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Why won't customers let my employees groom their pets

Nov 01, 2022

Today’s episode is sponsored by the Pay Masterclass, a 6 module masterclass where we teach you all about paying your employees.

Let’s say I go to a hair salon and I have a very specific woman that I trust with my hair. She does my color, she does my cut, I know I can trust her. I know the skill set she has. I know what she produces, and I feel really comfortable with her. I know she’s not going to steer me wrong. 

Now if I had made an appointment with the woman who does my hair, and they said, “Oh, Amanda’s busy today. However, we have Sally.”

There are going to be some people who say, “Oh, okay, well obviously Amanda wouldn’t put me in a position that I would not be as comfortable with Sally.” But I’d also want to be sold on Sally’s skills. Does she have all the certifications that my hairdresser does? How long has she been a hairdresser? How long has she been employed there? Where did she work before? 

As a customer I had started my relationship with this salon, not with this salon, but with my hairdresser. 

So after you’ve thought about things like that, and you go, okay, but when this person comes in with their dog, I want them to trust anyone who’s hired. 

Let’s have a real honest conversation.

How many of you grooming salon owners bitch and moan about all of your employees? You’re always telling me about how much your employees are giving you attitude, how you don’t believe in your employees. So then why should a customer?

It’s not unreasonable of them to not want this random person that you hired grooming their dog, but we also are going to talk about what you can do about it. 

If you’re a customer walking in, do you have time to communicate with them about this new person that’s going to be grooming your pet? I’m going to take a wild guess and assume that you’re not grooming at a chop shop. If you are watching these episodes, you care about your industry, you care about your job, you care about your salon, you care about the growth of the industry, as well as yourself. You’re probably charging a reasonable amount of money and have clients who truly care about their pets. Therefore, they care about who is grooming that pet. 

For example, if I bring Rory in who is a standard poodle and gets a modified German cut, and I walk in to see Tiffany, who normally grooms my dog. Tiffany says, “Oh, Sarah’s going to be grooming your dog today. I’m terribly overbooked today but Sarah is wonderful. She’s a competition-level groomer. She’s amazing. I will be here to supervise everything and maintain quality. I just wanted to let you know that that’s what’s going to happen.”

Am I happy? Probably not. But do I accept it? Yes.

Now if Sarah was the one checking me in and taking my dog into the back, without this conversation, I would just assume that Tiffany is going to groom the dog. And then what if I were to come back and see the dog on the table with the other groomer, like “Hi, who are you? Why are you touching my dog? What’s going on?” That’s not great. 

So, as an owner, if you are going to hire employees it’s important for you to have that communication with that client. This is why it’s ideal, as an owner, that you manage the salon instead of grooming the dogs, because if you have 5-8 dogs a day, you're going to need time to communicate with those customers, especially if they want to take 15 minutes, have questions, concerns, things you have to go over with them. 

Ideally, this would be something that you would talk about before they got there. But a lot of times you don’t have the time. A lot of times you just assume that this customer is going to be perfectly okay with that. Which is crazy to me. I wouldn’t be, and I’m a groomer. 

We all groom slightly differently. So am I going to have to explain what this dog is going to need, or is the owner going to have time to explain it? Am I going to get the dog back in the same way? As a customer, these are questions that I have. If the owner or the normal groomer is there to communicate with them, that’s a lot easier. 

So as an owner how do we maintain quality?

When I hire someone, here are some things that I might do. This could even be a quarterly or monthly check, not just for when I hire someone new. 

Have the employee bathe, blow dry, do nails and ears and then I’m going to double check quality. If they’re a new hire, I’m going to let them do that for a week. 

Then I’m going to have them do rough cuts. I’m going to double check quality. I’m going to let them do that for a week.

Then I’m going to let them groom the entire dog. I’m going to double check quality. I’m going to let them do that for a week.

Everyone should check over everyone’s grooms because a second eye is amazing. No one is perfect.

So think about that, you hire somebody, you’re hoping they have the knowledge they claim to have, and then you’re letting them loose on your customers. It’s essential that you have a system in place to double check quality.

Every shop has a different style and every shop has a different level of quality. You’re going to want to be there in the beginning to make sure that this groomer can produce the standard of work that you’re looking for. 

Your customers came to you because you told them that they could trust you. And then you are handing them off to another person. And if they’ve been with you for several years, they may trust you enough to let you do that. But, maybe they don’t want to, and you have to create incentive. 

There are different ways to create incentive.  

You might say, “Okay, anybody that wants to be groomed by me, there’s going to be a price increase. If you don’t want the price increase you can go with one of my employees.”

It makes sense that they’re going to want to stay attached to you because they know that you won’t leave like another employee may end up doing. They’re going to want to build that relationship with you. We all know how often groomers change jobs. It gets really difficult for a client if they become attached to those groomers.

How do I fix that?

So you could have a receptionist, and in the beginning, that receptionist can be you. So you would answer the phone, be the point of contact. And on the busier days, have a solid bather and a groomer. Everyone should touch every dog. The way that dogs get used to grooming is by getting handled by everyone in the shop. The dogs will learn to trust everyone. They’ll know that the shop is a pleasant place. 

I don’t teach that your groomers come up and build relationships with your customers. This is because the pet owner may then become attached to that groomer. I really feel like the pet owners should really speak to the owner or that one point of contact, whether that be an owner or a receptionist. 

There’s lots of ways of doing that and ultimately, it’s all about creating a team environment. I understand that it’s not always the easiest thing, especially in the beginning, but it does get 

If you guys are interested in learning more about the Pay Masterclass, be sure to visit me at savvygroomer.com/pgmc. This is a 6 module masterclass where we teach you how to create a pay structure that actually works. We’ll show you how to calculate sustainable pay structures, set up your back end to legally pay employees, and create bonuses and benefits to keep those employees.

Thanks for joining me in this episode of Grow Wealthy Grooming. Be sure to visit me at SavvyGroomer.com to see my current opportunities to work with me in growing your pet grooming business plus more free resources for you to learn. See you in our free community on Facebook - Savvy Pet Professionals (facebook.com/groups/savyygroomer)! Happy Grooming!

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