Reverse Appointment Scheduling

by Grooming Business in a Box®

Benefits of Organizing Appointments by Time-Out Rather than Time-in for Pet Salons

What you are about to learn is an alternative method for scheduling appointments. It is not well-known, however,  it has been in use for decades with loyal followers. The demand for appointment books using this system led Grooming Business in a Box® to release a D.I.Y. appointment book maker on CD in 2012. Using your word processor you edit the various templates to match your specific operation choices. Then you print pages bound in three-ring binder. One available style is “Time-in Time-Out Reverse Appointment Scheduling.”

The origin of the Reverse Appointment Scheduling System traces back to the salon owned by author Madeline Ogle, From Problems to Profits: The Madson Management System for Pet Grooming Businesses. Although her book did not provide detailed scheduling instructions the importance of “time-out” versus “time-in” is evident in its illustrated business forms, and its  “Information Center.” It is a large blackboard organizing active grooming service orders, time out, pet locations by cage number, groomer assignments and more at a glance from a distance. The system works best for medium or larger businesses.

What is the “Reverse?”

Hairstylists for people schedule a time for clients to arrive with the intent to provide services immediately upon the set time. Similarly groomers provide pet owners with a specified time to arrive but not always with the intent to immediately serve pets. Both focus scheduling around the “time-in.” Groomers project time-out, as well as offering notice to owners when their pets are ready for pickup.

The reverse of time-in is time-out. What if scheduling started with time-out instead of time-in? With some experimentation Reverse Appointment Scheduling was developed and perfected with strong client support. Here is how it works in a nutshell.

Offer More Flexibility

When scheduling an appointment start by questioning the pet owner, “What time are you thinking you would like to return and pickup your pet(s)?” When they want to arrive comes later. Most people have some ideas of when they can come back, or must come back, in order to meet commitments. Their replies may be during a lunch break, after work, in time for a date, movie, dinner or doctor appointment. Our goal is to help them with their commitments beyond having their pets groomed. Once we know the earliest or latest time-out that works for them we look to our appointment book and note available Time-Out column slots (see the far right column of both illustrations in this article).

We also discovered another great benefit. Because you give the client a larger window of time to arrive we noticed we rarely had a late customer. You can decide the window, one hour, two hours etc. As a result late arrivals for drop-off nearly disappeared and that kept our operation going more smoothly.

Illustration 1 Click link to open in a new window or tab for review and return here (PDF file). Printing a copy makes it ever easier. This is a sample appointment book page, one of many possible.

Refer to Time-Out column in Illustration 1. Find the 1:00 pm row (far right column). Victor Smith is bringing in 2 complete grooms, Bear and Brisket. Go across the row to the far left to the Time In By  column. For Victor it is 10:00 am. We advised Victor he must arrive no later than 10:00 am if he is to return to beautifully groomed Bear and Brisket at 1:00 pm. Victor is happy that we have assured him that we are serving his schedule with priority client service excellence, and he can keep other appointments after 1:00 pm without our interference. But the best is yet to come.

We also impressed Victor by offering him more flexibility, something that people in a “busy world” always appreciate. During  scheduling we said, “Victor you must have Bear and Brisket here by 10:00 am in order to have them ready by 1:00 pm but you are welcome to come earlier, we open at 8:00 am (maximum 2 hours earlier by shop policy).” We impressed him with our concern for his flexibility, and at no cost to our operation. What client doesn’t like the feeling of our going an extra mile for them? Reverse Appointment Scheduling is more than structure. It is a positive client service promotion whereas traditional appointment scheduling is all structure and no extra  impression of our appreciation.

Put yourself in your clients’ shoes. Which appointment scheduling process gives you more of an impression of going an extra mile to serve clients, and without any added cost to your operation?

You may earn more money! Groomers that offer multiple department operations can actually sell more services with Madson Reverse Appointment Scheduling. Consider this example for an operation with both daycare and grooming departments.

Refer to Illustration 1 again. Mrs. Ting arranged a time-out at 4:00 pm and time-in at 1:00 pm. During the scheduling process the receptionist went a step further to sell daycare services. “Mrs. Ting, Ellie and Kwan must be here by 1:00 pm latest if you are to pick them up by 4:00 pm, and if you like we can accommodate them as early as 8:00 am putting them into our daycare facility from 8:00 am to 1:00 pm. The additional fee for two pets is $18.00 and that frees up much of day for you while we care for Ellie and Kwan.”

Some business owners reported amazing 76% sales increases for daycare services using the logic of Reverse Appointment Scheduling for grooming services. Daycare is not the only sell. If you offer training or pet massage, you can similarly offer them.

Best Suited Grooming Operations

Reverse Appointment Scheduling does work best in staffed environments, but you can use it in any operation as long as you can properly accommodate the needs of pets staying longer hours.

Illustration 2 Click link to open in a new window or tab for review and return here (PDF file). Printing a copy makes it ever easier. This is a sample appointment book page, one of many possible.

Refer to Illustration 2 for a two groomer operation (no bathers). Both groomers prefer a four hour window between time-in and time out. However, you can setup the pages to allow different time period windows based on your preference. Longer windows are common with newer groomers working on increasing their confidence and productivity. This format works best for operations that do not book appointments to specified stylists but to whom the owner/manager assigns orders on-the-fly as the workday proceeds. It is your choice.

Grooming Business in a Box® has a Business Forms & Appointment Books CD of various templates for traditional and alternative scheduling systems. Using your word processor you can customize the several formats provided on the CD to meet your operational needs. Print them and bind into three-ring appointment binders. Complete instructions included with the CD. See for more information.  ♦