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Setting Boundaries

Recognizing The Red Flag Client

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Recognizing The Red Flag Client

There is a cost to your business when you either ignore of don’t recognize a red flag in a client. We’ve all been there and kicked ourselves when we booked that “How bad could it really be client.” For ease of math, any examples I use will assume the groom was $100 and it took you an hour.

These include:

  1. Your time spent appeasing them or dealing with the fallout. If this was a non-red flag client, then this pet brought $100 into your business and you’ve spent one hour of your time. But you’ve just spent one hour on the phone with a complaint and other hour responding to social media and reviews. That’s 3 hours and that $100 an hour is now $33 an hour. If it escalates further, will your business make minimum wage or will it even cost you money?
  2. A hit to morale of yourself and staff. Then add it emotional distress caused by abusive clients.

What are some red flags?

  1. Questioning your pricing. Or the place down the street charges this amount. Or I’ve never paid more than this amount. Or would you do it for this price.

Have you ever had your doctor give you a price break because you scheduled both your kids at the same? I bet that’s a no. Have you ever pulled up to gas station and announced what you’re paying per gallon or request a discount because you’re filling up? Probably not. We shouldn’t treat our business like an episode of Let’s Make A Deal.
“Our prices are not negoitable and are dependent on the condition and behavior of your pet.”

  1. The client tells you what day they will be there and when they will drop off and pick up. The only person making policy and scheduling is you.

When I needed my stove repaired, I was given the next available day and time and my option was to take it or one further out that was more convenient for me. Didn’t matter that my stove was broke and I couldn’t use the oven until it was fixed. That was my problem to figure out, not the technicians.
“These are my available appointments. Would you like to book? We require a non-refundable deposit to hold this appointment. How would you like to pay?”

  1. They don’t know what they want or use vague terms they don’t understand what they mean. However, this can be an easily remedied problem with clear communication between you and the owner, as well as having the correct waivers and detailed signed terms of service. Never end a conversation with I’ll do my best. That client now assumes you will do as they asked. If this pet needs to shaved, I use the world naked. Set those boundaries and parameters of your business.
  2. Chasing payment. For me, this happens once. After that, credit card and authorization are kept on file within my payment portal. Let’s go back to that $100 dog. If you spend another 2 hours chasing payment, how much are you really making. (It’s $33 an hour) Or you could have groomed 2 more at $100 a pop.
  3. They inform you their pet is just playfully nippy. Or would only bite if you hurt them. Or outright tells you their pet is aggressive, but that’s your job. “Your pet may require a second groomer. It that’s the case, you will incur this fee. Sign here.” If it’s a $100 groom and you have to pay 2 groomers, one of which could be grooming their own $100 pet, that’s more like $50 an hour.
  4. You get a bad feeling. Trust your gut. Millions of years of evolution is not wrong. You do not have to groom every pet. As a mobile groomer, if I was already at someone’s home, I used the water pump is not working, I will call and reschedule. I guarantee they’ll know why you haven’t called them. Take your safety seriously. Make a show of turning the video on you phone. “You are making me uncomfortable. I will be recording our conversation from here on. My phone automatically uploads to my cloud-based storage.”

Experience is a great teacher, but it is all hindsight. Get in the practice of recognizing and weeding out red flaggers. Put your policies and protocols on your website. Have potential clients fill out and accept your terms of service before you even make that first appointment. There are almost 90 million dogs and 77 million cats in the US.

You do not have to groom every single pet that calls to make an appointment.

Mary is a business, wellness, and safety strategist who specializes in the pet industry. She has contributed to the professional pet industry as a consultant, speaker, writer, and progressive leader.

You can contact Mary by dropping a message or email her at Mary@PawsitivelyPretty.com

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