By Kathy Hosler
I have been grooming little Pixie since she was a puppy. She was a sweet, loving Yorkie and was easy to groom. Her owner, Helen, always loved Pixie’s haircut, tipped and rescheduled.
Pixie’s owner gave our shop rave reviews and posted lots of pictures of her freshly groomed baby on Facebook. She referred all her dog–owning friends to us. Life was good.
Helen worked at a local coffee and pastry shop. She made sure to tell everybody that she didn’t have to work—her husband had a great job. The money she made was her ‘play’ money.
Pixie was on a 5 week schedule of grooming appointments. For quite a while, she showed up like clockwork. If Helen didn’t bring the dog, her adult daughter, who still lives at home, did. Then it began….
Occasionally Helen would miss an appointment, saying that she had to work late and wasn’t able to call me. (That’s possible with the job she has. We can let that slide for a good client.)
Then she began to leave messages or text me—”I have to work tomorrow. Pixie needs to reschedule as soon as possible.” (Oh come on lady, you have known for five weeks that Pixie was scheduled to be groomed tomorrow. I lose money when you don’t show up, and then you expect me to magically make an appointment appear to suit your schedule.)
These short–notice cancellations and no–shows became more and more frequent. Although she was always apologetic, she didn’t really seem all that sincere. And how about her daughter who brought the dog lots of times in the past, did she always have to work too? I really felt that Helen was just trying to stretch out Pixie’s appointments so that she would have more money to spend on her own spa treatments, manicures and twice a year cruises.
The last time she canceled, she didn’t call or text—she sent me a Facebook message, one hour after she was due to drop off Pixie. She said that she had to cancel Pixie, but of course needed to reschedule her immediately.
I did not get her message until the end of the day. And when I did, I decided that I was done with Helen and her shenanigans.
I messaged her back. “Hi Helen. The soonest opening I have is in three weeks.” (I was done squeezing her in and making special arrangements for her, and we really were booked that far out.)
She replied back, “Oh, Pixie can’t wait that long. She needs done now!” (Well no kidding, she had an appointment ‘now’.)
“I’m sorry, but that is the soonest that I have,” I said.
Then she continued, “I’ll take Pixie to (insert a competitor’s name) to be groomed.”
Really? That was the last straw. For years I had gone above and beyond to accommodate her schedule. And now, the first time I don’t fit her right in she is going somewhere else? She didn’t just say that she would call around to see if she could get a sooner appointment somewhere else, she told me the name of the salon where she was going to take her to. So much for Helen’s loyalty to me.
Was she trying to bully me into making yet another exception for her by threatening to go elsewhere? I was mad.
Although I loved little Pixie and she was a dream to groom, her owner created far more trouble than she was worth. I had gone above and beyond for Helen too many times. My time is valuable too. I felt disrespected and offended by her behavior and comment.
I immediately wanted to fire back a nasty reply, blasting her for all the times I had gone out of my way to accommodate her and Pixie, but that wouldn’t have accomplished anything. I wasn’t about to engage in a war of words with her. I just wanted her gone.
Only twice in my career have I had to fire a client. But today I didn’t have to fire Helen. She had just fired herself!
I replied simply, “Okay, Helen. We will miss seeing little Pixie, but I’m sure they will do a great job on her. And, maybe they will be better able to accommodate your changing work schedule.”
If Helen had been lying by saying that she made an appointment at one of my competitors, I called her bluff. At any rate, she was no longer going to be my problem.
I felt great. Every appointment she changed or missed was causing me stress and costing me time and money. My efforts had not been appreciated and I was not going to go out of my way for her again. Helen would no longer disrupt my schedule or take advantage of me.
You will probably experience a client like Helen at some point in your career. And, no matter how upset or angry you get, use tact and diplomacy when you deal with them. It’s very important to stay professional at all times.
We all try to accommodate our clients’ needs, but you have to stand up for yourself too. There are times when you just have to say ‘Enough is enough!’