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  • Frustration In House over Pricing

    We groom at a Shelter; it is a way for the shelter to raise money and we also groom the dogs from there at no charge when they need it and as we can. There are two of us there. I have less seniority than my co-worker although she insists we are equal in all other ways.

    I let her take the lead on pricing since she's got more experience but she's so worried about making someone upset over charging what the job is worth. (She's a negative person that way, always thinking someone somewhere is waiting to yell at her for something - I don't get it.)

    When we agree on what to charge before the owner comes back after the groom, she "forgets" that we talked about handling fees or extra matting fees or the "Why haven't you been here in 6 months" fee. Or she chickens out.

    I don't think it is fair that we charge the same price to the Shih Tzu family who are in every 6 weeks and maintain their dogs at home as we do for the ones who come every 4 months. It isn't fair to the owners or to us. It has been my experience in every other industry that if you want to change the way people treat you, you do it with the bill. You can talk until you are blue in the face about combing at home, washing the face, and other things but until you charge them what the groom was worth - they won't change their behaviour.

    My suggested solution is to set a clear schedule with each regular client we do. Mark it on their cards, and if they don't pre-book (which they get a discount for doing) then we put them on a call list. If they don't keep to the agreed upon schedule then we charge more according to how long it has been. As things are now, we reward clients for causing us and the dogs stress! Pay half the price, your dog suffers and your groomer hurts.... whatta deal.

    In some cases, when we know finances are an issue for example, we offer the Express Groom at the halfway point between the needed and actual next groom. The cost for this is about 2/3 of a regular groom and its everything but the bath and anals. We've also given gift certificates or accepted volunteer hours at the shelter in exchange for just getting the dogs back in for the care they need.

    So now that I've spilled my guts I see I have a couple frustration points: I need to talk to my fellow groomer and clearly explain what I feel about her not doing as we agreed. I can offer to be the one who always does the receipts and check-outs. As for phoning, I'm already the one who deals with the phone since she has hearing loss and can't hear people on the phone, so I'd rather sit down and make the appointments all at one time anyways instead of dealing with customers who need their dog done yesterday and we're booked solid for 2 weeks! But that still leaves the pricing issue for dogs. I've proposed a VIP or Preferred Customer Program to her, and we do have a few dogs who fall into that category that we also do pick-up and delivery for as they live less than 2 minutes from me. I'd like to see that expanded. If you commit to the schedule then you pay x. If you don't and you come in half as often as you should then you'll pay xx. I honestly believe we have the customer base to support this now. And I myself wouldn't mind trading a slightly smaller pay cheque for less emotion and physical stress. So I guess I've answered my own questions. Please, give me your feedback on all this, fellow groomers, because I'm no where near as confident as I probably sound!

    Thanks!

  • #2
    I would come right out and tell her, in a supportive positive manner so she doesn't get all sensitive and upset, that you need to discuss some issues and that you have solutions that you would like to also discuss. Then, just go right into it, in a kind manner. Tell her straight up that you feel that because you aren't making any progress as a team, that you feel it would be helpful to be allowed to take the reigns for awhile solo to get things into shape, then she can either leave that part to you or join in, but no more wishy-washy. Period. For those clients that do not have a lot of money, offer to trim the pet very short. Let them know if they keep the dog brushed out at home, that they can still come in every 4 months and pay the regular price (not the VIP, but a regular price) as long as the pet is in good shape with long hair. If not, then they pay the big fees. They may not have a lot of money, but the ball is in their court. I would however, recommend a nail trim at least once between those grooms... In my life, we don't have enough money for a lot of things. We do those things ourselves or go without. I don't ever expect someone else to do it for me for nothing.

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    • #3
      Charge by the hour.

      If the dog is brought in looking like the last chapter of "What The H*ll's The Use", they will get charged more for the extra work unless they agree to a quick buzz cut. If they act like a canine Rambo and slow the process down, that adds to the cost as well.

      Then all you have to discuss is the time that goes into grooming each dog, not matting or handling fees. Time = Money is something most people can understand.

      The well-behaved doggy brought in every six weeks will get charged a lower fee because the dog is in good shape and takes less time to do.

      One hour charge minimum per dog.

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      • #4
        Sounds like the chicken is setting in at check out. I used to be the chicken, and clients could sense it. Simple solution, I told clients of accidents (they took it much better from me) the other checked clients whose charges made me have the heeby jeebies (we made more money and most clients who liked to haggle did so less with the other gals).

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        • #5
          Yikes! That brings out my own inner chicken! I do want to put the onus on the customer - and no question, this will do that - but I fear we would lose a large percentage of our customer base that way. After all, they have had three years of her current way of doing things. I guess my instinct is to try something less radical than this, although my God, am I ever tempted!

          Thank you all for your great words of advice. I'm going to sit and mull things over for a bit. Will let you know one way or the other how I do!

          Originally posted by Doubledogdare View Post
          Charge by the hour.

          If the dog is brought in looking like the last chapter of "What The H*ll's The Use", they will get charged more for the extra work unless they agree to a quick buzz cut. If they act like a canine Rambo and slow the process down, that adds to the cost as well.

          Then all you have to discuss is the time that goes into grooming each dog, not matting or handling fees. Time = Money is something most people can understand.

          The well-behaved doggy brought in every six weeks will get charged a lower fee because the dog is in good shape and takes less time to do.

          One hour charge minimum per dog.

          Comment


          • #6
            Originally posted by Doubledogdare View Post
            Charge by the hour.

            If the dog is brought in looking like the last chapter of "What The H*ll's The Use", they will get charged more for the extra work unless they agree to a quick buzz cut. If they act like a canine Rambo and slow the process down, that adds to the cost as well.

            Then all you have to discuss is the time that goes into grooming each dog, not matting or handling fees. Time = Money is something most people can understand.

            The well-behaved doggy brought in every six weeks will get charged a lower fee because the dog is in good shape and takes less time to do.

            One hour charge minimum per dog.

            That is BRILLIANT!
            "We are all ignorant--we merely have different areas of specialization."~Anonymous
            People, PLEASE..It's ONLY a website!~Me

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            • #7
              I have the same problem as your co-worker but am working on changing that with a new set of policies and pricing. Going for a similar structure, but was hoping to do an increase of a percentage for every month over 8 weeks that they go. I'm just not sure how much of an increase would be fair.

              I know if it was you and I working together I would be more than receptive if you tried what PAWS suggested. I just have no backbone when it comes to that kind of stuff... but at least I'm working on it!

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              • #8
                I charge the same for matted every 6 mos or regular every four weeks. The matted gets a 7 all over no style or extras, the regular gets the style, they both take the same amount of time. Its your shop so you guys will have to agree whats right for you and stick to it, if you don't it will cause confusion for your clients and tension between you to. Good luck!

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