Are you prepared for the holiday rush? (Part One)
And this week is all about part one of are you prepared for the holiday rush? And I first wanna talk to business owners and we're gonna do one this week and then we'll do another one next week.
And depending upon where you are in the world, we're either talking about Thanksgiving and Christmas. Some of you guys in other parts of the world, we're only gonna be talking about Christmas or other holidays that you may have in the month of November and December. So first things first I wanna ask you, are you prepared as far as your inventory? So if you're a business owner,
I know that you know how to order, you are more than capable of keeping things in stock. However, with the holidays coming up, I wanna ask you what is gonna happen if there's a major snowstorm where you are? Or like a lot of times what happens with Amazon Prime becoming so popular? What if instead of getting something in two or three days,
what if you can't get it in for a week or two? What if your favorite Christmas shampoo, like I love lay pooch, Noelle gets back ordered, then what are you going to do? So making sure you're gonna have more than enough of things like bandanas. I know some of you guys are like, well I could run to Joanne's fabric. Running to Joanne's fabric in the middle of the Christmas rush is gonna be a nightmare.
So make sure you have more than enough bandanas. Again, shampoo. What if your favorite shampoo goes on back order? And this time of year when I owned my dog grooming salon, we either used as a custom scent, you know, uch Noel, or we would use a more vanilla sugar cookie style and we would add that in with our promo.
If we ran out of that, it's gonna make, we're gonna have to fix the promo. And it's gonna be a lot harder to find a scent that is Christmassy because to me, Christmas smells either like pine trees, like a Neme shampoo or it smells like sugar cookies. And then again, if you are in Thanksgiving, maybe you have a pumpkin spice,
which is kind of a gross scent. But if you have pumpkin spice shampoo, you know, if you run out of that, what is your plan for the customers that maybe you want that upgrade but now can't have it? Other things that you may wanna consider is if you have enough stock of towels. Some of you guys are more than capable of at the end of the day,
taking your towels home and washing them. I, for health reasons, strongly advise not to wash personal towels with the towels at your house. A lot of these towels have blood, feces, urine on them and you may or may not be bringing home a lot of those potential diseases to your own pets. So I really don't suggest that. And on a nicer level,
I understand some people will wanna use a laundromat and for the same reasons, I don't always agree with that. But you know, if you're going to use those things, are you actually able, again, we're gonna say if you have a towel service, have you ordered extra towels? Are you planning for extra towels? If you normally do your towels once a week,
if you're doing double or triple the amount of dogs during the holiday rush, are you prepared for that? Do you have enough towels? Do you have enough towels just in the day? If for some reason you run out of them, what is your backup plan? You know, the worst thing you wanna do is have a really humid salon run outta towels.
And what are you gonna do? Have an employee run to the laundromat wash and dry. It's gonna take two hours. You know, having a plan of what you're going to do or even just keeping more of an inventory and a backlog. Because as much as we may be good at making sure we don't use four towels per dog, some employees use towels like they're going outta style and there's not much we can do about that.
And just look around if there's anything else you may need. Little things like quick stop ear cleaner, you don't wanna run out of these things when you're grooming. That is the worst time. A lot of times I've heard, you know, other grooming business owners say to me, well, I'll just run to Petco, but I can buy a gallon of professional grade ear cleaner for the same amount of money that I can buy a little thing from Petco.
It doesn't make any financial sense. And a lot of that is just a lack of preparation. So go through your salon, make sure that you're not missing anything, that there's nothing that you need to add to your list. And if there is, start thinking about it now. That is more than enough time for you to go through your store and go ahead and order those things before the end of the week.
If you order before the end of the week, you'll be able to have it in well before Thanksgiving. And then whatever you don't use before Thanksgiving, you'll probably use before Christmas. Alright, and then let's get into the nitty gritty on really refining your systems in place. And one of the main things I wanna talk about is if you start adding people in,
so your schedule, everyone's schedule's different, everyone has different business models. I know we've talked about this extensively, but having that in place, not only telling yourself that and having that plan, but also telling your staff because your staff is not always as knowledgeable as you, or maybe they're just really sweet and they don't realize the impact of things. I remember when I was a baby groomer and it was just one of those situations where like some was had this total sob story about this golden retriever about how,
you know, he had allergies and they were trying so hard and they bathed him all summer and the hose. And as this baby groomer, I'm like, oh, this is so heartbreaking. And of course this golden comes in, it's completely impacted and it's got hotspots and it's got yeasty ears and it's one of those fat goldens that pancakes and refuses to stand.
And I remember, you know, I was working for somebody and they're like, yeah, that's all you all you 'cause that kind of dog, it just took forever. And of course that owner did not wanna pay extra, even though their pet needed medicated wash, their pet needed way more brushing. Now I would've been, it would've been easier for me to get a lot of that coat out,
but at the time I did not have the skillset to get out that much impacted coat. So it was kind of a nightmare. So live and learn, right? So your baby groomer, or if you have a staff member who has the very good heart but doesn't realize what they're agreeing to, you really don't want them to pick up the phone and say,
yeah, oh my god, of course you want your decrepit golden to look beautiful for Thanksgiving and Christmas. I totally get it. And then it's that dog that takes like two people four hours and they wanna pay the same price as the golden that comes in every two or four weeks. So really communicate with your staff as well as yourself. I talk to myself a lot as if I was a staff member,
which sounds really weird, but I say to myself, alright river, what is it that our goal is for today? And is this a smart move? And you know, as much as my, as an older groomer, I guess as a, I feel like as like a boomer groomer, right? It's like, okay boomer. That's how I feel sometimes with grooming.
But yeah, with that, if I take on that old golden who really can't be groomed easily, am I setting back myself and my team? And the truth is, I would, right? Like how many hours would I set myself back? That's crazy. And with the same thing with appointments, what if one of your best clients call and they need a last minute appointment that can either be a grooming appointment or a bath appointment.
A lot of groomers, you know, have these clients that we have soft spots for. I have them as well being mobile, it's a lot easier to play with my schedule in the sense that I can honestly make a decision. And a lot of it comes down to am I in your area and do I have a spot? But when you're in a salon,
is it you know, a lack of cage space, a lack of physical resources because you can only groom so many dogs or time because a lot of times we could stay an extra hour late to take care of a good client, which is something we tend to do even though we really shouldn't always do that. So if they call, let's say they cancel their appointment because something came up,
they're taking care of their elderly family member or you know, maybe they just forgot and then you know, they're like, I'll reschedule. They don't reschedule. Shocking, I know. And then they call and they're like, oh you know, Sasha really needs a groom before Thanksgiving. You don't have to do a full haircut, just, you know, bathe her and do just like trim her up.
Which those found to trim up all over is a haircut. I don't know why people think that's not okay. How are you gonna handle that? And obviously it depends on what and why the dog et cetera. But having a framework allows you to say yes or no quicker because in theory in that moment you're gonna be so clear, so smart and be like,
Hmm, let me think about this. I'm like seven dogs deep. I'm covered in dog hair, I have anal glands in my hair, I have quick stop under my nails. Sure, let me think about for a second. If this is a wise decision. Now what's gonna happen is you're going to be like, ah. And be like, you know,
do I hate this client? Do I like this client? Like how flexible am I feeling? And that's a problem because nine times outta 10, what happens to all of us because we have such good caring hearts is we say, or I guess, and then we're either staying there late and it's always the client that you do that for that doesn't show up to pick up their dog.
They show up like an hour or two after you close because of some nonsense and they might've actually gotten stuck in traffic, but they probably just got stuck at the store grocery shopping for whatever holiday it is. So anyway, that's a great question. And if they want a last minute bath, is that something you're willing to squeeze them into? You may say,
yes, of course I wanna get everybody who wants to come in. Or you might say, no, probably not. And if I did, it'd have to be a dog that's been done in the last two weeks, or it'd have to be a dog. That's super easy. You know, you have to know yourself, your staff, and you know your clientele.
I personally had no problem squeezing in last minute baths around this time, but my clients knew as far as haircuts go, I'll trim around the eyes, I'll shave out the pads really lazily and make sure there's no poop gonna get stuck to the butt. Besides that, you're shit outta luck. There was no hope at the time in my salon I had a receptionist who was able to do basic things like that.
So at worst those are things that she could do if I didn't have a bather or a groomer or even me able to do those things. But that's a whole nother story. Now here's another good question. So that same client, who is your one of your best clients, what if she calls and let's say her sister's beagle is staying with her sister at her house and the dog wreaks you ever had like that person that they bring in their family members lab,
beagle pit, whatever is like a short coat. You don't know how that dog is, they say they have the rabies, but is it the rabies or the rabies tag? Does this dog wreak or is this dog skunky or is this dog yeasty? Like what is this gonna be? You know, what are you gonna do? It's easier to have a policy of,
yeah, we're taking any bath and we're gonna charge an extra emergency fee of let's say 25% more or 10 or $20 more as a last minute emergency fee, or no emergency fees if you guys don't want holiday emergency fee. Or are you going to go ahead and say no if they're not regular clients, we're not taking them around the holiday season. Or are you gonna say,
yes, we're gonna take these clients, but they're only going to be by referral? And obviously you can always make exceptions, but a lot of this stuff is mainly for you to say, okay, what is my ideal? And then go from there. Having no idea and taking everything as a blank slate makes it a lot harder to make decisions because during the holiday rush,
so there's actually something called decision fatigue with decision fatigue is essentially is you can only make so many decisions in one day. Having a thermometer reading on how you feel about your business is going to make it a lot easier for you to make decisions during a stressful time. Around the holidays when you're rooming dogs, watching employees, there's poop on the ground, like it is a crazy time.
So again, will you take skunk or flea infested pets? Personally, I don't believe during the holiday season you should take skunk or any pets with pesticides. The reason simply is with skunks, obviously then the entire shop reeks. If you do wanna take skunk pets, I highly suggest you do them as the very last pet and have them be a start to finish like appointment where only the owner is there if you even have the owner stay in the vestibule or if they're gonna go ahead and come back.
But I personally think that having skunk dogs around your clients is really gross. Clients don't like it. There's nothing worse than walking into a grooming salon and it wreaks a skunk. Sometimes you get that dog that was skunked months ago and you get them wet and you get the WAF of it. That's different than a freshly skunked dog. So that's personally what I would do.
But you have to know your business and your clientele. I mean, with flea dogs, I generally say I would not take pets infested with fleas or ticks. I mean, if they have one tick, that's one thing. But if that pet is infested with fleas, I would get them the hell outta your salon in general. But especially during the holiday season,
there's nothing worse as a pet owner, if I brought my dog to your salon and then it came home with fleas. And the problem is, nine times outta 10, if you accept fleas into your facility, you can't stop fleas from jumping on one pet to another pet. It's almost impossible. Also, your staff really doesn't want to be dealing with fleas when they're already having a really,
really busy season. They're already doing probably 20% more dogs. If you're used to doing eight, they're probably doing 10. You're already pushing them to the limit. So let's begin a different question. So you know, your business or the business that you work in, are your clients used to the well-oiled machine that is your shop? Or is your shop kind of chaotic already?
Let's talk about policies. What are your policies and do clients honestly know your policies? This is a tough one because I have a lot of sympathy honestly, for our clients because most people assume that they read their policies three years ago and remember them with my shop, what I had is I used to have a check-in and the check-in would actually be a little spot where it had the basic policies,
like it had the policies and it had what was done in the policies. So for instance, pickup, what was the pickup policy? The pickup policy, any bath dog was done no later than three hours. Any haircut dog was done no later than four hours unless specified. And anything beyond 30 minutes from that specified time was a fee. And so what we would do is,
so we had the policies and underneath it we had the time. So we would have fluffy Maltese, I would generally write what color the dog was, then we would also write what the haircut was and we would communicate with the owner. So it'd like half inch, round head, anything they specified. And then I would have the timely checked in the dog.
So when they were right there, I'd be like, okay, well it's 11 o'clock. And then what I would do is I would have the estimated checkout time. So let's say it's 11 o'clock, so ready, it's a haircut dog. So I would go 12, 1, 2, 3, does three o'clock work for you? And I would, they would see my fingers because it was at the four hour mark and they would kind of look and they'd be like,
yeah. I'm like, okay, do you want us to call or text you before you pick up? And they'd be like, well maybe. And that's the tough part. So they would know when they had to pick up by and I would either text or call depending upon what they wanted when they were ready. And they loved that because then they knew no later than three o'clock their pet would be ready because it was the four hours.
And with the bath dog to do the same thing, they dropped off at 11 12, 1 2. This two o'clock work for you to pick up Fluffy. And so we had a really easy system where there was no miscommunication. And then we would also write down afterwards what time the pet was picked up. The reason I did that is because let's say, and the wife called back later and you know,
she was like, oh, you know, fluffy seemed really upset. We would look at the sheet and I'd be like, well, it looks like you dropped off Fluffy at 11. We told you to come back at three, but then your husband wasn't there till five. So Fluffy was in a kennel for six hours. That's a long time for Fluffy.
And she'd be like, Hmm, you're very right there. Okay, I'm gonna talk to my husband. So these are ways that I worked on creating a well-oiled machine in my salon, but make sure your policies make sense for your clients. You know what other policies are in your systems that may or may not make any sense. So if I have clients that are busy and they're running to the store,
which is gonna be insane, they may not be able to rush back. You may want their dog done in an hour or two, but are they gonna pick up? And they may or may not want you to run late. Sometimes we overbook ourselves, what are you gonna do if you tell 'em two hours and then you get behind and now it's gonna be four?
Or you tell 'em two hours and then a dog, God forbid, knock on wood, something happens. And then now you need extra time because that dog was crazy and you had to like work around the whole salon because instead of being able to ask your bather to come help you, now you've gotta do it basically by yourself. Or if your bather does have to come help you,
then that bather is not keeping up with their own tasks and make sure that if you don't already, you get a system in place for your salon. There's so many different ways of having different business models, but having a system that works in place for your salon is going to make your salon run so much smoother. Speaking of clients, let me ask you guys a question.
Are you going to give out presents cards, food around the holidays? And if you are, do you really have time to commit to getting them done? I personally write handwritten Christmas cards to all of my clients. I have about a hundred families, and that's more than that cats. But I personally don't do sweet things like cat pictures anymore. And the reason why is because I don't have time to realistically take pictures.
Like so I do cards, you know, and I mail them out. But let's say you're giving out cookies. Well, do your customers like those cookies? Do they want those cookies? Are they a good cookie? You know, I've seen people give away cat toys and dog toys, obviously like little balls. My favorite thing, I don't do it now,
but when I owned my dog grooming salon, I had this great magnetic picture frame. I would take a quick picture of the pet and then when we gave them the photo frame, we would also give them the print. People loved it. We also did Santa. My ex-husband would come and sit in the grooming salon and he would be Santa Claus. And if they wanted pictures with Santa,
we would just do the pictures really quick and give it to them. So you would do things like that. And knowing what your clients want and knowing what's gonna make them happy, you know your clientele, you know what they like, what they don't like. Giving options is always great. Making homemade biscuits, like whatever it is that is in your heart,
go ahead and do. And if you wanna do nothing, you're not the Grinch, it's okay. You don't have to be festive, just don't go halfway through festivities. Don't say you're gonna give everyone pictures and then realize you don't have the time or energy to do it. That really sucks. It's gonna make you look really stupid. Don't do that.
And because we're talking about business owners, let's also talk about how you're gonna be treating your employees. So let's have a real conversation. Are you gonna be taking days off? So business owners, about your employees? What time are you closing and are your employees going to be working or are they gonna have the time off? Unless you have a really strong staff and you have really good regulations and in systems and all that,
I would never let your staff there. When you're not there until everyone's fully trained, it's a great way for your employees to steal from, you steal client information or make really bad decisions, and you get stuck going to work anywhere. So if your employees are not gonna be working and you are not gonna be working, do they get paid? So if you have employees that work for you and they're off,
aren't they gonna get paid? And that's really important to know and to set a standard for your employees because a lot of these employees are expecting that money or they budget based on four weeks worth of work and where they're gonna be if they're, especially if they're making hourly. You know, with commission, the goal obviously would be to do an extra week's worth of dogs within the three weeks that they're working and then they get the week off.
And that's essentially how they would get paid. But a lot of times we assume this what's gonna happen, but because of whatever goes on, maybe that doesn't happen. And so is this staff member financially prepared to take a whole week off or are you going to give them any money? And I think this should have been talked about when you were setting the schedule for the holidays,
but having a real conversation with your staff needs to happen. A lot of times we just do whatever the hell we want as a business owner and expect our staff to just be okay with that. I don't think you should be slaves to your staff. I don't think that you should have to worry about what your staff is going to do. However, I do believe in being a benevolent leader,
and I do believe that you should treat people like you wanna be treated. You know, long story short, when I was, I was managing a doggy daycare when I was pregnant with my son and they told me flat out I could not take a maternity leave. And I'm like, well, that's not the way that works. And they said, well,
we can't afford it. So pretty much you'll have to work till you have this baby. And then when you have this baby, we don't know what you're gonna do, but we can't afford for you to take eight weeks off, 12 weeks off. They said, we really don't even want you gone for two weeks, but have these conversations with your staff.
If they're going to be off, are you going to subsidize their income at all? And you don't have to, but at least let them know what is going on. Another thing is about pay. Again, another way you may wanna soften this is to let your employees know that there are gonna be any bonuses or any holiday extras when we're creating culture.
No one really talks about creating culture in this industry. You wanna create a staff that enjoys you and really looks up to you being this cruel boss that we all have had. At some point. If you've owned your own business, it's different than when you have a boss. But I mean, I've had a lot of bosses I loved and I've had a lot of bosses that really didn't give a shit about me.
And you know, I understand now as a business owner why they didn't care about me because I was just a cog in the machine. But those people don't ever stay there. They could be the best employee, but if someone's a cog in the machine, they're not gonna stay. You know? They don't wanna be that lesson. It is I with my employees,
what I would let them know is, yes, we're gonna be closed. At the end of my time owning my shop, they had a base salary and then they made bonuses and things like that. So I told 'em flat out, you were gonna get your base salary because I'm closing because that's what I choose to do. I knew they had family and everything like that,
and that was not easy, but that's why they had a base salary and they got bonuses and didn't get straight commission. And then as far as bonuses went, their bonuses were quarterly and the bonuses, it was calculated monthly, but paid out quarterly. So the bonuses were based upon if they beat projection. And so that what that meant is, yes,
I'm going to ask you to work really hard. If you work really hard and you groom regularly, then we are as a team, not just one person, but as a team. If we beat these, then we would get a set amount of money and that again, would be based upon how many pets we groomed and everything like that. And so those are really nice.
If you wanna give somebody a bonus maybe for November and say, Hey, if you groom X amount of dollars this month, I'll give you X amount of bonus as a kicker. Or you know, Hey, December's coming up. If you groom this many pets, you know and or there's no incidents in the salon or whatever it is, you can give them an incentive to keep working hard now on the bad side with our employees because why not?
Let's talk about employee issues. So this is the time of year employees know we can't fire them. You can't afford to fire someone, so they're gonna pull a lot of shit. If your employee shows up late, what are you gonna do about it? And how late before you really get pissed off. So if my employee shows up 10 minutes late,
and obviously you're gonna say something to them, but what is the consequence? Is there no consequence if they're 15 minutes late, if they're 30 minutes late, what if they're late four hours? What if they call out? What if they no call, no show. Now you probably have policies in place for these things and if you don't, you need to,
if you have employees, you need policies in your employee handbook and how all of this will be handled. That said, this time of year, they know that you can't fire them. Why? Because you don't wanna groom all their goddamn dogs the rest of the month. That's the truth. I mean, I've been there. So if they know you're gonna,
you're not gonna fire them, what are they gonna do? They're gonna walk all over you. So if someone is 30 minutes late for work, what is the consequence? And make sure your staff knows. Does that mean they stay 30 minutes late? Well, what if they can't? What if they have to go pick up their kid at school? What are you going to do and being able to stick to that gun?
What if they're hours late? What if they're three hours late? What if they show up high or intoxicated? I mean these are all very normal things, but it has the added pressure of if you have a full day worth of groom dogs and your bather and every other person has a full day's worth of dogs and they don't show up or they show up late,
then that creates a lot of pressure on your staff. This is also why I tell the people that I'm generally coaching that want to build a business. So I have three different categories of groomers. You're an employee, which you should be a W two employee. You are a self-employed groomer, which is a one groomer house, or you have independent contractors working for you.
And then third is a business owner. A business owner should be a manager, an entrepreneur. They should be focusing on those things because then either you or your manager should not be grooming full-time because then if your staff comes in drunk high, they make a really stupid mistake, they do something really stupid, you can send them home and somebody can take over their day at dogs.
Your manager's not gonna wanna do that. But sometimes you gotta do what you gotta do. Same thing with you, you probably, if you get the nice sweet taste of never having to groom all day, then when you have to step in though, you know you can do it. That's important. Make sure you have a plan in place if there is an issue with your staff,
because then if your staff decide to pull something like that, you are able to make decisions without sitting there grinding your emotional gears. Remember decision fatigue. I wanna make sure that you don't put yourself in a place where you're just fried and you start crying and you just have this total meltdown. 'cause it sucks. It sucks when you have an employee pulling shit at the busiest times of the year because you just want them to do what you're paying them to do.
And for some reason they just don't. And there's really no reason they've just chosen not to. So those aren't my thoughts today on making sure you are prepared for the holiday rush if you're an employer.