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December 2017

Dealing with Trouble Areas in Fur

Mats Tangles Knots

Call them what you like. That woven mess of dirt and hair can often determine what kind of trim can be done on a pet. They are the best friend – and the worst enemy – of the professional pet groomer.

The key to dealing with these trouble areas is knowing how to identify them and deal with them effectively.

4 Types of Mats

Lack of Maintenance: These mats are the results of dirt, static, and moisture. The owner brushes between grooming appointments but these sessions are not as effective or as frequent as they should be. More frequent bathing and brushing to remove dense undercoat is needed in these cases. The mats produced from poor maintenance are generally smaller and can be removed with the proper knowledge, tools, and products.

Neglect: These tangles are tough. Typically, these mats are the result of longer-term neglect and are very tight and difficult to remove. The dog’s coat is often in extremely overall poor shape and is very dirty. They can be a hiding place for pests like fleas and ticks and may lead to skin damage or injury.

Friction: Friction mats are caused when two areas rub together. It could be from a collar, dog sweater, or from a body part (like behind the ears or under the front legs) – but is not limited to those areas. Depending on the activity level of the dog, friction mats could be found up and down the legs, on long ears, or the tail. These are the areas that come in contact with other areas like tall grasses or even the ground.

Compression: This type of tangle is generally found on the rear of the dog. It is caused from sitting or lying down. Dogs that shed heavily will have dead coat packed into the guard coat, and if not removed, will clump and mat as moisture and compression do their work. Just like people, dogs tend to be left or right-sided. The compression type density will be worse on one side more than the other.

Here’s your secret strategy for dealing with tangles: find them before the client leaves!

That means at check-in. This is not just a time to be catching up with your client. Use this time to diagnose problem areas with their pet’s coat. Get your hands – not just your eyes – on the dog. The eyes can be deceiving. The owner doesn’t even have to be aware of what you’re doing. I disguise my hands-on inspection as a meet-and-greet to the pet. It warms up both the pet and the client. But more importantly, it gives me valuable information that I can use to communicate effectively with a customer about the type of trim we can do, the cost, and the amount of time it will take. Sink your hands deep into the coat.

Keep moving. Feel under the ears, in the armpits – get to those friction and compressed areas so there are no surprises once you get the dog in the tub. Do you know what you’re feeling for? You’re trying to find patches of density/inconsistent density in the fur. You should be able to come into contact with the skin. Often, your client will insist that the dog is completely brushed out when they’ve really just been brushing out the tops of matted areas. This is where your comb comes in handy for a demonstration.

Sink the comb through the coat. If you feel resistance, that’s your matted area. Remember, the groom starts as soon as the client walks in the door, not when the dog is on your table. You should start assessing the dog visually as soon as the pet walks in and continue your examination until you are satisfied that you have found everything you need to discuss before your client leaves. Having to make repeated phone calls because you didn’t take the time to properly check over a pet will annoy your client – and will waste much of your own precious time.

Don’t stop there. You should always have a comb within reach. Clients may not always understand what a mat is, but it’s hard to deny a comb stuck firmly in the middle of tangled fur. It’s also a great way to open the discussion about the necessities of combing, as well as brushing, to maintain proper coat condition. If there are problems or issues, I want to deal with them immediately before the client leaves.

In the service-based business, education is the key. Most of the time, this means educating the client as to what is proper maintenance for their pet. Guide their hands to the problem areas. Have them feel for themselves what to watch for, so that when they’re brushing their pet at home they are better able to identify mats and how to deal with them. Many first time pet owners have really no idea what they’ve gotten themselves into when it comes to proper pet maintenance. They may love the idea of having a Golden Doodle, but have no idea that they should be groomed more than twice a year. This is the perfect time to do that.

With new clients, I would talk to them about trim options based on the condition of their pet. If their pet is in extremely difficult condition, I would talk to them about the risk factors the pet is going to experience due to its condition.

Explain the potential risks that could occur during dematting. And always have the owner sign a pet release form. It also offers you an opportunity to offer beneficial special products or services. By using your training, experience, and professional intuition, you can educate your client and make a real difference in the lives of the pets entrusted to your care.

Happy trimming!


Tips to Keep Your Appointment Book Full

When your appointment book is totally full, how does that make you feel? For most of us, it's a sense of security. It's a source of pride. It's a guarantee that you are satisfying your customers' needs. You are doing a good job.

But how do you feel when that appointment book has empty slots? Maybe you are just starting out on your own and have an open book. Maybe you are new to the salon and need to build a fresh clientele. Or maybe you have been at your salon for a while, yet you're just not getting traction with repeat customers.

Long-time pet stylists know this unspoken rule: a full appointment book offers job security.

So if your appointment book is lighter than what you would like, how are you going to fix it?

Here are a few ideas to help you boost your number of daily grooming appointments.

SERVICE MENU

If you went to a restaurant and the server did not hand you a menu, how would you know what to order? Pet grooming is very similar. Owners know they're coming to you to get their dog cleaned up, but they probably don't know all the services that you offer. Services that could help them keep their pet looking and feeling great.

A well-organized service menu makes it easy for the client to select a service. As a bonus, it also makes it very easy for you discuss optional services such as de-shedding treatments, shampoo upgrades, skin conditioning treatments, tooth brushing, nail filing, or other add-on services.

A service menu allows you to quickly summarize maintenance grooming services. Use it to highlight the benefits of regular professional grooming appointments. This is a great place to outline the suggested frequency of appointments. Depending on a number of factors, most pets benefit from being groomed every 3 to 6 weeks. Others may benefit from weekly or biweekly appointments. Having a comprehensive service menu makes it easy to rebook clients on a regular basis.

DEVELOP A RESCHEDULE FILE

Actively encouraging clients to reschedule on a regular basis ensures that a salon will have a steady stream of clients. Plus, the pets will be in the best possible condition.

Rebooking and rescheduling is all about helping your clients keep their pet looking and feeling its best. It's about helping them understand the hygienic needs of their dog or cat, such as why it's important to properly brush and bathe their pet between visits. Those are the goals. You are a problem solver. If they do not want to do the tasks necessary to maintain their pets at home, they will turn to you to do the job for them. Education is the key.

There are number of ways to rebook that next appointment:
• on the spot.
• reminder calls.
• wake-up calls.
• e-mail blasts.

Rebooking on the Spot

Offering to schedule an appointment at checkout is the best way to get a client to rebook. Develop a couple different scripts and use the one that best fits the needs of that client. For best results, use the tips below.

• Ask every time. Think of fast food chains. They ask you every time if you would like something else with your order - every time. When the client checks out, offer to rebook their next appointment to ensure their pet continues to look amazing.
• For the busy or in demand pet stylist, reschedule a number of appointments at once or book the entire year. This will guarantee the client will get the premiere dates they are looking for.
• In areas that are price sensitive, offer incentives. Maybe it's $5 off their next grooming if they book within six weeks or less. Or maybe you offer them free upsells like tooth brushing or a spa package upgrade.


Reminder Calls - If the Client Does Not Rebook on the Spot

Ask the client if they'd like a Reminder Call a week before "Buffy" would be due for his next appointment. This could be done via phone, e-mail, or text message.

Wake-Up Calls

Actively call clients that have not returned to the salon in 8-12 weeks.

E-mail Blasts

This is a great way to market to existing clients. If you are going into a slow day or week, offer an incentive to get clients in the door for those days.

IMPLEMENTATION

Rebooking is something you must do regularly - the same way - every time. Make it a habit to ask if they want to rebook at check-out. If they don't, make sure to call and remind them one week prior to the preferred grooming time for their pet and don't forget to do the Wake-Up calls once a month for any client you haven't seen in 8-12 weeks.
Referrals

People are physiologically wired to make referrals. Many businesses can grow and flourish just by tapping into this business building strategy.

Referrals come from a number of different sources:

• existing clients.
• other service providers.
• pet professionals.

Existing Clients

• Encourage them to pass out your business cards. Let them know you are looking for more great clients like them. Always keep a supply within easy reach and generously hand them out to clients.
• Use an incentive-based referral program. Offer a discount for first time clients PLUS give the same discount to the client that referred them. You give them even more reason to pass your name around - plus - it's a great way to thank them for the referral!
Other Service Providers
• hairdresser
• local pizza joint
• coffee shop
• anywhere people gather and talk
Leave a stack of Discount Incentive cards with the owner or someone who is happy to pass them out. Code the back so you know where they came from - that way you don't have to ask the customer when they turn them in. You do want to track where the cards are coming from so you can thank the service provider in an appropriate fashion.

Pet Professionals

• vets
• pet supply businesses
• rescue organizations
• trainers
• pet sitters

Leave them with a basic welcome package they can hand out to clients that would benefit from your service. Participate in and support their events. They are more like to refer and support you in return. Offer a thoughtful thank you gift to those that refer you on a regular basis. Food or flowers never go out of style but there are many options.


Top 10 Ways to Boost Clientele

Are you thinking of opening a new shop where there isn't a grooming salon or expanding into a new market area with your mobile unit? You are probably giddy with excitement over the prospect of all those new clients. Watching that superstore getting ready for its grand opening? You are probably worried that you'll lose clients. Are you fretting over how much to raise your prices? You are probably agonizing over how many clients will look for other options to get their dogs groomed. These are real worries.

Your current and prospective clients have four options.

1. Use your service
2. Use a competitors service
3. Do it themselves
4. Not do it at all

Sometimes the biggest challenge you have with building a clientele is not your competitors - it's your prospects.

So how do you win clients over? How do you encourage them to patronize YOUR place of business? Simple. Stand out in a positive way!

My Top Ten List ways to start winning clients today.

1. Build compassion and trust with pets and their owners
2. Look, speak, and act like a professional
3. Keep it clean and organized
4. Always do more for the client than they can do for themselves
5. Never stop learning and growing
6. Safety first!
7. Keep a comprehensive service menu with fair pricing (that does not mean cheap!)
8. Be consistent
9. Have a strong web and social media presence
10. Smile - it's the best sales tool you have (and it's even better when you make the client smile!)

Think about these items. How can you make them unique to YOU? Each one of us is an individual. We all have strengths and weakness. The key to success is to play upon your strengths.

When you are a solo stylist and own your own business, you have to be good at everything. Once you start to grow, that generally means hiring help. When you hire someone, don't look for a carbon copy of yourself. Instead, look for someone who can complement your personality and work ethic. They will play off your strengths and offset your weakness.

No matter how well you do your job, the client needs to perceive the value of the grooming they receive on their pet. It does not matter if YOU think you are giving great service - the client has to KNOW that.

They have to value that great service. If they don't - they will look elsewhere to get their needs met. And many times, that means you are competing with the prospect themselves.