We all know that when we take the time to set ourselves and our business up for success, it gives us the tools to anticipate and effectively deal with any roadblocks that could hold us back. But, what if we could also set our clients—both the two- and four-legged ones—up for success?
Setting clients up for success leads to a mutually beneficial relationship and pleasant client interactions.
So, how do we go about setting our clients up for success?
1. Establish trust.
We accomplish that by being the professional. How does your facility look from the perspective of your clients? Think about how confident you would be with your surgical team if they showed up at the pre-surgical appointment to go over things in T-shirts and sneakers. When you look around that doctor’s office, you expect to see diplomas. Where are your continuing education certificates hanging? They should be in the lobby where your clients can see them while waiting to be checked in.
Is your facility neat, clean and calm? Let’s go back to that doctor’s office…There may be a lot of activity going on, but the clients don’t see it as chaos as employees appear relaxed and are easily identified as employees by their clean uniformed appearance.
“I greet my clients wearing crisp tunics from the human spa industry. My lobby smells like high-end hotels and my career achievements are on display throughout. This sends a message that I am a professional and an expert in my field before I’ve even uttered a word. Thus, clients tend to be deferential in their interactions.”- Riza Wisnom
2. Craft a “What to Expect” handout.
We cannot expect clients to know what we do. It isn’t what they do for a living. I have no idea what my mechanic does to fix my car, nor does he expect me to know. When we contracted a company to build our home, the first thing they gave us was a 111-page document on the process. It detailed everything they did and significantly reduced the number of questions we had for them.
Your “What to Expect” handout does not have to be 111 pages, but should contain enough detail to cover what you do and put a stop to those repeated questions you get all the time.
This is how mine reads: After check-in, your pet will be treated to a gentle, hands-on experience to assess coat condition, as well as any overt medical/behavioral concerns. Then it’s off to the bath for a relaxing hydro-massage with appropriate shampoo and conditioner selection. Ear cleaning is done during the bath and nail clipping directly afterwards. Your pet will be hand dried and provided with ear protection. Then the magic happens. Your pet will be combed, brushed, along with the agreed-upon styling. To finish off the groom, there is a selection of accoutrements to choose from.
Feel free to use this or add anything that you are continually asked about.
3. Explain why the pet needs a set schedule.
A pet that comes in on the schedule that you, the professional, sets is in the best interest of the pet. The coat will be in better shape, reducing the pet’s discomfort from de-matting. Pets on a regular schedule become those who accept grooming as a part of life instead of something that just needs to be endured a couple times per year.
This is a good time to discuss owner maintenance, as I am sure they brush their teeth and their own hair daily and would never think that they could forgo that in between their own personal appointments. Sometimes owners need to see how something impacts their pets in terms they can relate to.
4. Establish your “Terms of Service”.
This should detail under what circumstances and policies you accept pets. This should include arriving late, rescheduling, no-shows, drop-off, pick-up, payment, vaccinations, video recording and expected respectful behavior from clients. Terms of Service sets healthy boundaries and lets the clients know that you are in charge of your business, not them.
“Having a Terms of Service saved me many times over the years. Once a woman came in with her dog with fleas. I found them on intake and told her we do not take dogs with fleas. She said she didn’t see anywhere that it said we don’t take dogs with fleas. I explained it was in our Terms of Service and she had gotten a copy, signed that she had gotten a copy, and it was on our website under ‘Terms of Service.” She fumed, picked up the dog, and went to her car. About 10 minutes later, she came back in and apologized saying, ‘It is in your Terms of Service. I’m sorry.’ Then paid me in full for the appointment without me even asking her to.”- Anjie Coates
5. Require signed waivers for any problematic circumstances.
My waivers included matting, aggressive pets, senior pets, anal glands, ear plucking, cats, and flea and tick. Remember, “No” is a complete sentence. Refusal to sign my Terms of Service or any waiver I presented to them resulted in no groom for them.
6. Provide your clients outside professional recommendations.
This may include a veterinarian, trainer or another groomer who specializes in a specific pet. We do not have to be good at everything. Area groomers would refer senior pets and cats to me. In turn, I’d refer out any pet that required a show trim or needed breaks in grooming. This tells the owner that your concern is always for the wellbeing of the pets in your care.
Not every client cares about anything other than their own convenience and needs, and that’s OK. Not everyone is or should be your client. But, if you can communicate to your clients why your boundaries and expectations are in their best interest, you will have achieved setting them up for success. ✂️