Groomer and salon owner Natasha Hutchison says she’s had people travel across international borders to bring their dog to her. “One client came from Northern Ireland. I have others who drive their dogs two or three hours each way for their appointments. It puts a lot of pressure on you. I want to make sure they’re happy, but at the same time, it’s an honor.”
Consistent and friendly customer service is the heart of Spoilt Rotten Dog’s philosophy. There are two locations, one in Chalfont St Peter and one in Pinner’s town, about half an hour from London.
Hutchison says, “In the States, customer service is so welcoming and positive. In England, it’s varied. I wanted to offer consistent service whether it’s your first visit or your 10th.”
Hutchinson started her grooming business for personal reasons. “I started grooming because I wouldn’t trust my dogs with anyone else. I wanted to stay at my dog’s first appointment and watch. I wasn’t happy, so I bought some clippers and taught myself to groom,” Hutchinson continues. “Since then, I’ve completed my City & Guilds Certificate & Diploma. Now, I’m doing International Certification of Master Groomer (ICMG) through the IPG. I love dogs, I see one coming towards me, and I want to cuddle it.”
Her passion for dogs clearly shows. Spoilt Rotten Dog has 250 five–star reviews—mostly unsolicited. “I don’t like asking for reviews. It’s a lovely surprise when they appear. I can’t read them out loud because they make me emotional. They mean so much,” she expresses.
With such a knack for providing an excellent experience, it’s no wonder that the salon has won an award for ‘Service Excellence’ for four years running. Awarded by SME Business Awards, Hutchinson describes her surprise and delight at winning: “I just sat there, in shock, not moving when they announced it.”
When asked about her customer service philosophy, she says, “The clients choose to come to us. We need to offer them the best service possible—gold–standard level. You can’t take the customer for granted. Customer service is the speed with which you answer the phone, smiling when you answer it, and how quickly you respond to an online inquiry. It has to be consistent. It’s encapsulated in our whole ethos.”
Between the two branches of Spoilt Rotten Dog, there are roughly ten staff members. However, they’re always growing due to the demand for their services. And customer service plays a big role in the recruitment and training process.
“It’s in how I advertise, how I interview, and my training,” Hutchinson explains. “When I was practice manager at a veterinarian’s office, they had a specific set of questions they asked interviewees. I don’t. It’s more individual; I tailor it for the candidate in front of me.”
Hutchison says she usually holds her interviews on the salon floor rather than in a back office. “One of my dogs is always there, and that’s the first test. How do they interact with the dog? Are they a natural dog lover? Then I watch them when a client comes in. I want to see if they smile when the customer comes in. Sometimes I’ve had to tend to something else during an interview, and they start interacting with a client as if they work there. Sometimes people think dog grooming is a lovely dog job, but you also have to be good with people,” she says.
When it comes to training, she’s written out the protocols. “We go through it step–by–step. Usually, they’ll shadow a staff member for one–to–one support as they learn. I do encourage them to answer the phone early on. It’s the best way for them to learn.”
They also offer dog grooming training. “We’re an academy too, so we train apprenticeships—level 2 & 3 for City & Guilds—College within the UK. It’s a lovely way to give back,” Hutchinson expresses.
Besides customer service, Spoilt Rotten Dog has made a name for themselves in working with nervous dogs. “We specialize in nervous, aggressive dogs. These are dogs that might be banned from other groomers,” she continues. “But when they come here, they feel relaxed and safe. People look at the dog and see it’s so relaxed. Both locations have big glass windows where people can see the dogs being groomed.”
With exceptional customer service and picture–perfect grooms, Spoilt Rotten Dog is sure to continue to see their loyal clients (local and long–distance) coming back for more! ✂️