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  • Working alone

    How many groomers work alone in a grooming shop? I had an assistant, but now I am alone and with way too many customers. I was working only 4 days a week and an occasional Saturday. Now I am working 6 days a week to keep up with all my customers. I am slowly downsizing. But I need to downsize more. I do have a lot of senior dogs that will go to the rainbow bridge soon, so that will help, I will miss them of course.
    I groom mostly small dogs, some of them are medium size dogs that are good and have been loyal to me. I am finding them to be getting heavy for me and I want to tell them that I cannot groom them anymore, that will help me downsize too.
    I feel so bad doing this and I just can't get the words out when I see them.
    I am trying to find help but had no luck.
    I want to work only four days again and take off 2 separate weeks in the summer and March break and between Christmas and New Year.
    I have new customers coming in every day and my phone is ringing off the hook. I don't take them. But explaining my situation to them is time consuming. I want to lock the door but my customers that I have booked for the day drop off an pick up their dogs at different times. I have taken my open sign down.
    My message says that I am not taking any new dogs or customers and I am full for the rest of the year and they still leave a message to get an appointment.
    I don't call them back.
    I groom 8 dogs a day but I am getting tired and would like to groom 6 to 7 dogs.
    How do you groomers working alone keep up?
    Do you get tired? Do you answer the phone or call back messages at the end of the day?
    I don't mind working by myself but the stress of too many customers and customers begging me to take them in are getting to me.
    Sometimes I want to just close my shop and work for someone else.
    Thanks for listening.
    Any suggestions are welcome.
    I am loosing customers though, which is great news to me.

  • #2
    I work alone, but I am on a different end than you...my salon just started so we are still building clientele.

    I think as time goes on and you get more and more burnt out and desperate, you will find your backbone.

    My salon is over a half hour away from my place of residence and many of my current clients didn't want to make the drive so I started grooming just a few out of my home on my days off. All small dogs, no biters, good customers whose dogs I loved and didn't want to lose. I ended up working 7 days a week with only one day off a month! And that day was Christmas! (and previously, Thanksgiving) I referred over half my clientele to a friend, including three clients with 8, 6, and 5 dogs respectively that got them done every 2 wks. I just couldn't do it. (the 5 dogs were almost full coated cockers who are all beautiful and well behaved, owner tips $20/dog. I did them twice before pulling the plug. Just not worth it!) I think your customers will understand after seeing the tired in your face.

    Make a list of the dogs/people that make you groan when you see them on the books and start giving them the heave ho. I'm sorry you are so exhausted! Don't give up your shop! There are others who would kill to be in your shoes! Just learn how to say no. The only person that can make you do something you don't want to do is yourself.
    There are 3 different kinds of people in this world: Dog people, cat people, and rational people who don't have a problem liking two things at the same time.

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    • #3
      Make a list of dogs who make you groan when you see them on the books & raise the prices on them. Soon you will be doing less dogs for more money.
      "We are all ignorant--we merely have different areas of specialization."~Anonymous
      People, PLEASE..It's ONLY a website!~Me

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      • #4
        Well look at it this way - you are obviously doing something very, very right!

        I would start by weeding out the dogs you don't want to do. Perhaps put a weight limit on them or get rid of the really difficult dogs. You could also consider raising your prices a little bit - that should weed out a few who don't want to pay more, and you might also make a little bit extra money for less work.

        Good luck!

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        • #5
          I feel your pain

          I work alone from home and groom 7 days a week. I am very slow and can only do 5 dogs per day max. I would prefer to do only 3, but always end up adding more. Our financial situation is horrendous (husband is a real estate agent and deals are few and far between) so I feel obligated to work as much as possible. I am SO burnt out but what can I do?

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          • #6
            I work alone, except for Saturdays when I have a helper. She can only come on Saturdays so, today I have resorted to desparate measures.
            I work in a school all day and groom every afternoon after work. Today, I have two Newfies coming and have invited the school secretary to come and help.
            She is very dog savvy and if it works out, she may be willing to help this summer since she has it off and my helper is gone most of the summer.
            I'm growing my business tho, and sometimes I feel like just saying NO. But that would be dumb at this point. My goal is to quit the full time job and get some breathing room.

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            • #7
              Topknot -

              You are in the dilemma that has been discussed many times on this board. You are in a CARING business, and you are letting it take a toll PERSONALLY instead of using your "business head".

              One business tidbit that I have seen many people implement is that every time you get too busy, raise your prices!! These clients are NOT your friends!! They basically - as nice as many of them are - DO NOT CARE if you are tired, exhausted, sick, overwhelmed. They simply want their dog done - preferably by you.

              If you are so busy because you are lower priced than others near you, then you can weed out some simply by raising your prices to a few dollars HIGHER than those nearby. If you are so busy because you are terrific, then do TWO things: raise your prices on most dogs AND get rid of the ones that make you unhappy, the ones that you would rather never see or groom again. You can do it kindly, you can be sincere and sweet, but NO ONE will look after YOU except YOU!!

              Stop being nice to everyone EXCEPT yourself, and put yourself FIRST, for your health and business. Work smart, not hard or endlessly. After you tell the first couple that you can't do them, it gets easier. I am telling you this from experience. Go for it.

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              • #8
                I feel like i'm in a similar boat!

                I do however, have a bather & someone in the afternoon to help w/daycare, clean & check out clients. this helps a lot - but finding reliable help can be a big challenge. I do 7-10 dogs a day, 5 days a week - and also have an average of 5 daycare dogs a day.

                I have raised prices a bit & am slowly weeding out the dogs that I dread - and clients that are rude/unappreciative/etc. I've stopped accepting new clients currently, I am booked out about 7-8 weeks. when it quiets down some I will take some new people.

                I do sometimes also think working for someone else would be a lot easier, but hey, the grass is always greener right? and there is a lot to be said about having a thriving biz that you can do whatever you want! not a bad problem to have, but I understand where you are coming from.

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                • #9
                  time to start cherry picking....and raise them prices! as far as people calling and leaving a message for an appointment with you (after blantely (sp?) ignoring your message that you are booked for the rest of the year and are not taking on new clientele....i would look around at the shops around you and ask them if they are looking for new clientele...and put on your message that you are not taking on new clients...but they could give such and such shop a try...or just get the names and numbers down and pass them on to the shops looking for new people. or just disconnect your answering machine LOL! also are your clients on a prebook only schedule? if not id get them on it now....helps to plan your days out also....and will weed out the ones that dont want to do it that way....
                  jmo
                  Hound

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                  • #10
                    I like the idea of raising prices on clientele that are not desirable grooms. Also, perhaps hiring a pt bather for just four hours (8a-12p for instance) in the mornings to get several of your dogs bathed, fluffed, nails clipped, ears plucked and then you have that much less to work on. You'll have a learning curve but I think that'll take a lot of weight off of your shoulders and then you don't have to worry about grooming skills for hire. Maybe eventually you can train that person to do more for you (answering phones, apprentice, etc).

                    Jessie

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                    • #11
                      Is there a groomer in your area that you like and trust that is taking new clients? If so then you might want to talk to them about taking on some of your dogs. Explain to the clients that you need to cut back but that you recommend this groomer. I have a great relationship with a groomer in my town who works alone out of her house and only does small dogs. She refers any new clients or even current clients that had a small dog pass away and replaced it with a bigger pup to me. I just opened my shop about 1 1/2 years ago so I'm still building mu client list so this works great for me. If you have someone you could refer them to maybe see if they would be willing to meet with these clients to see if it would work for everyone. Just a thought. Good luck
                      "I've seen a look in dogs' eyes, a quickly vanishing look of amazed contempt,
                      and I am convinced that basically dogs think humans are nuts." - John Steinbeck
                      www.wagmoresalon.com

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                      • #12
                        I work alone also and right now I'm exhausted! I hired a girl and she was to start today and never showed up. I groom 6 days a week when business is good (recession hit hard here) and right now business is great and Spring just started. I'm also moving from my home salon to a commercial location with no help!! My husband says "I can do it alone". Let's just say one night I went to bed last week in so much pain I almost was crying, from working so hard. I love grooming it's my heart and soul but to find somebody who cares about your business almost as much as you do is hard. I'm going to interview a few this week. I want somebody for just 4 hours a day to bath and I can do the rest. I think that would be a huge help. So your not alone and best wishes.

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                        • #13
                          Originally posted by abandk03 View Post
                          I work alone also and right now I'm exhausted! I hired a girl and she was to start today and never showed up.
                          what a headache! finding good employees can be hard - sometimes it takes going through a few bad apples to find someone who really is helpful to you & your business. I would say keep trying - it's too much to do by yourself!

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                          • #14
                            Wow, you guys have made me feel so much better. I also work alone and have a huge heart and have a hard time saying no to new customers, until a year ago. It sounds so lame telling people I cannot take new customers especially during these hard times. I only work occasional Saturdays and every Monday thru Friday. I too am exhausted and find it very hard to take a vacation of more than a 3 days weekend maybe 3 times a year. I can't afford to hire someone else to help bathe. It's good to know I'm not alone in this.

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                            • #15
                              I feel better now knowing that I am not alone. I had someone coming in today to try out for the assistant job and guess what she did not come. She did call thought and said she had personal problems.
                              I can't find anybody to help me. I had someone for a few months at the end of last year and she never showed up half the time and wanted to leave early, and she only worked until 1:00. She was late always too. I let her go.
                              Today I went through my files and took out all the customers that I never want to see again, and when they call, either they will hang up after hearing my message or leave me a message. I will not return thier calls or if I do I will tell them I cannot groom there dog anymore.
                              All my prebooked customers are booked until the end of the year, that is why I am full. It is the non prebook customers that just call when they are ready that are giving me a hard time. They have been coming to me for years and I always fitted them in. But they do not come as often has the prebooked ones.
                              They consider they are regualrs and demand and appointment. There are so many groomers in my area but they want me.
                              I have raised my prices and some have left. I am glad. I have gotten rid of the difficult dogs.
                              I do know a groomer down the street I could call. There are new groomers too but I don't like referring anyone because everyone grooms different and they might not like it and call me back and complain. That is what happened to me when I downsized the large dogs, my customers where calling me back and getting mad at me for what a bad job they did and wanted me to take them back, they told me not to recommend them anymore. That is why I don't recommend anyone.
                              I do only want to groom dogs under 20 pounds. I do have quite a few that are too heavy for me to lift, but I like the dogs alot. I could tell them that I can't groom them anymore.
                              It is true that my customers don't really care about me and just pretend too. They just want their dog groomed.
                              I was sick one day and all my customers said well I hope you can finish my dog.
                              I was so mad I wanted to vomit all over the dogs. lol
                              I counted the medium size dogs today and there were only about 8 of them, So it would help a little to tell them to go away. Some small dogs are very heavy and I could see my customers looking at me like I am nuts if I told them their dog was too heavy or big for me.
                              I could see myself only grooming Maltese, yorkies toy poodles and shih tzs. These are my main breeds that come it anyways, but some shih tzus are like bulldogs and are too much for me.
                              I do have the first week in August booked off and my birthday and one day a month, but I can see myself booking it anyway
                              I do have a four day weekend off because of Easter, I can't wait
                              How does everybody deal with lonelyness? Sometimes I just want someone to talk too or to laugh with.
                              I find that the hardest part of working alone. Thanks again for all your comments.

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