I’ve been writing novel-length posts while standing atop figurative soapboxes on the different grooming groups I belong to. I decided I’d better write my novels on my neglected blog before I get booted for spamming.
I’m exhausted. in addition to late nights spent working on FunkyStuff, my *Coming Soon, PROMISE!* ecommerce store, I’ve also been hired to take over management for a struggling 2nd location of a trio of local grooming salons. This brand has made a name for itself like so many other misled, non-groomer owned shops in town: low, low prices, a plethora of discounts available for just about ANY reason (none of them earned though!), and the “TAKE EVERYTHING THAT CALLS, TURN NOTHING DOWN, $10 IS BETTER THAN NOTHING!!” method.
this method has two shops apparantly very busy, busy enough to charge halfway reasonable prices for new clients and keep a pretty consistant staff of groomers. the groomers mostly stay in the back, unseen, unrecognized, and (apparently), uninterested in customer relations.
this business model has failed at the shop 3 miles from my house. the business owner has planted several highly-productive groomers at this shop as management, and they have run the business the only way they have learned is “profitable”… charge less than your competition, never say no, take every customer in, do as many dogs as you can. no thought at all has been given to the importance of REPEAT CLIENTELE. Their short-sighted lack of business sense can only see what is on the table TODAY, and makes no plans for how they’ll eat tomorrow and how to ensure their survival in the long run.
so, with low prices and same day service the only incentive, customer retention is almost non-existent. this year, less than 30% of new clients returned for a second visit, and it took 6 months for them to come again. pre-booking was a totally foreign concept to these groomers. i watched in horror as they practically threw finished pets at the owners and walked away as the customer stood up there alone, looking embarrassed for still talking while the groomer walked away and ignored them.
The pets are so stressed. all of them flinch or struggle when you touch their legs… when i saw my coworkers lifting the pet’s legs clear over their hip and shoulder joints, pulling them into unnatural positions, then yelling at them for losing their balance or struggling, i understood.
I saw many cautious pet owners, new to the area, ignored or treated rudely when they visited or called to ask questions. people that began their conversations “i had the same groomer for 8 years…” customers who are proven LOYAL GOLD, guaranteed FUTURE INCOME, the absolute BEST KIND OF CLIENTS… the kind that keep a business alive… and treated like trash, given no time or attention, practially shoved out the door and then LAUGHED AT for being “a pain in the ass”.
i guess you’d rather have the once a year matted shave down that dont care who grooms the dog so long as its cheap and same day.
The place may be sold next year. Im scrambling to prove to the owner that i can turn the place upside down and increase profit, make it into a fixture in the community… it is a little bit tucked away, but its across the street from a gorgeous dog park and huge soccer field… a family park that BUSTLES with upper mid class and Vegas Upper Mid Class (credit cards). there are dozens of wealthy gated communities, plenty of successful “luxury” type businesses, (massage, hairdressers, nail salons, spas, dance studios, karate studios, fitness centers, etc). but very few grooming salons. the pet owners i talk to say the same things:
- i can never get the same groomer… i see new people at every visit, no one remembers me.
- there are dozens of barking dogs, always very busy, my dog hates going and hides when he comes home.
- I dont feel like my pet is well taken care of or “liked”, the groomers dont say anything about his visit or only say bad things “he bites” with no explanation or solution.
- The groomers dont listen to me or ignore my requests. they dont explain anything, just shave my dog. “Mistakes” and miscommunication are common and apologies/remedies are unheard of.
- my pet was injured and i was not informed, discovered unmistakeable injuries after coming home. inquiries are ignored and fault is flatly denied.
- i do not trust the salon. i do not feel comfortable leaving my pet. i dont know what to do about this.
- I have never been to the same salon twice. i have also never complained or asked the groomer to fix anything– i just didnt go back.
You know what I dont hear that often? “It’s too expensive” or “They’re always booked, I can never get in”.
So many troubling issues echoed by SO MANY pet owners. and what amazes me is that nearly all of them are Customer Service related. there are many, MANY shops that operate with groomers hidden behind doors and the owner/manager/teenage cashier doing all the customer interaction. they do this out of fear that the groomers will “steal” the clients jf allowed to form relationships with them. i believe that customers can SENSE this energy. they can feel that the Owner believes the groomers are “beneath her” and dont even deserve a name or face to go with their work. they can sense the fear and resentment the owner feels for her staff that have a skill she does not, and could up and leave at any time to open their own shop.
a shop operating on devalued services, worker/business owner distrust and resentment, poor communication, and total disregard for customer appreciation… that is a shop that will never be more than a last-minute stop for once a year shave downs and discounted services.
the reality is, there are only so many New Clients you can fail to impress in your community. that’s nice that you squeezed that 20th shih tzu in, but the quality of work was so poor, and the pet was so stressed by the ordeal, that you’ll never see that cliebt again.
and when someone brings up your business; that client will warn then to run far. Or, their review just say “Meh”… which seems to be the general theme in the community by pet owners who own groomed pets. When not a single one of your customers is EXCITED about your business, when your ONLY marketing strategy is “Cheap! SALE! FREE!”… and your Yelp reviews only complement your low prices, not your quality of work… you have a problem. A quality groomer with experience as a business owner, Operating Manager, branding agent and marketing/design professional may be the answer to you High-Volume/Low Prices nightmare.
this ain’t walmart, kids.