How is your summer going? Busy?? Overworked? Feeling stressed? Not being able to ENJOY your summer because you are too busy?
Having too much work can be just as frustrating and scary as not having ENOUGH work. I get it. As groomers and service providers, we want to keep people happy. That’s how you build a thriving business. However, if the business is thriving - and you are not – how can that honestly be good for your business? How can that be good for your customers and pets in the long run?
We all have the same number of days, hours and minutes each year. Everyone wants to maximize their time to make the most out their lives. How you schedule appointments, how many hours and days you work each week and how much time you allot for yourself will contribute to how you feel at the end of the day.
If you are swamped, how to you find a happy balance? How do you take control and get your life back? Simple. Discipline and effective scheduling. Set limitations. YOU need to control YOUR schedule, not the other way around!
There are several ways to efficiently schedule appointments in a salon setting. You can book all your appointments by assigning them a check in-time and then stagger your check out or completion times, or you can opt for a couple sessions per day. You can accept a few pets at a time, complete their grooms and then accept another set after the first group has been completed and left. Or, you might prefer to book one pet at a time – but that’s the least efficient use of your time for a salon-based business. What method is right for you?
There is no right or wrong. It’s whatever method works best for your situation. Over the years, we have used all the methods effectively in my businesses. Hopefully, one will inspire you take control of your schedule, allowing you to regain control of your work life.
Whatever system you choose, there are a few common elements you want to think through before you settle on a method that works best for you. There are advantages and disadvantages to each option.
Scheduling All Appointments Within One Arrival Window Advantages: This option allows for the most flexibility and efficiency by working on a larger group of dogs at one time. But just how many can you work on at one time? It can allow for an assembly line fashion of grooming which is highly efficient if that is how your team works. Pets are normally checked in early in the morning. Pick-up time can be staggered through the day based on your workload. (Tip: Practice giving your clients a time to return versus promising them you will call them when the pet is ready. Save time on the phone and give your clients a pick up time.)
Disadvantages: The salon can get loud with all the pets in the facility at once. You may experience bottle necks at the tub and maybe even the loss of hot water. You may not even get started on some pets for quite a while. You need enough enclosures to house all pets safely when they are not being worked on. Pets are held for a longer time period which many clients do not appreciate. This could mean more potty walks or potty accidents that now need to be cleaned up. This method could result in the lack of convenience for the client both for drop off, and sometimes, pick up. Scheduling Appointments By Blocks of Time or Staggered Arrival Times Advantages: 3-5 pets are booked per session, per groomer/stylist allowing for a flexibility and efficiency. Blocks can be anywhere from two, three or four hours in length. You can easily schedule morning, mid-morning, afternoon, late afternoon or evening grooming sessions. It is less stressful for the pets and staff due to limited pets in the facility at one time. Limiting the number of pets serviced at one time is convenient and advantageous for positive client relationships. And there’s something really cool that happens when clients are given a specific appointment arrival time. It is proven this results in less ‘no-shows’! Try it and see!
Disadvantages: Timing can be challenging based on experience of groomer/stylist. If booking less than 3 pets at a time, there can be wasted time if there are cancelations within the day, but you will know if you have a late arrival or cancel much earlier so you can backfill this spot with a possible ‘call in’ or wait list client. It can be disruptive with check-ins and check-outs happening all day but some would argue this is better than spending a lot of time checking in multiple dogs at one time in the morning and causing your clients to stack up in the lobby.
Schedule Clients a Year in Advance: This is highly effective for ‘in-demand’ stylists and mobile stylists where routing also comes into play when booking appointments. It ensures a full schedule however, the groomer/stylist must have a highly organized outline of their annual responsibilities and travel dates for the full year prior to booking their clients. This is helpful if you book appointments for yourself such as vacations, and other necessary breaks. Some groomers even practice booking their own breaks before booking client appointments (see below). Holiday Appointments
Holidays are prime dates for grooming, especially if the holiday revolves around family and high levels of entertaining. Start scheduling Halloween, Thanksgiving, Christmas and Hanukah appointments in August and September. Offer prime holiday grooming dates to your premier clients first starting with your weekly and bi-weekly customers. Then move into your three-week clients. Continuing scheduling your four, five and six-week regular clients in that order. This will ensure you take care of your best clients first during the busy holiday season.
Vacation Time: We all need a break from our daily grind to stay our freshest. Make sure to take time for yourself. Work in your own down time FIRST, then schedule around it!
Have Someone Else Manage Your Work Schedule:
Learn to delegate. Let someone else manage your grooming schedule. A business grows and flourishes when you focus on your strengths and you delegate the rest. Outline the number of dogs, the types of grooms you need, and the time frames you want them booked. Oversee and monitor them closely to ensure you have the right balance of work, adjusting as necessary. Typically, it’s easier for someone else to be the gatekeeper of your time other than yourself!
The most indispensable thing we can have is TIME and when it is gone, it’s gone, never to be regained. Be disciplined and effective with your scheduling.
Working is important. I’m not telling you anything you don’t already know. Additionally, managing your schedule to have down time for yourself is crucial to your well-being. This not only goes for you, but your fellow team members too.
Set limitations on how many hours you – or they - work each day. Each week. And each month. Don’t forget, YOU need to control YOUR schedule, not the other way around!