By Daryl Conner
When it comes to marketing your grooming business, the focus can and should be kept local. This opens up opportunities to let people know just what it is your service has to offer without having to lay out thousands of dollars in advertising.
Studies prove that, on average, you have 6–8 seconds to grab someone’s attention. Once you have that attention, you have about 60 seconds to hold their interest long enough to pitch your service. Because of this, you should spend some time thinking of how to enthusiastically explain your business in 60 seconds or less.
Have a phrase prepared and practiced that you can rattle off the next time the bank teller taking your deposit says, “Oh, you are a groomer?” Hit her with your pitch and leave her knowing enough about your business that she will consider bringing her pet to you or mention your service to friends and family. Once you have this down, you just need to find ways to open the conversation more often.
A friend has a license plate on her car that says, “Groomer.” People ask her about it. You can also put a bold bumper or window sticker on your vehicle that will get people talking about your work. One smart groomer I know had her eye–catching logo and business name embroidered on stylish polo style shirts and on her denim jacket. She was a walking advertisement everywhere she went. People would remark on her chic garments, and she had business cards ready to hand out as she told them about her trade.
And those business cards? Investing some money in a really eye–catching, high quality card is a small but worthwhile expenditure. A nicely done card really does make an impression and is far more apt to be kept and considered than a cheap one. Here are some other ideas to try:
1. Ask satisfied customers if they would be willing to take some of your business cards and recommend you to people they know. You will be surprised at how many people are happy to help, but don’t consider giving referrals until they are asked.
2. Have some attractive bookmarks made up with your business information and leave a stack of them at the local library.
3. Don’t underestimate the power of social media. I was recently surprised when I asked an 80–something–year–old man how he had heard about my studio. “Oh,” he said, “I saw something about you on Facebook.” Pick a few forms of media that are interesting to you and promote your business that way. Post photos of dogs, tidbits of pet care tips and promote any special things you are doing during any given period. The more content you provide, the more apt your readers will be to share your posts, and that is all free advertising.
(As a side note, I find often my existing customers will be reminded to make an appointment after seeing something I’ve posted on social media.)
4. Network with other pet care professionals in your area to cross promote each other. Dog trainers, boarding facilities, pet photographers, dog walkers and doggy day care providers are great sources who might be interested in referring their customers to you if you return the favor. You can even consider putting on some sort of joint event with a group of other pet services to welcome the public to learn more about each of your businesses. You can also use reciprocal web site links, combined social media events or fliers to cross promote.
5.Give something away. Human nature being what it is, we all like getting something free. I frequently give a certificate for a free groom to local rescue organizations when they are holding an auction or other fund–raising event. This gets my name out in the public, often brings me a new customer and helps the rescue group. For a smaller investment, you can give a free add–on service, such as a hot oil treatment, spa package or seasonal facial or paw treatment. These additional services cost little for you to provide but create an interest in the service for the future, while helping people get that happy “something for nothing” feeling.
6. If your business has something noteworthy to share, write up a good press release. There are instructions on how to do so online. When I opened my business four years ago, the paper wrote an article about it after I submitted my release. Because of that one article, I was busy from the day I opened.
7. Social groups such as Rotary International, as well as local libraries, often have a need for guest speakers to come and give a talk or demonstration. If you are comfortable doing this, it is a great way to network with local people who are active in the community.
8. Many communities have low–cost vaccine clinics throughout the year, and some rescue organizations put on public events. See if you can set up at the event and give nail trims for a donation. Donate the proceeds to the rescue or some other organization. You’ll be amazed at how many contacts you can make at an occasion such as this.
Once you have attracted new business, be sure you are taking steps to build a relationship. Because it is easier to keep an existing customer than it is to find a new one. Beyond offering your excellent service, think of small ways to delight people. It can be as simple as remembering their favorite color for a bow or bandana, or sending their pet a birthday card. Building and keeping a customer base is imperative to keeping us happy at work doing what we love—making dogs and cats more beautiful.