“A Goal Without a Plan… is just a Wish.”
-Antoine de Saint-Exupery
This is the theme for our fall customer service initiative at A Royal Touch Pooch Parlour.
Let’s start with some food for thought.
When you bought your puppy/adopted your dog, what was your vision when you investigated your breed online, when you spoke to a breeder, or when you discussed adding a dog to your family?
- Below are excerpts from Pet Owner’s internet reviews (reactions) of grooming salons all over the world. (nothing local, and no names to protect identities):
“When I looked at the photos of my breed online, I pictured a family photo with that dog in it, not the naked beast I just picked up from the groomer.”
“My groomer RUINED my Christmas Holidays because she said my dog was matted and had to shave it, I had been growing out her coat since the summer only to have it sheared off right before the holidays.”
“I took my dog to the groomer for the first time at a year old. They made him look like a poodle. I didn’t think he was matted, he was just curly.”
“My breeder told me my dog was low maintenance and wouldn’t require a lot of brushing or regular grooming. This groomer told me to come every six weeks!”
- Below are some excerpts from Grooming Forums, Groomer’s quoting their clients while discussing coat condition during appointment consultations:
“My dog hung his head out the window on the way here, that’s why his ears are matted.”
“I went out of town for a week and the people that watched him didn’t brush.”
“You didn’t trim him short enough last time so it’s your fault he’s matted.” (last visit 6 months ago)
“I don’t brush him, isn’t that YOUR job.”
“The kids are in charge of brushing the dog.”
“He is scared to go to the groomer.”
“He bites us when we brush.”
Can you see the potential for disaster? Miscommunication? Misunderstanding? Poorly Managed Expectations? Finger pointing? The undeniable truth of the matter is that in between visits to the Grooming Salon, Pet owners are solely responsible for maintaining their dog’s coat. But how do you manage that coat? That is where having a Grooming Plan is essential.
The point of our fall marketing campaign is to address this disconnect.
This time of year, most dog owners have gotten a summer cut, and want the coat to grow out for the fall and winter. So we don’t see them in between summer and the holidays. When we do see them the requests are for breed standard trims, tidies, blow outs and teddy bear trims. The assumptions are that no assistance is required to maintain the coat while it grows in length. Many are sorely disappointed and simply don’t understand why they can’t realize their vision when their appointment day arrives.
What does the client envision?
What do we see for coat condition?
Having a goal, creating a plan, and executing it.
I would like to take the opportunity to introduce to you the idea of a ‘Grooming Plan’.
I have asked many a client at reception, “Welcome to A Royal Touch Pooch Parlour. Let’s talk about your dog’s hair. Do you have a Grooming Plan?” (-crickets)
Let’s examine the term ‘Grooming Plan.’ There are two types of plans, Proactive, and Reactive. For most pet owners, if you don’t have a Proactive Grooming Plan, by default your plan is reactive. (Let’s revisit that later.)
A Proactive Grooming Plan looks like this:
–You have a vision of the way you want your dog to look.
-You have consulted with a groomer.
-You know how frequently you must come in for maintenance.
-You know how much and how often to brush in between visits.
-You have had a brushing/combing lesson so you know the proper technuques.
-You have to proper tools for your dog’s coat.
-You have the time available to commit to a routine.
-You have pre-booked appointments at a salon up to a year in advance.
-You know who your stylist will be, know their name, and experience.
-You see the same stylist every time.
-You are not stressed bringing your dog to a salon.
-You have a designated area in your home for coat maintenance.
A Reactive Grooming Plan looks like this:
–You visit the groomer only when you have to.
-You wait until the hair gets out of control to visit a salon.
-You assume that while the coat is ‘growing out’ that you don’t need to brush.
-You call several salons to see who can squeeze you in vs pre-booking.
-You don’t have the same repeat stylist.
-You comparison shop for price.
-You don’t understand why your groomer keeps shaving your dog.
-You are often angry/unsatisfied with the appearance of your dog after a groom.
-You find it stressful to bring your dog to a salon.
Now let’s look at this from the Dog’s Perspective, analyze their experience:
–Beautiful, healthy coat with no matts.
-No painful dematting makes for a more comfortable experience.
-Grooming feels like pampering.
-Good relationship with their stylist.
-Regular Routine = no stress.
–Matted, dirty coat often creating and camouflaging skin problems.
-Dematting, (if it can be done) involves lots of pulling and can cause discomfort and complications including brush burn.
-Grooming feels like punishment.
-The stylist is a stranger.
-Irregular visits can make visits to a grooming salon a stressful experience.
Here are some grooming factoids to ponder when you see a breathtaking dog in full coat:
- A Standard Poodle in Show Coat can take up to 19 hours/week of maintenance.
- Most show dogs live with their hair Banded and don’t get to ‘dog.’ http://www.ridgewoodpoodles.com/wrapping_and_banding_show_coats.htm
- A Good Breeder will teach you how to maintain your pet’s coat.
- Most salons offer regular clientele complimentary brushing and combing lessons.
- Regular grooming at home can be a fun bonding experience for you and your dog.
So the other day this happened:
A wonderful gentleman came in to A Royal Touch for a consult. He did not bring his dog. He came in to visit us, and check us out. Said he had a Yorkshire Terrier puppy, and was looking for a groomer. The way he affectionately discussed his breeder spoke volumes. He took time, care and attention selecting a breeder, and then was interviewed by the breeder before she agreed to let him have a pup.
They discussed grooming at length. He did his homework, read reviews, and popped into our salon. He met all of our stylists, discussed his decision to grow into a full coat and what would be required, and booked an appointment. At the first appointment he was so thrilled, and puppy and stylist were in love.
Look at that face. That dog looks so happy after her very first groom! Dad is now pre-booked at a regular interval until the end of the year.
This dog will love her grooming time, this girl will not be stressed at the salon. This girl will have an amazing, long, lovely coat. Why?
Because Dad did his homework. Because Dad has a PROACTIVE Grooming Plan for his baby.
I’m going to close by sharing with you one more thought. This is a meme, created by groomers, that floats around message boards. Wise words.
So what’s YOUR Grooming plan? Do you have one? Do you set up your pup for success or failure? Need help developing a plan? Give your groomer a call! (bring coffee)
Next time you are dissatisfied with your dog’s haircut, ask yourself how you can apply this philosophy to your lifestyle. And you may NEVER need to have your dog shaved again!
“A Goal Without a Plan… is just a Wish.”
-Antoine de Saint-Exupery
This article is offered respectfully to pet owners. Composed by Jeanette Embree, Owner of A Royal Touch Pooch Parlour. Jeanette is an Award-Winning Pet Stylist with twenty-one years’ experience, who obtained her National Certified Master Groomer Designation by the National Dog Groomers Association of America in 1997. She is owned by a posse of Pomeranians. She has additional career training in conflict resolution, communications and public affairs.