Customer Service

From the client's perspective


I watch a lot of food network. A LOT. One of my favorite shows is Restaurant Impossible, but any show where they go in and reboot restaurants or bars is a mild obsession of mine. I learned a lot about where to look for "dirt". 

While writing up the safety and sanitation course for Intellectual Groomers Association I became a tad "OCD about cleaning" according to one of my groomers. Someone on the Grooming Smarter Facebook page was having issues losing clients, wanting to figure out why, and her shop, well, it needed some love. Someone there made the comment that one of the best pieces of advice she ever got was to “LOOK AT YOUR SHOP from the perspective of a client”.

I took some photos of my shop that day in preparation for this blog post, and some of them made me go HMMMMMMM. I was truly taken aback by what I saw.



I took photos and created the following videos. The first is the stuff I saw with NO cleaning. The second is what I took after doing a really quick, ten or fifteen minute cleanup.  It is the way the shop looked the day I took the original photos. I was embarrassed. I asked 5 clients about what they saw, and no one said anything other than HOMEY. It FEELS homey, it LOOKS homey and it SMELLS CLEAN! That made me feel warm and fuzzy inside. Truly. They did not see the stuff that was piled up or the plant that needed watered. They did not see the pad covers on the top of the cages or the bags of things that I was taking home. They saw HOMEY.


Am I being overly critical of what I saw even though my clients did not seem to notice it??? NO! Because we only get a chance to make a first impression once. I was not happy with the way my shop MIGHT appear to a new client, even if no one else seemed to notice.

As I sit here this weekend, nursing a badly injured neck I am proud to say most of the issues I saw in the first video clip below have been remedied. Clutter has been eliminated. My station has been put back together and the lawn, weeds and flower beds have been worked on. The rain has made it impossible, along with broken equipment, to keep up with the grass and weed eating. We got caught up this week, thankfully. I am MUCH happier with the way it looks now.

Some things are out of my control, like the peeling ramp rails and floor. It is weather worn, has survived three tornadoes (LITERALLY) countless thunderstorms, hail and 3, YES THREE Hurricanes. The paint that was used did not hold up well. There is a work order in for repainting the ramp and we have non-slip tape to replace the tape that is coming off.  I will likely end up doing it myself, if it ever stops raining because my landlord sees it as a nuisance not a requirement. We have to have a full two days after we paint it for it to dry before it rains, and we have to be a week without rain for the wood to dry out. That is the major reason it has not been painted this year. Mother Nature is not co-operating. It is still embarrassing for me and I am unhappy about the signal it is sending. It is a priority on my chores list. Mother Nature must give me a week to get it done in order to fix it.

One of my clients years ago pointed out to me that if you have live plants you should have LIVE PLANTS and not dead or dying ones and no dead leaves or flowers. Those need to be maintained in order to make the biggest impression. Due to my injury the rose garden is not up to par this year and I have hired someone this weekend to come by and weed, replant and prune them all back. I do not think I realized how bad they looked until I took these photos. They had done their normal “It’s hot and I will lose my leaves” and they are growing back in full glory, but they all need to be re-potted. We will work on it. If my neck was not injured it would be different. Excuses? Maybe. Honest? Yes. 

It is important to keep things put away. Dusted. Mopped. Hair should be swept or vacuumed as you go throughout the shop. I have been in shops where the hair piles were so high there was a serious slip hazard.

You want the front reception area to reflect the style of your shop. Everything that the client sees from standing at the desk or whatever you use for a reception area is important. It sets the theme for the salon. Your staff, the desk, the computer or appointment book, what ever it is, they see it and it sets up the entire experience. Keep it clean, keep everything organized. Make sure your staff is trained. Polite. Smiling. Have phone policies that are consistent across the board. How you answer the phone. How FAST you answer the phone and how quickly you return messages will say a lot about you to a client or perspective client. 

In my shop, the feeling is HOMEY. Furniture, collectibles, antiques, throw rugs, crate pads, plants, photos, just like a house.

Whatever you decide your "feel" is going to be, make sure it stays neat, organized and clean. 

If you are wondering what your shop looks like to a client, stand where THEY STAND. Look at what THEY SEE. be honest about what you see. Take photos if it helps you see it more clearly. Ask clients for their honest opinions. It will make you better.

Take a look from a client's perspective. See if it makes a difference in your outlook on your business.


CYA in a big way!!!!

Every day on FB groups I am on groomers are complaining about clients who are accusing the of injuring their dog, or leaving bad reviews on their FB or YELP! pages, community FB pages or numerous other places that consumers go to read reviews and get a feel for a new business before trying them out themselves. More often than not, the pet in question was completely matted or not groomed in a year and there are sores and other health issues that are uncovered during grooming that set the pet owner off and make them think (rightly or wrongly) that we did something to their precious dog or cat.

Usually the groomer is asking for ways to reply to those people who are demanding a boycott of the business, or payment of a vet bill that the groomer is in no way responsible for, or at the very least a refund of the groom price.

I have yet to have this happen to me. I  can tell you my secret if you promise to share it high and wide!

I DOCUMENT< DOCUMENT< and DOCUMENT some more. AND I tell the owners I did it! 

I takes photos. Videos. I send home forms that detail how bad the matting was, what they can expect and attach the photos to that paper (I print them off in house). I also use my shop cell phone to either email or text the photos of before, during and after to the client and in some cases the vet that is going to see the dog after I am done with the groom.

Below are some photos I took the other day of a severely neglected, old poodle.











There is before, during and after, and I have about 20 other photos, some showing the leg casting that was so bad I was scared I would cut this dog.

I was a nervous wreck when we were done with this dog, but my photos ill protect me in the even there is an issue with her ears, skin or eyes after the groom. She also set up a 6 week appointment. It was her Grandmother’s dog and she had been ill, passing away two weeks prior. Yeah, I know. We all hear that all the time. In this case I believe her.

If the owner of this dog had posted anything negative to any ratings source I would be able to simply reply: We apologize for any trouble Fluffy may have had during the grooming process, but when you bring us a dog in this sad condition we do the best we can do and you were forewarned there might be injury to her during the grooming process. Here is the Download AFTER CARE FOR SEVERE MATTING REMOVAL you signed acknowledging that and relieving us of any responsibility.

Once you provide that rebuttal the post will disappear, and if it doesn’t you have stated a case that no sane person can argue with.

I have forms like the one above available for sale on my page at GroomingSmarter. I also have an accident report and numerous other forms that may be helpful to you for your business.

I also take photos of pre existing skin problems like the one below so that we cannot be accused of causing it.






I am fully aware that not everyone has a DSL or a camera on a tripod like I do set up to use at all times, but we do almost ALL have a cell phone and the vast majority of them have a camera and are capable of video. If yours doesn’t this would be a great time to upgrade to one that does before YOU get accused of something that you did not do!

Its not always matted dogs either that have an odd situation may arise. If you see an injury, a lump, redness...even in GOOD CLIENTS document it. Then there is no reason for them or the vet to come back and say you have an issue they were not aware of.

CYA in this litigious world we live in has become a way of life, and unfortunately a lot of folks still don't do it enough. CYA people. Then negative reviews feel like water off a ducks back!