I have been reading a lot of groomer forums lately.
One thing is a constant on almost all of those pages.....groomers ranting.
Everything that they are writing and ranting about are the same things that I have ranted and written about over my years of grooming.
All of us groomers seem to be having the same problems with our customers.
Matted overgrown dogs.
Beyond disgusting teeth.
Late drop-offs, late pick-ups.
No-Shows and late cancellations.
Something happened a couple of weeks ago that got me to thinking.
First, let me tell you what happened.
This little one came in a couple of weeks ago for a grooming.
The owner knew that she was matted and had to be clipped short.
She was pelted from being bathed at home with the knots in her.
The mat hardly budged after bathing, conditioner, and the HV dryer.
I had to use a #5F blade to get under the mats.
The mats were all wrapped round and between all of her pads and toes.
Imagine walking around with hard knots between and under your toes.
I was able to save her face, ears, and tail.
The mats behind her ears and in the pads of her feet were so tight that I saved them to show the owner.
First let me say, I have never ever given a customer a hard time about the condition that they brought there dog in.
Not that I haven't wanted to.
To be honest, it surprises me every time I read a comment from a groomer about how they gave a customer a hard time about their dog being matted, or threatened to report them, or just down right yelled at them because of the shape their dog was in.
I have to admit, that there have been times that I wanted to strangle a customer for their stupidity.
There have also been times that I wish I could make the owners go 6 months to a year with no shower and no brushing their hair so that they could have an idea of what it feels like for their dog.
That being said, I have always tried to be professional and educate the customer.
As with the dog above.
When the owner of the Shih-tzu came in to pick up, I grabbed the mats that I took off of her dog and went out into the lobby to talk to her.
I showed her the mats.
I told her where they were on her dog.
I told her that she must watch that her dog does not go home and scratch behind her ears, because even though I filed the nails, they are freshly clipped and can do major damage if her dog starts scratching behind her ears where the mats were.
I explained to her why she should not bathe her dog without making sure that all the mats were out first.
I told her about the hard mats in the pads and how uncomfortable it was for her to be walking around like that.
While I was giving the customer all of this information, she was just intently staring at me.
I remember it crossing my mind, as I was talking, that she had tuned me out and was not really hearing anything that I was saying.
I was about half way through my 'educational' talk when she suddenly interrupted me.
"You know, your are the first groomer that I have ever brought my dog to that took the time to tell me all of this," she said.
"All the other groomers would take me dog, shave her, and take my money," she continued. "They never told me any of this."
I was taken back for a second.
"Really?!" I said.
"No, I did not know that knots hurt a dog," she told me. "No one has ever taken the time to tell me any of these things you are talking about."
I continued telling her everything that I wanted her to know.
I ended my talk by informing her that the grooming price would be lower if she got her dog on a regular scheduled so that her dog did not get so matted.
I also told her that if she brought her dog in regularly, and it was not matted, I could leave the coat any length that she liked.
I told her how often a Shih-tzu should be professionally groomed.
I also suggested that she make her next appointment before she leaves....she did.
After this customer left, all I did was think about what she had said to me.
There are so many misconceptions about grooming dogs in the pet owner world.
Even Vets don't get it right.
I have had customers tell me that their Vet told them not to bathe or clip their dog till it is a year old.
I have had customers tell me that their Vet told them that they don't have to the nails clipped if they walk their dog regularly.
Now many Vets are telling pet owners that they do not need to clean hair out of the ears.
Don't get me started on the breeders that don't give correct grooming instructions, or lie about the care of the coat.
Sometimes I wish that there was a mandatory 'pet care and grooming' class that new pet owners had to take before they pick a breed, or bring home a new pet.
In the meantime, we as groomers must be the ones to help educate our customers.
Believe me, I know that not every pet owner will listen.
Some customers know it all, right or wrong, and you can't tell them a thing, but their are many pet owners out there that want to do and know the right thing, and take care of their pet the right way, they just need someone to educate them correctly.
I personally feel that , as educated groomers, we need to pass on our knowledge to our customers and not judge them because they are not caring for their dogs coat correctly.
They may honestly not know how.
I have grown a large, regular grooming clientele from taking the time to talk to my customers and educate them, without talking down to them.
I admit, it can be hard sometimes.
Some people can be incredibly dense sometimes, but at least I know that I tried, and maybe, just maybe, something did sink in.
So, try to take the time to educate your customers.
There are a lot of things that we take for granite that we think the pet owners should automatically, already know.....and they don't.
We need to educate without talking down to them.
Without making them feel stupid, or berating them for not taking the proper care of their pets coat.
I have turned many pet owners, who first came to me with matted dogs, into great regular customers.
I hope that the dog above will turn into one also.
If not, at least I tried my best.
✂ Happy Grooming, MFF ✂