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How to transition to Yearly Bookings?

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  • How to transition to Yearly Bookings?

    I so badly want to get my clients on a yearly schedule. But how do I do it. I was thinking about telling all new people that call that I am only accepting new clients if they prebook their appointments for the year. And I would like to get my current clients on a yearly program as well, but they squirm around just prebooking for their next month. They say well I get so busy I will have to just call you and set one up a week or two before. How do I get stricter without upsetting anyone. Help me find the words to discourage them from not prebooking. I am just getting my clientel built up but I want them all to be on a yearly schedule. It sounds so much better. Should I just tell new clients ahead that we prebook for the year, if you are unable to make your appointment you have to call 24 hrs in advance to cancel or a cancellation fee of $XX will be billed. I guess I have to be prepared to turn down clients that won't accept this policy. How do you do it?

  • #2
    well...if i was doing this (im not a groomer though) but...if i were to do this...for new clients id tell them that you prebook for the year out this way its alot more conveinent of them and you...this way they are GARUNTEED their appointment and do NOT have to wait around until the next opening because they called a couple weeks before the time for the dog to be groomed. also just say that you tend to be booked out months on end and if they prebook for the year then they have a chance to get their pet in and not having to wait for weeks or even a few months to get their pet into the groomers. and if they have any changes that need to be made at last minute notice...then id say if they are going to prove to be valuable customers...bump those last minute bookers for a more valuable client.
    and for previous clients...just tell them that your starting to book up for weeks or months on end and if they REALLY want to get in...it would be much easier to prebook them for an entire year this way they are garunteed to get in...if they choose not to then you cannot neccesarily guaruntee a time to book them for the appoint they wanted should they choose to leave, not rebook for the next appointment and call you when its time. also make it known that if they do leave w/o rebooking it might be months before they can get their pets back in. if they dont want to prebook for an entire 12 months...try getting them to just prebook for 3 or 4 months...then from there move from 3 or 4 months being prebooked to 4 to 8 months...and so on and so on until you reach your goal. id say if they turn it down...then when they cannot get in to get their pets groomed they will understand then why you suggested prebooking for their next appointment. i honestly dont know if you are already booked out for 2 to 3 weeks...but if these people call 2 wks before the dog is due back and you give them an appointment for 2 wks later..then they arent going to understand why you wanted them to prebook because they were able to get their appointment regardless if they prebooked or just called back. also if they choose not to prebook...if they call and want an appointment...id do one of these....hm...well i guess i can squeeze you in on this day at this time...BUT i might not be able to do this in the future...have you considered prebooking for the next few months?
    and if they say yes...then give them a calander with their dates and times circled/highlighted, whatever way you want them to know...and tell them these are the times that their next appointments are for, if they cannot make the appointment time, please call 24 hrs in advance to let you know and you will work with them to find another appointment time for them to come in.
    JMO
    Hound

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    • #3
      I have got to tell you that if anyone forced me to prebook for a year - I think I would freak as well. Again, I pencil in my book for the next three months and only give them their next appointment when I drop the dog back into the house. I really never give them options of dates, I tell my clients when I will be back in their area.

      Prebook in pencil if your clients are regulars and good clients. Don't give them all of the appointment dates, it's more to just know that they are in your schedule and you can plan being in that area on that date.

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      • #4
        For me I don't push it with them, I have a sign up too. I do not do it with new clients. They may not like me or my services for whatever reason. After a client comes in a few times and they are happy if they want a certain date or time I explain that I do booking for the entire year and I can put them in if they want. I explain that I am busy and they may not get that date and time they want the next time. Most WANT to do it. But you have a few that don't and just call for appointments. Those are the clients that are not a priority for me, if they call and I am full I don't bend over backwards to fit them in, they have to wait. Now I do have people who work swing shift that I will fit in a hurry because I understand they don't always know their schedule and could never book for the year but the ones that just think they can call me and and get their dog done tomorrow, Nope! Some of these people have turned into yearly booking too because they get sick of waiting.

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        • #5
          I think a year is too long

          Six months is better in my opinion. Even 2 appointments out is good.
          I would not expect someone to prebook if they had never used my services.
          Like someone else said let them try you a few times. Let them know what you expect from your "regular" clients. You DO accept new clients & less frequently groomed pets, when your schedule will allow- usually within a week or so.

          I don't have this nailed down as well as I'd like either, but I myself have to reschedule due to "stuff happens" & if I were booked out a year it would take awhile to get myself straightened out.

          Great topic. I'd like to see what others think.
          Erica

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          • #6
            I schedule months at a time for myself

            I just ask my clients if they want to get on a standing appointment schedule. I offer up to 8 week intervals. I tell them that I will send them a reminder card 1-2 weeks before their appointment time and if that time won't work for them, to just call and I will do what I can to adjust it for them. Once they decide if and how long the frequency should be, then I schedule them in my book for 6 months to make sure that they will have a spot. If they want to know the days ahead of time, I give it to them, but do not give times until i send the reminder card. This allows me to tighten my schedule to be more time efficient. When setting my schedule, I make sure to schedule those clients who are groomed more often first. Example, I schedule all of my 2 week appts. first then 4 weekers, then 6 weekers, then 8 weekers. Anyone else gets worked in when I am in their area. I rarely schedule anyone earlier than 2 weeks from the time they call.
            Michael

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            • #7
              If I was customer of anything, grooming, hairdresser, nail salon, ect, I could never book appointments for a year. I personally would be willing to book an appointment or two ahead. I do realize that, because of this, I don't always get my perfect appointment and sometimes, I do have to wait but I'm OK with that.

              I ask my customers now to book two or three appointments and most of them are happy to. I tell them it helps me plan my route and most totally understand and are willing. I'm satisfied with that. As I get busier, I think most of my customers will likely book three appointments ahead.

              I think asking my customers to book a year ahead would be too much "pressure". I would feel awkward asking.

              I do have one customer who must have Friday at 3 pm every 6 weeks. We decided together it would be best for her to book 6 months of appointments because she is not able to be flexible.
              www.gomobileandsucceed.com
              http://thesuccessfulpetgroomer.com

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              • #8
                Well another thing is I am going to have limited times available so I think I will get booked for those days very quickly. Right now with my business being so new I have one to 2 appointments a day. I would like to consolidate them into 2 or three days. So I am rethinking that I don't need to cover such a wide area. Just concentrate more on my area and maybe go to the other area certain times a month and try to get all that area booked on the same day. I am new to being mobile so at first I was traveling 30 miles which I think is too far. I don't think I want to travel that far any more. I figured I would start out all over then as I got more clients I would get more concentrated on one or two areas. So I have seen other groomers that have prebooked their dogs for a year on another thread and I want to know how they accomplish "training" their clients. Should I wait until I am full first? Or should I train them from the et go. Maybe I could say, after the first groom, if you like my services, I ask that you book 2 more appointments now because I am filling up so fast that by next month their will be a one month waiting list. Then by their next appointment I could have them book a couple of more appointments, I don't know?

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                • #9
                  Whether you decide to do 3, 6 or 12 months, the best way to achieve your goal is to give each client a Calendar. Have them "pencil" their desired dates for the upcoming time frame.

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                  • #10
                    Poodlefluff, I didn't start booking for the year until I was so full that my regular clients were having trouble getting their appointments. I never ask anyone to book the whole year before they've had their first groom. I always tell them (new clients) that all our clients are booked for the year and if after they have had their first groom they want to become one of our clients THEN we will set up a schedule for the rest of the year. I explain that we have to pre-book in order to know if we have any space available. At the current time we know that the year is booked -- no available space until someone dies or moves. If a pet dies and the client later comes back with a new pet we automatically take the new pet, likewise if a client acquires a second pet we will fit that one in as well, assuming it's a small dog.

                    Cats come on Wednesdays, we call it 'Cats only Wednesdays'. This is something new that we started a few months ago. I was working monday, tuesday, thursday, friday and every other saturday. I decided to add wednesday to my schedule, just for cats, because the demand is there and I love doing cats. We are currently only booked out a couple of weeks for 'Cats only Wednesday' -- but I suspect the day will come when cats will have to pre-book as well. My husband is a true cat lover and helps with the cat grooming (he's not to fond of dogs, hehe), it really helps to have an extra pair of hands when you have to shave a cat. I try to keep my cat day as a half day, but lately it's been filling up and I've been putting in a whole day. I usually have about seven pets a day, occassionally six or eight.

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                    • #11
                      Where are you at CC? If you were close to me I'd send you ALL my cats! LOL!
                      They aren't my favorite to groom. Of course it doesn't help that my grooming area is back in the boarding room so I listen to dogs bark all day. Kitties aren't too fond of that!
                      Deanne

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                      • #12
                        My clients are all on 6-9 month schedules, only they don't know it. I give them their next appointment or two and the rest are in my PDA. People move and old dogs die, if I had my schedule booked a year out it would get all screwed up. I do have some people booked a year out -- those are the few monthly clients who want the same day and time every month. Most others are pretty flexible, especially since many of them aren't even home when I groom their dogs.

                        Assuming a client likes my work, they have to have their next appointment booked before I leave or they won't get on the schedule. Since most of them have had to wait up to a month to get on my schedule they understand pretty quickly. Most of my clients come to me through word-of-mouth and have been filled in on how I work by their friends or neighbors -- my well-trained clients!

                        I won't accept clients that have their dogs groomed on a more than eight week schedule. Most of my clients are on 4, 5 or 6 weeks. If they want longer than eight weeks I tell them they can book through the vet clinic where I work on Thursdays. (Thats the only time I do once a year dogs. And I charge them A LOT!!)

                        So don't worry too much about getting them on a yearly schedule. Just convince them to bookk their next appointment or two, you decide the time and day ("I'll be in your neighborhood on such a such date") and just make sure it works for them. Then determine what interval they want and go and book them out, just doling their appointments out as they get closer.

                        Meesh

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                        • #13
                          As many have said...I book my client on "my' book several months in advance...then i'll give the the dates I have them penciled in for, so that they can check thier calandars...summer vacations, holidays, ...I tenativly keep them booked all year. I just don't accept that many clients on a "I'll call you when my dogs 'needs' grooming..." That's once a month in my book! Yes I let a few slide, because the dog really can go longer, but that's on a case by case basis, and usually I still have them pre-booked at 5,6,8 weeks...nothing longer than that.

                          I do an auto book, at 4 weeks for all new clients...yes I've had a few tell me that wouldn't work...Ok, then when they call...I just don't have a spot for a few weeks...like Meesh said...they learn pretty quickly.

                          I'm not a shop, so my schedule and time are dependent on areas, driving time, dogs in good shape...that sort of thing.

                          They want every 8 weeks or the 'I'll call you..." I send them to a shop. IMO Mobile grooming if for folks that want a clean dog...to sleep in bed with or just give smushy snuggles...not the back yard dog...I don't do those.

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                          • #14
                            What they said

                            My clients are currently in my shop (going mobile soon), and the standing appts are the ones that don't have to wait up to two weeks to get in!lol This happened over time, as my clientele built up, not because I demanded it. I'm literally too booked up to squeeze in even one more for two weeks out. They either get on a regular schedule so they get in without going too long between grooms, or they move on to someone who can get them in at the drop of a hat. I don't agonize over losing them, because I'm already booked to the gills.

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                            • #15
                              I started booking them automatically and then let them know after their appointment, when I scheduled the next one. I let them be flexible but on my calendar they are booked out for the year. Most of my clients don't even know that I have them book out. They just know when the next one is.
                              Works out well for me until they start moving into a different week then I have to re-adjust.

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