Building your client list may seem daunting at times, but these simple techniques will keep your appointment book and grooming business growing.
Our goal as grooming business owners and grooming professionals is to see our appointment book filling or full. The dream is to have a business that is so popular in fact that we actually create a waiting list weeks in advance, with clients waiting 3-6 weeks before our next available appointment slot, and scheduling those available dates because they want YOU to groom their precious pets. Many of you may be asking “how do I get my business there?”, and I’ll show you the technique I used to book our appointment schedule out 6 weeks at its peak.
So Whats Happening?
Many grooming clients view groomers much the same as they view gas stations or grocery stores. One may be $0.02 cheaper or have a certain promotion that causes them to jump ship from your client list to another. Since many clients don’t understand the complexity in the grooming process, it’s easy for them to overlook the special services your groomers provide which make your business unique and special.
Take a look over your client list and you may be surprised to find that many of you have hundreds of clients, but huge gaps in your appointment schedule. All too often I visit grooming salons to demonstrate the capabilities of the Groom Pro system to see the business owner / groomer checking clients out, taking payment, and sending them on their way with a smile and a ‘goodbye’. It is at that moment when I cringe and resist the urge to help them on the spot with the one technique they are missing that will keep their appointment book full and begin building a waiting list.
Take pride in your work
The first step to filling your appointment book and gaining raving fans is to take great pride in your work. Yes, a dog’s hair will grow out if you do a hackish job on this groom because you’re running behind and need to cut corners, you’ll just make up for it by spending a little extra time on the next groom…the client won’t notice anyway. Unfortunately, this couldn’t be further from the truth. Most clients notice everything when it comes to their beloved pets, whether they tell you or not. You may not know they were unsatisfied until you call them to arrange another appointment and they decline your offer because they’ve already found another groomer.
Further your education with seminars and videos, grab Sam Kohl’s book on breed grooming standards and clip to standard, keep records and pictures, and do what your client wants each and every time. Never let a client walk out of your door unhappy with the result. If there happens to be no way to resolve the clip / groom issue, offer them a half-price groom next time to try again at meeting their needs.
Gain client trust and confidence with professional, detailed records
In order to reign in our client list and begin to create raving fans of our business, we needed to find a way to keep clients loyal. One of the easiest ways to do this is to remember everything about each individual pet. Groom Pro was in it’s infancy at this time, but still allowed us to keep detailed notes on each pet and their progress. Clients took notice when we ‘remembered’ each pet’s particular grooming concerns and clipping requirements. It was this attention to detail that helped convert many clients into raving fans – enthusiastic promoters who help spread the word to friends and family.
We would show up to groom Molly (the Maltese) every 6 weeks and remember her special needs (a slipping kneecap) and exactly which cut her owners like her to have, without them ever having to speak a word. Eventually, Molly’s owners trusted us so much they would just leave a key under the flower pot and allow us to find, groom, and place Molly back inside their multi-million dollar home.
The Trick: Schedule next appointments NOW
Once you have your grooming consistent and your clients are satisfied with your work, you should have no problem keeping a full-book right? Not necessarily. You still have a one more step to get to that ever elusive waiting list status. Filling your appointment book is centered around one simple concept: scheduling appointments.
Before you let a client leave your salon (or before you drive away in your mobile unit) you MUST make their next appointment. By doing this, you lock that client into a cycle of grooming that helps maintain their pet’s health and begins to steady your business’s income stream.
What if your clients don’t want to schedule again right now? They will ‘call you’.
This issue often arises when attempting to commit your clients to a regular grooming schedule. The solution that worked for our business was to create a promotional ‘club’, where members receive a discounted grooming rate. In our particular business however, clients that weren’t in the club were actually just charged more than the regular rate enjoyed by club members.
How does it work?
Its simple. To stay in the special pricing club for grooming clients, you must schedule your next appointment immediately following your current appointment. Limited reschedules are allowed, but appointment cancellations will remove you from the club. That’s it, and it’s easily tracked from your Groom Pro dashboard.
When to expand
If your grooming business finds itself with a waiting list stretching out a few months, you will want to begin considering adding an additional groomer to your salon, or another mobile unit. Clients will generally not wait more than 4-6 weeks for an appointment, and you will most likely begin losing business because of your success and hard work.
Grooming businesses with enough ‘regulars’ to satisfy their schedule are also losing business because no one new is talking about your salon. Word of mouth advertising is critical to your service based business. New clients are usually the most excited to receive fantastic service and will be more likely to tell their friends and family about you, their amazing new groomer!