By Khris Batts
All groomers have something in common other than a passion for pets – they are professionals who provide a necessary service for people and pets for a fee. Grooming and pet services are a growing need and in high demand. Establishing good business practices and keeping a loyal and stable clientele is the hallmark of every good groomer and every good grooming business.
In a sea of professionals, how do you set yourself apart? Often times the customer is choosing our salon or our services based upon factors outside of our control. They may like a location or a pricing structure; they may have randomly selected your salon from the internet or phonebook. Regardless of how they find you, every customer standing in front of you is an opportunity for you to establish your personal brand in your profession.
Personal branding happens every day and we are often oblivious to it in our surroundings. You choose a particular coffee shop because you like the brand of coffee it serves. You likely have a restaurant you return to because you have a rapport with a particular server. You may even have a gas station you frequent because they have cleaner restrooms than one across the street. These are all examples of defining brands and how they make a difference in your customers’ choices.
Choosing service providers for most customers is much the same. Consumers may look at a range of factors from convenience to price, however, time and again, the loyal returning customer will be won over and continue to return because you establish a connection with them on a different level.
As a working groomer, you can set yourself apart and begin to develop your personal brand in many ways. Think about what you are passionate about. Are you knowledgeable about breed patterns? Maybe you pride yourself on safety and you stay up to date on animal welfare issues. Many groomers enjoy a close bond with their clients and their customer service is a shining beacon. Fast groomers may establish a reputation for their timeliness of completing a grooming service. Perhaps you have a knack for grooming difficult dogs, elderly or special needs clients, or those with medical issues. New groomers can be overwhelmed by the finishing skills of veterans; step up and offer your vast knowledge of breed standards. Veteran groomers may be intimidated by the technical knowledge present in the workplace today; however, they have a lifelong knack for instinctively knowing how to please their customers. Every groomer has a unique opportunity to define what makes them special—and a unique set of clients who will appreciate that skill.
Defining a personal brand can begin as simply as taking pride in your appearance or work space; presenting yourself as a professional. It may be the quality of your work or your ability to groom pets stress-free. There are as many diverse aspects to the grooming profession as there are diverse clients and dogs to groom. Find that spark which can set you apart from other stylists.
Whether you are a shop owner, working mobile, work alone, or work with many groomers – you can develop your personal brand. Each groomer is unique and even in a corporate setting, your passion will shine through to the client. Many of us know someone who “does Poodles”, or is known as a “terrier person”—you can take that concept and define it further by finding what you do well and embracing it. If you enjoy casual conversation with your customers, know all of their family members, know when their baby is due, and know that their pet had a biopsy—you likely already have a personal brand and it is customer service. Do you find yourself handling the more challenging dogs because they behave better for you? You are already developing a brand as a Behavioral Groomer. While you are finding your niche, look within your own skill set. Take stock of your strengths and weaknesses and find an area that you take pride in, that’s likely the early roots of your persona brand.
Personal branding begins where your passion does – that’s a great place to start finding where you can make a difference and begin honing those skills. Finding your own brand does not mean that you stop helping all clients and dogs, or change your business plan. In fact, developing your own brand is simply developing a special skill set in yourself that can add value to your services or your team. Ultimately, it will enhance you as much as it does your clients! ✂
Khris Batts has been involved in the Pet Services industry since the early 1990’s. She has owned grooming shops, boarding kennels, and obedience training schools and is a Certified AKC Canine Good Citizen Evaluator. She is the co-founder of See Spot Grooming & Daycare which currently operates 3 locations in 2 states. Her vision has led her to create a Groomer – centric company which provides education, a positive work atmosphere, and benefits for all Spots. She owns and competes in a variety of events with Wirehaired Vizslas including dock diving and obedience.