By Khris Berry
Ask any groomer, and they will tell you that their tools are their lifeline. Many talented groomers recognize that they can achieve better results by utilizing better tools. Groomers love discussing their tools: clippers, shears, dryers, slickers, even nail trimmers.
Today, innovation is rampant in the Pet Styling industry and new products are eagerly embraced and shared by groomers worldwide. This discussion allows for growth, diversity, and forward progress across the entire grooming industry.
Your Grooming Business is no different—and much like a favorite shear or coat product, the tools you choose to help you operate your business can propel you forward to success. Your selection of business tools should allow you to seamlessly organize your customers, records, income and expenses, and interface with customers professionally.
Your customers are becoming more tech savvy and will expect your business to keep up with their needs. Keeping in mind that Pet Grooming is a SERVICE business, tools which allow you more time to interact with the clients and their pets are becoming increasingly prevalent in the industry. Here is my top 5 list of “tools” that every Pet Grooming Business should incorporate into their daily operations in 2018.
Point of Sale System
What is it? A Point of Sale System is a software program which will track your daily sales, your client records, and offer a variety of reporting you can use to track your business stats.
Why do you need it? For many years, groomers traditionally used paper card files. These prove to be bulky, difficult to manage efficiently, and are easily misplaced or misfiled. In a consumer driven climate where professional service providers from physicians, to massage therapists, to hair stylists interact with clients via a computerized database, use of a POS system designed for your business will present a skilled and qualified image as well as provide time saving record keeping solutions.
What else do you need to know about it? There are a host of Point of Sale software programs on the market today. I prefer a true Cloud–Based system, provided your business has stable access to internet. Cloud–based systems allow you to access your business and client data across space and time, instead of the information being contained solely on a computer inside your business. Spend time getting to know the different systems and find one which suits your budget and needs, as well as determine which sales tracking and reporting you desire to keep up with your sales and client data.
Bookkeeping / Recordkeeping System
What should you be tracking? Software programs such as Quickbooks allow you to record the flow of your money. Most importantly, you should have a system for tracking your income and expenses accurately. You (and your bookkeeper) should know where every penny comes and goes within your business.
Why should you use this for your business? Once you learn to interface with the program, you can manage your business more closely by using reports features fully. Additionally, if you have employees you can select a Business Financial Software package that will allow you to complete payroll and time keeping tasks easily. Bookkeeping and Recordkeeping systems allow you to understand your business finances, save time when completing your monthly, quarterly, or annual tax reporting, and help you to provide complete data to your tax provider.
What else do you need to know about it? Your record keeping system can be as simple as a few spread sheets on your computer, or as complex as a cloud–based computer software. Find one that suits your budget as well as the size and volume of your business. As pet groomers, many of us are more comfortable with a 7 blade on a Miniature Schnauzer than entering data into a financial software program. But ultimately, today’s programs are user friendly and the investment you will make should be returned to you in saved time as well as complete data to present to your accountant or bookkeeper.
Credit/Debit Card Processing
Why should you take credit cards? As discussed, you are employed in a service industry. Your business choices should be driven not from personal desires, but rather should be in context with your customers’ needs. Retail spending studies cite consumers are trending toward convenience (for them, not you) and customer service as high priorities when making their spending choices. Your customers are using credit cards and mobile payments in their daily lives, accepting their familiar payment types will position yourself as a professional business.
Worried about spending too much? Just like banking or accounting, credit card processing is a financial service and comes with associated fees. Buyer beware – credit card processing sales is akin to the grooming industry as it is largely unregulated as well. Unscrupulous salespersons can prey on business owners. Fees associated with credit card processing are complex and your actual rate is only one portion of that. Make certain that you understand the full costs associated and factor those into your pricing strategies. Ask questions, choose your provider carefully, understand your fees, and find a trustworthy representative or company who encompasses all your criteria.
What else should you know? The customer using a credit card is statistically proven to spend 20 percent more per average ticket than one using cash. Although there are fees associated with credit card processing, they are nominal when compared to increases in your customer base, increased sales averages, and even higher tips for groomers.
Who is a service business? You are! Your customers are busier than ever and hopefully, so are you. While your loyal clients likely enjoy chatting with you, the convenience of online scheduling for a busy lifestyle is unparalleled. In my shops, more online appointments are scheduled on Sundays than any other day. Your clients are home, notice their dog needs your services, and offering an online scheduling portal allows them to essentially access your services in their own time frame. Think of using an on–line scheduler as having a receptionist ready to accept your clients’ appointments 24/7.
Where can you find one and how do you begin using it? There are a host of online (cloud–based) scheduling programs from which to choose – and your choice doesn’t necessarily have to be designed for pet grooming. Most scheduling programs allow you to designate appointment parameters, duration, and gather incoming client information all in one stop. The client is doing more of the work, thus saving you time and your client can browse open appointment times at their discretion. Familiarizing yourself with your chosen program, tweaking it, and having a trial period to work out initial issues will help you achieve success with this tool.
What else should you know? A complete Online Scheduling tool should interface with your website and Facebook business page, but also be easy for your staff to manage and keep appointments up to date on a daily basis. Most scheduling tools will also include options for sending appointment reminders and follow–up messages—just think of this as another way of seamlessly maintaining contact with your customers.
What are the purposes of my business’s website or Facebook page? Many business owners recognize the need for a dedicated website. Even more popular, many grooming shops embrace and maintain a business Facebook presence. Having these tools in place and using these tools to their fullest capacity are two different stories. Both your website and your Facebook page offer an opportunity to present a message to your clients.
Your website can be more granular; you may consider placing your core values, your mission statement, and more dense information about your business—this is a place to tell your business’s story. Your Facebook page story can be more “in the moment”. It’s easier to allow clients to participate and interface through likes, shares, and photos.
How do I get more from these tools?
Each of these tools are vehicles which allow you to embed links to scheduling, blogs, and additional resources. Think of structuring your online presence tools so that your customer can enjoy “one stop shopping” if they choose. They can learn about you, peruse your service offerings, schedule a service with their chosen provider, and even get a reminder message for their appointment. All of this can be accomplished 24/7 in your customer’s own time, without even leaving their home. Video traffic on these sites is a great way to invite your customer into your salon and include them in the process.
You may be using some of these tools already to help you run your business smoothly. Remember, like all tools that you use to complete your job, practice is necessary to learn to master the tool. These business tools are no different. Practice makes perfect and in this case, both you and your customers will see and feel the difference these business tools can make in your daily professional space. ✂