By Kathy Hosler
Have you ever gone to your dentist for a filling, an extraction, or a root canal and when the dentist entered the exam room you notice that he is wearing stained, tattered jeans and a shirt that looks like he slept in it? As he begins to work on you, he says, “I’m just going to hold an ice cube on your tooth to numb it…It works almost as well as a shot of Novocain.” Almost? Are you kidding me? This guy doesn’t look or sound like he knows what he is doing. Yikes! Let me out of here!
This may be an extreme example, but when you go to a professional, you expect to receive first-class service – and you assume that the professional will be using the proper tools and products to complete the job or service. And, that’s exactly what your clients presume to receive from you. Pet parents place their precious fur babies in your care, and they have a right to expect that the products, tools, and equipment that you use on their pets are top quality. They don’t want to walk into your salon and see some homemade bathing contraption in your bathtub, or to see your clippers connected to a shop vac that sounds as loud as a jumbo jet taking off.
And, if an owner brings in their pet and tells you that they saw a flea or two on it – do you say, “No problem. I’ll just bathe him in this dish soap and that will probably get rid of most of them.” Dish soap? Really? Is that how a professional conducts business? Would you like it if your hair stylist washed your hair with something from the bargain bin at the dollar store? And, you could have liability issues if a pet has a reaction to a product that you use on it.
If you expect your clients to treat you like a professional, you and everything that they see in your salon must convince them that their pet is in knowledgeable, capable hands and that they will receive the very best of care during their visit. Every groomer wants their business to be profitable, but using cheap products and equipment just to save a little bit of money is a sure fire way to sabotage your success. Instead, you must find strategic ways to outfit your salon with quality equipment and superior grooming products.
One of the best things you can do for yourself and your business is to attend seminars and trade shows. At trade shows you can see and try out lots of the latest equipment and you can often get some really great deals during the show. You can also visit the booths of many manufacturers of shampoo and other grooming products that you use. Again – purchasing these items at the special show prices can save you a substantial amount of money and allow you to stock up on your favorites.
Time is money and knowledge is power. These statements are very true in the pet care industry. The more you know, by learning better and faster ways to groom pets and run your business – the more you can earn. Attending seminars is one of the best ways to learn the newest grooming techniques, get great ideas for low-cost or no-cost advertising that really work, discover ways to provide outstanding customer service that will build a loyal following, and get new ideas to show you how to retail the items that you already use on your client’s pets. Networking with fellow attendees will help you learn even more time-saving tips and get lots of business building ideas.
There are many creative ways that you can build a successful business and do it economically. You could advertise a new service that you learned at a seminar – de-shed treatments, pet facials, ‘paw’dicure treatments, etc. and offer them at an introductory price for a limited time. Do things that other salons may not offer. Don’t just clip toenails – use a rotary tool to file them smooth. Pet parents love the finishing touches, like bows, bandanas, and cologne. And, there’s a growing demand for pets to have a little ‘bling’ and maybe a splash or two of color.
Successful professionals don’t cut corners. Using quality products will always give you better results. They will cut down on de-matting, de-shedding and drying time. And, using the best equipment you can obtain will allow you to save time, help you increase your income, and reduce wear and tear on your body.
Of course, your appearance and that of your workplace has a lot to do with whether people perceive you as a professional or not. Take a good look at yourself and your salon the way your clients see it. Is everything clean and inviting, with no unpleasant odors? Do you look and act like a professional as you warmly greet your clients and their pets? Are your clients proud to tell their friends that their pets are groomed at your salon?
If you see things that can be improved, don’t put off doing them. In fact, you can be thinking and planning how you can make you and your business appear more professional to your client’s eyes whenever you have a moment of free time…like the next time you are in the dentist’s chair holding that ice cube on your poor, throbbing tooth.