It’s hard to think about “normal” after we’ve been in this abnormal COVID world for longer than anyone expected, isn’t it? We’ve all been playing lockdown-roulette, it seems, for the past year (and then some). While we’re all excited about a full reopening, business owners in particular are thinking about how they can make up for lost times during lockdown, and succeed in the post-COVID era. For dog grooming businesses in particular, this presents a particular challenge.
If YOU run a grooming business, you’re probably about to get flooded with bookings. So, how do you take full advantage of that short-term boost in business, and ensure it translates into long-term success?
Expect a Re-Opening Boom for Your Grooming Business
When your grooming business reopens, odds are that many clients will try to book appointments with you as quickly as possible. Between lockdown and fears of the virus (not to mention pandemic puppies), there are oodles of dogs out there that are way overdue for a groom. Make sure you get your fair share of that business!
How to Prepare:
- Accept bookings ASAP. Advertise your re-opening date well in advance – a.k.a. as soon as you know it! Give your clients something to look forward to!
- Be proactive. Contact your loyal customers yourself, either by phone or email. Moreover, offer to book their grooming appointments for them. Here are 5 additional ways to provide proactive customer services, courtesy of Forbes!
- Book longer appointments than normal. Many dogs will be in need of more intense grooming services than usual. Don’t sacrifice the quality of your work in order to try and cram more dogs into your schedule!
- Offer extended hours. If you can, try to be extra-flexible with your grooming schedule. Offer earlier/later hours, weekend appointments, etc. Clients will appreciate the flexibility!
- Find Partnership Opportunities. If you’re just starting out and don’t yet have an established client base, or if you’re having trouble filling your calendar, consider partnering up with veterinarian offices, dog trainers, doggy daycares, and other likeminded businesses. They will also be inundated with pandemic puppies. Thus, they’ll likely be asked to recommend groomers.
Keep it Up After the Boom
So, you’re getting an influx of clients as restrictions ease and more people get vaccinated. That’s great! Now the question is: how can you make sure this increase in business lasts?
- Book future appointments NOW. When the client picks up their freshly-groomed pooch, offer to book their future appointment right there, on the spot. Most clients will do so without giving it a second thought. And with proper reminders from you, most will keep their appointments!
- Ask for reviews. Your dog grooming business thrives when customers recommend your services to others. But most customers don’t bother leaving a review unless they’re specifically asked. So, ask! Positive reviews on Google or Facebook are worth their weight in gold!
- Advertise. Take advantage of the boom in business by advertising your success. Talk about how busy you are and how long your wait times are. Furthermore, show ‘before’ and ‘after’ shots of pandemic dogs. Customers are attracted to businesses that are doing well. Why not use this to your advantage?
3 Tips for Running a Successful Grooming Business
There are additional steps you can take to ensure you stay ahead of the competition!
Tip #1: Keep Everyone Safe!
It’s important to remember that while COVID is winding down, it’s not over yet. Be sure to follow all local guidelines for mask requirements, social distancing, capacity limits, etc. If you live in an area that’s fully reopen, it’s still perfectly reasonable to require that all clients be fully vaccinated or masked in order to enter your salon.
Keep in mind that many customers (or staff) might still have residual anxiety from living in a pandemic for the past year. As such, enforcing social distancing measures, having hand sanitizer available, and continuing to offer curbside pickup/drop off upon request are great ways to show your clients that you continue to take their safety seriously.
Tip #2: You (and Your Grooming Business) Should Be Accommodating!
Everyone is in a weird transition phase right now. People are starting to go back to work, kids are going back to school, and our lives are getting busier. Most people won’t have “visit the dog groomer” at the top of their priority list. So, make it easy for them to book and follow through with their appointments!
Here are a few easy tricks to help you achieve this:
- Offer easy, online booking.
- Send reminders of upcoming appointments. Bonus points if you’re able to do this via text message!
- Offer pickup/drop-off services as a premium service.
- Have a clearly outlined cancellation policy.
- Waive that cancellation policy in the event of illness, or other circumstances out of the client’s control.
Tip #3: Watch Out for Those Pandemic Puppies!
The pandemic led to an unprecedented boom in the pet industry. People adopted more pets in the past year than ever before! But now that those puppies are growing up, they’re starting to show some behavioral issues that most owners weren’t prepared to deal with.
Frankly, many people adopted a pandemic puppy without really thinking about long-term socializing or training requirements. As a groomer, you need to be ready for these uneducated owners to seek out your services. When this happens, here are some things to keep in mind:
- When onboarding new clients, ask when their dog was adopted. This will give you a clue as to whether or not you’re dealing with a pandemic puppy.
- Similarly, ask if the dog has visited any groomer before. If they haven’t, be ready for a more challenging appointment.
- Be gentle with these dogs. Book an extra-long appointment time – same as you would with anxious or otherwise difficult dogs. If needed, split the groom between several appointments.
- Educate the owner on the dog’s ongoing grooming needs.
If you’re thinking of starting a dog grooming business, QC Pet Studies’ self-paced, online Dog Grooming Course is a great place to start! This certification program comes with full business training to get you up and running quickly.
The great news is, you’ve already jumped over the biggest hurdle you never thought you would encounter: your dog grooming business survived a global pandemic. Now it’s time to let your business shine. You’ve got this!