A new customer called me last week and I am still thinking about the conversation. She called me to inquire about having her dog groomed. The dog is an adult, and she has only had it for a few months. "The first time I took her to ___ they did a beautiful job. I was so pleased. The second time I took her in the groomer told me she was dirty. That she had to give her three baths." The woman on the phone was both a bit puzzled and distressed. "That was why I took her to be groomed! She needed a bath. She's a house dog, she wasn't that dirty! I won't take her back there."
So, here is the thing. A groomer did an excellent job grooming the dog and the customer was pleased. But the same groomer said something that hurt the customers feelings and in doing so lost the customer. If this dog had stayed a regular customer, being groomed every 6 weeks or so, the groomer would have earned around $500 a year income from that one pet. But because of a misunderstanding I will now be earning that money. The worst part is, the groomer probably has no idea that hard feelings were caused by her comment.
Communication is important any time we are dealing with people, but adding a beloved pet to the mix brings a whole lot of emotion into the mix. Why? Because people love their pets. If we, as pet groomers, say something that is perceived as being negative or critical about a persons pet, it doesn't matter how skilled we are at our work. The customer will go somewhere that they feel the pet is appreciated.
Here are some ideas about how you can prevent accidentally alienating a customer:
- Compliment every pet, it only takes a second and it costs you nothing. Even if the dog was difficult to work on, you can find something nice to say. "What a beautiful coat Muffy has!" or, "She has the most expressive face!"
- If you have something to share with the customer that might be perceived as negative, ask yourself, "Is this important for the customer to know?" If it is, find a way to relay the information that is not unfavorable. In the instance of the caller last week, why did the groomer feel it was necessary to convey that the pet had three baths? If it was because her policy is to charge extra, perhaps she could have said, "Your dog must have been having a great time lately! I had to give her three baths to wash all the fun off of her." Keep your words light and remember to smile.
- Keep in mind that people are not just hearing your words, they are reading your body language.
- Ask yourself, "Am I the kind of groomer I'd like to bring my pet to?" Sometimes it's good to take a step back and look at how we present ourselves. Looking through the lens of, "Would I leave my pet with me?" can be a good way to do that.
Misunderstandings happen, it's just a fact of life. But we can help minimize them by being a bit mindful of the way we talk to our customers about their beloved pets.
I wrote an article on this topic for Groomer to Groomer magazine. You can read it here if you are interested: https://www.groomertogroomer.com/what-you-said-what-they-heard/