Key Accessory

Far from a superfluous touch, adding embellishments like bows and bandannas to finish off a groom lets customers know they’re valued.




Pet groomers spend a lot of time, effort, skill and money making each animal look their absolute best every time they visit the salon. So why do we feel the need to embellish them with bows, frills and furbelows?


I asked a number of knowledgeable groomers what their reasons were, and 37 percent said some version of “clients love them/makes clients feel special.” Many made note of recognizing holidays and special occasions such as local school sports games, or asking children what they wanted for a bow. Another 25 percent thought that bows, bandannas and other accents were part of creating a finished look or touch or improving the presentation of the work done, much like a fine restaurant putting nearly as much thought into the plating as they do the content of the meal. 


Other responses included encouraging customer loyalty and tips, free advertising and letting the dog (or receptionist) know that the groom is done when it has one of those finishing touches. One mobile groomer says it ensures owners of shorthaired dogs know she was really there, and another points out it’s a regional or demographic difference as to whether customers expect these adornments or not. 


In the beginning of my grooming career, I often thought bows or bandannas were unnecessary and perhaps even a little undignified for the pet, although I did use them. I gained new perspective when I forgot to put a bow on a little weekly Shih Tzu client that was kept clipped with a #10 blade.  Her owner paid, left with her dog and came back a half hour later, polite but upset, wanting to know why Beauty didn’t get a bow today. Was she bad? I apologized and explained that it was just an oversight and got a bow out to put on. The woman actually began crying and explained that she hated having her shaved, but her son’s allergies required it. She said she always worried that Beauty wouldn’t think she was beautiful anymore, or wonder why she didn’t have hair. The bows represented to her (and she thought to Beauty) that her groomer loved her and thought she was worth putting adornment on—that she was still beautiful. She told me that Beauty kept the bows in all week, and if she didn’t feel she was getting enough attention she had a way of shaking her head that drew notice to the bows, so people would tell her how pretty she was. 


Each of these reasons or stories has one thing in common that really explains why we accessorize our work. We are communicating in a positive, nonverbal way with the customer, the importance of which shouldn’t be underestimated.


Kamen Kostadinov, president of Bandanas Unlimited, says that in addition to advertising, bandannas are “a perfect way to build and expand your brand.” Just as your salon’s appearance indicates the type of service that you provide, which bandannas you select can also tell pet owners who you are as a groomer. Bandanas Unlimited now also offers custom-printed bandannas—your logo or salon name can be displayed on every pet you groom. Neckties are also available.


“Bandanas Unlimited is in the business of selling fun and joy for the dog-loving family,” says Kostadinov, and with 40 new designs per year for every season and most holidays, they are working hard to provide it. 


Heads Up for Tails provides a different spin on the traditional bandanna. The company’s cotton canvas bandannas (available in three sizes to suit various breeds) are sewn onto soft elastic with a luggage-style clasp. They are fully adjustable, easy to put on and take off and very comfortable for the dog without the risk of tightening or falling off. Dhara Dusija, president at Heads Up for Tails, says the company focuses on durability. 


“Most groomers like to add a little accessory as a finishing touch after the grooming session,” says Dusija. “A good quality bandanna or bow tie reminds the pet parent of the groomer’s business and encourages them to go back for more.” 


Bandannas have cute sayings to illustrate each pet’s personality. Adjustable bow ties and collar charms are also available and all are suitable for retail sales. Dusija suggests offering clients accessories as an add-on to the grooming for a discount. 


Bardel Bows has been creating handmade bows for groomers since 1989. The company’s easy-to-apply bows have been popular with groomers since their inception. Many different styles and color combinations are available, including their popular fascinators. If you don’t see what you like they, can also do custom orders. 


“Groomers are some of the most creative people I know, and adding the extra bling to the groom is like the icing on the cake,” says Delise Knight, owner and founder. “It’s always great to have a jar of bows on the counter, allowing the client to pick the color they would like. It makes them feel like part of the process.” 


Knight also advises choosing bows that coordinate with the birth of a baby, a graduation, school colors or holidays. This can let customers know that you are in tune with them and strengthen the personal connection.


Rebecca Benson, sales associate at Davis Manufacturing, says that groomers she’s spoken with say they use accessories to provide that “wow” factor for their clients. Davis has bandannas and bows, and feathers and all the tools, accessories and instructions for using them. 


“A little about why our bows are different and preferred by groomers—Davis has standard bows for those with less adventurous customers and then the really interesting and wispy Feather Bows, Glitter Puffs and Gem Rings that are definitely eye- catching,” Benson says. “We’ve also got an awesome tool to help groomers make their own bows, the Davis Bowjig. They can make their own bows with our extensive ribbon collection. For those feeling a little more adventurous, Davis offers the Feathers and Hair Glitz Strands, which are still unusual to people not in the grooming industry. These can be paired with bows or other creative grooming accessories.”


Davis goes one step further, offering various other ways to enhance grooming and make your customers feel special with nail polish, Glamour Glitter, Studio Color Crème Chalk Pens, Hands-Free Stencils and Studio Color Dye.  


So keep putting those bows, bandannas, rhinestones, color, glitter and bling of all descriptions on your customer’s pets. Know that it’s sending a positive message that they and their pets are special.


Carol Visser has been involved in the pet industry since 1982 in various capacities, including grooming in and owning a busy suburban shop, working as a product expert for PetEdge, teaching seminars and training dogs. She certified as a Master Groomer with NDGAA in 1990 and as a Certified Pet Dog Trainer in 2007, and she continues to enjoy learning about dogs and grooming at her small salon in rural Maine. 


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