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Did I Make it or Not???

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  • Did I Make it or Not???

    My grooming salon is celebrating our 1 year in about 2 weeks. It has been a very turbulent year. And I am questioning myself, Did I make it? Groomers around me are ALL booked out acouple weeks, I can't even book out 2 days!

    I have had LOTS of clients come once, and NEVER return. Many have said "I don't like the way you groom" and I think they are just using that as an excuse to use my 10.00 off coupon, JUST to save money, then return to their previous groomer.

    I opened my salon just 2 weeks out of school, and although I was still wet behind the ears. I can groom with the best of them now.

    There are weeks that I am grooming 20+ dogs per week, and then I have weeks where I groom maybe 10.... Am I doing something wrong. I am just curious how other new salons were doing their first year.

    Last week, I only had about 25 dogs. This week I have 12 booked *CHRISTMAS WEEK* That scares me. It makes me wonder if my business is slowly fading.

  • #2
    I don't know how you are as a groomer obviously, but I have just passed my one year mark being mobile (in a totally new state)...I am usually booked out at least a week and right now during Christmas rush, i had 40 grooms last week. I try to keep my days to 5-6 grooms per dayb and usually work Mon-Fri but the last week or so, I bumped it up to 8ish/day working 7 days. Haven't been getting home til 9-10pm which sucks but at least I'm busy. Also, I probably get at least 10 new clients calling every week and I haven't advertised since I first picked up my truck last November. It's all word of mouth.

    My advice is to maybe the next time someone says something about how you groom, ask them what specifically they don't like? Even if they don't want to stay with you, you may learn something that might need improving to keep the next guy coming. I'm not sure but I think if you're groom is better than their other groomer, they would stay even after the coupon was used. U need to do something that will differentiate you from the rest of the groomers in town. Recently another groomer told me that I am "meticulous" when I groom. I'm not sure if she meant it as a compliment, but i am. This is what sets me apart. I pay attention to the details of the groom. If it takes me multiple tries to get an area just right or it takes me a little longer to dry that bichon so the hair is fluffy and straight, I do it. I may be slower, but my customers love my grooms! That's what keeps them coming back.


    • #3
      Its always going to be hard just starting out , specially since you opened right out of school. Youre still "green" even though you have been doing this a year now. Like GottaLoveGracie said try to make yourself stand out. Do something above and beyond what the other places near you might do. Like for me I give every dog a bandana and I know that not to many other places around here do that. They use bows. Soon I will have report cards for them as well. One of my new clients has a Silky Terrier who she says will not keep ANYTHING on (i.e clothes..his collar LOL) But he LOVES the bandana for some reason and he wont let anyone take it off he growls at them.


      • #4
        It's so hard to say without actually being involved in your business, but to be as honest and as gentle as I can, it sounds like something may need to be changed. If people are coming to use the coupon, that's good, but you need to figure out how to make them want to stay. If it your actual grooming that they are having issues with, perhaps you need to find out what the other groomers in the area are doing style wise. I know I have heard gromers get complaints when they don't leave a hula skirt on a cocker because "that's how everyone else does it". So it may very well be that your grooms are fine and correct, and that perhaps the other local groomers are not but that's what people have become accustomed to. if not, then perhaps you could benefit from some continuing education. It has got to be hard opening right out of school.
        How many complaints are you getting? Unfortunately, we usually remember the bad more than the good, and I remember my first year I was grooming I had two complaints. One was because I used flea shampoo on a dog with bad skin (though the dog was infested and it was corp policy) and another was because I left a matt in an ear.
        What about customer service? Is there anything you are doing or can do to make yourself stand out? For puppy grooms, their first time, I will often put a lock of fur in a bow and give it to the owner. Pet report cards can be very well received by owners. All of my clients get to pick out a free toy when they are done. Sometimes it's just the little extras that help you keep clients.
        The very best of luck, and I hope you know my suggestions and comments are only in an effort to help you succeed!
        What a caterpillar considers the end of his world, we call a butterfly.


        • #5
          I don't think coupons is the way

          to judge if you are a good groomer. People often just come for the discount, then move on. I would rather attract people who want quality and are willing to pay for it. Have an image of an upscale shop. I have tried to maintain that image in this tough economy. Yes, my income is less than 2003, but times are different now. I also am working deliberately part time now.

          I suggest going to any groomer events, seminars etc. Get videoes and books we mention here. Use good top quality products and advertise that you do. Have displays with packages like blueberry facial to sell. If you can afford to, maybe carry some quality dog foods and beds, bowls etc. Perhaps unique retail would help attract people too.

          I do believe experience is the best teacher. Be consistant in your grooming and don't cut corners so to speak. Get a few really nice light colognes. Spa lavish has some. Best Shot does too. The Baby powder one is nice and the mint fresh.

          I think in this economy everything is different. Slow and steady. I think you can make it. And you have all the information you need right here to help you along. Find something unique to set you apart. Cute bandanas or something. Petedge has very nice inexpensive toys ea. dog could go home with. Instead of coupons, give a cute stuffed toy that cost about $1 or two. Have cute doggie cookies to sell. I wonder if you could hook up with a local photographer. Not just now for holidays but for any time. Also, try to get referrals from vets and local rescues. Volunteer a cheap groom to save a dogs' life BEFORE it is adopted. Ask for creative ideas here and model yourself after those here who are doing well. Best of success to you in the new year. Geeee, and I was only going to write a note. LOL


          • #6
            Lose the coupon. You're only getting the price hoppers and you will chase your tail trying to keep them.

            Give service over and above. Do the bandana thing as suggested above. Send out thank you cards. Give the pet a little something extra after the groom, we use complimentary gourmet dog treats baked especially for us, with our logo on the package. We also SELL bigger packages of those treats.

            Encourage them to rebook at the time you collect for the groom.

            Make sure you are on every internet search engine you can get on. Make or have made a killer web site, show pictures of your finest work.

            If you are going to discount, discount only for your "preferred clients", those who book several appointments in advance. Give them some additional incentives throughout the year. Doing this thing alone has tripled my bookings.

            "With God's help, all things are possible!"
            Laura Lee Ray
            I am kats_melody on eGroomer. Follow my Twitter tweets - @ZOOMGROOM on


            • #7
              I truly agree with those that say: ask, what exactly the clients do not like about your grooming? you cannot please everyone none of us expect to,however if you are receiving negative feedback by clients on your styles or cuts it would be very helpful for you to know what your downfalls are.Also do the workshops at seminars for techniques and breed standards maybe take an advanced grooming course(hands on scissoring)starting fresh out of school you were very limited on actual critiquing of your skills and receiving helpful tips to ensure the best grooming for your clients.


              • #8
                I too started right out of school and in March it will be a year. It's been tough and I would love to be busier. It takes time to build a clientele especially faithful ones. Being right out of school you didn’t have an established clientele.

                Here is what I did to give me an idea of how I was doing. I made a spreadsheet with all my clients’ names then I put the number of times they came in. After doing this I found out that 53% have come back more than once. Now keep in mind some of the other 47% will still comeback. I think that having more than 50% coming back something must be going right. I might not be booking up but at least my clients are happy. Another groom once said to me look at your clients if they are happy and coming back then you must be doing something right. Reduce you coupon to $5.00 add a referral program, ask your clients what they don’t like. I can’t believe that they won’t tell you. Anytime I have had a compliant they told me quit bluntly. Most importantly Keep plugging along.


                • #9
                  I have been mobile for 3 yrs, very limited advertising. Next yr will be doing alot more advertising. This winter has been light. I had more grooms in the spring & summer then I am now. October was pretty busy, November was just about dead did enough to cover bills & that was it. December I was expecting to be busy but it really wasn't. Had a few reschedule to Jan because they were sick (Poms & Boston), I did have just enough last min grooms that I did the same amount of dogs as October so it turned out ok. For my mobile business to be busy I would need another 100 clients. I go through my records every few months & take out clients that I haven't seen in a yr. Last yr I lost alot due to the economy. I put their file in another book so should they come back I still have record of what I did etc. I did Christmas cards for my clients & I'm down to only 50 clients sucks, last yr I was at 83. The clients I do have are the loyal ones though, about half of them book their next appt as soon as I'm done.

                  Sorry not much advice just telling you, you aren't alone.



                  • #10
                    right out of school?

                    I cant believe that some people open shops right out of school and then wonder why they struggle. even groomers that have years of experience go through slow growth. I firmly believe you need to build under the supervision of more experienced groomers, good or bad, go to seminars and trade shows and continue educating yourself. I groomed for a shop for 1 year after school. when the shop closed I spent the next 10+ years grooming dogs in my basement. I did okay, but I didnt grow. when we seriously began talking about opening a shop I knew I needed more experience. yes, I needed more experience. even though I had more than 12 years grooming at that time, my experience was limited. styles change all the time, and I had no real experience dealing with client in shop setting. I never advertised, I groomed for friends and family. I worked a little more than a year between 2 shops before I ventured on my own. I"ve been open almost 4 years now, I have almost 17 years grooming experience. I go to as many seminars and shows as I can, I get together with other groomers in my area often to talk. most business experience a loss the first couple years. you need to accept that you are new and have alot to learn. you might be an excellent, naturally talented groomer, and I know a few. but knowing how to groom and running a business are not the same. sorry this is wordy. good luck to you. keep educating yourself, and dont ever be afraid to ask questions. no one is perfect.


                    • #11
                      Originally posted by petpalswi View Post
                      I cant believe that some people open shops right out of school and then wonder why they struggle. even groomers that have years of experience go through slow growth. I firmly believe you need to build under the supervision of more experienced groomers, good or bad, go to seminars and trade shows and continue educating yourself.
                      I believe the same thing; your best education is to groom with others as much as you can in the beginning or as long as it takes for you to feel really comfortable with your skills and then attend every seminar, trade show, whatever the case may be so you're still educating yourself.
                      This is an industry that's constantly changing and in order to keep up with the rest of the world, you need to stay involved and in touch with other groomers
                      ~*~*~Shawn, C.M.G.~*~*~
                      Apparently common sense isn't all that common
                      *~*~emipoo on egroomer*~*~*


                      • #12
                        I instructed at a grooming school and advised my students to work several years for other grooming businesses before even thinking about opening their own. My opinion was opening a grooming salon right out of school is like opening an auto repair shop with only a semester course in high school as your experience working with cars.

                        Some listened, some didn't.


                        • #13
                          I to am a new groomer. I work in a vet clinic. I found out the hard way most people think that having a dog groomed at a clinic is a last resort. I had to really try to stand out. I found the little things are the best tools. When a new client comes in I drop every thing to make sure I get exactly what they want if possible. I take time and write everything down. Also if I get started and have to go shorter than I thought I will call mom and tell her so. I have gotten many compliments on doing that. At Christmas time I made up small gift bags with the dogs name on it,from me and gave them out the whole month of Dec. I just put some chew sticks and treats in them. It was a very enexpensive(sp) gift and the customers really liked them. I got several thank you cards in the mail signed by my 4 legged friends. I do bandannas and bows & make them smell very good. I use baby powder scent and ck9 those are 2 that I really like. My budget is small so I found these to be reasonable. If I have a new puppy coming in for a haircut I make sure I save some hair and label it with the puppies name first hair cut and the date. I made one mom cry doing that. She was so touched that I would think of such a thing. I am working on referrals now. I'm not sure how to do them though. When I first started last Feb. I was lucky to have 2-3 grooms a day. Now I'm up to about 6 and booked out 2 wks. I think I will do the gift bags again at valentines day. Does anyone have any other ideas? I would like to give out something little. Just to here no one else in town does that.