By Jonathan David
They say you can’t teach an old dog new tricks, but we all know that’s not true. Sometimes we get set in our ways and it’s difficult to make changes, but in reality, it’s a necessary step to building and growing your business.
In our ever–changing world, technology seems to advance faster than we can keep up—but why would a pet stylist benefit from keeping pace?
I’ll be the first to admit that when it comes to certain things, I’m old school. I like to use a paper week–at–a–glance scheduling book along with our computerized salon system. I like to keep paper copies of important documents in a filing cabinet along with digital copies, and some of my favorite grooming tools look like I inherited them from my great grandmother! However, I also recognize the importance of keeping up with advances in technology to make running a business—and life in general—just plain easier.
As professional pet stylists and groomers, we all know how busy our days can be so it’s essential to make our days run smoothly and save as much time as possible. Using software to book appointments, contact clients, track inventory, keep client records and much more can help make that happen.
There are many options when it comes to choosing software for your business. Whether you’re a mobile groomer, you have a grooming salon, you offer retail or you offer daycare and boarding, there are software programs made to fit the needs of every business. I’m a firm believer in having systems for everything from checking dogs in to bathing and drying the pets to keeping grooming records of each visit to informing clients of issues that we may find during the grooming. Systems keep things flowing like a well–oiled machine and they keep us from forgetting important things.
We use a paper appointment book for fast and easy scheduling because it’s easy for me to look at the pages and know how booked the day is. But we also use a computerized system. All the appointments we take in the paper book are entered into the scheduler because the point of sale system we use has so many convenient features that have helped our business run more efficiently and make keeping records a snap. Some may say it’s extra work to have both, but it works for us, and the paper book is simply the first step of appointment booking. The software we use really does the rest and it has features that have made booking and confirming appointments so much easier and has saved us time in the long run.
In my salon, we groom an average of forty dogs per day, and we’re a full–line retail store. We have over 2000 separate barcodes for our products and services so having a software system that offers us information and convenience at the stroke of a key is an absolute must. The time we used to spend calling to confirm appointments for a forty–dog day was tedious and time consuming. Our software did away with that through a text confirmation system. Each client receives a text message to confirm their appointment and they can notify us that they are coming with a simple response. We can also send a text message to inform the client when their pets are ready to be picked up, saving us precious time throughout the day.
Many software programs also offer online booking which provides your clients with the convenience of choosing their appointments without having to call you or wait for a return call after a message.
Our customer profiles are another great asset to our record–keeping so we can track client visits, amounts spent by each client on services and products, and we can track loyalty points for rewards programs. Often we have a client that wants to buy a treat or toy they’ve purchased in the past and we can easily look it up in their purchase history to better serve their needs. It has also been an asset for tracking exactly how many pets my groomers work on and what service each of my employees does in a given time period. The software offers me the ability to view and print reports of all this information so I can better assess bonuses, raises and who is under performing.
Another great feature that we’re beginning to take advantage of is adding iPads to each station to make updating daily client tickets easier so checking the client out is faster and more accurate. Currently, we keep kennel cards for each client. Each time a pet is groomed, we write what we did, in detail, so we can either repeat or make changes if the customer wishes at the next grooming appointment. When we have any type of add–on charge such as a medicated bath, skin or coat treatment, or de–matting charges, we write it on the card and the retail employees have to use the card as a reference to appropriately charge the customer. This has worked for us for a long time, but as we have grown as a business and we’ve become a busier store, sometimes the charges haven’t been added to the card, or in the chaos of checking people out, the employee ringing them up may miss the notes about an add–on charge, resulting in a loss of revenue. With the iPads at each station linked to our system, the groomers can update the tickets as necessary and add on the services performed, so when the client is checked out, those services and charges aren’t missed and there’s no loss for the groomers or the business.
We also live in the age of social media and it’s a necessary part of having a business, like it or not. Having an online presence is as essential as having a phone line—but the benefits are far more plentiful. Most people prefer to look up your website or Facebook page before visiting your business or using your services. And apps like Instagram or Snapchat can expose you to an entirely different demographic than you had before. It’s also a great way to advertise your business by promoting your posts.
The simple act of posting an adorable picture of one of your furry clients can expose your business name to thousands of people you wouldn’t have reached before, and whether you’re a business owner or an independent groomer working for someone else, the same benefits apply. My stylists post photos of their work or the cute pets we groom and tag the business page or Instagram account, therefore linking the business to even more people than before. Utilizing social media to show potential clients what your work is like or what types of new and exciting products you’re carrying in your store can drive business your way and away from your competitors.
Another great promotional idea is posting videos of your techniques or time–lapsed videos of a grooming. The videos can be a great tool to promote specific services and there are amazing apps available to do easy editing. And, if you’re lucky, the video can go viral and the exposure is free and further–reaching than some paid advertising traditionally done.
The long and short of it is that, just like every other profession today, keeping up with technology is essential for success. Whether you’re a tech–savvy person who grew up on social media or an old school groomer like me, learning to keep up with the technology will help your career. If this old dog was able to learn new tricks, so can you! ✂️