By Dr. Cliff Faver
In this incredibly competitive world of business, it is imperative that we look at different ways of marketing ourselves in a unique way—otherwise we are just a “me also” salon.
So, how do you know if you’re a “an as well” salon?
Salon #1: “I do nail trims.”
Salon #2: “I do nail trims also!”
Salon #1: “I do shave–downs.”
Salon #2: “I do shave–downs too.”
Salon #1 “I am open 8–5, six days a week.”
Salon #2: “Me too!”
As a consumer in this situation, how would you pick between these two salons?
The likely answer is, cost of services! The consumer has no way of knowing if you provide a better service, better groom or a more compassionate environment unless you tell them.
So much of the time we sell and advertise ourselves like the competition down the street and then wonder why our marketing is inefficient. In order to succeed in business today, we need to look at what we can do differently or better than the competition down the street, and then creatively convey this idea to the public. We need to stand out from the crowd!
One of the first places that I believe a salon should start this level of distinguishability is on the customer service level. That initial phone call is often the first (and sometimes the only) impression we make. In that moment, we often get lost in the client’s inquiry of pricing and all we end up accomplishing is a simple price quote. What the client is really looking for is value.
How is my pet going to be treated? How long is the groom going to take? Will they be able to accommodate my schedule? What precautions do they take for the safety of my animal? Is the facility clean?
If all we talked about is price, how do they get the rest of the important information?
As soon as that call comes in, it should be looked at as an opportunity, not a nuisance. Ideally, this is where a receptionist or a well–trained assistant/bather can be worth their weight in gold. It is important that we take the time to talk to the client and let them know who we are as a salon. We rarely get a second chance to make a first impression, so this is our chance to shine!
The second most important quality in our business is how we are distinguishable from the salon down the street. Are you a master groomer? What are your certifications? Are you Pet First Aid & CPR trained? Do you have specialized training in handling skin cases?
Many groomers have worked extremely hard to obtain these achievements and several are considered authorities in their field. Our goal should be to make the public aware of these high–level qualifications. Some say that they do not like to brag, but there is a difference between being arrogant and just sharing your achievements with your clients. It is wonderful when a groomer expresses their excitement to implement the knowledge that they obtained to help the pets under their care.
So, where do you express that excitement? Facebook? Twitter? Instagram? It is important to remember that most followers you have in your social media network are the people that already know and love you, so you need to think a little bigger than that.
Here are some other ways to get your info out to the public:
- Advertisements in news media about what you offer
- Ask your Facebook friends to get the word out
- Partner with rescue groups or breed clubs and post on their sites
- Your webpage
- Homeowner groups
- Nextdoor groups
Pricing structure also plays an important role. There are shopped and non–shopped items that you offer. There will be items that do fall in the “me also” category that clients will purchase, and that’s where you need to be competitive.
One of the secrets to a healthy business is to not have a “one–size–fits–all” pricing structure. In any salon, you have clients that just want the basic groom, and you also have clients that want the best. We often lose the clients that want the best because we fail to offer it by only catering to the basic/bargain shoppers.
Ideally, you should be offering a price for a basic groom so you are competitive in your market. In addition, you should offer spa packages, luxury products or some type of “pampering” service. These should all be at a marked–up price. When we raise our prices, it is basically implied that there is no choice in the matter for the client. But upgrades are a choice that the client needs to make.
Recently, I talked to a groomer who needed to raise her prices, so she increased her basic grooming fee by $5. In addition, she offered a spa package which included a luxury shampoo/conditioner to her clients that costs $15 more. What she found was, a large percentage of her clients elected to do the upgrade. So essentially, for every client who upgraded to the spa package, she brought in $20 extra for the whole groom. Her actual extra cost for the luxury shampoo was around $1–2.
Many groomers say, “But my clients will never do that.”
Here is a challenge: pick a holiday like Valentine’s Day (usually not Christmas, because you are already busy) and offer the luxury shampoo (or another upgraded service) at no additional cost, BUT tell them what your normal mark–up is for that luxury service. Then simply ask them to give you feedback on what they think! If the product is truly an upgrade from what they have been receiving (if you don’t see a difference, they won’t either, so pick the right product), then many of the clients will elect to have the better product moving forward, at the upgraded price.
In order to avoid blending in to the landscape of the many grooming facilities out there, it is imperative to offer something distinct. Be unique; whether it is in the services you offer, the way you market or the strategy that you use for pricing. All of these attributes will collaborate in making your business healthy and prosperous. ✂️
Dr. Cliff Faver graduated with a BS in Biology/BA in Chemistry before getting a Veterinary degree in 1987. He is the past owner of Animal Health Services in Cave Creek, Arizona and now the US distributor for Iv San Bernard products, teaches the ISB Pet Aesthetician Certification program, and speaks internationally on hair and skin. His passion is to merge groomers and veterinarians to aid in helping and healing pets. He is also a member of AVMA, AAHA, AZVMA, Board member with Burbank Kennel Club, and has served on Novartis Lead Committee, Hill’s International Global Veterinary Board, and a Veterinary Management Group.