Dealing with the Dickersons

Grooming Gab

By Kathy Hosler

We all get calls from people who want special treatment and a bargain price. Those individuals are known as “The Dickersons”. They will ‘dicker’ on the price and every little detail of the groom.

“Hi, I’m calling to see what you charge to groom a dog. He’s a real good boy. I brush him every day with my own hairbrush. The breeder told me that he won’t need groomed until he is a year old, but I can’t see his eyes. I’ll bath him before I bring him—that will make his grooming cheaper, won’t it? Oh, and I need him done today.”

We all get calls from people who want special treatment and a bargain price. Those individuals are known as “The Dickersons”. They will ‘dicker’ on the price and every little detail of the groom. They want you to go above and beyond to satisfy their requests, but are unwilling to pay what your services are worth. It’s like they expect to receive all the amenities of a luxury resort, but are only willing to pay for a one–night stay at Motel 6.

To the Dickersons, price is uppermost in their mind and the deciding factor in choosing a groomer. What they often don’t take into consideration is that it’s not just a question of price, it’s a question of value received for the money spent.

We all like to get bargains, so when people ask about your pricing, don’t be offended or get defensive. Use it as an opportunity to educate them about what makes your services worth more. You have to sell yourself and describe the value you bring to them and their pets.

 “In reality, I may be more expensive than others,” you say. “But that’s because I use high quality products, state–of–the–art equipment, and I regularly attend continuing education to provide the newest and best services for your pet.” 

 Most people really love their pets and will not hesitate to spend money on them, especially when they feel they are getting excellent value for that money. The amount you charge for a groom may be vastly different than what other groomers charge. 

When it comes to setting your prices, your fees need to cover all of your day–to–day business expenses, rent or mobile van payment, utilities, products and equipment, employee expenses, insurances, etc. It all counts. If you are just guessing how much you need to charge, you may not be in business for long. Once you know what your expenses are, you can calculate how much money you need to generate each day. Whether you charge by the pet or by the hour, you know what you have to bring in to make ends meet and make a profit.

So how do you handle it when someone wants a discount? Decide in advance what your policy will be on giving discounts or free services, and then stick to it. No matter how outlandish or demanding of a request someone makes, remain calm and deal with it in a professional manner according to that policy. 

“Hi, I have two dogs and I am interested in having them groomed by your mobile service. What do you charge and do I get a discount for the second dog since you can groom them both in one trip?” 

“I have a service dog (he’s got a vest and everything). Will you groom him for free?” 

 “My last groomer charged $45.00 to groom my second generation Mini Aussie Doodle. Do you price match?”

Having a policy in place helps eliminate being caught off guard by a Dickerson. It is absolutely your choice if you want to give someone a reduced price, but don’t allow yourself to be bullied into it. Keep in mind, you can discount yourself right out of business. And, once you lower someone’s price or give them a free service, they will want and expect it every time. Additionally, they may tell their friends and neighbors, and they will want one too. 

“Hi, you groom my neighbor’s two Schnauzers. If I get mine done at the same time, it will be cheaper for all three, right? And, she said that you always give them a blueberry facial for free. I want that for my dog, too.” 

Don’t allow the Dickersons to take advantage of you. Groomers are notoriously generous. We donate our time and talents at local shelters and rescue groups. And, at times, do grooms for free, but you can’t give away your skills on a daily basis. Your time is precious, so don’t discount your labor. As a professional you must stand firm and tell the Dickersons that your grooming prices are non–negotiable. 

Instead of giving discounts, increase your profits by doing business promotions. They make the client feel that they are getting extra value and they also benefit you.  Offer a ‘special of the month’. It could be a premium add–on service, such as a spa treatment or nail dremeling. Then, when the owner receives and likes the service, they will continue to request it even when the special promotion is over.

Another business–builder that benefits both you and your client is re–booking.  Tell your client that if they book and keep an every four–week (or less) appointment schedule, they will receive a ten percent discount. That’s a real enticement to get clients on a regular schedule, and you won’t really lose money by doing this. When a pet comes in that often, they stay in better shape and will make your job easier.

Dealing with the Dickersons can be annoying. But, if you know how to handle them, they will never get the best of you. ✂️