The Finishing Touch
Showing appreciation to clients can be done in a variety of ways, with a free bow or bandanna, with great customer service or even with a simple “thank you.”
The grooming industry is feeling the effect of the economic downturn, with clients spreading every dollar as far as it will go, often by stretching out grooming appointments–those that are used to booking every six weeks will return every seven or eight instead. Because of this, I’ve heard more than one groomer say that they can no longer afford the bows, nail polish or bandanas they used to give out to their clients.
But those finishing touches are an important piece of nonverbal communication that shows clients that the groomer appreciates their business and thinks they are special; and now is not the time to stop communicating that message to customers, even if the accounts payable column is a little strained. That bandana may be the very thing that keeps the customers coming back–and the lack of it may be what sends them to another stylist.
There are many ways to show an appreciation for clients with small touches and accessories. Celebrate every holiday in the salon, whether or not you celebrate at home. Offer bows or bandanas in specific colors. In December, for example, salon’s can offer green, red, white, silver and blue. This lets customers know that the salon is ready to accent their pet for Christmas or Hanukkah. During other months, make sure you know the schedules and colors for local college and high school ball teams. Offer those colors around game times–it makes the salon part of the community and encourages customer loyalty.
For fancy options, glitter or dye can be offered in the salon. Glitter in varying colors that is meant to be applied to human skin or hair can be found in local department or crafts stores, and a light spritz of hair spray to a dog’s coat or a bandana will help it stay on. Nail polish for poodle feet or other dogs with a naturally short coat is a nice touch, especially if it is coordinated with the bows or bandanas. Some stylists purchase small jewelry stones, crystals, rhinestones or sequins and glue them onto the coat using Nexaband or the glue used for human acrylic nails. Even Elmer’s works! A rhinestone on a pug’s ear looks like an earring, and faux precious stones placed strategically on a pit bull can create a necklace.
Time To Dye
Bayla Feldman owner/groomer at The Elegant Paw and Spa in West Peabody, Mass., has always given bows to her customers. Recently, however, she saw an catalog advertisement for hair dye for white or light dogs. Although she had always thought of coloring as something for the creative styling competitions, Feldman bought some and tried it out on her own Maltese, Tappy.
Although Feldman found the dyes a bit hard to work with at first, by using scrunchies, towels and vigilance she has, for the most part, kept the dye where she wanted. Feldman says there’s a bit of a learning curve for each color as to how vivid it will be when dry and how long it will last on each coat type, but she’s enjoying experimenting.
Because Feldman is still experimenting, coloring at The Elegant Paw is complimentary at this time; however, the skill is paying off in a big way. “A small ad in the local paper will cost about $40 and may yield nothing,” says Feldman. “One colored dog with its ears and tail done brought us three new accounts within a week! People are very excited to see the coloring, and we are having fun with it, too. I believe that this advertises our salons’ expertise and creativity in a new and different way that is gaining a lot of local attention.”
Sometimes it is the person behind the counter that provides the all-important finishing touch. A quick “thank you” can pay dividends as long as it is sincere. Feldman has clients that drive 45 minutes to her salon, and she lets them know how much their loyalty means to her. “Thank you for driving such a distance to come here,” she says. “We really appreciate it.” Just saying, “Thank you for doing business with us,” will let clients know they’re not being taken for granted.
Remember that everything a groomer does affects the dog owner’s perception of the salon, from smiling when they walk through the door and greeting their pet to the finishing touches. Make sure you are sending a positive message to clients, especially during this tough time.
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.