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Downsizing from downsizing already

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  • Downsizing from downsizing already

    Hi everyone. I have owned my shop from 20 years and have downsized many times. First I got rid of cat grooming and then it was the difficult dogs and then the difficult customers. I then downsized from not taking anymore big dogs, just keeping the ones I had already. After getting carpal tunnel surgery and having pain in my neck and shoulders I got rid of all the big dogs except for two standard poodle that I still do now that are 13 years old. They are good dogs and not too heavy.
    Now my assistant of 4 years is on maternity leave and I hired had an assistant in the summer that went back to school and then found someone else that turned out to be a disaster.I am actually traumatized by her.
    I am afraid to hire anyone else.
    I am now by myself and have to work another day to fit all my customers in. I do not answer the phone at all. It says that I am not booking any appointments at this time and I am booked for many months, they still demand that I fit them in.

    I do not call them back as my message says that I will only return calls if I get a cancellation .
    I am grooming 8 small dogs a day and doing everything else. I am getting very stressed out and want to get rid of the customers that just call whenever they want in. Most of my customers book many appointments ahead and a lot of them book for the whole year. I am booked almost for the whole year with a few openings her and there. But I want to keep them open so I can have a break and if I get sick I have no where to change appointments too.
    So how do I tell the customers that I don't want to groom their dogs anymore without sounding so stupid? I have been grooming there dogs for years but they never rebook and I don't want them to rebook because I have no openings.
    I had a call today from a customer that comes every 3 or 4 months with two dogs and he wants me to groom his sister dog and he even heard my message and wants me to squeeze him in. I am not going to work 7 days a week. I will collapse. I need time for myself and family and errands.
    I am burning out fast. Thanks for reading my post and any suggestions would be appreciated.

  • #2
    I feel like i'm a bit in the same boat ... never thought I'd complain of too many customers

    also having a hard time w/employees :-/

    help us!


    • #3
      Don't tell them you no longer WANT to groom the dogs, tell them you CAN NOT groom the dogs, because you are booked with prebooks, find a groomer in the area that you can refer to. Let them know it is not possible to squeze them until next february the 12th, or some other arbitrary date. Or post a sign stating as of what ever date you work out that only prebooked appointments between hrs you want to work and days,keep only the best dogs, people and cut your hours to suit you.
      ~~Everyone is entitled to my opinion!~~


      • #4
        Sounds like it may be time for a price increase, especially for the few clients you'd rather not see anymore. You are in an enviable position but obviously not a position you are enjoying too much.
        I think the only way to make some of those unpleasant clients go away is to either up the $$, or when they call again is tell them you have no openings for "X" weeks/ months and have a few names of other shops/ groomers they could call. That way you are "off the hook" and they can do whatever they want.

        good luck


        • #5
          1. On your machine say you are not accepting new clients at this time.
          2. When someone calls who is not prebooked, tell them you will put them on the waiting list and will call when there is a cancellation. Warn them that it may be a few weeks/months from now.
          3. Don't feel bad about not being able to fit them in. And don't work 7 days a week just to fit everyone in. If you are at your maximum you should be HAPPY, not stressed! Too bad for those people who don't prebook, it's not your problem.

          What about just hiring a part time bather? Don't let one bad employee ruin everything. Call around to the vets in your area or to other grooming shops or even dog related stores and ask if any of their employees need some extra hours. You might find someone who at least has some experience working with dogs.


          • #6
            First off, tell people who call that you are no longer accepting/grooming dogs that go over 8 weeks between grooms. Then stick to it.
            If you do not want to hire a bather, then don't, but I certainly would in your position.
            Then, start scheduling yourself some time off.
            Any breed you prefer not doing? Don't take them any more. Any individuals near or over your weight limit? Nope, no more.
            Encourage the easy dogs and don't take the difficult ones.
            Just tell your clients that it is doctors' orders, and offer them the phone number of another groomer. The more people think you are in demand, the more they want to become one of your clients, the more picky you have to become.
            Enjoy, I envy your position.


            • #7
              I agree that it is time for a price increase. That will weed out the ones you don't want.
              Mandy, Birdie, Evie, Willie and The Woo
              Check out my Blog at


              • #8
                I know you are afraid of employees, but what about finding a local junior handler or 4-h-er to work weekends and help you, or get one that just graduated high school.

                This is how I started working in a groom shop after showing dogs a bunch, and I know a few other groomers (ones that are half way normal!) started too.

                I think a lot of people would rather train someone in their way of doing things rather than "break" someone of a bunch of bad habits.


                • #9
                  Thanks for the replies. I have not taking any new customers for about one year. I took my ad out of the yellow pages. I have gotten rid of some of my smaller dogs that are hard to handle. I told them my doctor said that I should not be grooming at all. I am happy that I don't groom those dogs any more. All the dogs I groom now are good and easy to do. I am happy with that, but the customers that keep bugging me are driving me crazy.
                  I have raised my prices a lot and I am more expensive then the other groomers around me.
                  I guess I should feel good that they want me to groom their dog so bad, but I can only do so many dogs with out going crazy.
                  I still have a few medium size dogs that I am going to tell that I can't groom no more. They are good and easy dogs but I figure that it will help lesson the work.
                  I would like to hire a bather, but if my assistant comes back I won' need the bather. It is hard to hire someone temporary.
                  I don't have any free time to train any one either.
                  If someone comes to me asking for a job as a bather and they have some experience than I might try them out.
                  My customers want me to hire they children to help me but they have no experience and just love dogs. I need some one that knows how to read the dogs body language and is not afraid of dogs and has a good strong back to stand over the tub. There are some dogs that thrash around in the tub and some don't like having their face washed and the dreaded short nosed shih tzu that is so hard to wash.
                  I found myself always at the tub with the last bather because she did not know how to hold the dog or wash its face.
                  I was always so behind at trimming the dogs because the bather could not wash them.
                  I tell my customers that I am booked for the year and they still want me to fit them in or call them if I get a cancel.
                  I am going to take out the part in my message that says I will put them on a waiting list.
                  I have to think of a very good message for my answering machine.
                  Thanks again.


                  • #10
                    wow booked for a year and still customers wanting in... I think many of us envy you!

                    Well, I would just being to not feel guilty and just decide who you want to keep. and, just don't return phone calls to the others who leave messages regardless that you already said you have no openings, ... and are not taking new clients....

                    You could even just put it on your answering machine that the new people should call - and then list the name and number of other groomers....


                    • #11
                      Sell your accounts to another groomer,send out cards letting them know of the new groomer taking over for you and just keep the ones you like best.


                      • #12
                        just send them to N michigan lol...... not the bad dogs though send those south lol


                        • #13
                          Sit down and start crunchin numbers...

                          look at WHo is an easier groom; good owner, never matted, well behaved dog...and how long to do the groom and how often they come in...

                          Put EVERy dog on a scale; 1 for the best, 2 for slightly stressful anfd 3 VERY stressful...

                          Cut all the 2 and 3's...

                          The look at which clients are making you the most money in the last amount of time...

                          Explain to every client that they MUST prebook or you cann no longer accomadate them. So when they call and want in you will say, "I am very sorry but I am now booked for the year. "


                          • #14
                            Thanks everyone for your replies. I do feel bad not returning calls, but if I do I will just have to explain everything to them and they try and make me fit them in. They tell me that they do not want to go any where else and that their dog only knows me as their groomer.
                            I just rather ignore there calls and I hope they go some where else.
                            I guess I have it made right now. Small and easy and good dogs to do.
                            I was thinking of closing my shop and working for someone else but I would have to do big and difficult dogs again.
                            I don't want to go back to that.
                            I guess I should enjoy what I have.
                            Thanks again.