. Your presence, your attitude and your demonstration of management affects every employee, either for the best or worst. Your attitude may even affect the pets in your care and your clientele.

SET GOALS AND MEASURE YOUR SUCCESS TO ACHIEVE THEM

A pet salon operation must be goal-oriented. Pet grooming is a relatively easy business to start-up and operate when you have a business plan stating your goals and how you plan to achieve them. We recommend PetGroomer.com founders’ Grooming Business in a Box® and specifically, Pet Grooming Business Plan Helper. It is easy-to-use.

GENERATE ADDITIONAL STREAMS OF REVENUE

Your business can be small, medium or large. It is simply your choice. Regardless of size successful ones often add one more streams of revenue besides pet grooming services.

Pet styling is conducive to adding additional streams of revenue. Even ones can add hundreds or thousands of dollars to the bottom line. Consider spa menu options taking full advantage of add-ons such as teeth brushing, de-shedding, massages, nail art, color (including blow pens and stencils), feathers, cat grooming or even expanding your business into a school of grooming as we did and offer by consultation with Golden Paws.

CHARGE THE CORRECT PRICES

You must know how to charge the correct prices for your services. Many business owners are weak in this area, and it can make or break your business. You should be able to easily explain your prices and price increases. Estimate your prices for services before you groom pets so there is no miscommunication with pet owners.

LISTEN TO CLIENTS AND HELP SOLVE PROBLEMS WITH THEIR PETS

Become invaluable to your clientele. Help solve issues with their pets! Listen to them. For example, consider bad breath. Share your speculations about what may be causing it. In this way you develop a partnership working together to resolve the issue. You may sell teeth brushing and oral solutions they can also purchase and use at home.

Sell only what you believe in and your staff should be trained likewise. Become the pet expert to your clients and they increase their loyalty to your business.

MAINTAIN AN AWARENESS FOR YOUR BUSINESS IMAGE

It starts with curb appeal which entices pet owners to enter. Greet them. There should be no doggie or unpleasant product smells. Is your welcome warm and inviting? Think “human spa” and consider adding touches like water art fountain, menu boards and attractive brochures.

If your groomers work in the back your clients will judge your business by the front person. It may be a significant training task but it is vital to your success to train professional client staff.

Consider having your front persons wear smocks. Write client relations scripts to help their training.

REVIEW YOUR FINANCIALS

Your business should have financial goals. Have a bookkeeper create actual monthly, quarterly and annual financials and examine if you are meeting or exceeding your stated financial goals.

Find problems early on, don’t wait.  ■

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