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We Need A Solution

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  • We Need A Solution

    I am going to post this on my blog but I also thought I would post it here. I think it would make for an interesting discussion. This is a huge problem in our industry. I ask you all "What do you think?"


    We Need A Solution

    I recently called a spa to make an appointment for a massage. At the end of the phone call the receptionist asked, “What credit card did I want to use to hold the appointment?” When she explained the cancellation policy to me I understood why. When making an appointment, the salon is saving that time slot for you. The receptionist is not afraid to ask for your credit card number fearing you’ll go elsewhere because where I live, all spas ask for it.

    I find many similarities between grooming establishments and spas. They are both service oriented, run on a schedule, have overhead and employees. These kinds of businesses rely on their appointments being filled to make a profit. Hardships endure when a customer makes an appointment and then doesn’t call to cancel or even show up. Staff is left twiddling their s as time is wasting; good customers are turned away while owners wait, losing money. It’s frustrating!

    I’ve read over and over again how groomers go above and beyond to accommodate old and new customers who make appointments, often for multiple dogs. They hire extra staff, open early or stay late only to have a “no show.” It’s a huge problem in our industry; especially during the holidays and on Saturdays. We need a solution!

    In a perfect world I would love to see groomers band together and do as spas do. I feel asking customers for a credit card to hold an appointment is a great idea. In a perfect world cancellation fees should never have to be paid. Every customer who makes an appointment would just show up or if their plans change, reschedule or cancel with proper notice. It just takes a minute to pick up the phone or send an email. I know this courtesy would be so appreciated by groomers. It would save them so much stress and give them the opportunity to fill their slot with another pet or take a “walk-in.”

    Although I’m mobile, I feel camaraderie with all groomers whether you’re a shop, home groomer or housecall groomer. I want everyone to be happy. I want everyone’s day to run smoothly. My fantasy: All customers show up and on time. What a wonderful world that would be!

    What can we do? What do you think?

  • #2
    Well last Sunday I booked two dogs from the same owner, had my bather come in and they did not show. I thought I was going to have 5 full grooms that day and in turn only had three small dogs. The two I booked were big dogs. I would love to be able to do that, I feel though clients would be offended and would not book an appointment.


    • #3
      i think it would be great idea! I dont think everyone would do it though, and even if most of us did im sure there would be someone who would go behind and not do it (kind of like price undercutting, its so bad here grrrr) If i was able to employ that kind of idea into my work i would in a heartbeat, i constantly get people who will make 4-5 appointments and not keep any of them.


      • #4
        What can we do? Pray for a miracle!


        You're asking to change the mindset of groomers, which I think can be accomplished with only slight difficulty. But you're also asking to change the mindset of owners, and for this, the miracle is required. I live/work backwoods, where there are stereotypical people (I won't elaborate and mean no offense, but those who know what I mean... know what I mean) who come in and say 'Shave 'er down. I want my money's worth.' If you ask those people for a credit card, they wouldn't have one to give you, or they'd assume you were going to do diabolical things with that number... like charge extra without them knowing, or run off to Mexico with their prized 'pure bred Mountain Fiest'.

        I just went back to work at the same place where I initially got my start as a groomer. It's hard changing the mindset of clients who want a #10 on their poodle, or to shave down their Great Pyreneese. It's even harder making sure they have every vaccine up to date (vet clinic). I think they'd bolt if the idea of 'give us your card number before services are rendered' were brought up.

        Sigh... I'll just live in that fantasy though, and hope for a time where there are no 'no shows' or last minute cancellations.


        • #5
          I honestly love the idea. It makes sense to me. I'm sure there will be plenty of clients who will shy away at giving their credit card number up front.
          The boarding kennel that I work at requires a credit card number when people make a reservation. The kennel charges a fee if they aren't given 24hr notice when a client cancels their reservation. Some people gripe about it, but for the most part people are understanding, plus the kennel has been doing this since their doors have opened so most of the clients expect it. The majority of the clients leave their credit card numbers on file so that they don't have to worry about the hassle of paying when they come to pick up their dogs or whatever. I think that it might be hard at first, especially for your current clients.
          I say go for it. When I open my own business I will probably implement the same policy. I think it will help people start to have more respect for groomers, and maybe....just maybe the number of no shows will start to dwindle down.


          • #6
            Originally posted by Makere View Post
            i think it would be great idea! I dont think everyone would do it though, and even if most of us did im sure there would be someone who would go behind and not do it (kind of like price undercutting, its so bad here grrrr) If i was able to employ that kind of idea into my work i would in a heartbeat, i constantly get people who will make 4-5 appointments and not keep any of them.
            I've been in business for 5 years. In order to combat the clients that make appts and don't show, I give them 3 chances. After the 3rd no call no show, I require payment in advance before I will give them an appointment. At that time I tell them if they don't show, they forfeit their payment, since I didn't book anyone else for their slot. If they refuse to do that, then I really haven't lost anything, since they weren't showing up anyway. I've only had to do this twice. One customer never came back (no loss, they were coming anyways) and one customer always keeps her appts now. I learned this from my hairdresser. It worked for him, and seems to work for me. Hope this helps.


            • #7
              In a perfect world, this might work, but, alas, our world is far from perfect. People who go to the spa tend to be fairly well off. People who have their pets groomed come from all walks of life. I don't think this would fly in our industry unless, maybe, you had a really high-end shop catering only to the wealthiest clients. Also, with so much ID theft occurring today, I think people would shy away from giving out their card # to someone they didn't know. JMO.
              Old groomers never die, they just go at a slower clip.

              Groom on!!!


              • #8
                i will definitly have to talk to my manager about that one thx!


                • #9
                  You're more tolerant than I am. We have a "2 strikes and you're out" policy. We're incredibly busy right now and I have had to turn down too many people - we're booked out to mid-July. If someone doesn't show up or doesn't call us within 24 hours with an excuse (and we have called them when they didn't show up) two times in row, I politely tell them that I can no longer afford to work for them and they probably would be happier with another groomer. It certainly has eliminated irresponsible owners.

                  We live in the "northwoods" too - I truly doubt we could demand charge cards to hold appts. and actually retain our customers.


                  • #10
                    Many people would not view getting the dog washed important enough to hold a reservation with a credit card.

                    A day at the spa for themselves, yes. A haircut for the family pooch, no way.


                    • #11
                      I have a three strikes rule. I also call and confirm every appt the day before, that helps a lot! If I don't get ahold of someone, I leave a message asking them to call back and confirm. If they don't call by the end of the day, I call them again. So far, I've only had a couple of no shows or late clients and all with very good reasons. If there is a good reason, I am more apt to want to work with them. Also, I'm more apt to work with a longtime client with a good track record over a new customer.

                      If someone no shows twice, I will no longer make them an appt. They must call the day of and see if I have any openings that day to get in Fluffy. Luckily most of the time I do not so that tends to take care of itself. But if they no show on me a third time I am done.
                      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.


                      • #12
                        I think another issue would be that many groomers don't accept credit cards. when I worked at a salon we had a list of people who would no call/no show and they were required to give a credit card to make another appointment. I don't remember any of the 3 on the list ever coming back. I do think clients need to understand the value of our time a little more. I think a lot of the time people just don't think. When I got married I had 135 people RSVP that they were coming and then had 10 people not show. Now, I still had to pay for those evtra 10 people that didn't show before the reception started. It really ticked me off. I had one girl come up to me after I got back from my honey moon and said she decided not to come to "save me money". She was obviuosly not married yet and I told her I had to pay up front so instead of saving me money I spent $40 on her that went to waste. But honestly, people just don't think sometimes. They don't realize how much of an impact their not showing up can make on a small business.
                        I don't mind people calling to cancel, even last minute, because things come up and I understand that. What I don't tolerate is the chronic no shows or cancellations. since I've gone mobile I've only had 2 people not their when I sbowed. One never called me back and the other has never done it again, she did forget. I don't call to confirm appointments because when I worked at the salon and we did that people became dependent on them. If there was a night we didn't get a chance to call we'd get a ton of no shows and people would blame us because they didn't get a phone call. They didn't take any responsibility for knowing their own pets appointment date and time. I didn't want to get into that habit, plus I hate being on the phone. Everytime I have to talk to a client I swear my kids think THAT is the time tos tart asking me for everything under the sun, or start fighting or yelling and screaming about SOMETHING. I much prefer booking by email and encourage my clients to contact me that way.
                        I had a lady call me today and yell at me for not calling her to "verify" her appointment for today. I told her that her appointment was for tomorrow. She's 85 and I understand and don't want to sound like I'm complaining. She's a very sweet woman and always gives me a hug before I leave, I could just tell she was frustrated. She went on and on about how hard it is to find my phone number and that she doesn't use a computer. I told her which phone book we are in, but she said she doesn't have any of the new phone books. I've given her 2 business cards and I thought a refrigerator magnet. What was my point again? Oh, just that I try to make my clients responsible for knowing when their appointments are. Everyone makes mistakes, people are always welcome to call me and check etc. She has the 10 year old "viscious" chihuahua with 4 teeth. takes me longer to catch him than it does to groom him.
                        I don't have any credit cards personally. I do have my bank card that I use when needed but I avoid credit cards like the plague
                        What a caterpillar considers the end of his world, we call a butterfly.


                        • #13
                          Although my husband handles the 'business' part of the salon, we do accept credit cards.
                          One important issue here is that if you choose to go with a credit card policy (merely accepting them that is) you agree to a percentage of all charges.
                          Two, the machine costs money to begin with for just the 'run through' type
                          Three, the machines that you can enter a number with the key pad cost more (not to mention they charge more if you do enter it)
                          Four, very few clients in our area would be willing to offer the info. I have a good deal of 'senior' clientele who feel credit cards are one thing but never use them over a phone let alone a computer!

                          I hear it often (& I have to admit I agree) not since the internet did the concept of identity theft really be an issue and then just to use the internet, you have to pay more for identity theft protection. Ever wonder how people existed before plastic let alone computers?

                          I think it would be a good idea in a major city but not in rural areas.


                          • #14
                            Idea works for select salons/areas

                            As others have pointed out, there are many different areas and attitudes where grooming is done.

                            However, in a cosmopolitan-type area, and for a salon that is in demand with a great reputation, taking a credit card # and informing people of the policy is a great way to ensure respect and good money. I can see my salon doing that in about 2 years from now. Meanwhile, having taken over a business, I am still tweaking clients and prices, and building reputation and clientele.

                            I do NOT have a "3-strikes" policy - that is far too lenient, in my view, but I am in an area where there is another client coming if you get rid of a bad one, so I am fortunate. Other areas cannot possibly do business like this. City grooming is far different than country grooming, and then some areas are much lower income, etc. Most smallish towns would ostracize someone taking credit cards to reserve/pay for the appointment. "Who do they think they are?" Plus most small towns sprung up from a rural area, and still have "old-timey" attitudes about dogs - they are NOT to be pampered, spoiled, spent lots of money on, etc. Those who do that are seen as odd in such places.

                            Since I am in a fairly thriving place, I am lucky to be able to throw out the problem clients. The way I look at it, the replacement of a thoughtless client has an extremely high chance of getting me a far better one than the ditched one. My clients get two chances, for the most part (although there are some cases where I ditch them after one "noshow/nocall"). The first inconsiderate boo-boo, they are told that I cannot operate that way, and if they are apologetic and sensible, I book them again. But if they foul up the second time, I won't book them again, PLUS I often make a file so in case I forget in 6 months or a year and they try again, I can look up a file to see if they have duped me before.

                            When someone books and doesn't come in, I usually don't call them. If they call ME to book again, I just calmly inform them that they have cost me money. If I allow them to book a second time and they AGAIN screw up, I just tell them I can't book them - period - since they don't call and give me the chance to replace them. Most people who do this TWICE are simply irresponsible, dysfunctional people who then get angry and abusive that they don't get what they want, despite being bad customers. <shrug> Some have told me it's a "terrible way to do business". Others have tried to scare me by saying that's OK, there are LOTS of groomers around. I say, "Yes, there are. Goodbye", very nicely. There WERE a couple that also said they don't need my business, and I DID tell them that I don't need theirs. Hmmm.... have to get a handle on my response to pushy/abusive people so they don't make me snap, I guess.

                            New clients are the worst problem, even if you give them a heads up. I am always prepared for them to "no show". And I do NOT call people the day/night before!! I have better things to do with my time than babysit and organize for them!! I am not hardnosed about all circumstances, and of course I do not "warn" a client who has been responsible with bookings and then has one forgetful episode in a 6-12 month period. My attitude is simply that clients are "on probation" with me until they prove themselves, and if they prove to be problems, they are "baddogged" (new verb: means "KANK - Kicked to the curb"). I hope Baddog does not mind me using her attitude with acknowledgement. LOL

                            Dang! Just saw a post and it's probably smartnpretty who does the "KANK" slogan. So soryy!
                            Last edited by Debbiedogs; 05-02-10, 09:09 PM. Reason: Possible incorrect attribution for funny phrase.


                            • #15
                              I think it is a great idea more for mobile groomers than for salons due to the fact you may be grooming the dog when nobody is home and they may have forgotten to leave a check. If it is something a lot of customers seem offended by and refuse to cooperate with perhaps it can be done with just those who habitually no show or forget to cancel often.