By Melissa Viera
There are many benefits to gaining new puppy clients in your salon. Puppy owners are excited about the new addition to their family, and prepared to give their new puppy the best to set them up for a lifetime of success. Unfortunately many puppy owners wait until their puppy’s coat is already becoming overgrown until they book their first grooming appointment, simply because they do not know the benefits of starting grooming early. Starting young puppies off with positive grooming experiences in your salon early on, and building a strong relationship with new clients who have just gotten a puppy, could gain you a client for life.
Puppies can be a challenge to groom the first time for obvious reasons. Everything is new to them. The handling, sounds, and expectations of sitting still for grooming is a lot to ask of a young puppy. On the other hand, a puppy gives you a clean slate to work with. They don’t have a history with grooming yet, and it is up to you to help them become well-mannered dream dogs for grooming with the help of their owners.
What if before their first appointment with you puppies were already being exposed to different aspects of grooming? Puppies who have already practiced how to relax on a table, and have been exposed to handling, sounds, and procedures of the grooming salon will be a lot less likely to become stressed by the experience, and your job will be much easier. Providing occasional puppy grooming workshops in your salon is a fun way to educate owners and attract potential clients to your business.
Puppy grooming workshops can be held just a few times a year, or on a more frequent basis if you find that they are paying off for the time put in. Turn your salon into a classroom for current puppy owners and soon-to-be puppy owners, either during regular business hours if you have a quiet area to hold the workshop, or after hours. You may choose to charge a fee for these workshops, or provide free workshops when participants book and pay upfront for their first groom at the same time as singing up.
Puppy grooming workshops should be kept to about an hour to ninety minutes long, and consist of information, tips for success, and hands on activities. Plan your lectures and activities to take up about sixty percent of the time which leaves plenty of time for questions and social time between new puppy owners. It’s always best to end a few minutes early so you are not trying to rush all of your information in to meet time constraints, and boring participants by keeping them longer than they had planned for. Participants with puppies who are fully vaccinated can bring their puppies along, but you can also invite soon-to-be-puppy owners to audit the workshops.
You should answer a few key questions during your puppy grooming workshops, and aim to give clients a motive for regular grooming for the life of their puppy. The questions to focus on include: When should puppies begin going to a groomer? How often should puppies go to the groomer? What exactly does a groomer do to pets during their visits? What type of at-home grooming, and exposure to grooming should pet owners be responsible for? Along with answering these questions, have a few activities planned to demonstrate how puppy owners can begin exposing their puppies to grooming procedures and equipment positively.
If you have, or you can borrow a well-behaved adult dog, you can demonstrate different aspects of grooming for participants. They will learn exactly what happens when their puppy is with you and what services they are paying for. If you include nail grinding, teeth cleaning, or other special services, show these things to your participants. Let your clients experience basic aspects of grooming with hands on activities. The hands on portion of your workshops can be a lot of fun for participants, but it also gives them a good understanding of all the different things their puppies must learn to be comfortable with in order for them to be groomed. Instruct participants to bring plenty of high value treats for these exercises.
Keep activities simple and fun so you do not overwhelm your participants or their young pets. Break up the grooming process into small steps, and play “games” with your participants to help give their puppies very positive experiences with each part of grooming. You can have everyone hold their puppy on a grooming table and feed treats to them. Turn on a dryer and pair the sound with treats, and when you shut the dryer off the treats stop. Put some yummy peanut butter on a tooth-brush and let the puppies lick it off. Show your clients how to begin brush and comb training for their puppies with short sessions that end before the puppy becomes frustrated.
Send clients home with a summary of what was included in your workshop, a list of exercises to practice at home, a brochure of your services, and a testimonial form that they can fill out to review their experience with you during the workshop. The testimonial form is especially important because it will allow you to gauge how successful the workshops are, and give you testimonials to use on your website. Don’t forget to include a photo release upon signing up for a workshop as puppy grooming photos will be great for your business’s networking sites and website.
Marketing puppy grooming workshops is easier than you might initially think. The workshops stand out from your day-to-day services and can be considered a special event. You can send a newsletter to your clients announcing the workshop, and encourage them to pass it on to anyone they might know who will be getting a new puppy. Network with breeders, rescues, veterinarians, and other professionals in your area. You can even write a press release for your local paper, or hire someone to write one for you. Puppy grooming workshops can help you create new leads because they are aimed at all puppy owners, not just ones with “grooming dogs”. Puppy owners are always looking for new experiences for socializing their puppies.
Even if you have no experience teaching or instructing, you are capable of holding puppy grooming workshops in your salon. These are fun events that can be a fresh change of pace for busy groomers. Building relationships with new puppy owners right from the start will create a loyal following. Not only will you bring in potential clients, but you will also help prepare puppies for better grooming experiences.
Melissa Viera is a Massachusetts-based pet groomer and trainer. Her business, MJ’s Pet Training Academy, provides training services along with grooming services and programs. Melissa is passionate about creating positive experiences for pets in the
grooming salon, and contributing to her field. To learn more about training to become a Puppy Grooming Workshop Presenter contact Melissa Viera by visiting www.mjspettrainingacademy.com