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  • Train my clients

    As some of you may know, I started my new (nicer) job about three weeks ago. I'm the only one that does grooming (a kennel person can bathe if I have to have her), and I'm only able to do about half the dogs I used to do. Right now, 5 is an easy day and 6 is getting stressful. But most every dog I do is badly behaved, extremely matted, and just generally a PITA. Granted, I knew moving from a high-end town to this one would encompass some of these problems, but wowzer!

    Where I used to work, I was able to get most of my clents on a maintance schedule, with most coming 4-5 weeks. Now that I'm more rural, I have to deal with people saying 'but if you just shave it now, I won't have to come back for X months'. Am I missing something? How can I retrain these people to go more for style and not for cheap/only-functional/matted-mess-when-they-return? I'm up for any hints you have, as this would make my days go much easier, and be better for the dogs. Seriously, every poodle I've done (and there have been about ten so far) have been with a #7F (and half of those were done with a #10 before me). It's crazy! Of course, there's always the chance that I need to be retrained in that I expect style in an area where function is more optimal. SIGH! I just want to groom, not shave! So, I've stressed the importance of saving the coat, of coming in more often to help Fluffy become accustomed to grooming, and of undercoat removal... the usual schpeel. And it all comes back to money and not wanting to come in. Yeah, help...

  • #2
    I live in a rural area as well with few groomers. I have found by having my dogs at the shop, a website with photos & a facebook page that customers can see the longer looks then end up loving them and wanting them! They just need to see it! I tell them all, the more often you come the longer I'll be able to leave the coat. I know that some of my customers only come at the bare minimum.. some of them I have stated that their dog NEEDS to be back in a certain amount of time. I have a ton of regular Shih Tzus for example but I also have a bunch that are stuck in the "grooming once or twice a year" category. With those ones I tell them at the bare minimum your pet should be groomed every 3 months b/c by then their nails definitely need to be clipped & under eyes need to be trimmed. If the pet is really badly matted I up the price and tell them, if you're back in x amount of months your price will go back to the normal groom price. If they come back to me twice in horrific condition I tell them sorry I won't be able to groom your pet unless you're on a regular schedule(even if it is 3-4 months) They need to be educated, give them hand outs or explain yourself. This has worked really well so far.. open for about 3 years and busy busy busy!

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    • #3
      Whew...that's a toughie. When I started grooming (back in Medieval times) the area was very rural, lots of farms, and that was the prevailing mentality. I still have a very small percentage of folks "leftover" that would have it no other way. Did 2 of them today...I wish them a Merry Christmas on their way out the door. Seriously.

      The folks I know that are that way...there is just no changing them, their folks were that way, and the folks before them.
      The dogs are tough, they are a matted, filthy mess, and alot of them never see the inside of the house....HOWEVER, they are loved, they are fat, their vacs are current, they do get flea/tick preventative and HW prev and their farm life is a good one, albeit...kinda disgusting.

      I considered it a major coup when a year went by with no one pulling in w/ a loose dog in the bed of a pick-up truck.

      I say focus on the second generation...that's been the best "return on my time".
      I bet even if you offered your services for free...1/2 these folks wouldn't show, they just don't see the sense in it and feel there are better ways to spend their money...if they are anything like mine.

      This was a lousy pep talk, huh? Sorry.
      Often it's not what you say, but how you say it.

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      • #4
        I used to groom in a college town; all my dogs were on two/three/four/five week rotation; now I groom corporate in a small town, when I started nearly all the dogs were on a 10 or 7f shave down 3 or 4 times a year, gradually I have gotten quite a few that come in more often and get a long blade or snap on comb; as long as they come in not matted they can get it; otherwise we are back to the 10 or 7 f; but have even changed a bunch of those to a 5f or 4 f all over.
        Deidre

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        • #5
          On your change in venue - it's the old "Be careful what you wish for" thing - you might just get it. You wanted a change - you got it.

          I tried the "Isn't Fluffy cuter when she's fluffy?" routine and the customers loved it when the dog walked out to them longer and looking like a stuffed toy. But the next time Fluffy came in, Fluffy was a matted mess that required shaving down because mom didn't do one ounce of maintenance on the longer cut between regular groomings and there was no saving the hair. So, off it came again.

          So, on talking the owners into a new-and-cuter style by showing them pictures - be careful what you wish for. You might just get it.

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          • #6
            I would have to add this. Just remember, you are the new kid in town. Even if there is no other groomer in town, those people have to have been getting their dogs groomed somewhere. They may be unwilling to change, at least until they hear some word of mouth, or at least until you have been there a while. I find the people who are more willing to check out the new kid are the ones who are more likely to have the bad dogs, or the ones who want only shave downs and figure any groomer can do that. You will have to pay your dues for a while. I have gotten to the point where I have so many fru-fru, scissor cuts, that I love a good shave down when it comes my way (of course not the severly matted ones!). Just keep plugging away, try to educate your clients, and if you do have pics from your portfolio, it certainly wouldn't hurt to have those where the customers could see them. You just might get a convert or 2 if they can see how pretty you can make them look.
            I saw the angel in the marble and carved until I set him free.
            -Michelangelo

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            • #7
              we have the same problem...

              most people just want their dogs shaved, there is no changing about it!! The other new groomer and i tried to keep some dogs longer, and the owners always complained they were to long, and only happy with 10 strips!
              We tried to put them on a schedule and were always no shows..We tried cuts on prices, no one cared...
              We had a labordoodle that came in horribly matted...the owners were amazed that we recommend that they should come in every 4-8 weeks and instead are on the 'once a year' schedule!

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              • #8
                Well, that is a bummer. I like Elizabeths idea about having a website (or photo album) with pictures to show clients. I guess it would be hard for you to get those pictures though, if everyone wants a shave down.

                What about some target advertising to more "well to do" clients? It does not have to get expensive. Vistaprint.com has all kinds of promotional items you can get free (pay shipping) once you sign up with them. Then think up some places where these more well to do people might hang out?

                Make sure you are charging enough for those shave downs too. If they think it is so much cheaper to get a shave then a fluffy cute groom then they will be more likely to pick the shave.

                Maybe a discount for rebooking within 6 weeks? I did that for a while when I first started out. Just make sure the discount is on the BOOKED visit. Not on the present one or they may book and not show.

                On a side note, about grooming boarding dogs. Some of the behavioral issues might be because the dogs are already stressed from boarding. Some of my clients, even the ones who love grooming and are very well behaved, sometimes act up if they have been in boarding for a while. Even if they don't SEEM stressed, they are more stressed then they would be if they were at home, and as we all know, when we are stressed about something, we have less tolerance and snap easier.

                If I think of any more ideas Ill post.

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