By Kathy Hosler
To boldly go where no one had gone before! That was the mission of the Starship Enterprise. It’s kind of the same situation for groomers who have never used business software.
You are facing the unknown and you’re not sure what to expect. When all you have ever known are appointment books and clip cards, learning to run your business with technology can really be scary.
Pet grooming is hard work – don’t let the way you are conducting business make it even more difficult. Don’t be terrified of technology; let it do a lot of the work for you. By taking that first step, you can really catapult yourself and your business to new heights.
Here’s the big question: What can software do for your business and how do you even know where to start?
“Software in general is meant to make the groomer more efficient,” says Andy Smit of SwiftPet. “Software is not meant to be a barrier, it is meant to be a supplement or enhancement to the business. If it is too complicated, you won’t use it. If it is easy to use, and makes your work easier – it helps the business run smoother, and be more efficient and profitable.”
There are two types of software. There are downloadable programs that you actually put on your computer, and web-based software that you access through the internet.
The software programs that you download can only be used on the computer that they are installed on. That’s something that you need to be aware of if you purchase pc based (downloadable) software. If you change computers, you may have to buy new software or invest in upgrades.
If you have web-based (in the cloud) software, you can use your laptop, tablet, iPad or smart phone to access the software. If something happens to one of your devices, your information will still be there because it’s stored online. You will be able to access your business software anywhere there is internet. You don’t have to be in front of a computer, you can be at a convention or grocery store and still have the information at your fingertips.
Before you invest in software, do some research. Talk to other groomers and see how technology has helped them. Visit different software websites and see all the programs and features they have to offer.
“Most often you can get a 30 or 60 day free demo of the software to see if it is what you want and if it does what you need it to do,” says Bill Krom of Groom Pro. “Only deal with companies that have good reviews. You can find out a lot at online review boards like www.capterra.com.”
Also, be aware of costs involved. Some software is free while others are quite expensive. Some have monthly subscription fees and others require you to sign a contract.
“The benefits of using software are numerous! Saving time and therefore money would have to be one of the biggest pluses,” says Laurence Smith of PetLinx. “Managing groomer scheduling and organizing your appointment book easily and quickly is another.”
“Software enables better marketing efforts by providing a means to advertise to all your customers or just a targeted segment,” Mr. Smith continues. “It can give you an overview of your business workload, performance, and financials. The integration with point of sale hardware and payment processing simplifies check out time.”
“Grooming is hard enough,” says Paula Mosteller of PetExec. “Why would you want to make it any harder? The hours that you spend at your business doing non-grooming activities can be drastically reduced, when you let technology help you. The time that you save translates into getting out of work early, or making more money in the same time.”
“Software programs make it easier to run a business,” says David Farris of Technology Enhancing Pets. “It doesn’t have to be intimidating. Groomers can start with software that is basic and easy to learn.”
“How difficult software is to learn really depends on the resources you have available to you,” says Bill Krom of Groom Pro. “Things you want to look for are; do the software companies offer tutorial videos, do they have a knowledge base, do they have a way for you to get answers to your questions that are available 24/7, and is there email or phone support?”
“Appointment books and clip cards may be the old reliable way to do business, however, you cannot access their information when you are away from the office,” says Stephen Cushen of Kennel Booker “Online software gives you instant access to your customer and pet database straight from your PC, tablet or smart phone, and can also let you add bookings into your calendar.”
“Your customers are used to using online services for booking their hair, hotel, and other appointments. They expect to be able to do the same with their pet appointments,” says David Farris of Technology Enhancing Pets. “With software programs, clients can request an appointment with you or one of your groomers. You receive an email or text alert and you can confirm the request immediately.”
“With software, when a dog comes in to be groomed, you can have the entire history of previous grooms complete with any special instructions,” says Andrew Giroux of Groomsoft. “All the information for every pet is there.”
There are no microscopic notes scribbled in the margins of clip cards. That is a big plus if you have multiple groomers or groomer turnover – with detailed instructions, any groomer can duplicate the previous groom.
“Let technology keep you connected to your customers,” says Paula Mosteller of PetExec. “When a client calls to make an appointment, you can have the pet and owner profiles in front of you within seconds. You can also send out email blasts about a new service you are offering, a product you are featuring, or to introduce a new groomer on your staff. You can also send personalized birthday and pet report cards to the pets. Take a picture of the pet, make a few comments, and email it to the owner – they love it!”
Mobile groomers have very specialized software available to them that can really have a positive impact on their business.
“The mapping software takes your physical address (location) and it will map out your daily route,” says Al Rosales of mGroomer. “If you are going to be in a certain area and you don’t have a full schedule, you can have the software show you all of your clients in that area that have not been groomed in the last month or two (whatever you want) and you can reach out to them. It’s a great way to fill out your schedule and also to optimize your routes for fuel efficiency.”
One thing mobile groomers must consider is that you need internet to access the software. If you are going to be in a rural area where there is no internet access, you may have to print out information before you go to the appointment.
“Everyone has the fear of losing their data,” says Patrick Jones of DoggieDashboard. “While nothing is 100% safe, there are lots of safeguards with grooming software programs.
You also have to do your part to keep your information safe. Make sure that you have a strong password and don’t share it.”
There is no end to the things that grooming software can do for you and your business. It can organize your expenses, track your retail pos (point of sale), and see what items are selling well and which ones are just sitting on your shelves. And, of course, they can automatically print or email receipts.
With just a few keystrokes, you can generate reports for your business showing income, future bookings, commission earned by groomers, tax reports, and much, much more.
“Grooming is a very physically demanding job. It’s not unusual for groomers to develop carpal tunnel, bad feet and back problems. What are your plans after your grooming career is over?” asks Bill Krom of Groom Pro. “If you sell your business, the money you get for it will not last forever. Grooming software gives you the means to continue to operate your business. You can hire a groomer and you can move to management – or you can hire both a manager and groomers, and you can still run your business. It can generate income for you forever.”
So, groomers, it’s time to boldly go where you have not gone before. You may not be the captain of a Starship, but you are in control of your own future. Technology can help you make it a future that is out of this world! ✂