Guest post by our business partner, Gingr pet-care software
As a small business owner, you probably work like a dog. After all, you work hard every day to create a comfortable and safe environment for your clients, pets, and employees that leads to great service and long-term customer satisfaction. This is a big task, one that is especially tricky to accomplish if you feel like you’re moving forward without a clear direction.
This is why management is not only the most important part of earning customer trust but also holds your grooming business together through thick and thin. That’s exactly why your management strategy should be airtight from the get-go. In this article, we’ll discuss how to optimize your management strategy and create a best-in-class customer experience for your clients and their furry friends. Let’s dive in!
1. Understand your customers.
As in any business, your focus should be on making sure your customers are blown away by your service. This is especially true for groomers, as you’re taking care of beloved members of your client’s family. Make sure you fully understand your clientele and their needs before you take them on so that there are clear expectations for both parties. Here are some tips to ensure mutual understanding with your prospective customers:
• Ask and answer questions. Your clients should understand the full extent of your services and benefits. If you’re talking with a new client about your services, make sure to fully answer their questions and ensure that they’re satisfied with your answers. Use visual aids where possible if discussing styles and coat lengths. Keep detailed notes for your team members and make sure you have a system to save and share those notes.
• Conduct outreach. If you’re further along in your small business career, you might already have strong relationships with your customers. Collect data directly from them about how to improve your services and business model. This can be as simple as sending out a survey or as detailed as hosting an informal focus group.
• Talk to your colleagues. If you have connections in the grooming industry, they’re a great resource to get you started on the right foot. Ask for an informational interview to learn more about how they’ve managed and delivered on client expectations to help their business thrive. Join groomer Facebook Groups, participate in Facebook Live events, and network at pet industry conferences such as SuperZoo, Groom Expo or Groom’d.
Clear client communication builds strong relationships with your customers. They’ll appreciate your sincere efforts to make their experience with your business outstanding.
2. Hone your customer service culture.
Outstanding customer service is the key to building relationships, receiving referrals, and building repeat business. Implement a customer service protocol with your employees and properly train them on ways to interact with clients. Here are some topics you should cover:
• Active listening
• Displaying a positive attitude
• Conflict management
• Effective communication
After you’ve trained your employees, your work isn’t done. Monitor their progress and their interactions with customers to ensure they’re properly representing your company. Since you can’t always be around to check in, enlist the help of your clients. Followup with customers by inviting them to leave positive reviews on Google, Yelp, or Facebook, or to reach out if they’re dissatisfied with a service session.
Every business has setbacks, but you’ll stand out by proactively trying to fix them. Meanwhile, hold employees accountable for repeated lapses in professionalism and high-quality service.
3. Hire the right talent.
With the shortage of professional groomers, you might find it difficult to find a highly skilled pet stylist that also shines at customer service. Skills can be built but “a servant’s heart” is a disposition. First, ensure a prospective candidate aligns with your customer-first culture.
In the interview process, ask your candidates carefully-tailored questions to evaluate if their values align with yours. Be sure to gauge how they’d approach specific situations with customers, coworkers, and management to determine if they’d properly represent your business. Check their references to confirm that they’d be an asset to your business.
Remember that the interview process also reflects on you as an employer. Highlight the parts of your internal culture that make your grooming business an ideal workplace environment. Also, be responsive and respectful of your interviewees’ time throughout the entire experience.
4. Use the right tech.
One of the foundations of a positive customer experience is convenience. Technology has made it easier than ever to streamline many aspects of your grooming business. You should take time to ensure your business is up-to-date with tech in all aspects of your operation. If your expertise lies with pups instead of tech, don’t worry, you aren’t alone. However, your customer’s experience starts long before they arrive at your door.
• Make Your Website User-Friendly – Your website is critical for your business to gain traction, reach new audiences, and sell your services. In fact, decreasing load times by just one-tenth of a second can increase conversion rates. As a core representation of your brand, your website should prioritize the user experience along the way to keep your visitor’s attention. Website builders can assist with designing a responsive and visually appealing homepage. Whatever design you choose, make sure your website is informative, interactive, and inspires your visitors to book an appointment.
• Give Your Customers Online-Booking Convenience – Beyond your website, you can integrate technology into your day-to-day activities to make managing employees, customers, and pets easier. Firstly, be sure to invest in dog business software. This gets rid of the hassle of pen and paper and makes way for features such as:
• Streamlined and secure payments
• Online booking
• Automatic rebooking
• Dog Grooming management
• Daycare management
• Boarding management
• Digital customer communication
• Appointment reminders
• Immunization reminders
• Digital agreements
• Recurring payments
• Retail tools
• Digital marketing
• Employee management
• Pet report cards
According to Gingr, automating these processes and putting them all in one place is what will take your organization to the next level. These tools lighten the workload that comes with managing a small business and allow you to achieve more with fewer applications. Give yourself a break and let pet business management software do the work for you!
5. Follow industry best practices.
The best way to ensure a quality experience is to follow tried and tested best practices. This is where continuing education and collaboration with your associates in the space will pay off. Do your research and ask your colleagues to determine which best practices you should integrate into your business model.
Stay current on practices that ensure a safe environment for your clients and their dogs through safety and hygiene certification programs such as the Professional Animal Care Certification Council (PACCC) or WPA’s Professional Grooming Credential program.
Whether you’re just starting out or if your pet grooming business is already booming, these tips will help you effectively manage your customers, employees, and furry friends. Putting your human and pet clients first is the best way to grow your business and provide the best possible care. So, don’t be afraid to shake things up and try something new, like pet management software or new interviewing techniques. Stop chasing your own tail and help your business thrive!