Train Your Clients

by Kathy Sanders NCMG

When I get a new client it comes to my attention that they are accustomed to getting their dogs back quickly. They are confused about delivery and pick up times, and many have complaints about where they have been getting their dogs groomed. There is nothing wrong with quick drop-off and pickup throughout the day except it interferes with the bottom line, THE SHOP’S INCOME!

Yes, I said income. For over 25 years I ran a grooming shop. In the beginning we were only able to groom 18 to 20 dogs a day. Once we started bringing the dogs in early and letting them out starting at 1:30 PM, we were able to groom almost twice as many dogs per groomer.

Our new routine freed much time. It was not assembly-line fast grooming, quite the contrary. After we changed over we were able to groom 30-35 with the same amount of groomers.

I think it is important that all shops, no matter how small, should have a bather. You are wasting groomers’ valuable time with bathing and drying when a few dollars will pay for a bather for three to four hours and free up the professionals time to prep and finish grooms. You can pay the bather $40.00 dollars and the groomer will bring in approximately $160.00 in that four hour time period.  With our system of grooming, a groomer can groom at least four dogs in that amount of time.

Some like to bathe first, some prep first, but as for the quality of the haircut and being able to groom more dogs, prepping first is the way to go. Getting the excess hair off the dog and getting the mats out result in less time in the tub as well as shorter drying time. Then, the finish time is next to nothing.

Cost upfront is a one-time fee for a new set of blades and scissors, but it will save you hundreds of dollars a year in bathers’ pay. It also allows you to take more dogs a day. I have a set of dirty dog blades and scissors and of clean dog blades and scissors. Once my blades are old or scissors been dropped they are changed over to dirty dog tools. LOL

I understand that some groomers would totally disagree with my method, not to mention that many clients would have a fit but they want it now.

Now that I have explained why we want to train our customers, now let’s talk about training the customer.

I have never lost a client who wanted his or her dog back immediately by simply telling them that they can drop off at 9 a.m. (my latest drop off time) and pick up at 1:30 p.m. (my earliest pick up time). Next I tell them, “If we are done any earlier I will call you.”

For those who say, “No, I want it now!”  I simply charge $5.00 more and they either agree to 1:30 p.m. or pay extra. This is simply one of our shop rules and otherwise we risk slowing down our groomers when or if rules are not followed.

For years I have taught my students at Groomadog Academy to have shop rules in writing. They should have both rules for the reception area, shop rules, and rules for the staff. It is essential to adhere to these rules even if you are the only groomer working in your shop. You will never get any faster if you are the only groomer and you groom one-on-one, one dog at a time.

I was hired (I own ‘Thrudreamin’ Enterprises Inc. a groomers’ consultant firm) as a consultant to help a small one room groomer improve her speed. I changed her over to taking the dogs in by 9 a.m. and she went up 30% on quantity immediately. Then when she hired a bather for 2 hours a day it went up again by 40%. She is now simply doing clipper, ears, toenails, brush. When all are prepped, she simply takes down the body again and scissors or vacs her dogs. It’s as easy as 1-2-3.

It is imperative to motivate yourself to talk to your customers. You can make them happy by letting them know that business is improving, and in trying to accommodate everyone’s needs you only have two early out times a day. They can either book out a couple of days or take a later out time like 3 p.m.

Two local shops recently closed their doors.  I am getting some of their clients. I can tell immediately when talking to the new client that they are not only used to 2 hour turnaround, but they are also used to some less than structured grooming ideas.  I teach a system for grooming dogs that is 1-2-3. My students graduate from Groomadog Academy quality-minded as well as productivity-minded. Being consistent in the way you groom and having rules and regulations that everyone has to adhere to shows structure and professionalism.

My clients love that they can always count on my timing because it is always the same. We are able to take walk-ins, work-ins and take the time to eat lunch and have a structured stress free day. We have rules.

My groomers can groom 10 dogs a day and feel very comfortable (more on holidays). I train each client that if they want to get an appointment for holidays to book them in advance. No surprises for my clients, they know the rules.

At first clients may balk but when they realize that they can count on being a 4, 6 or 8 week customer, they know what time to deliver, what to expect and the quality of work is always consistent because our groomers are not stressed.

Some Things To Train Your Customers

Make your rules and stick to them in a very companionate way.

Put your drop off times in the newspaper ads, early outs available.

Keep your shop clean so people will fall in love with your professionalism and want to come to your shop.

Request that clients make 4, 6 or 8 week appointments. Convince them their  dogs need at least the toe nails, ears and baths if nothing else. It is healthy for the clients and the dogs. Some will not do it but at least you should try. Tell clients you have reminder calls the day before if they are on the “Priority Customer List.”

Have a 48 hour cancelation notice.

Have a late fee posted.

These are just a few of our rules and we have a better shop for it!  ♦