By Victoria Blair
When I was a fresh, new business owner almost 10 years ago, I was the only mobile groomer in the small community where I live. I was excited to get on the road with my new mobile and start serving clients. Mobile grooming was so new to the area that I had people congratulate me for inventing the concept. No lie!
Since my business was somewhat of a freak show, I no doubt received calls that went something like this:
Me: Hello. Pets & The City Mobile Grooming. How may I help you? Potential Client: Ahh. Yeah. How much do you charge?
Mind you, I was new to the business world, and knew nothing about pricing out my work. I was so anxious to begin working as a self-employed groomer that I just basically pulled an amount right out of the sky. But, at least I was smart enough to know that Mobile Grooming prices would be a bit higher than shop prices.
Me: Well, I come straight to your door, I groom dogs one–on–one, so you never have to drive, and I charge $XX.00.
Potential Client: Okay, thank you. And sometimes… (wait for it…) Let me talk to my husband.
When I remember back, I always cringe at how I must have sounded over the phone. Pretty soon, I began to wonder if this whole Mobile Grooming idea would fly. I began to doubt myself. Maybe I just needed some help. But where? Back in “those days,” there was no Facebook group where you could just type in a question about charging clients, and BING-BAM!, you would get several points of view on how groomers all over the country felt about pricing. No, those of us who started “back in the day” only had a couple of grooming forums to ask questions on, and maybe get an answer or two. Grooming has come a long way, Baby!
I was still wondering about how to get new clients to actually book appointments, when my truck needed some work. Since I didn’t have any appointments, I decided to kill some time and wait for it. I settled down in a plastic chair and tried to find an interesting magazine. With none available, I started to do what my husband calls, “ear hustling”. It’s sort of like people watching, only, I listen to other people’s conversations. It just comes naturally. I call it a gift.
As people started bringing their cars in, I began to watch my mechanic in action. This is a guy, very small in stature, and a man of few words, but his shop is always bustling and busy.
A few other things I learned:
Be the Professional
There’s a reason why people will frequent your business. This mechanic and the diesel mechanic that I currently use, know their stuff. My diesel mechanic, Dave, has all three of his sons working for him. He always explains what he needs to do to my truck and why he needs to do it. He actually takes the time to LISTEN to any questions and does his best to answer them.
Continue Your Education
This is a biggy! Dave, my diesel mechanic, specializes in what’s called Bullet Proof for diesel trucks. It reroutes the cooling systems in certain models due to a malfunction in the original. Even though he’s been fixing diesel trucks for years, he still continues his education when a new trick of the trade is available. He even takes the time to let me know what he’s learned when I take my truck into his shop for oil changes and minor repairs. This is one of the main reasons that Dave is my diesel man!
Never Apologize for Having to Raise Prices
Even though my truck cost a pretty penny last year, Dave didn’t fall all over himself apologizing about his prices. He gave a rough estimate about how long it would take to fix and let me know how much the parts would cost. Boom. If we chose to take our truck somewhere else, he was fine with it. But, he’s so skilled at what he does, he’s confident about his services. And, I’m sure the word “discount” doesn’t even enter his vocabulary.
Set Your Own Specialty & Hours for Your Business
Just like the saying in the movie, Field of Dreams, People WILL come. No matter what hours or specialty you choose. I was pleasantly surprised to find out about a groomer that does house call, but she only trims toenails. BRILLIANT!
I only work Monday through Thursday due to my daughter’s school schedule. I have a rich supply of happy clients and manage to finish by 2:00 every day. I take full advantage of summer vacations as well as Spring Break to add to my work load. It’s what works for me. I learned this from Dave. He’s open from 8 am Monday through Friday, but closes at 3:30 in the afternoon because he teaches karate in the evenings. And, he ONLY works on Ford Diesel trucks. He makes no exceptions. I once asked him why and he simply said, “cause I don’t like working on anything else.” Each and every time I have been to his shop, his yard is full of trucks that are waiting for his magic touch. It’s the reason I keep going back. I know my truck is in the hands of a skilled master.
So, if you’re ever in doubt about your business, and you need some help, you may want to wait for your vehicle the next time it needs repairs and ear hustle when someone else comes in with their car. You might learn something. Then, if there’s ever a question, while you’re working your own business, you can ask yourself, WWMMD? ✂