Tie It Up with a Bow
Grooming accessories do more than adorn a beloved pet; they communicate a grooming salons’ appreciation for its customers.
Many groomers think of bows and bandannas as a necessary evil—customers expect them, therefore, we must provide them. But accessories can be more than just another way to meet customers’ expectations. They can actually help groomers exceed customer’s expectations and allow a business to communicate with customers without words.
According to Delise Knight, owner and founder of Bardel Bows, “It’s a way to connect on a personal level with clients. If your bows are black and gold, and those are the colors of the high school football team, then the customer knows you are interested in them, not just their dog. Of course, we are all pet oriented, but this connection lets them know you care about them.”
Accessories can make a business more a part of the community, leading to increased customer loyalty. Bardel Bows offers fascinators—streamers of ribbon that can be used alone or attached to bows and cut to the length desired—and Knight suggests using them to increase awareness of the causes your business supports. October, for example, is National Breast Cancer Awareness Month. Knight recommends putting a sign in the front of the shop saying, “Every dog this month will leave with a pink ribbon to increase breast cancer awareness.” Other ideas include using red accessories for raising awareness of heart disease or purple ribbons for cancer awareness in March—perhaps even ask customers for suggestions. Bardel Bows will even, with a month’s notice, produce bows in custom colors to match a favorite charity or local sports team.
Accessories are not limited to bows or bandannas; they can include anything that accents the pet’s looks, such as a touch of color with a blowpen or a collar charm.
“If a dog goes home looking as polished and as good as possible, the customer is more likely to return,” says Dara Samson, owner and designer at Hot Bows. “Pizzazz appeals to customers.”
Hot Bows offers larger bows featuring a wide variety of themes, from cartoon characters that families with children are sure to love to holidays and more. Pet owners who appreciate a little whimsy in their lives will appreciate bows showing Highway 66, taxicabs, peace signs and smiley faces. With collar bows, bowties and topknot bows, Hot Bows has something for every pet and their owner. Topknot bows have three attachment options: latex bands, French clips, and no-slip French clips so owners can re-apply easily.
Accessories can also provide free advertising. Besides getting people talking about the latest dog fashion accessory, bandannas are an easy way to advertise. Pets go everywhere these days—to the supermarket, the dog park, as well as around the neighborhood, and other pet owners will notice the bandanna with your logo.
Kamen Kostadinov, vice president of marketing at Bandanas Unlimited, says, “Custom bandannas are a perfect way to build and expand your brand. Use them as promotional giveaways to advertise a grooming business, or community events or at a grand opening occasion. And it’s a nice addition to your canine friend’s wardrobe.”
Bandanas Unlimited will work with you to get your logo on bandannas for a very reasonable price. If you prefer to make your own, they sell fabric by the yard, as well as bows and scrunchies.
Heads Up For Tails, a company started in India in 2008 but fairly new to the U.S., also customizes bandannas. Dhara Dusija, president, says “Bandannas send a message. They are meant to reflect the pet’s personality.”
The company’s standard offerings include brightly colored exclusive styles available in three sizes with sayings like “Drama Queen” and “Talk To The Paw.” The unique design of the bandannas removes any risk of a poorly tied kerchief coming off or tightening by accident; the bandanna is sewn onto soft elastic with a luggage-type clasp and is fully adjustable. It is easy to take on and off and very comfortable for the dog.
Accessories can be practical, as well. Bandannas are handy to have on breeds that drool, and they can be used to wipe paws after a muddy walk. Identification tags can be attractive additions to collars or harnesses, and can be made onsite using an affordable engraving machine. The newest entry in the world of bandannas is one from Insect Shield for Pets. Available from PetEdge.com, manufacturer and exclusive distributor for Insect Shield pet products for pet care professionals, these bandannas have flea prevention built right in to the material used to make them, similar to insect repelling clothing used in the U.S. military.
Teresa McGowan, product manager at PetEdge, says the Insect Shield bandannas are specifically made to be used by groomers. They come in a six pack without a lot of extra packaging. Attractive unisex purple/green paisley—paisley made of pawprints and bones—has the added benefit of providing odorless insect protection that will last through 25 washes. Of course, a bandanna that will last that long can be offered as an upsell to a grooming, too.
Accessories and other “bling” can provide additional income. Like the Insect Shield bandannas above, higher-quality items can be offered for sale or as an upgrade to a grooming. One style bandanna or bow is included with the groom—the premium alternative can be offered for a few dollars more. Headsupfortails.us has bowties as well as the adjustable bandannas and artistic collar charms, all suitable for add-on sales.
Uptown Pups, a small business that began in midtown Atlanta because other stores saw and liked the bandannas the owners were making for their own use, has turned a retail beginning into a wholesale endeavor. Brad Bielen, co-owner, says the company offers barrettes, charms, ties and bow ties, as well as well-made reversible bandannas in six sizes.
“Most bandannas are thin,” Bielen says. “We came up with ones with heavier weight material and quick release clasps sewn on the edges for easy take on and off.”
Whether you choose to use accessories to help solidify your brand, be part of the community, make a little extra money or do some guerilla advertising, remember that the most important thing they can do for a business is communicate. And what they are communicating is important; they say, “I think your pet is special.”
Carol Visser is a Nationally Certified Master Groomer and Certified Pet Dog Trainer. Formerly a pet product expert for PetEdge, she and her husband Glenn now own Two Canines Pet Services in Montville, Maine, which provides grooming, boarding, training and day care services to Waldo County.