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First client

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  • First client

    Hi everyone

    Today I groomed my very first client. I finished my training a few weeks back. I offered the groom free of charge because this person knows a lot of doggy people and I thought it would be good advertising [plus she has her dog groomed regularly]. She was over the moon with the groom and said that I was far better than the groomer she normally uses but then said she would continue to use that groomer because she is only two minutes from where she lives plus she was cheap [and I mean very cheap]. She also said that pricing is the main thing that people look at especially if they have their dog groomed every five weeks like she does. Is this the case? I thought quality and care was a big factor not cheapness.
    I'd be interested in hearing what you all think.
    I think this is a great site, I've learnt LOADS.

  • #2

    I am from the school of... price may lure them in, but only
    quality will keep them.

    They need to feel like you are special and you have pride in your work.

    At my school we were told to NEVER never never, take 0 for a groom.
    Work on your own dogs for free. Everyone else pays to ride.

    I do give my family half off, but I still charge them something.
    If I charged them nothing, thats like saying " I need someone to put up
    with my lack of skill."
    Not the way to start.
    From now on.
    If you groom a dog, you charge SOMETHING.
    Thats the rule. And a good one at that.
    Don't give them the impression that you are still learning.
    Heck we are all still learning.

    Also, as you do dogs, take photos and post the before and after
    on the forum here. People will give you tips to improve, and believe it or not,
    you will see things you didn't see before.
    This has helped my grooming a lot, and I have not been grooming
    that long either. Good luck to you.


    • #3
      First of all I would like to say welcome and congrats on a happy first client. When you are new everybody has an excuse about why they either like going to you or going to some body else. The shop where I started grooming in was a brand new shop and there aren't any other groomers within 15 miles so we got alot of people who came to us just for the convienience(sp?)Others came to us because we didn't quite know how to price yet and we were practacly grooming for free. Now that our prices are right and we are developing a reputation for being good at what we do we have alot of regulars, but we still get bargin shoppers. If I were you I wouldn't take it personal. There will be many others who will come to you because you are a good groomer not just because you are close or cheap.


      • #4
        I think it truely depends on the people. And honestly, you don't really want the price shoppers. My prices are on the higher end for this area, we've been open about 3 months and I'm booked out a week in advance. Most of my clients so far are on 4 week schedules, I have probably 10 or so on 3 weeks and a handful on 1 or 2 week schedules. When I talk to people about why they are looking for a new groomer it usually has to do with the one on one attention I give. Their other groomers have the "cattle call" approach, where everyone checks in first thign in the morning and they spend all day. They love the facility I'm at and I've heard several complaints about repeated injuries at other groomers. More then once I've heard that thier dogs LOVE to come to our facility, they don't shake or seem as frightened as visiting some other places.

        Overall, I don't think price will be the major factor in your good, long standing customers.


        • #5
          "She also said that pricing is the main thing that people look at especially if they have their dog groomed every five weeks like she does. Is this the case? I thought quality and care was a big factor not cheapness."

          This is not true. You are correct. All of my clients are on a regular schedule, many come every four weeks. My clients top priority is how the dog is treated. Then the quality of the work. Price and location are considerations for some, but I'm on the high side in my area.

          Good for you for giving the dog a great groom.


          • #6
            Used then abused!

            I am sorry for you finding the cheapest most manipulative creature on the planet for your first client(actually she was not a client since you didn't recieve anything for your service). Not only did she get a free groom but she then tried to criticize you for the nerve of charging a fair fee for future services.
            You were hoping for referrals from her. Well, can't you hear her when one of her many doggie friends comments on how nice her dog looks. "Yeah, I got it done free but I won't be back because she charges too much."
            Pllleeeaaassseee don't even think about taking HER advise seriously when it comes to setting your prices. That would be like asking a hungry lion to come over for a salad for lunch.
            That low-life probably isn't even aware of how badly she insulted your kindness and generousity. GRRRRRRRRR!!!!!
            Oh, and welcome to's message board. I wish you success and I hope the path to your door is beaten by nice dog people who will respect you and your hard work.


            • #7
              Wow, I cannot believe that you gave her a free groom, to which she responded by saying that she is not coming back to you! Wow...Don't listen to her about the prices. Like everyone said, you really don't want the price shoppers anyway. And if you start your prices out too low, you are really going to regret it later! The shop that I work at is the highest in the area, and we are crazy busy. Your quality will speak for itself.

              Word of mouth is a great thing. Another thing that works great is if you can get hooked up with a vet. Quite a few of our clients were referred by vets in our area. It says a lot to a person that their vet recommends there groomer.

              Also, when a person calls sell them on your service. When they say, but so and so is cheaper, then you tell them what you offer. EG, personal service, etc.

              By the way, welcome to the board! You will love it! I have learned and am learning so much!
              Scratch a dog and you'll find a permanent job. ~Franklin P. Jones


              • #8
                OMG!! Bless your heart! You gave that woman a free grooming and she had the nerve to tell you she wouldnt be back because even though your better she is a cheapskate?!?!
                That would (did) have gotten my undies in a twist!
                Like everyone else says I wouldnt count on her for future clients, I always make sure Im the highest priced pet stylist in my city (I know you think you wont make it if you out charge everyone else but believe me if you dont charge enough in the first place it will only come back to bite you in the future)

                Welcome though and congrats on your first groom!


                • #9
                  That is just awful

                  Some people just have no class. Sorry that happened to you. Agreeing with everyone else, don't ever groom for free. (Except for my immediate family... I have a very small family.)

                  I am not a super-cynical person, but the best advice that I can give you is to never [I]count[/I] on people to give you referrals. Yes, you will get referrals, but the verbal promise of word of mouth from a client is unreliable, at best.

                  In a previous life, I sold cars and my boss used to say, it's not sold (the car) until it's over the curb (out of the dealership parking lot). Meaning, people make a lot of promises, but the money is not in the bank until you have actually completed the transaction. Hope that makes sense...

                  Next time you feel tempted to do that, charge them anyway, then use that money to place an ad... much more reliable return!

                  Keep your chin up, I firmly believe that the good people outnumber the bad!


                  • #10
                    Thanks everyone. It's nice to hear other opinions. I realise that I was taken for a BIG ride! If I had known she was going to still use the other groomer [she didn't say this until she got to her car] I would DEFINITELY have charged her......I won't be such a soft touch in the future!!!
                    Hope you are all having a great day.


                    • #11
                      Originally posted by Gaspra View Post
                      Some people just have no class. Sorry that happened to you. Agreeing with everyone else, don't ever groom for free. (Except for my immediate family... I have a very small family.)
                      I dont even groom my families dogs for free! Someone has to pay for my shampoo and clipper blades ect ect ect. and my family totally understands!
                      I have bills to pay just like them...


                      • #12
                        Lillyella, I'm sorry you got toasted too. That lady is the rudest of characters, and the lowest of low toilet bowl mold!!

                        Always charge what your services are worth. I wouldn't even go by breed, per se, because not all dogs of the same breed are created equally.

                        Think about Golden retrievers, for example. They can be small, or huge, fat, or thin, thick coated, or light coated, etc...

                        Go by your time! Give them an ESTIMATE but not an exact price, if you want. Or tell them you can't say until you actually see the dog. Don't let them pressure you into giving a price. There are enough dogs in town to go around, they'll start coming, just give it time.

                        Tammy in Utah
                        Groomers Helper Affiliate


                        • #13
                          Did she tip?

                          Lilylella, The best thing you could of done was come here to this board and get everyone's feedback about giving away a free groom. You are a real softie but you gotta toughen up and listen up. This is business. Just because you are fresh out of school doesn't mean you shouldn't get paid for your time, effort and supplies. You were nice enough to groom this woman's dog for free....did she offer a tip? She should of insisted you take something. If she didn't, I think she is even more despicable.

                          Don't be afraid to charge and don't undercharge. Your customers will respect you more. Even if some people walk away they'll always be somebody else and you'll be better off in the long run. Focus on your confidence, inside and out. Let it show when you talk about your work.

                          Chalk this one up to experience and don't look back. I've made many mistakes. The key is to learn from them and move on. Don't worry... you're gonna do great! You got us!


                          • #14
                            I too tried to give away my first groom but they actually paid me for a full groom, what they usually pay there own groomer (now I charge $10 more then that!).
                            My second client I really didn't want to charge them, they are business owners and good friends but I did and they even tipped!
                            Now wiht my own shop I knew I would have to get tough or work myself into burnout (and it will happen with low enough prices). I gured out my expenses, how often I wanted to work and how much I want to make and found out my bottom line and how much I needed (wanted) to make an hour and prices accordingly, hard when you knew cause you are slow but you estimate.
                            I alos have a little note that I can see on the front desk but hidden from customers eyes. It read, I HAVE RENT TO PAY...does wonders for my backbone!


                            • #15
                              Lillyella, I did something even worse

                              When I was learning to groom I was given the advice to practice on any dog I could get my hands on for free. To get dogs from family, friends, and neighbors which I did. Most of them gave me money. This one woman called me stating that she had heard about me and asked if I would groom her dog.
                              I agreed and she showed up with a Westie, a cocker, and a shih tzu. It took me the whole day to groom them and I was expecting a little something for my hard work. I thought the dogs all looked pretty good considering but the lady picked them up, said thanks and left without giving me a dime. She never came back. I learned a very valuable lesson.
                              I do groom my Father's dog for free and have one client that I give a discount to. Anyone else who has a problem with my price can go somewhere else. When they ask how much I charge, I give them my base price and tell them that it could be more depending on the condition and behavior of the dog. How many people do you know who go to the grocery store, a department store, or the hair dresser, and have a choice as to whether they can pay or not pay?
                              Don't be afraid to charge and charge what you are worth. Check around with some other groomers in your area and find out what they charge. Figure out what you need to make in order to pay your bills and make a profit.
                              Good Luck