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Starting to freak out..really long(sorry)...

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  • Starting to freak out..really long(sorry)...

    Ok so I decided to start a grooming salon/self-service dog wash/bakery in March of this year. I opened march 1st and as of right now I have around 63 clients. My problem is that after advertising all this time in the paper, people still dont know that I am even in this town let alone where I am located. This location has always been a grooming shop as long as my parents can remember, but the groomer had/has some real issues...She still hasn't told her clients that she has moved, so they all come here first looking for her, which would be great except she charges so little for her work. When I first rented this place I thought ok we have to save back some money because the first few months will be hard...well I didnt realize that the previous tenant would trash the place so bad moving out...I still dont have a bathroom(but thats a whole other issue with the landlord). And yesterday one of her clients, a oay keeshond, came in with its coat so packed it would probably make quite a hairstorm in my bathing room during the drying process, I tell him how much I would charge, which I dont feel was enough really, and he proceeds to tell me that she charges him $12. I couldnt believe that!!!!! Lord knows I probably made a huge mistake moving back to this town and then trying to start this type of business here, in a town that probably isnt ready for it. But what do I do? I cant put up signs or go door to door as the laws here prevent this, I can hardly afford the ad in the paper, but it does help some, there was about a month when we didnt have an ad and I know that kinda hurt us. I am not in the phone book yet, and I know lots of you say that will help too. I go to the dog park weekly, which I have tried to go more often just to meet more dog people. And one of the groomers in town has been sending me a few clients and one of the vets in town knows about us but doesn't feel comfortable sending clients to any one paticular groomer. I did have my bank handing out my cookies in the drive thrus. And through my bank, I got to go to the radio station and be on the air for a half hour. It all worked great but now I have hit a lull and I keep hearing that every one is so busy, am I just impatient? Thank you for listening to my babbling, sorry this is so long, and any advice you can give me, I will be extremely grateful for.

  • #2
    One of my best advertising techniques has been t-shirts. I had a bunch of really cute shirts made with a dog in the bathtub, store name and phone number. my kids wear them, my husband wears them, i gave them to the construction workers my husband works with, they wear them to job sites, and when they are on lunch. you wouldn't believe the calls i get saying they saw my t-shirt and they didn't even know I was there

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    • #3
      I know how hard it is to be patient. But really, 2 months isn't that terribly long to be open. And you have 63 clients, which is a start. Sometimes it takes word of mouth and people hearing other peoples experiences before they'll try out a new place. I'm sure with the summer months here, you'll be gettting more & more busy. People will be seeking you out, even if it's the oay clients, it's clients. Hang in there! I don't know why the Vet wouldn't want to at least carry your cards for you at the front desk, so sorry about that. Keep your chin up. Even in small towns where everything seems like it's still stuck in the stone age - you can still have a successful business. It just may take a bit more time.

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      • #4
        very new newbie

        Hello, I am not sure I can even find a reply, but I will attempt. Basically, I am 44, and now beginning a new career in grooming. I worked for a groomer a few years ago for a short time and I know that I like it and I think I will be pretty ok at it. I love animals, they are my life, blah blah. I am almost done with my "at home" course. I hope I know enough? Do you all think that online ed is ok for this business, or should I have had hands on training?

        My question is this: I am terrified. Should I go mobile or work from home to start. OR...why can't I get a used but reliable RV and have my equipment fitted into it. Then, work from home or go mobile on some days. Does anyone do the used rv thing? I am just thinking that an RV parked on my acre, in back with the horses, might be a nice way to be unobtrusive in the neighborhood (rather than a commercial van and maybe cheaper), but allow me to go mobile if I need to.

        Also, am I kidding myself at 44? I am strong, outdoorsy and healthy. Do you all think I can do this?

        This would be a new career. I had a preschool for 12 years that was super successful and I am sort of thinking that my level of working with clients will be rather similar. Loving and protective parents, children (pets) that need support and love and a specific care, and just being basically a little kid myself that watches the Disney Channel for relaxation.

        Thanks for any imput, I really appreciate it.

        ps I am going to a place where the only groomer for miles moved away and the community needs a groomer I put up flyers in the local businesses and I already have apts for July/August.

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        • #5
          Thank you for all the advice...

          I am going to have some shirts made today, thank you for that idea. I have put up all new signs and people still come in and ask for the owner of the previous business...after walking in the door where a huge sign is posted, people just amaze me, then yesterday a client who had been here before came in and tried to use thier coupon(for the previous business) I said I was sorry but it was not ours and they were like well why cant you honor it? you bought so-and-so's business....The other business is still operating just downtown now, but she is hardly ever there, I had a guy come in two days ago and said "I've been calling and calling, you never answer your phone" well when Im not here(7am-7pm most days and here 7days a week), , which is rare I put call forwarding on to my cell phone, so I know he had not called here and sure enough he was looking for the other business, and didnt book because "you are too expensive" and "Why do you need shot records, dont you just wash dogs here".....uuuughhh! Its just really frustrating. my "very helpful" father rented this building for me because its close to his business and used to be a grooming shop, so he thought that her clients would continue to come to me just because of the location. Ha! then he gets mad at me because Im not that busy....well, lets see the previous groomer did jail time and lost alot of business and people dont know that we are a new business, they think she just came back and changed the name to fool people. Anyway, any other advice would be appreciated and thanks for the above advice.

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          • #6
            Why not get a big banner that states you are under "NEW MANAGEMENT"

            Schedule an open house and offer something for free (like a nail trim or something). Hold a special event, a pet/owner look alike contest or pet beauty contest or something, during your open house. People love to show off their pets and you could have some BIG grand prizes for the winners! Like a free groom or something. Serve refreshments for the owners AND pet to market your bakery. There are so many things you could do that won't cost you an arm and leg, but will pull in some new business. Establish a program for referrals that will encourage people to talk about YOU and your shop. Try to pre-book every client that you service. Offer special packages for your self-serv bathing. Some thing like a monthly fee (which would include 2 baths or something) that will bring in more money up front. A punch card that lets people buy so many and get one free may keep people coming in. I'm not keen on giving away services, but sometimes you just HAVE to do freebies to get things rolling.

            One thing about advertising however, is you don't get a good return on your investment right away. You need to advertise consistantly, over a long period of time for it to do any good. People typically don't see the first 9 ads (or they see it, but don't really SEE it).

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            • #7
              discouragement

              Don't get discouraged, it takes a while believe me. This month will be my fifth year, but my first year was LEAN. When I first started I didn't turn ANYONE away for any reason. When that guy came in with the coupon you should have smiled and accepted it, you may have lost money on THIS groom, but if you can get him to come back it pays off. I got really really good at grooming the naughty dogs, ( the ones that had been kicked out of the exsisting shops) because I needed every dime I could make. Now all of those clients have been paying me every six weeks for five years. Most naughty dogs or puppys I talk people into rebooking every four weeks so we can work on behavoir. For every dog there is an angle to get them back in the store. Do you have enough room to start a small doggie daycare?? And do not forget to offer all of your sixty three clients a discount on there next groom for any referral they send you.
              Hang in there, I am rooting or you.
              Liz

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