Making Room for New Customers!
By: Melissa Verplank
Recently, I was giving one of my most popular lectures at a large tradeshow. It’s about client management through retention rate, rebooking and referrals. In the lecture, I talk about grooming businesses are about selling a relationship. It’s about trust. It’s about education. It’s about creating repeat business.
Who will survive and thrive regardless of what kind of economic factors are put upon our grooming businesses?
Towards the end of the session, an audience member made a profound statement. Something I had never thought of let alone, touched on. The tip she shared with the audience was brilliant.
I wish I caught her name so I can give her the full credit…
During the warm weather seasons, professional groomers are always busy. Most of us are booking out two - three weeks or more in advanced. Does this sound like you?
When it’s warm, people always want their pets groomed. They’re hot. They’re dirty. Even the once or twice a year clients get their dogs groomed, whether they need it or not.
But where are those once or twice a year clients during the slower times of year? When your appointment book is not nearly as full. Those of the times when you wish you had more regular clients. Clients who book consistently every two, three, four or six weeks out.
Those clients are your bread-and-butter clients. They keep your bills paid. Food on your table. They are the ones you can count on. Any successful grooming salon wants a roster full of regular customers.
But when you are booking weeks out during your busy times, how do you get more ‘regular’ clients.
Here’s the tip my audience participant shared.
She said she always leaves at least one opening per day to accommodate walk-ins and new clients.
A new client will not wait 2 or 3 weeks to book an appointment with you. They will just move on to the next groomer who does have an opening. And they only have to be happy one time and you’ve lost them.
Clients who you already have a relationship with, will wait. Or they will pre-book their appointment to ensure they have a slot with you.
By doing this, she constantly has a new stream of fresh clients. Clients that she can educate. Clients she can count on during the slower times of the year. As she builds up her regular clients, she can eliminate the once or twice a year dogs. After all, wouldn’t you rather work on a super regular client vs a twice a year outdoor farm dog?
$100 for a once a year farm dog seems like a lot of money. But is it?
Let’s say you have a 6-week regular client who you charge $50 per visit. That’s half of the once a year farm dog. You are going to see that client eight to nine times a year. On an annual basis, you’re going to earn between $400 and $450 for that single client.
The farm dog? You will earn $100.
Which would you rather do?
If you do not make time in your schedule to take on new customers, you might just miss adding a valuable client. One that will keep your bills paid when it’s slow one that will give your staff a reason to come to work when other salons don’t have any dogs to groom.
Which salon would you rather work at?
As a bonus, making room in an already packed schedule allows you some wiggle room. Maybe you don’t have a walk-in on that day. Or maybe you don’t have a new customer calling to book an appointment. That open slot allows you a little breathing room. Probably at a time when you most need it.
Do you have to take every first-time appointment or walk-in coming through your doors? Absolutely not.
I would ask some critical information of the front before you get too far into the conversation. Of course, they will want to know the price. That gives you the opportunity to find out what breed of dog it is. How old is the pet? How big is the dog? And, what condition it is in and/or how long since his last professional grooming?
These few critical questions will help you determine whether you book an appointment for the client – or not. Trust your gut with what the client says. It’s your appointment book.
When you do make room for a new client, make sure you also take the time to educate them. Most clients don’t know how frequently they should have their dogs (or cats) groomed. Talk to them about their lifestyle. How much work they want to do in between grooming. What can you do for them – and what are your limitations based on the condition of the pet. Custom create a regular schedule that will suit their needs and keep their pet looking and feeling it’s best.
We you get it right every time? No. But if you don’t make room for prospective new customers during your busiest times, you won’t have regular clients to carry you through when it’s slow.
This is a great technique to consider when growing your business or adding new groomers and stylist to your team.
About the Paragon School of Pet Grooming
Founded by grooming industry icon, Melissa Verplank, Paragon is focused on the success and career development of pet professionals at all levels, beginner to expert. Melissa has authored the industry’s most complete grooming guides such as Notes from the Grooming Table and Theory of 5. Paragon offers grooming education at its On-Campus training center in Michigan. It also brings the on-campus experience to everyone through its Distance Learning Program and Learn2GroomDogs.com. Paragon is regarded as one of the best grooming schools in the world. Ms. Verplank and her team have created award winning platforms with traditional education programs and web-based learning tools.