By Kathy Hosler
As soon as Karen walked into my salon with her sweet little mixed breed, Simon, I knew something was terribly wrong. She burst into tears. “I have bad news about my dear Simon,” she sobbed. “That growth he has by his tail burst open. His veterinarian, Dr. P, said he will need surgery to remove it.”
“I know he is thirteen years old,” I said. “But other than this growth, Simon is in great shape. And, Dr. P has taken wonderful care of all your animals for years. What has you so upset?”
“You know I love Dr. P, and I have always had the utmost confidence in him,” said Karen. “But the last two times I’ve gone into his office, the exam room I was in was dirty—the floor, the baseboards, everything. The first time I simply chalked it up to him being short staffed or overly busy. But at this last visit, it was even worse!”
Then she whispered to me, “If his exam rooms that everyone can see are dirty, what must his operating room look like? I just can’t bear to let my Simon be operated on there.”
“I feel guilty,” Karen added. “But I made an appointment to take my boy for a second opinion at the new veterinary clinic that my neighbor goes to. She raves about them and how clean they are.”
I was shocked. I knew Dr. P. He was highly respected and had been in business for a long time. But I also knew that because of what she saw, Karen wouldn’t be going back to him. And it won’t just be Karen. Everyone she tells about the lack of cleanliness at Dr. P’s clinic will be reluctant to take their pets there.
What a shame. Dr. P invested a great deal of money and many years of training to become a veterinarian, and now he is losing a long–time, great client because his facility is not clean. And, if Karen noticed, so have his other clients.
Cleanliness, or the lack there of, is one of the first things a potential client notices. As soon as people pull into your parking lot, their first impression is made. I got an eye–opening example of this a few years ago….
A new client, Jim, brought his dog in to be groomed. When I looked at the paperwork Jim had filled out, I saw that his address was on the same street as another grooming salon in our town. I wondered why he would drive several miles to come to us instead of going to his nearby groomer.
I asked Jim, “I see by your address that you live near the XYZ Grooming Salon”.
“Yes,” he replied, “I go past it every day.” Then he said, “We used to go to them. There was nothing wrong with their grooming but, every time we went, there was dog poop all over the yard in front of the entrance. It was terrible. I don’t think anyone ever cleaned it up. I don’t want my dog exposed to that.”
His dog is a dream to groom, and Jim brings her in every four weeks. I gained a fabulous client because another shop was too lazy to clean their premises.
Could Jim or Karen’s experience be a wake–up call for you? Have you been losing clients and you don’t know why? No matter how great you are at grooming, if your workplace doesn’t look or smell clean, people won’t want you to care for their precious pets.
Cleanliness is a direct reflection of you and of the care you provide to your clients’ pets. If you can’t perform a basic task like keeping your facility dirt–free, then why should they have confidence in you to care for their pet?
Is your salon or mobile van really as clean as you think? Are you diligent about sanitation, or have you become a little complacent? Take a look around. Is there hair hanging from the light fixtures, dust on your retail products, nose prints on the windows or urine stains on your lobby welcome mat?
It is not difficult or expensive to keep your facility neat and tidy. We all know if something is clean or not—it’s not rocket science. If you are so busy grooming that you don’t have the time or energy to thoroughly clean at the end of the day, hire someone to do it for you.
It’s important to disinfect your facility to prevent the transmission of diseases such as canine cough, distemper, parvovirus and canine influenza. Sanitizing your tables, cages and tools should be done between every pet. You should also have air purifiers operating 24/7 to combat odors, germs, mold spores and allergens.
Then, take a look in the mirror. Your appearance speaks volumes about you. Are you wearing ratty looking jeans and a stained t–shirt or a torn smock, or do you and your staff wear matching uniforms? If you want people to treat you like a professional, you need to look like one.
Don’t give Jim, Karen, or any of your clients a reason to go to another groomer. It’s time to come clean.