More Pets = More Profit: Getting Your Employees to Pull Their Own Weight

Ask the Grooming Tutor

By Michell Evans

“Dear Michell, I am the owner of a small grooming salon in Tennessee. I have six groomers. We are running almost at capacity but my net profit/take–home pay is just not what I want it to be. I’ve been looking over my prices, payroll, supplies, and other expenses to see if there are places that we can improve profit. My groomers are slow. They could all do at least one more pet per day, if you ask me.”

I struggle with asking my groomers to do more because it does me no good to have burned out and disgruntled employees. Most of the time I just try to groom more pets myself and then I get burned out. No one cleans. I work a longer day than my employees and, at the end of it all, I am stuck doing all the cleaning. What can I do to get my employees to want to work harder and do their part with the chores?” — Kate

Hi Kate. The suggestion made below is simply one example of how you could rehabilitate your business’s net profit.

We have all heard people refer to their businesses as their babies. In all actuality, there is a lot of truth to this statement. The business is not you. It is its own entity. Its own person, if you will. It has its own needs (and they may differ from your needs), wants and desires as well as your employees’. Keep this in mind when making tough decisions for your business. Think of it as being the guardian of a child.

First, notify all your clients that you are having a “price restructuring”. Ten weeks from now they will have a ten–dollar price increase. You can either use a sign on the counter, do an email or even send a good old–fashioned snail mail letter. Ten weeks is a good amount of time because all of your best customers will have had at least one more appointment at the current price and have had a chance to be notified before the increase. Using the term “price restructuring” is important because it sounds official and non–negotiable.

Rehearse your statements so that when you are questioned by customers or employees you are well versed at defending the needs of your business. If you are going to listen to the complaints of your clients about a price increase, make it count. In other words, you are most likely going to experience anxiety and suffer complaints no matter what, so why make all that effort for one dollar? Unless, of course, you are doing an annual price increase of a lesser amount.

Bear in mind that, typically, it is a small percentage that will complain. We tend to focus on them rather than the clients who don’t even skip a beat. Remember to keep yourself in the guardian role as you communicate with customers and employees about the needs of your business.

One month before the price increase date, have a staff meeting and explain that you are reducing the groomer’s commission from 50% to 43% on the date of the price increase. Let’s say you currently charge $60 per pet. Now you will charge $70 per pet. The groomer at 50% of $60 was making $30 per pet. Now the groomer is making 43% of $70 for a total of $30.10 per pet; similar pay and typically better tips. Plus, in many cases, during the restructuring event the business finds several pets that have been grossly undercharged and these prices can now be rehabilitated.

Again, these are just some numbers that I pulled out of a hat. Your numbers might be different. The point is, take a look at your numbers and come up with a plan and then take action on your plan.

If you suffer personal attacks, remember that none of this is personal. You are simply doing what the business requires. You must also remember that the employees will also feel the need to protect themselves. Remember that this is not personal either. It comes from a place of fear. Just listen and wait. They may be opposed, but after they receive a few paychecks their anxiety will subside.

Give the customer something improved for their extra money. This does not have to cost a large part of your new additional net profit. A fresh coat of paint in the lobby, new grooming smocks for your staff, a new pet cologne fragrance and nail grinding included on all grooms is enough to increase the price by ten bucks. When they walk into a clean, fresh lobby and speak with a freshly dressed stylist they will notice a difference. When they get their pet home and it smells different and does not scratch them, they will notice an even bigger difference. Again, these are just a few examples of ways to add noticeable changes to your client’s experience. Be creative here.

Lastly, consider hiring a manager with your new–found surplus profit. The owner is like the parent or guardian and the manager is like the nanny. The owner has ultimate decision–making power and is ultimately responsible for the entirety of the business. The manager is the second in command and the liaison to the business, its staff and its clients. In the case of grooming salons, it is typically better to hire an office manager than a grooming manager. Introduce your office manager as a receptionist so that the groomers won’t be haters. This person’s job is not to babysit groomers but rather to facilitate production at every turn.

The receptionist/office manager takes dogs in, takes payment and rebooks at pick–up. The groomers can still talk to customers but they don’t have to stop grooming at all or at least for very long. This allows your groomers to groom one or maybe even two more dogs per day. It also allows them to focus on their work.

This office manager will also be constantly on the go doing laundry, vacuuming, dusting, cleaning up potty messes, cleaning up after Newfoundland blow–outs, cleaning out kennels, walking dogs, filling shampoo bottles and organizing clients for the next day. His or her duties are endless. These are the duties that you are doing now. This means you can also do one or two more dogs per day and stop having to do all of the end–of–day cleaning. You can see how this person quickly pays for themselves and still leaves you with more net profit.

I hope some of my suggestions are helpful, and I hope you find a way to make some more money and work less! ✂

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