By Kathy Hosler
Pet stylists all over the world work hard to build their careers – one pet at a time. There is plenty of money to be made in pet grooming, but it is your repeat customers that consistently pay your bills, put food on your table, and help you have a reliable, predictable income.
If you are trying to improve your bottom line, it could be that you don’t need more customers; you just need to see the clients you already have more often. Pets that are groomed only a few times a year (or the ones that are groomed ‘once a year – whether they need it or not’) often take much longer to groom, and they are immeasurably harder on you and your equipment. These pets seldom bring in adequate revenue in relation to the amount of effort it takes to groom them. How can you persuade these owners to bring their pets in more frequently?
Ideally, every pet that you groom should go home with its next appointment already scheduled. Rebooking your clients can be one of the biggest business building techniques in your arsenal. If you are not presently rebooking your clients – now is the time to start. Convincing your existing clients to come more often will benefit both pet and owner and will put more revenue in your pocket. There are many ways to encourage your clients to get their pets on a regular schedule for grooming.
For example… Mrs. Smith comes to pickup her little Suzie after she is groomed. Before she leaves, you have the opportunity to offer to rebook Suzie. Say something like: “Don’t you just love it when Suzie is freshly groomed, and sweet smelling, and really huggable? Why don’t we schedule her next grooming appointment now? She was here eight weeks ago, and you said that she had been looking ‘rough’ for the last couple of weeks. Let’s make her an appointment for six weeks from now. That way you won’t need to call us to make the appointment, and Suzie won’t have to wait until we have an opening. In fact, it would be even better for Suzie, and more convenient for you if we schedule her a grooming appointment every five to six weeks for the rest of the year.”
You may be surprised how receptive the pet parents are to advance scheduling. It helps them simplify their own busy lives. They won’t have remember to call your salon to schedule the appointment, and the pet gets on a consistent schedule – which helps ensure that they always look their best. And, when your clients put their pets on a regular schedule, there could be less at home maintenance for them.
Often clients will rebook if they have an incentive. Some shops offer a discount to their clients who have standing appointments every 2 to 4 weeks. Others feel that you should never discount your work. Instead, if you want to do something special for your pre-booked clients, offer them a free spa service or treat, or upgrade them to really fancy bows or bandanna.
Another way to introduce pre-booking to your clients is to put up an eye-catching sign at your checkout. You should start booking holiday appointments in September or even earlier. Have your sign say something like this: “IT’S TIME! Time to book all of your pet’s holiday appointments. We are always super busy during the holiday season. Don’t wait! Reserve your spot now!”
This approach has proven very successful for many stylists, and, it’s a win/win for both you and your clients. It helps you to fill your appointment slots and arrange your schedule in a way that works best for you.
There are many ways to include the advance booking of grooming appointments. Some stylists give each client an invoice at checkout and on it they put the date and time of the pet’s next appointment. Others hand out Pet Report Cards. The Report Cards tell the owners how the pet did during its grooming session, and has a space on the back to place the date and time of the pet’s next appointment. Still, others give their clients appointment cards. Some appointment cards even have a sticker on them that can be placed on the client’s calendar, which gives them two reminders of the next appointment.
It’s important to make a courtesy contact with your clients before their next appointment. Some groomers send out reminder cards in the mail. The majority prefer to make a reminder phone call, or send a text or an email the day before the scheduled appointment. Providing great customer service by making courtesy reminders, and also post grooming follow up calls, will go a long way toward establishing a wonderful working relationship with your clients.
Try using some of these techniques to encourage your clients to pre-book their next appointment. You might just discover that you already have all the clients that your business needs.