The phone call is the final test a client has to administer before deciding whether to leave their precious pet with you or with your competitor down the road. Answering the phone in a disgruntled tone or using the business destroying "hello" can have extremely detrimental impacts on your grooming business, costing you grooming appointments and income losses.
I use the level of professionalism and courtesy shown by employees and receptionists as a reflection of the level / type of service I can expect from the business. If I call around for a veterinarian to help keep track of my dog's health situation and the receptionist or vet tech answers the phone by saying “hello” or sounds like he/she is generally an angry or unfriendly person, I immediately being thinking they may mistreat my dog if she misbehaves or they are frustrated.
The grooming salon or mobile grooming business has numerous variables that can affect the tone and pace of your work environment. Multiple pets requiring service all have individual needs, clients entering your salon, home owners association parking patrols coming to pester you about parking your grooming van in the street, dogs barking as they pass your salon or van distracting your furry client on the table or in the tub making your job that much more difficult. In these often frustrating situations, it can be easy to forget the time-tested best practices involved in one of the most basic of business interactions. The one technique that, when utilized, can create new clients within just 1 to 3 minutes on average.
The corporate retail world has set the standard for phone greetings. Most, if not all, existing and prospective clients have certain expectations when it comes to how a professional business phone call should be attended to. Long gone are the days of old where it was relatively acceptable for a small local business phone to be answered with "hello". Sounding upset, disgruntled, dismissive, or downright angry will portray a lack of professionalism and business organization to a prospective client. In many cases, this is enough to cause significant doubt in the client’s mind, and cost you an appointment.
The best phone greetings begin before you even pick up the phone. As the phone rings, remember to take care of any pets currently being groomed. Special note - look out for pets on the grooming table in the neck loop, as there have been instances of dogs slipping (or flying) off the table and being hung to death when left unattended on a grooming table. Unhook the loop, set the pet on the floor and take a breath. Consider every phone call an opportunity to show off your business and potentially gain a new client. Answer the phone with appropriate enthusiasm as you anticipate closing the deal on a new client account.
Say "Thank you for choosing [business name], this is [your name]. How may I help you?".
If your business has any special promotions, you can consider adding them to the greeting, but I honestly feel that these are better left for the conversation that follows. I find that callers do not like to be inundated with information they may not be interested in right from the start of the call.
Many times, your salon will get phone calls from people simply asking how much you charge to groom a certain breed of dog. These calls can be from price shoppers or oftentimes other groomers in the area who have a new breed to groom and are trying to set a comparable price. Since most prospective clients don't know the inner-workings of the grooming process, you will want to explain your process and what special services or techniques your business offers. Stand apart from the competition by listing out included services before stating the price as follows:
"An average size yorkie will get a bath, trim, sanitary clip, nails clipped, teeth brushed, and ears cleaned for the base price of $55. We also offer de-matting, flea dip, or creative clipping for extra fees.".
By providing the client with this list of services, you are arming them with the information they need to compare apples to apples when they call around to other groomers. Does this groomer offer nail clipping included in the price or is it an extra charge (I believe you should always roll this in to your base fee)? Does that groomer offer teeth brushing?
This is where the phone call turns into an opportunity to close the sale and create a new appointment. This client may have spoken to many other groomers before finding you and will immediately take notice of the difference if you are employing these techniques. They already know most other groomers will impatiently spew out a price and sit silently until they decide to call back to make an appointment. Chances are this client will never call back if they call a proactive Groom Pro and get a rundown of all services and options, as we are doing here. They will be able to identify the differences between you and your competitors simply by the professionalism of your phone call and the amount of attention given to ensure they thoroughly understand their options.
Phone inquiries are what we call 'warm leads'. This means you have been contacted by a client that is already looking for your services. This is very much different from cold calls you often receive from telemarketers while trying to eat dinner with your family, because the client wants what you are offering and is preparing to make a decision on whether to use you or your competitor. Give them a reason to use you simply by being proactive and offering to schedule an appointment in your next available slot. This simple act of offering to make them an appointment will increase your bookings, because many other groomers will simply stall after the initial conversation (usually just stating a price). Push for the appointment by saying
"I have an opening on Tuesday the 15th at 9:00, I would love to schedule Molly for that spot if you're available."
Notice here that we didn't ask if she wanted an appointment. Since she has called us, we were proactive with her needs and thoroughly explained the groom process for her breed, and we offer excellent service. We can assume that she wants to make an appointment and act accordingly to help her do that efficiently.
If you find yourself too busy to spend the time necessary to sell your services and close appointments over the phone, you may want to consider hiring a receptionist to field all calls, appointment taking, and rescheduling. Groom Pro makes it easy to offload the burden of these tasks to a dedicated staff member. Our flexible inventory management provides reception with an easy to follow template for pricing services.
If you find that you aren't able to immediately return calls on voicemails, schedule a time (maybe 30 minutes) at the end of each day dedicated to handling all voicemails and place return calls. This is a great way to ensure you are following up daily on new client leads. Remember to take a few minutes to clear your head, breathe, and return the calls with an appropriate level of enthusiasm, knowing that you are now able to close business calls effectively and push your business further into success!