Career Start Report – Page 22

Marketing & Advertising

As an employed groomer you are free of the many responsibilities for marketing and advertising. You are however dependent upon the business owner to develop and maintain the clientele. As a business owner you are at the helm to continually develop clientele. Even a pet groomer with maximum clientele needs some customers to replace those that move away, pass away or suffer pet loss. Self-employment means you are not only a groomer, but also a marketing expert in the making. Marketing and advertising pet care is very unique. It’s not like selling retail goods. You are selling confidence and safety as much as you are grooming. The world’s largest pet care businesses understand that pet care is only the beginning of marketing attributes and that it’s the pet parents, the clients, paying the bills you present, not the animals. That may seem obvious but most pet grooming businesses do not market their client services. Check it out. We actually just gave you a major insider secret.

Working with new grooming business owners for so long has given us some insight into the most common problem they have. They setup a business and assume that advertising will do the magic. To them marketing is simply making up some coupons, placing some ads and a sign and business comes running. Some groomers have experienced that fortune. Most groomers without an established following endure the stress of a startup where in the beginning they may only groom one or two pets a day.

Sometimes the slow growth expands for many weeks. Long before you open your business you should be studying the unique nature of marketing and advertising pet grooming services, and studying your local demographics as well. You need a written marketing plan. Normally that would be in your business plan, or part of its backup. If you don’t create at minimum a marketing and advertising plan weeks before you open, you are certainly at the whims of Fate. Quite a few new owners have shared their plights in our GroomerTALK™ Community and a lack of advanced planning in detail is always the source of problems.

Fortunately you can rely on plenty of assistance to help you today. It wasn’t always that way. There we no major management books for groomers until our book, From Problems to Profits: The Madson Management System for Pet Grooming Businesses was published. We know. For 25 years we didn’t have a single business book devoted to pet grooming management to help us. That’s why we wrote it. We felt having so little business knowledge shared amongst groomers was holding our industry back, and to some degree that is still true today. Most groomers would rather go consistently to how-to groom seminars rather than grooming management, and yet is their management that delivers the pets to groom to even have the business let alone afford continuing education. The priorities are mixed up.

We also host a website called Find A Groomer Directory™ for pet owners. You can list your business there at no charge. We suggest you look for other grooming websites with directories as well.

At this point we want you to know that plenty of marketing and advertising information is available when you are ready. Many groomers that have never owned a business get anxious when it comes to suddenly being responsible for advertising. No need to worry. We have the resources to get you started and you can interact with others on our message board. You’ve got friends at GroomerTALK™ Community that desire your success.

Client Relations

As an employee your duties for client relations vary. You may have little or no interaction with clients, or plenty. It depends upon your employer’s management and staff organization. Just as with marketing and advertising we have resources for you at PetGroomer.com. In fact, there are articles here at this web site to assist you too.

Employed and self-employed groomers often have different viewpoints towards pet owner clients. The employed groomer tends to view client as their pets, especially if they only groom and rarely visit with pet owners delivering pets in for services.

The self-employed groomer is thrust into a new realization, a broader viewpoint. They have 2 clients for every client. There are the pets they groom but also their owners who pay the business for services. The self-employed groomer has to directly please both the pets and owners. It’s twice the responsibility. Most of the problems we hear as consultants to grooming business owners arise from their overlooking, even taking for granted, the pet owners. “I groom very well, the pet owners are lucky to have me.” Well, you can only take that so far. It might work well in small one person business but if your goal is to grow a business the limited viewpoint becomes an obstacle. Why? The majority of your grooming clientele in pet grooming is derived from referrals, not advertising. Referrals are the “lifeblood” of pet grooming. We had a complete menu of client services and staff to serve clients and we wowed them at the front counter and with almost no advertising grew one of the world’s largest grooming businesses. That’s it, period. We had 2 clients for every client.

We never spoke poorly of even the most arrogant client and instead worked with them to resolve the true cause of their nature. Any situation can be diffused. Too much is made of the few percent of difficult customers. The “artistic nature” of groomers can work against pet groomers trying to deliver customer services. In fact, isn’t that why most artists have their work sold in a gallery? You bet it is. Our Madson Client Relations Program was so sharp and organized and without comparison for miles around us we had people driving 100 miles or more for services. We had so few troubling clients our reputation must have been sending them elsewhere. Maddie Ogle was a genius in client services and few businesses still understand that today. Her client relations program is detailed in From Problems to Profits, but once again, a new Grooming Business in a Box® workbook and CD-ROM.

Unfortunately client services are a weak point in our industry for many thousands of businesses. Many shops don’t hire front counter employees such as a receptionist. In these businesses the groomers must not only groom but answer the telephone, intake and outtake pets. Of course there’s the traveling salesman coming by at the same time, and little Muffin just went potty and it needs to be cleaned up straight away. Whew! That’s stress. While trying to deliver customer service and yet groom at the same time, the groomer has to be thinking, “Gee, Ms. Smith will be back in 15 minutes for Sammy and he isn’t finished yet and I’ve got 2 people at the counter!” Customer service gets rushed. It may want to be impressive but how can it? And the phone rings! There are thousands of groomers working in these environments. Observe.

We’ve visited hundreds of shops operating this way. It’s definitely wearing. It’s not impressive though the grooming may be. Pet groomers must form important relationships with pet owners entrusting them with their beloved pets, and that takes time. Groomers must realize they are selling confidence. A client relations program acknowledges the relationship between business owner and pet owner wherein pet owners place their faith and trust in business owners to not only properly groom their pets, but ensure their safety, comfort and humane treatment. That’s really tough when owners wear to many hats with little or no front counter help.

On a more positive note, all mobile grooming operations are largely based on customer service excellence. The fact that mobile groomers work onsite at pet owner homes is customer service excellence. It’s a fascinating difference compared to home and commercial location grooming businesses without dedicated counter help.

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