“My groomer hates me, she told me so!” This was the introduction I received as a man, his wife and their dog barreled through my salon door one morning. I blinked at them, surprised, so many thoughts racing through my head at once. Why did their groomer hate them? Who was their groomer? Could I find out and call them, ask some questions and prepare myself for this situation I was about to be knee deep in?

I finally collected myself, and said “excuse me?” The wife repeated that their last groomer hated them, she didn’t know why. The groomer told her they were her worst client, out of all her clients.

How could they think that this was a good first impression? While she was shouting at how beautiful the dogs we were working on were, I started to feel relief. We switch new clients back and forth, I got the last new client – this gem was going to Cassie. I started relaxing, asking her questions, getting zany, unhelpful answers that were peppered with stories of why their groomer hated them. Then the dreaded words, “Is Jill here, she has great reviews on Yelp, that is who we want, Is that you? That is who we want.” One sentence, no breaths, no pauses. Full of panic, I wanted to reply “Amanda, Yolanda, Jeff! Anybody else, anybody but me, why Yelp, why!” But I didn’t. I straightened my spine and told them I was indeed the groomer they were looking for. And silently cursed that glorious review.

When the day of their appointment finally came, I told myself to grow up, that these people were probably perfectly nice, just quirky. I am quirky, we might balance each other out. Every question I asked about the dog’s grooming was answered with “Well, our last groomer, the one that hated us…” I could not win, no questions led to fruitful answers, I was so lost. Every trick I used to teach students to extract grooming information out of clients had failed. My jokes went unacknowledged, my confidence plummeted. The appointment itself was uneventful. She was a nice little dog, easy haircut.

When they picked up, I asked if they liked the haircut. They asked if they could come back. I felt bad for them, their former groomer, and me! I resolved to make their next appointment one where they know they are welcome. I will eventually figure out what they want haircut wise. But for now, I think they just need to feel accepted. I have been extremely blessed with amazing clients that love me, love their pets, and appreciate the effort I put forth.

I hope to continue to get eye catching reviews, it lets me know that all my hard work is paying off. I’ll just throw some salt over my shoulder from now on!