By Daryl Conner
I join you in groaning when you see an article about the winter holidays when fall is just beginning, but there is a method to my madness! November and December are traditionally a very busy time for groomers. Sometimes too busy.
And January and February can find us with way too much time on our hands and a phone that isn’t ringing often enough. A little advance planning can help these months go more smoothly.
First off, take a little time to think about how you’d like to arrange those super busy times so that you won’t feel so frazzled and overworked. Look at the calendar now, and consider taking a bit of time off so you can enjoy the holiday season. Is there a special event you’d like to attend? A shopping day all to yourself that you could organize now? An afternoon to sneak off and do some decorating? Or, how about a massage to relax you during your busiest days? Put it on your calendar today so you can enjoy it in the future. While you are at it, decide if you are taking some time off after the holiday and pencil it in.
Now, consider if you’d like to arrange your schedule so you can fit in some extra dogs and stash some additional money when the demand for your services is high. During the busiest season for me, I often open an hour earlier or work an hour later, or both. This enables me to fit in 5–10 extra pets a week, and gives me the potential to earn and additional $250–500. Sometimes I will also plan to work an additional day, banking the money I earn then to help tide me over in the doldrum months that follow.
Next, decide if you would like to communicate to your customers in some way to encourage them to pre–book for those prime November and December dates. You could do this in a variety of ways:
- Put eye catching signage up now reminding them to plan for the holidays. Place the signs near where they check in, and on the entrance and exit doors.
- Make a note to yourself to verbally encourage each customer to pre-book now when they are checking out.
- Post a holiday appointment reminder on your web site and on all the social media sites that you use.
- Send out reminder post cards now for the upcoming season.
- Send out reminder emails to your customer list.
Some groomers block out the week before major holidays for bath/fluff up appointments only. These are offered to regular customers who keep their pets groomed on a standard 4–6-week rotation. Groomers can fit in extra pets this way, sending home more fresh, fluffy dogs and cats in less time than it would take to do a full groom.
Many groomers give their customers a gift during the holiday season. While this isn’t really necessary, it can be a nice time to thank your regulars for their loyalty. I stole an idea from Debi Hilley which works wonderfully. It is a gift my customers are tickled by, and it benefits me as well. I have attractive cards on nice stock printed up with my business logo, nicely thanking my customers for their business during the year and offering a $5.00 discount in January and February. I give these out during November and December as a holiday gift. The lovely return for me is that my winter calendar stays quite full as people redeem their card.
There are some other things you can do to help the season go smoothly:
- Plan to do a deep clean of your facility in late October; reorganize all your storage areas, scrub down spots you sometimes neglect, polish windows, declutter, freshen up your entrance with a new door mat. Starting the busier months with a super clean and tidy work space will make your life easier and more pleasant when things get hectic.
- Check to make sure your clipper blades and scissors are in good repair and sharp. When working at high volume, there is no time to deal with dull equipment. Do you need to send out a box of tools for sharpening now?
- Order ahead to make sure you have plenty of shampoo, conditioner, and other consumable products.
- Order holiday bows and bandanas now so you can get the best selection.
And to make your personal life a little easier:
- Prepare a few meals ahead in the fall and freeze them for those winter nights when you are too tired to cook. A batch of chili, a favorite casserole, a savory quiche… then if you have a killer day planned, you can whip it out of the freezer and have substance to come home to and fuel you for the next jam-packed day.
- On a similar note, plan some meals that can be put in the crock pot and have the ingredients on hand. Many of these meals assemble in moments in the morning. There is nothing better than coming home tired and hairy, to open the door and smell the welcoming aroma of a delicious stew or soup, ready to eat.
- Write out a gift list for friends and family and do some early shopping.
- Stock up this month on gift wrapping supplies so you are ready
You can make your winter grooming season more pleasant if you do a little groundwork now. No need to decorate for Christmas when the pumpkins are on the vine, but a little thought and planning can go a long way towards making the season a slide on the ice. ✂