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Getting to Know Your Customers with Delise Knight

Special Guests

Delise Knight

Delise Knight has been in the pet industry for over 40 years. Delise started her career in the pet industry by working in a pet store and showing dogs. Delise and her business partner later opened the first all in one location with veterinarian, pet store and a grooming salon. Delise owned a very successful grooming salon for many years. She saw a need for high-quality, fun and functional grooming accessories, and knew she could produce a product that groomers would love. Delise and her Mother started Bardel Bows in 1989. Delise is passionate about the importance of education and loves sharing her knowledge with other groomers.

How to Build Customer Relationships

In this episode, Delise Knight from Bardel Bows teams up with Joe to discuss techniques for getting to know your clientele and building a long-term relationship with each customer.

  • Why should I establish a relationship with my customers?
  • How important is small talk?
  • How can I bring events from my community to the grooming table?
  • What do you do when a client makes a grooming mistake?
  • Should I only accept ideal customers?
  • How do I get customers for life?

Tune in to find out!

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Transcript

Speaker 1: Welcome to the, Hey Joe! A podcast answering questions asked by our listeners. Created by pet professionals for pet professionals. And now your host, Hey Joe’s very own Joe Zuccarello.

Joe Zuccarello: What’s up everyone? Joe Zuccarello here, and welcome to, Hey Joe! A podcast brought to you by Paragon School of Pet Grooming. Check out our site at paragonpetschool.com for lots of really cool information on a variety of programs, products, and to connect to educational resources such as webinars, podcasts, current events, special news, certifications, and lots of other helpful information to help you grow yourself, your team, and of course, your business. Let’s get started with this week’s episode.

Delise, thank you for joining us on another episode of the Hey Joe! Podcast. I’ll tell you, you are certainly one of the most unique and interesting and engaging and one of my favorite creatures in this industry. I know I say that to you all the time, but you are, and you continue to push the limits and push the boundaries and professionalism and such, and everybody benefits by that. One way that you’re doing that is you’ve agreed to be on the Hey Joe! Podcast and we are thankful. Welcome again.

Delise: Ah, thank you for having me. It’s always an honor to be here.

Joe Zuccarello: Delise, on our previous podcast, and to the Hey Joe listener or audience out there, if you haven’t listened to the podcast and you haven’t caught Delise’s previous podcasts, you can go to the website and listen to it there, or on Stitcher or on Apple Podcast, you can go to paragonpetschool.com and you can find her first podcast.

Delise, on our first podcast you talked about social media, and there was a day and age when I never thought social media would have such an impact like it does in a such a hands on low tech business like grooming, and you showed us that it absolutely can and should have a place. But today, so we’re going to take it down to the next ring closer to our business, and that is our customers. Some people call them pet owners, some people call them pet parents, some people call them clients, but whoever they are, we all know who we’re talking about. We’re talking about the two legged version of the client that comes into our shops.

I’m so excited to have you on board to talk about how do we connect and relate better with our customers. Delise, give our listeners a little bit of backstory on your career growth. How did you grow in grooming and then to eventually be at this really cool culinar and founder of Bardel Bows?

Delise: Well, I’ll tell you, it’s really an interesting story. I owned a pet store for many, many years and I had a friend of mine that graduated from Veterinarian College from Auburn, and she was going to be a large animal vet, but she needed a place to practice small animal veterinarian. We decided at the time that we would open a pet store, veterinarian and grooming salon in one. I always jokingly say, when you guys want to blame anybody for the big boxes, you can blame us. We did that and about they came out with an article in the Associated Press about us. That six months later, the very first PetSmart ever opens. But we thought it was a wonderful idea and I still think it’s a great idea to have the all in one.

Then later on I hired groomers and I had a background in showing dogs. I really knew a lot about grooming, and I decided to take over the grooming myself. I owned a grooming shop for 12 years, that’s all we did. I made all of those for all the dogs that went out of our shop. I knew that if I was doing that, that there were other shop owners that were having the same problem. They couldn’t find a quality boat that they wanted to use in their shop. That’s how Bardel Bows was then born, and, of course, Bardel Bows has been in business for nearly 30 years making assessors programmers.

But one thing that Bardel is more about, is helping to educate groomers. We feel like you do at Paragon, we really truly want them to be able to make a living doing this. We want them to have a better life, a better shop, work experience. one of those ways to do that is that we have to cater to our customers, the people that are actually the ones that are paying our bills. Without customers and without catering to our customers and getting to know our customers better, we’re not in business. Because the dogs aren’t going to come in on their own. Those two legged people have to bring them in, and those two legged peoples are the one who have to pay the bills, so we’ve got to figure out a way to connect with them.

Joe Zuccarello: Yeah. I used to say, what’s connected at the other end of the leash? And the dog is at one end, and what’s connected to the other end of the leash? People in my seminars would say, “Oh well that is the pet owner, the pet parent.” I said, “No, no, no. The wallet.” [crosstalk 00:05:12]. At the end of the day, I mean you can call it however you want. You can frame it in however you want, but at the end of the day, we need money transactions, right?

We need we money changing hands so that we can buy the peanut butter and jelly for our kids, so we can pay the light bill, so we can provide a place for other groomers to work, including ourselves and grow our businesses. Yeah, it’s about making money, right? But it’s in a way that everybody can feel good about and feel that the client gets a great value. The groomer gets loyalty and frequency. I mean, that’s really where we thrive, is on both of those key elements of the equation.

But part of it is, Delise, is the… When we’re talking about customers… One of the things that I wanted to ask you right off the bat is, when we’re talking about customers, when you picture a customer of a grooming salon, who is it that pops into your head? Because I think it’s different in some cases, depending on who you are. Do you have a profile of who the ideal client is?

Delise: Oh, I don’t think so. I don’t think I have a profile of an ideal client because anybody can be an ideal client. Part of that can be because of how you educate them and at the type of client that you want. Groomers are, we are giving spirited people, we’d not be able to do the careers that we do if we were not. We already have a connection with that pet. We already pamper that pet. We talk silly to that pet, we have the pet’s best interest in mind. A lot of groomers do not do that with the owner.

We have to cultivate that relationship with the owner just as much as we have cultivated that relationship with that pet. Not in like we have learned how to handle difficult dogs, how we have learned that if there are particular dogs that don’t like their nails done, we know that we can put them in a sling or whatever we have developed to be able to handle those dogs better is the same type of skills that we need to do to handle our customers. If we’re educating our customers, if we’ve got a connection with our customers, then we’re able to turn those into our ideal clients.

It’s not gratitude, everybody’s not going to be that. We’re not going to be able to convert everybody into what we want them to be. But if we have a connection with that customer, we are more likely to be able to influence them in ways. Let’s just for instance, you’ve built a relationship, let’s talk a little bit too about how we build those relationships. But you built a relationship with a customer and they’ve been coming in every eight weeks, and you really feel like you need to be seeing that dog every six weeks. Now that you have built that relationship with that customer, you are at a point that you can suggest that without offending them, without making them think that you’re just doing it for the extra money. One, they feel connected to you, they trust you, and they trust your judgment.

Now if you are saying, “I believe I need to see Peepee every six weeks,” they’re going to go, “She’s my friend, she knows about me, she knows about my family, she’s part of the community.” What she’s saying, she is the authority. And yes, I need to switch it to every six weeks, eight weeks, won’t do it. We use those tools, again and I’m all about tools. But we use those tools to influence our customers.

Joe Zuccarello: Okay, let’s unpack something just briefly because then we’re, I would like to be able to pick your brain and be able to come up with a few teaching points that the Hey Joe listener audience out there can take away from listening to this podcast and put it into action right away. But the very first thing I think we all have to start off with, and there was a reason why I asked you a question about the ideal customer.

The very first thing if I heard you right, we all have to agree there is no ideal customer. Just like there’s no… I guess there is an ideal customer, but they’re not all going to be ideal. Just like there is that ideal dog that stands so perfectly on a table and doesn’t flinch when you cut their nails or allows you to do any than with them, that is ideal. But that is rare. It’s not necessarily the rule. It’s certainly the exception.

If we can just agree right from the beginning that all customers are as different as all pets, right? They come with different personalities. The difference with the pets, to your point, we can get different devices to help us. We better not start trying to use those on some of our clients, right? But those devices, those tools are mental, they are relational, they are tone, they are inflection, they are appearance, they’re image, and you’ve got all of these tools. Then I think sometimes service providers, and it’s not unique to just grooming. This is all service providers out there. In fact, I guess really anybody that has to deal with the public, but certainly I’ve seen it more rampant I guess in service providers, is that we don’t see ourselves connected with them, so we don’t try to connect with them.

They might have a different socioeconomic place in the neighborhood. They might live in a bigger house, they might live in… and they might drive a nicer car. I’ll say I know some groomers that have just the opposite effect. Not everybody’s ideal customers. If we’re looking at maybe two or three things that the listeners can carry away from that knowing that’s the ground rules, what are some ways that we can have a… that we can start building strong relationships with those customers?

Delise: Well, we got to keep in mind too that we’ve got to know what is important to particular customers, and everything is not the same for every customer. Some customers, things that are important to them is this is [inaudible 00:10:55] only the top for two hours and they get it out in no time. Another thing that may be important to another customer is that it’s a particular type of haircut. Our customers are as different as our clients, the dogs are also, so they all want different things.

But let’s back up and stop about how we even start to build those relationships. Those relationships start from the phone call that they make when they call you to ask pricing or availability or location or whatever, that immediately that is your first impression that you have made on them. Well, I won’t say it’s your first. Your first can actually be your social media because nine times out of 10 they have already stalked you. Whether it be on your social media, whether it be on your website long before they ever picked up the phone and call.

Joe Zuccarello: Or driving by the physical facility. Maybe you’re located in the same street, mall as your favorite neighborhood grocery store, right? All of those first impressions are sometimes, you haven’t even had a chance to interact personally with them.

Delise: They don’t know anything about you at all except what they have learned there. Again your storefront or your mobile unit that went down the road, you know what I mean? The fingers have fallen off of it. They’ve got an impression already. Okay? Those are all things that make impressions and we always want to make a good impression. But let’s just say for instance, and we’ll go to the point of them being checked in. One thing that I noticed with board members is we have a tendency because we are trying to schedule ourselves so that we can make the utmost money that we can make in a day’s time, but sometimes we are slack on the time that we spend with our customer, and we don’t need to be that way. We need to give them our undivided attention when they walk in the door.

I always say a lot of times it’s really a great idea if you’ve got a receptionist. To hire a receptionist and let that be her job, if you don’t have time to come out and talk to those customers. But when a customer comes in and let’s just say it’s an existing customer and they come in and they go, “Well, I really need to pick up my dog at 4:30 because my son is getting braces put on today.” Well, my first thing that I’m going to do is I’m going to jot down on that card that their son is getting braces, because in their next appointment I’m going to walk in and I’m going to say, “How’s he doing with this new braces?” All of a sudden I’ve made a connection that I really care about what they’re doing and I really do care about what they’re doing.

Find out small things about your customers. There are tons of ways to do that and it can take just one or two questions when they walk in. Customers keep coming back because you have built that relationship, because you become family. You still are the authority on their dog and on their [Brandman 00:13:42], but they feel a connection. Let’s say for instance, you have kids and they play ball. Let your companies sponsor the ball team so that you get your name on the back of the Jersey. Let’s say you can’t afford to sponsor the ball team, then it’s your time to bring snacks to the team. Make them doggie related, cupcakes that look like dogs or make cookies that are shaped like dog bones.

What will happen then is everybody go, “Oh my God, your mom owns the grooming shop,” and there’s going to be a lady whose son is going to say, “Mom, we ate doggy bones,” but they really weren’t practice today. She doesn’t have a dog, but she said the tea party and she’s talking to the lady who has a dog and she goes, “They get about and get my dog room.” She’s gone, “This lady is the coolest lady. She brought cupcakes with dogs on it to the boys at camp. You should give her a try.” Those are things that you can do to make those connections.

Joe Zuccarello: But you know what’s really important about what you’re saying, Delise, is that you adopt that as your personality-

Delise: That’s right.

Joe Zuccarello: Right? Because it has to be genuine. It has to be your image. It has to be your brand. Like you said, that dog lady, right? That’s a title, not that I would want, because I’m not a lady, but that’s who you are. You wear that. Believe it or not, you wear that when you’re at the salon and you wear that when you’re at the store, you wear that when you’re at the gas station, you wear that when you’re at your [inaudible 00:15:09] point, little league tee-ball events.

You wear that persona because not only is it helpful to get new customers, but it reinforces your presence and the confidence with customers that you might see that you’ve already had a relationship with. But can you imagine, and I know this has happened and not necessarily saying any names, but I know some grooming professionals that go to a store and not represent themselves as well as what they do in their business.

They try to defend this and say because I’ve coached these people in the past, they tried to defend it and say, listen, this is my time. Listen, if you’re the business owner, you have any direct influence over customers, direct contact with your customers. If they see you out, even outside of your business, they may not catch you that slack you think they’re going to catch them.

Delise: Right. Well, the thing is too is, and I do by no means want anybody to be fake and the things that they do, I don’t want you just doing this for your business. I want to do where it comes from a good spot. But here we just talked about the baseball team. Well, your son’s already playing baseball. You already are going to bring the snacks. So just make them pet related. You’re going to do that anyway or do things that are dear and near to your heart.

I know a lady whose has lost a nephew to childhood cancer, so she does this big thing at her shop, the month of childhood cancer awareness. Every dog goes out of the shop with a yellow bow on it. Well, those dogs go out into the community. She’s got a big sign on her counter that says this month in honor of childhood cancer, everybody needs with a yellow bow for cancer awareness.

What she’s doing is she’s putting theaters out into the community. Okay? And so what happens is that’s good will and that makes maybe one year customers know somebody who has childhood cancer. They may never let you know that, but that’s made a warm and fuzzy spot for them. They feel a connection to you with that, and there’s tons of things you can do. We’re coming up on Halloween and Halloween is a prime time for you to get out into your community and meet customers. It’s a fun time for you to be active in your community.

Joe, that’s one thing that I always say is that if you are in business in your community, then you need to be present in your community. You cannot just expect your little tiny Facebook page or your little tiny website to sustain you. We all know that. Usually if you are going to change to a new dentist, you ask a friend, you say, “Who do you go to? Who’s a good dentist?” “Well at so and so, and his son plays ball with my son or whatever the case may be.” That’s how you get connected with them. It’s the same way with groomers. People don’t normally just find you on Facebook or on the website and that’s how they come to you. It’s usually by referral and it’s because you built those relationships.

But real quick let’s just talk about Halloween. Halloween’s coming up. This will be a prime time for you, step out of your comfort zone and do something community oriented. There’s a thing that a lot of churches have, a lot of communities have and it’s called, I think it’s called trick or trunk?

Joe Zuccarello: Trick or trunk. Yeah I remember taking my kids to those.

Delise: Exactly and everybody loves that. That is so stinking much fun. What you do is you set up your SUV, but if you’ve got a mobile unit, this is the perfect thing to do in any mobile unit. If you can do it in your truck, you open up your car, you open up the back and you set it up with all dog related stuff and you give out nothing but doggy treats. You give out doggy treats. All the kids come by with their dogs and you give them a doggy treat, and that is a fun way to get yourself out in the community. Let people know what you’re doing.

Another great thing is during breast cancer awareness. Angela company just recently came out with this new blow pen, airbrush that is a no brainer. It’s really, really easy to use. How perfect is that to use during breast cancer awareness month. at fairs and stuff like that, and just tips. The tips of ears, pink, okay? You don’t have to have anything but a business card sitting on a table. Everybody’s going to walk up, they’re going to want their dog’s ears tipped in pink or they’re going to want their kid’s hair tipped in pink. One, you just made a relationship with tons of people. Go ahead because I’ve gotten off track a little.

Joe Zuccarello: No, no, that’s okay. No, these are great. I’m sure there are a lot of people making some really dubious notes. And if you’re driving, don’t try to write, if you’re on your way to your salon or maybe you’re grooming a dog and you can’t take the notes, don’t worry. You can always go back to paragonpepsico.com and listen to the podcast as many times as you want to listen to or on your favorite podcast provider platforms.

Delise, we talked about the types of clients and a different variety of types of clients and we talked about that connection, and some things. I love what you said, if you’re going to be in a community, you need to be for the community. You need to be part of that community. I agree with you. I think that that sets a major difference between a good business and a great business.

Because look at star ratings, look at reviews, look at all of these things. We as consumers now, we will actually trust a review and a star rating from a complete stranger who we will never meet above and beyond any advertising or marketing a company can do. I mean I shop on .com platforms quite a bit and I’m always filtering. My very first filter is star rating. Whether it’s someplace I’m going on vacation, whether it’s someplace that I’m going to purchase something, those sorts of things.

Delise: Restaurants, restaurants.

Joe Zuccarello: Restaurants, and you have that same impact or potential benefactor situation with your customers, because if you even have… if it’s not like a legitimate published star rating, if you are reviewed highly and rated highly in conversations between people, sometimes those conversations are between people. Neither one are your customer.

Delise: That’s right. That’s exactly right. That’s one thing. If you are out in the community and you are doing things or you know your clients or you’re giving up your sale, then you’re influencing people that don’t have dogs, but know somebody who has a dog and you have no idea where all your business comes from. They can just be a conversation between four people, and somebody just mentions your name because their dog just came from the groom or they saw that you did something in community service. We do an awful lot with autism and so we’ve got a ton of people that buy from us because we support autism. We do a lot of fundraisers for autism.

I know a lot of shops that do a lot of things. Do fundraisers for police dogs. So all of a sudden, what have they done? They’ve let the entire police department know that they care about them, that they’re willing to give off their time or of their services. Here’s a prime example. Let’s just talk about this. This is something that you can do. You can do one animal, one dog, at animal shelter a month, let’s say. Let’s just say you donate your time to do one dog at an animal shelter and you publicize that on your Facebook page. You say, “Today we did so and so. We’re hoping that she’ll get a home.” Well, what happens is somebody sees that who is looking to make you their potential groomer and they go, “Oh my God, they gave up their time free to groom this dog. This is where I want to be. This is somebody that I think that I want to use.”

What happens is it becomes a trickle down effect. You’ve groomed that one dog, you’ve got more customers coming in because of that Goodwill that you did. Now you’re able to make more money. Now you’re able to maybe groom two dogs. You’re benefiting the community by grooming those dogs and getting them adopted. It’s a trickle down effect. That’s one thing about our customers. Our customers want to know, that they are supporting someone that is supporting things that are going on in their community or supporting something of a good cause. When they got their dog groomed with you, they’re going, “I’m using her because she donates and grooms two dogs a month at the animal shelter.” They feel positive that they are helping support you because you are supporting something else.

Joe Zuccarello: Well, and one of my favorite authors Simon Sinek wrote a book, Start With Why. It’s all about starting with the customer in mind. Why would they want to do business with you? He has a quote that just stuck with me for many, many years, and actually help transform the way that I approach business. That is, people don’t buy what you do, they buy why you do it.

Delise: That’s exactly right. That’s exactly right.

Joe Zuccarello: And let’s not forget, let’s talk about that one shelter dog. That shelter dog lands in a forever home. Guess what? That dog now, maybe you saved the dog’s life, maybe, maybe not depending on the shelter, but also that dog now has a better chance of being adopted by a loving family who now if you left your business card behind and a shelter passes along, that dog now becomes a customer of yours.

Especially if you’re doing those types of groomings and such that Goodwill effort in your community, right? If you don’t venture too far outside of your community. And you made another point. People like to do business with businesses that do good.

Delise: That’s right.

Joe Zuccarello: Just make a point. You’re not playing to Delise’s point earlier, you’re not playing as an actor. Just do what you do as best as you can do it. That brings me to my next point about customer relations. One of the easy traps for us to fall into is to have a confrontational relationship with our customers. Almost like, and we’ve talked about this before, but now for sake of the, Hey Joe podcast listeners, we like to almost, I don’t want to say punish our customers, although I’ve seen that.

Almost like we’re going to price from a punitive perspective, but we’re going to do a certain haircut because we want to make sure that the pet parent knows that we’re holding them accountable for the condition of the dog. Essentially, we’re blaming or shaming the customer. I know you feel very passionate about this and that’s just a really sour, in my opinion, that’s a really sour center to start with.

Delise: Right? Oh, it really is. I’ll compare it to gardening. Let’s change this and all-

Joe Zuccarello: We’ve all seen your gardening boots.

Delise: But if somebody who was not an authority on gardening walked into my garden and they would know absolutely nothing about it. All right, let’s see, how can I phrase this? I’m trying to make this as simple as I can, but my point is, is we all don’t know what weeds are. Okay? Your pet owners are the same way. You’re the authority on grooming. Okay? They don’t know any better. We’ve got to teach them, but we’re not going to stand there and point our finger at them and throw all this blame that they didn’t do something properly. They’ve come to you for a reason.

We were talking about this earlier. Let’s just talk about doodle for instance, we all have them and they’re huge. The new breed and doodles mach, extremely easy. I had a girl come in the other day and she brought her doodle in and it looks so pretty on the outside all curly and active [inaudible 00:27:30] gorgeous, and I told her, I said, “You know when you take that dog to the groomer they’re going to have to shave it,” because it was mad into the skin. And she goes, “No, look, how fluffy it looks.”

Well, she didn’t know that was a solid match. She has no idea how that’s going to come off. She is not a groomer. She is not a professional. When she does to the groomer law involved, they have to take the dog down with a number 10. You got to keep in mind that when you walk out of the back with that dog, that owner already feels guilty. They have let that dog get to that point. Yes, it is their responsibility, but they did not know any better, and so already they have a negative place in their mind that their dog is going to look terrible because you shake it down with a 10, you’re fixing and charge them $85 that’s going to come out of their pocket.

Not only does their dog look bad, but their pocketbook hurts, and it’s all their fault. Now, a lot of times they will not mention that. They won’t say it’s their fault, but they’re already in that negative tone of mind. We’ve got to change that-

Joe Zuccarello: And they don’t need noses rubbed in it.

Delise: That’s exactly right. That’s exactly right. We are rubbing their noses in it and we don’t need to do that. We need to give them solutions, and they want solutions. Yes, we shave it down this time we put a gorgeous bandana on it or a huge color bow or something with some flashy color. When the dog walks out of the back, they see that color first before they shock out about the number 10 blade. Then we say, “I know how much you loved him, all wooly and everything. What we need to do is we need to set up for five weeks from now because we want to keep him the way you want him. But this is how we have to do it.

We cannot bungle our customers into doing the right thing. We have to encourage them and we have to educate them. One thing about the educating is something else that we should do is that we should let our customers know about things that are going on, and I’ll jump back to Halloween. But if we let our customers know that Halloween is just around the corner and there are going to be kids that are going to be trick or treating and funny outfits, maybe that’s the time to keep the dogs inside, not letting them go out. What are you doing here?

Again, you’re building Goodwill, you’ve done that out on Facebook and people were are sharing that with other people that are not your customers because they know that those are safety issues that they need to be thinking about with their dogs during Halloween. That’s another thing that’s a positive thing and all you’re doing is educating your customers.

Joe Zuccarello: Well and again it goes back to that don’t be a blamer and don’t be a shamer.

Delise: That’s right.

Joe Zuccarello: And really it has no place. There’s nobody that really wins from that. In fact, there’s so much more to lose because if you go into that conversation with that and like already predetermined in your head, I can guarantee it’s going to come out, no matter if you try to suppress that, it’s going to be on your facial expressions, it’s going to be in your tone. It’s going to be in your inflection and it shifts doesn’t have a place. We just choose, right, we just choose to be educators and not blamers or shamers, then the whole thing works better. The whole process works better and our business works better because, you know what the other thing is too, is that they’re going to have to explain when they get home or when they’re walking the dog around the neighborhood, why the dog looks the way it looks and it’s as good as it could look.

It’s been a 10.0, right? But they’re going to say, “Yeah, you got a little man in. I let them get out of control, but this as cute as he look,” given that, but we’re going to be working on it. We’re going to help them look better because you gave them those words. They’re going to pair it your dialogue, but unless you give them that, you know what’s going to be said. “I took him down to ABC pet grooming down there and they shaved him.” They’re not going to accept the responsibility because again, they already feel remorseful or regretful for that type of pet care. So they’re going to blame who? They’re going to blame the groomer.

Delise: That’s exactly right. That again, is making those connections with those customers. Put yourself in their shoes. Sometimes it’s hard to do, sometimes because we know so much about how that dog got into that condition. You know that it’s hard for us. But imagine it’s a mom and a dad. They’ve got four kids. The dog is swimming in the Lake every day. Put yourself in their position so that you can understand what happened and then give them things that so it won’t happen again. Give them options, explain to them how often they need to come in. Explain to them what we can do, that we can work together as a team to be able to make this happen. If we come in and this amount, I can do this for you.

Because then what you’ve done, you build a relationship with that customer. You have a customer for life. We talked about this earlier, Joe. We talked about that, if we build those relationships, then we can slowly guide those customers into our ideal customer. That’s what it’s all about. It’s about making our lives easier and that they’re bringing them in more often that they know the amount of time that it takes us to do this dog, that they’re not rushing us, because we’ve educated on that and because they trust us.

Because they see that we did the trick or trunk or whatever it is and they got to know us on an entirely different level. They got to see us handing out tricks as opposed to stand in there taking in their dog, so they have another relationship with us, so they start to trust us. Those are all things that are just so important when you’re building your business.

I hear groomers all the time who go, “The reason that I groom is because I like pets, and I don’t much care for people.” Okay, well you can’t make and do business if you don’t care for your customers because they’re not going to come back just because you groomed it better than anybody else. Most people come back because you remembered them. You remembered something about their children. I’ve got a groomer that just did this. It was the greatest thing, the publicity she’s got from this was crazy. But she’s been grooming this young couples dog for a long time. It’s a little Maltese. The lady came in and she says, “We’re pregnant. We’re expecting our very first child.” The groomer looked at her and that and she said, “How about if we let the dog be the gender reveal party?” She goes, “Oh my God, what a great idea.”

What happened is they found out what it was, they put it in an envelope and gave it to the groomer. The husband and wife didn’t know if they were having a boy where a girl, and the groomer dubbed the dog’s ear, and the groomer actually delivered it, the dog to the party. They opened the gate, they called the dog and the dog runs in the entire family’s there and the dog’s ears are pee and somebody videoed it. The publicity that she got from the gender reveal, because the dog was the one that announced it was the girl was remarkable. It’s because she took the time to know her customer and know that her customer was pregnant and said, “Jess, this type thing.”

Again, relationship is all about relationships. There’s a groomer here locally, she’s built wonderful relationships with her customers. She just recently broke her hand and her customers have been bringing her food and all of that. That’s what you want. You want customers that care about you because they know you care about them.

Joe Zuccarello: Well, and one of the things that I know… I’ve had the opportunity to work with thousands of groomers in my career, and one of the things that I know for sure is I know that not everybody has the most excellent, most superior grooming skills, but I will tell you that I know groomers that do very, very, very well for themselves, and they have average level pet quality grooming skills, but they have above average customer experience and customer relations skills. I’ll tell you that for me is if I were the customer, if I were the pet parent coming in and receive average grooming for my dog, I’m over the world if my dog is taken care of and cared for and loved on. But so am I, When I walk in there and I made to feel important and I’m important to that groomer, that service provider, all the way across the board.

Before we wrap this up, Delise, there are a couple of really key teaching points. The very first one that I liked is just surrendering to the fact that there is… that while you might have an ideal customer in your head that’s not the rule, it’s certainly one of the exception. So through education we can get them closer to that, but just accept it, everybody’s going to be different. One of the other key teaching points that you made was get out in the community and be part of your community in a variety of different levels and you shared some really great stories. I’m sure that we’re going to receive a lot of comments and feedback on this podcast about other ways that people have done it.

Please share your story with share with Delise, share with me. Give us a response back on the Hey Joe podcast page, or on Delise’s page, or our Facebook pages. Let us know what you’re doing, because we’d love to be able to share those stories with other people. And the other thing is just take time to get to know your customers, and sometimes that literally is making time in what is otherwise a very busy day. If you have your head down in your work all day long and you’re working more in your business than on your business, it’s sometimes can be a trap and quicksand it’s hard to dig out of.

Before we wrap up completely Delise, tell us what’s going on at Bardel Bows, what’s exciting and new happening there?

Delise: Oh my gosh. Well, Halloween is upon us and we’ve got some great new products. We’ve got some great new spiders and ghosts, a lot of fun there. Then we did launch our club Bowdacious, which is a subscription Box of Bows and we launched it and actually closed it, and we’re hoping that we can launch it again towards the end of the year, but we’re not positive yet. We just want to make sure that we can handle what we are doing, but we’re just having a good time creating some wonderful things. And getting to meet some great groomers.

Joe Zuccarello: When I ran grooming salons, one of the things that was such a special moment, I think the most important moment of the day for the pet and pet parent is that reunion, we used to call it the grand finale, and then it’s that one to three second period of time where again, that pet has an opportunity to make a first impression again with the pet parent. And Bardel Bows hands down, makes that grand finale easy, exciting and a lot of fun. Delise has agreed to make a really cool special for all of the Hey Joe listener audience out there.

But in order to unlock that special, you need to go to paragonpetschool.com and enter your email address and we are going to really quickly then send you what that special is and you’re going to be blown away by the generosity of Bardel Bows. Delise, I just want to thank you again for the time that you spend with us. The time that you spend in the industry, the changes that you’re making, just being a positive influence. I know you inspire a lot of people. You inspire me. Having these conversations on the podcast. I hope you come back. I hope we can talk about some other topics and I look forward to and I hope you do as well.

Delise: Oh, I do. I do. I always enjoy it. That’s one thing Joe, with you guys is and with all of us is that we all want everybody to do better and get better and we want everybody on the top of the cake. These are just our little ways of helping you guys manage through this and make it better. Guys, everybody go out and connect with your customers and let them know a little bit about yourself.

Joe Zuccarello: That’s great advice. Thanks, Delise.

About Joe

Joe Zuccarello is VP of the Paragon School of Pet Grooming, leaders in grooming education on campus and online. He possesses more than three decades of experience in the pet grooming, product development and pet business consulting disciplines.

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