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Salon Shortcuts to Start Your Day Right with Lorri Keller

Special Guests

Lorri Keller

Lorri graduated from Paragon in 1993. In her career spanning 25 years, she has worked in high end salons, as well as owned and operated her own salon. Lorri also worked in corporate grooming environments, running the district of Michigan and Indiana for PetSmart Grooming. She earned her Certified Master Groomer status through International Professional Groomers, Inc. (IPG). Lorri is an award-winning stylist in Sporting and Terrier groups and has also done a bit of conformation showing. Lorri is a firm believer and advocate of the benefits of education and has attended many professional workshops and seminars to continue to hone her skills. She has helped create curriculum and taught students at Paragon for almost a decade.

On this week’s Hey Joe, Lorri Keller discusses the best ways to prepare for your day. Learn how she creates efficient habits with her team, effectively communicates with her clients, and plans out her day in advance.

  • When should I start planning for my day?
  • Should I walk in with my customers?
  • What is an efficient check-in system?
  • Am I on the phone too much?
  • How do I work backwards with the clock?

Tune in to find out.

Announcer: Welcome to “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.

Hey, everyone, this is Joe Zuccarello, your host of the “Hey, Joe!” Podcast, and we have a unique recording situation today. So if the sound is a little bit different than what you’re used to, I am actually on campus at the Paragon School of Pet Grooming here in Grand Rapids, Michigan. And I am joined by the director of operations here, my right hand, my Robin to my Batman, this is a Lorri Keller. Hey, Lorri.

Lorri Keller: Hey guys. How are you?

Joe Zuccarello: And Lorri, I’ve actually invited Lorri to be part of our “Hey, Joe!” Podcast today to talk about something that’s very important, and that is, how do you properly start your day? You know, I’m a big fan of planning. I’m a big fan of trying to lay out as much predictable activity as possible, right? Because so many times our days just kind of go their own direction. So I’m a big fan of, if you start your day right, you have a better chance of ending your day right. One of the best people I’ve seen being able to do this, a master at this, has been Lorri Keller.

And I’ve witnessed this here at the Paragon School of Pet Grooming in our grooming salon because, again, we have to have salon dogs to support the student growth, and such. So I’ve invited her, we’re just going to have a one-on-one chat and talk about how do you start your day well, so that you can have a better chance of ending your day well. But I know that it doesn’t … Lorri, you’ve taught me something. You’ve said that it starts way before the day, the day of the groom. Okay, when does it start? When does that planning start in your opinion? When do you start planning for each day?

Lorri Keller: So by far, this is one of my very favorite topics, and it actually is almost a repeat, repeat, repeat kind of process, and it’s going to start when you reschedule your pets. So it is about creating habits, and at the end of our days we are so tired the last thing that we want to do is plan for the next day. We get up, we didn’t plan, the next day’s frustrating. So start with that reschedule. Make sure that your pets, each time, have that reschedule every four to six weeks. Well, some of you guys are going to say, “Hey, my biggest complaint is, people don’t know their schedules.” We get it, we get it here every single day. One of my biggest tips is, “That’s fine. Half the time, I don’t know my schedule in six weeks.” So you mark it down for four weeks from now, you’re going to give them a call and reschedule them. That is huge. And it’s going to keep your flow going.

Joe Zuccarello: Well, you know, so my answer to the folks that say, “I don’t know my schedule,” say, “Great, let us be the first one on your schedule,” right? I mean, at some point, their day will be scheduled so somebody’s got to be first on their schedule, so it might as well be their vet. So it’s just a way of having a response versus, “Oh, okay, well, just call us when you need us.” So what you’re saying is that, let’s say, today’s a Tuesday, well, planning for today started four, six weeks ago. Now I know that there’s a lot of you shop owners and managers out there, or salon workers out there, that say, “Listen, if they don’t rebook, they don’t get a spot.”

And I get that, and that is a great luxury. And what a great position to be in, in your business. But I will tell you that there are hundreds and thousands of shops that don’t have that. And they struggle with, then what happens is no shows and cancellations in the last minute and late appointments, and things of that sort. And then I know that … so Lorri, what you’re saying is, if today’s Tuesday, this probably started four Tuesdays ago, or six Tuesdays ago, or sometimes even eight Tuesdays ago.

Lorri Keller: Absolutely. Absolutely.

Joe Zuccarello: So when it comes to reminding them then, obviously, you’re not reminding them the day of. So now let’s fast forward to the day before, the night before. What are your tips for the 24 hour window?

Lorri Keller: We say about two, three days prior-

Joe Zuccarello: Two, three days? Okay.

Lorri Keller: … you’re going to confirm that appointment the first time. There’s a lot of speedy tips, whether you have a system that’s going to allow text reminders. People love that right now. I personally love it. I will confirm my hair appointment, or my dentist appointment, and then I’ll keep looking back at my text to make sure I’ve got the right date and time. So texts are amazing if you have that ability. If you don’t, it gives you two to three days for them to either figure out their schedule, or if they absolutely can’t come, you can fill that hole. You’re not on the fly.

Joe Zuccarello: Especially then, and so what you’re saying, even the folks that are … You know, I’m fortunate. I have a mobile groomer that pulls up to my driveway and she, even though we have it on our calendar, she still reminds us, even though we’re a standing appointment. So even standing appointments get the reminder. Correct?

Lorri Keller: Absolutely. Absolutely.

Joe Zuccarello: And I don’t know that, when you say texting, let’s unpack that just for a second. So when you say texting, it’s not that somebody gets on their phone and texts each individual client, although, I guess, that’s a way to do it. Right? But it’s more so, a lot of the computer programs out there right now that are very, very inexpensive, have this builtin as standard now, or a slight premium, but much more affordable than what it used to be. I know that we use a system here and we just, at Paragon, we just started doing this texting six months ago, eight months ago?

Lorri Keller: Yeah, for sure. And then, it is so easy. It’s just one button to set up what your preferences are. And it doesn’t have to be two to three, it could be a week prior. It’s a simple button and it does it all itself. The amount of time that saves is huge.

Joe Zuccarello: Well, just the minutes. If you think about, even just calling somebody and leaving a message, do yourselves a favor out there. “Hey, Joe!”, listener audience out there, do yourselves a favor and hit your stopwatch on your phone when you’re calling somebody and see how long the average phone call takes you, and then take that times however many pets you have there. So if it’s, you’re calling to make sure that they’re still coming, or maybe it’s you’re calling to tell them to come and pick up their pet, whatever that is, add up how many minutes that might take you in a day. I would bet that, on average, you might actually be able to get an extra dog groomed every day by staying off the telephone.

And I know some people are going to go, “Joe, wait a minute. You know, you’re so customer centered and if we’re not talking to our customers … ” Listen, your customers are busy too. They may not want to talk to you. They love talking to you when it’s on their time. But when it’s not convenient for them, they may not want to talk to you. So if all you’re doing is even leaving a voicemail message, you’re probably talking 45 to 60 seconds. And if you’re a shop that does, let’s say, 30, 40, 50, 60 dogs a day, that could ultimately equal an extra hour a day for somebody to groom another dog.

Lorri Keller: Oh, it’s huge. And if you think about it, most of us are just conditioned into calling the day before. What are your clients doing? They’re working, right? And so by the time they get home, most likely your shop is closed. So, “Oh my gosh, I forgot I had something planned. I can’t bring the dog to you.” Now you come in in the morning and you have 10 holes in your schedule.

Joe Zuccarello: Unplanned, unexpected.

Lorri Keller: Unplanned. Huge.

Joe Zuccarello: And how much business have you turned away? Especially if you’re a busy shop, how many clients have you turned away? So now you’re scrambling, and yeah, so-

Lorri Keller: And your day’s just mixed up.

Joe Zuccarello: Yeah. Yeah, you’re just starting off with uncertainty, with unplanned. So let’s get to that day of. Okay, so let’s talk about the morning of. One of my pet peeves, if we’re going to throw pet peeves at it, right? One of my pet peeves is, don’t walk in with your customers. Don’t be turning on the lights and unlocking the door with your customers in tow. What I mean by that is, show up a little bit early. Do yourselves a favor, show up a little bit early. And if you get everything, if you are planned and everything’s laid out the night before, and everything’s, maybe you’ve gotten your plan, maybe even talked to your staff about what’s going to happen the next day, and you’ve got everything laid out, what a great opportunity it is for you to surprise the customer by allowing them in a little bit early. Because they saw you walk in, we have all been in … it happens all the time.

You know that they’re hawking you, right? They’re watching you walk in. So my very first thing is, show up early that first day, or the morning of, right? But then, let’s take it from the lights go on, the computers go on. And again, if you’re going to have a technical difficulty, at least you’re discovering it before the customers come in. You know how many times I’ve walked in and tried to flip on a light and one of the light bulbs is out. Or go to turn on a computer and that crazy thing just doesn’t want to behave that morning. It’s a whole lot easier to deal with before then that 15, 20, 30 minute window before the customers get there. But now the lights are on, the computer’s on, the telephone’s on, here come the customers. What are your tips for us?

Lorri Keller: Well, I think we have to take one step backwards and just make sure that the habit is formed that in your salon at the end of the day, that’s the time to fill the shampoo, to get the bows out, to make sure that the tools are cleaned and ready and back in your station in some sort of organization, instead of all over the room. That’s when you’ve set for the next day. That’s really important. The worst thing is to run around looking for a tool that you used somewhere else in your building, or the shampoo is out, or just set that habit, or that expectation with your employees that that’s when you do it. So that when you walk in that first day, you might have a couple of issues that, whether your program would come up, but you’re basically set and ready to go for the next day. You’re fresh. So once you get in-

Joe Zuccarello: Hold on one second. I’m going to, okay, let’s say, camp out the night before, right? Because here’s part of the thing. We’re exhausted, we’ve worked all day. One of the last things we want to do is prepare for the next day. But if I’m hearing you correctly, it’s a habit.

Lorri Keller: It is.

Joe Zuccarello: I’ve heard somewhere, and I don’t remember where, but somebody said, “Form habits to avoid havocs.”

Lorri Keller: Ooh, good one. Good one.

Joe Zuccarello: So if that’s a discipline, then start the night before. You’re probably doing yourself an enormous favor-

Lorri Keller: Oh, you are.

Joe Zuccarello: … for the next morning.

Lorri Keller: You are. I have formed this habit years and years ago because I can’t sleep at night. There’s many times I wouldn’t do it, and I’d keep waking up like, “Oh my gosh, this dog’s coming in,” or, “How am I going to do this?” One of the things that I’ve done, it’s just really prevalent right now with the lack of purebred dogs. I would have a Bouvier come in, and I hadn’t done a Bouvier in years. I’d wake up in the middle of the night going, “I don’t know what I’m going to do,” or, “How much length is that dog going to have,” and all these things. Do yourself a favor and be prepared then, so the morning you already have a plan. And you might have a couple of adjustments, but you’re planned out.

One of the biggest things is, I, of course, live by learn2groomdogs.com. So if I don’t know how to do a dog, I am watching that video the night before and I’m completely prepared. I know how much coat the dogs that I have on the schedule the next day have. That’s huge. If you’ve got somebody that you haven’t seen for six months, that’s certainly, you’re going to have to make that adjustment in your time. Our goal as groomers is, all of our dogs are repeat clientele. That’s how we can do the amount of dogs that we have with the least amount of work. But we’re going to have the six monthers. We’re going to have that new person that came into town that day, and I don’t know how to do a, whatever, fox terrier. I don’t know how … I mean, you’ll have those bizarre ones, so prepare the night before. You’ll sleep really well and ready to attack the next day.

Joe Zuccarello: Yeah, that’s a great tip. And like you said, you live and breathe by learn2groomdogs.com, one of our membership platform. But you’re not the only, I mean, we hear stories about that all the time. You can look at any of our feedback on the website and be able to see how many people, this has actually been able to kind of prepare them. And like you said, it’s like a mental release. It’s like, “All right, I’m trained up.” It’s sort of like cramming for that final, you know, when you go back to when you were a college student or high school student, you knew you had a big test the next day and you cram for that final the evening before. It’s a whole lot better than trying to do it the morning of. They say, “If you don’t know it the day of the test, you don’t know it.”

So I wonder if that’s still, I bet that same thing still applies for grooming as well. But if you get caught off guard and you do need to log in and watch a video on the fly, you’re able to do that with learn2groomdogs.com, of course the day of, as well.

Okay. So just for everybody out there, just to remind you who I am, this is Joe Zuccarello, your host of the “Hey, Joe!” Podcast and we are at paragonpetschool.com. So you can go and listen to this recording. You can even share this with your team, whether you are a team member or you lead a team, but you can also share this with your team. It’s probably a great tutorial to bring to the workplace and figure out how it is that you, as a team, are going to do things better.

So what we’re talking about is starting your day off well so that you can end your day well, and we’ve just gotten past the evening before. So some would actually say, “End your day well so you can start your next day well.” So you see that whole cycle, like you said, “It’s like wash, rinse and repeat.” Right? Okay. So, all right, so I think we’re ready. Now we’re ready, it’s showtime, right? So it’s the day of and we open up the shop and, I know a lot of people laugh at me because I get so excited about every single day. Because one of the things that, I did some work with, I took a Disney leadership training at one point. And they said, “Act as if your business, act as if you are always on stage.” So every day when I turn on the lights, or turn on the computer, or got the phones ready and laid out all the paperwork, I was getting ready to perform.

And every day was like that. I got to see new audience members every day, and I was the performer. But I had to rehearse and I had to know my script, I had to know my role. So that day of, people start coming in and they’re checking in, what are we doing now to help ourselves start our day well, so we can end our day well? What are some of your tips?

Lorri Keller: This is huge. So whether you have a receptionist, whether it’s yourself, here at the school, it’s very important that we have a system for check-in. And I implore you to have a system and it’s a consistent system that your customers expect every single time. And that is, we use theory of five, which most of our clients book. Basically we’ll touch on all five body parts of the dog. There is no question, at that point if you hit all five body parts and how that customer wants those body parts groomed, that we don’t have questions during the day. The worst thing is when you’re in the middle of a groom and you’re, “Hmm, the ears are matted,” or, “What was I supposed to do with the tail?”

And boy, that’s a challenge. Do you call the owner at work? Do you leave it? What do you do? Those are all time wasters. So if you do it at check-in, it makes the day smooth. So whether it is a receptionist that is a non groomer, this is easily trained. They don’t have to be a groomer to know how to speak to the customers. So that’s number one, is we’ve hit all five body parts and we are really, we know if the dogs are matted, we know what’s possible. We’ve controlled the conversation. One of the things that we teach here is, you would never say, “How do you want Fluffy groomed?” That is a huge no-no.

Joe Zuccarello: They don’t know.

Lorri Keller: Whether they’re a long hair, or whatever.

Joe Zuccarello: You know What you’re going to get? “I want a puppy cut.” Aw, right. I mean, the dreaded two words for dog grooming check-in is, “I want a puppy cut,” or their inch is really two inches or maybe it’s a half inch, right? Or, “I want my dog to look like this.” And then they show you a picture of their neighbor’s dog, or even better, a dog out of one of the dog magazines at the magazine shelf that they want their dog to look like, and it’s impossible, right?

Lorri Keller: Short, not shaved is what I’m sure everybody’s laughing right now. That is something we hear all the time, “Short, but not shaved.” How do you know what that is? So with theory of five, we know if a poodle’s coming in, if we’re dealing with a face, our front staff will say, “Would you like that nice short, clean face, that nice poodle shaved face,” or, “Do you want it more of a round head? You don’t want the poodle look.” So you give the customers two choices. So it’s a very quick check-in.

Joe Zuccarello: And the book has illustrations. So it’s literally, it’s literally the customer can kind of pick and choose what the look is for each body part of the dog, within reason, obviously, with the dog. And that’s where your grooming professional skills kick in and say, “Okay, we can get close to this. But because his head is shaped this way, this might be a little shorter, maybe a little bit longer,” whatever, depending on the particular characteristics of that individual dog. But you get a lot more in the ballpark with the customer. Because you know, I’ve always said theory of five is like a translator from customer to groomer, and vice versa.

Lorri Keller: We talk groomer talk and you see the deer in the headlights look for your customers, so it’s this or that. “Would you like this or that? Would you like the pom at the end of the tail, or do you want all the same body lines?” Now again, that’s for newer customers. When it is an existing customer, it’s just the confirmation, “Hey, we go really short in the face? You like the pom on the tail? You like the really clean feet?” And we have a size chart, or a length chart, that we actually touch and say, “And you like this length?”

Joe Zuccarello: But it requires taking good notes the time before.

Lorri Keller: Absolutely.

Joe Zuccarello: Right? So I know that I’ve seen a lot of, you know, I’ve done a lot of freelance consulting and I’ve been in probably thousands of grooming salons. And one of the things that, one of the areas I always see that could use some improvement is their ability to be precise with the notes because, for example, the reason, two big reasons leap out at me. What happens if you can’t be there and somebody else has to do that dog. And I know that some of you are, “But my clients would never allow somebody else to touch their … ” Well, let me tell you, if it’s a couple of days before Christmas and you are struck down with the flu and you can’t move and one of your colleagues has a step in and do the dog for you, they’re going to be very, very happy that you took detailed notes, and vice versa.

If for whatever reason something changes in, you know, hey, sometimes people aren’t with us any longer. Not like not with us, but sometimes they’re not working with us anymore, but sometimes they’re just not working at our salon anymore. We’re going to be very thankful that we made sure that everybody takes detailed notes, right? So those notes, especially with regular clients coming in, it’s confirmation to your point. And it allows you to have that receptionist now position, which is unless the trim or needs of the customer changes, you probably don’t even need a groomer consult at that point. So I’m a big fan of the receptionist and calling the groomers up only when groomers need to come up, which is to get the grooming instructions, maybe the first time with a pet parent.

But we’ve already went through a lot of things like contact phone number and, you know, vaccination records if you do that. Those types of things we’ve already went through with the receptionist. Maybe even going back to one of my … tens and some other, some other podcasts about selling extra services. That receptionist is much better, I guarantee you much better at selling, or what we like to say, recommending with conviction, extra services. Nine times out of ten, they’re going to be better than a groomer doing it, because that’s their job. The groomer’s superpower, as we’ve all often talked about, a groomer’s superpower is grooming.

So we’re actually robbing time. We’re actually stealing money away from a groomer to have them come up front and talk, at length, with the grooming customers, right? If we let them do their superpower and let them groom, we’re actually giving them that time back. Which time then equals money because they’re able to do maybe an extra dog that day, maybe even leave early that day, whatever that looks like in your salon. So I’m a big fan of the receptionist. So now they come in and to your point, theory of five, it’s kind of point and choose what style they want for the five areas of the dog. What else at that moment, what more with the veterinarian?

Lorri Keller: Well, I think going back, make sure that the language of the notes is consistent. So if it’s a clean face, that maybe the note is CF, everybody talks the same language on that. That’s another frustration, if you haven’t seen the dog before and you can’t understand the notes, so your shop’s got to be consistent with that. You’ll also have to ask the client, “Hey, how can I get hold of you? Where can I get hold of you today if I need you?” That’s a huge question. If the pet was injured, or the pet was sick, or they were done early, one of the frustrations is we can’t get hold of owners. So that’s huge. Make sure that you know how to get hold of them that day if something, if you need to.

Joe Zuccarello: If you need to, right, and that brings up another point. I’m a big fan, because, again, I’ve worked with lots and lots of grooming salons. And there are a lot of you grooming salons out there right now that you actually schedule a dog every hour, or you assign hourly times for dogs to come in. And they come in at 10:00 and maybe they’re out by 11:00, and they come in at 11:00 and they’re out by 12, and so on. So it’s almost like a person haircutting, you know, a hairdresser type of salon or barbershop type of salon. But there are many more shops that don’t do that. Right? There are many more shops that just, we open at 7:00 and you can drop off anytime between 7:00 and 8:30, or between 7:00 and 9:00.

As soon as I start hearing that in a grooming salon, I know that there’s not only a lot of wasted time, but a lot of self-imposed obstacles that come up with that. If you have dogs that come in between 7:00 and 9:00 and you’re not dictating to the customer when they’re coming in, then what you have is, and maybe some of this sounds familiar, “I need the tub next,” or, “I’m waiting for tubs,” or, “I’m waiting for dryers,” or “I’m waiting for table space,” or, “I’m waiting for cage space,” or what have you. Or maybe sometimes the dog isn’t even touched for two hours, maybe sometimes longer, because you’ve asked for all the dogs to come in, in this very short window of time. So what I like to be able to do is say, “I think, ideally, if you could schedule dogs every hour for an hourly appointment, I really love that,” if you can do that in your clientele.” But if you can’t do that, the next best thing is assigning a time in and it’s … let’s say, you say, “Joe, I want all of my dogs here by 9:00 in the morning.”

“Okay, that’s fine.” But I can tell you that your whole check-in process will go smoother if you try to stagger the dogs in during those times. And how do you do that? You simply tell the pet parent, you say, “Okay, great, well, we open up at 7:00 and we take dogs all the way through about 9:00. So what time works best for you?” You see? What I’ve done there is, I’ve just said, “According your schedule, because you’re the most important person in this conversation, “What time works for you?” And if they say, “Oh, let’s see, I have to drop my kids off at 8:00, I can load the dog crate, I can be there by 8:30.” “Okay, 8:30.” “Great, I have an 8:30 appointment, I’ll see you at 8:30.” Okay?

Now what happens to the next customer when they call? “Well, you know what? I’d like to bring in before I drop my kids off at school, can I drop off at 7:30?” “Let me see if I have a 7:30 appointment.” You might end up with four or five at certain times and similar times, but it is amazing that if, all of a sudden, you look at your book and you say, “I’ve already got four coming in at 7:30, Joe told me I need to stagger.” I can guarantee if you tell that customer, “You know, I’m all full on 7:30s, can you do 7:00 or 8:00?” “Yeah, I can get there at 7:00.” “Great.” And it’s something psychological. I guarantee you that if you assign time ins, your cancellation and no show rate will go down. Because it’s something psychological, when somebody has an appointment time, they’re more likely to keep it.

And what’s brilliant about it? If they’re late, you know immediately. You know that you’re on the phone with them within 15 minutes of their expected arrival time to find out if they’re coming. Are you sometimes catching them and reminding them at that moment because something blew up in their world in the morning? Absolutely. But what’s really great is that you’re not waiting until 9:00, which is your current rule, bring in between 7:00 and 9:00. You’re not waiting until 9:00 or 9:15, 9:30 before, now you have a no-show. When you call them, they’re already at work. You’ve just totally missed out on that. And how many people call us to try to get an appointment first thing in the morning, so it just puts you back in control.

So I love assigning time ins, and at check-in, I love assigning timeouts. And I like assigning timeouts because, again, going back to what we talked about earlier, the more time you spend on the phone, the less time you spend grooming. Okay? So if you’re on the phone calling everybody, if you do call when done, or call when finished, I’m going to ask you, I’m going to challenge you, not to do that anymore. You know when you can get that dog done by. So if it’s, I can have your dog done by noon, I can have your dog done by 1:00 by 2:00, by 11:00, by 10:00. I don’t care what time you pick, it really doesn’t matter, but give them a time to come back. And you’ll have clients that will tell you, “Well, just give me a call.” Say, “Nope, I’m not going to call you. You just come back at that time.”

And it just totally eliminates you being on the phone with them. Right? I mean you’d rather see them face-to-face anyway, the man on the phone. So just give him a time and then they come back. What else does that do? It puts you in control of how often, or how quickly, those dogs are going to exit your salon. Right?

Lorri Keller: Interruption. And control.

Joe Zuccarello: And maybe you can schedule around lunch. Ooh, there’s a novel idea. How about trying to take a break?

Lorri Keller: Take a break.

Joe Zuccarello: Take lunch, right? But what it also does, if you’re a smaller shop, you need those dogs out faster because you don’t have a lot of cage space. So what happens is, if you call when done, or call when finished, what happens? They call and it might not be you.

Lorri Keller: They’re at the grocery store. They’re at the grocery store and so they show up an hour later. And now you’ve got an interruption again. For years I’ve worked in salons that I was the one who answered the phone, I was the one that did the schedule and I had dogs to groom. I worked in corporations where people would come in and out of the salons and ask me about shampoos. So I learned really fast to control interruptions. Again, if you go back to what we first talked about and you’re re-booking, you’re not going to get as many calls as you would before.

Joe Zuccarello: Oh, yeah, absolutely.

Lorri Keller: So control your interruptions. I still, to this day, groom and do one hour at a time. So if I’m doing one dog at a time and it’s an hour in between, 45 minutes, my next dog and my exiting dog are coming together. That’s one interruption. It sounds super simple, but taking control of that. And how are you going to explain it to your customers is, I want to make sure when I’m with your dog, I am 100% in, no interruptions with your dogs. They love that. They will come when you want or they’ll drop off when you want.

Joe Zuccarello: Right, right. Well, and again, if they translate that to their own lives, or to their own business, to our point at the very beginning of this podcast, they don’t know what their schedule is six weeks out, four weeks out, right? Sometimes there are polite pushback on whether or not they’re going to put you first on their schedule, right? But even that same day, their schedule could completely fall apart on them. But one staple is, they know what time you’re expecting them to come in and what time you’re expecting them to come back. Right? And again, the longer the dog is with you, the more problematic. Right? You have to water the dog, you have to potty the dog, God forbid the dog potties on itself. And then it’s back to square one.

You’re at least rebathing feet maybe, maybe even sometimes, for some of the finger painters out there, the dogs make a mess of themselves and you’re back to doing everything over again. So again, all we’re saying to you is, I think with these minor, minor adjustments, to your point, Lorri, you can take control.

So let’s summarize. We’ll retain-

Lorri Keller: We went all over the place.

Joe Zuccarello: … yeah, we did. One thing, that same day, again, very important. Rebook them. Right?

Lorri Keller: Rebook, over and over.

Joe Zuccarello: And so if they tell you and if you carry nothing away from this podcast at all, have an answer for, “I don’t know what my schedule will be.” “Well, great, let’s book it anyway for six weeks out,” four weeks out, whatever their normal routine is. “And we’re going to call to remind you, but we might just be the first person on your schedule. At some point your schedule is going to fill. Let’s make Fluffy the most important thing that day on your schedule.” I know it sounds weird and I know it sounds hokey, but you guys know your customers. You know the words to use that will relate best to your customers with the relationship you have. I guarantee you’ll have more re-booking. That way you’ll have fewer cancellations and fewer no-shows.

So, let’s recap. So let’s just dial it back. Again, this is the “Hey, Joe!” Podcast. You can find the podcast at paragonpetschool.com, really any podcast platform. But, let’s recap. So the whole topic of this podcast is starting your day well, so that you can end your day well. You said it was like a wash, rinse, repeat. So it’s really end your day well, so you can start your day well, right? So the preparation starts way before, sometimes weeks and weeks, sometimes months before that actual day that you’re on stage. So that was a great point that you made.

The day before, what I really liked about what you recommended is getting into the habit the night before. I know you’re tired. What were some of the things that they could do the night before to just make sure that they have a better start to the next day?

Lorri Keller: Right. Make sure your … ready, number one. Number two, know what your schedule is, have a plan in mind. “Okay, this dog I’ve not done before.” Get the education, jump on a video real quick. Get prepared. A lot of times it’s just scary in our mind. Again, the movie is a thing for me, that’s just recent. So I haven’t done a Bouvier in years, as soon as I watched the video, all my fears were gone. So don’t live with that all night because you need a good night’s sleep.

Joe Zuccarello: Well, and that’s part of preparing for the day is, giving yourselves a break, disconnect, and it doesn’t have to be like Groundhog Day. It doesn’t have to be the same day over and over and over again because you’re seeing new customers. Back to my Disney experience, you’re on stage and it’s a slightly different player, slightly different version of the play, every single day. Right?

Lorri Keller: It’s controlling your day and not letting your day control you.

Joe Zuccarello: Right. So that day, we’re talking about watching the clock. I know one of the things I want to make sure we leave them with, you talked about watching the clock. And I want to make sure that we still touch on that before we hop off the podcast. You talked about watching the clock and then something about working backwards.

Lorri Keller: Yes, yes.

Joe Zuccarello: You’re going to have to explain that.

Lorri Keller: This is a game I play myself, and we absolutely do with our students. If we say, “Hey, I want to make sure that this dog is done at 11:00 and that fits into my schedule, especially with students, and even now with me now and I’ve groomed for 28 years. I have to put it into bite- size pieces. So I want to get out of the bathing room and drying room in 20 minutes. I want to, whether it’s I want to do my prep work in this much time. So you’re doing little chunks to get you to that 11:00, instead of just saying-

Joe Zuccarello: So I’ve got Fido, to your point, I’ve got Fido and I take Fido to the tub area, have a clock back by the tub area, which is what you said. I don’t know, I’m trying to recall in my mind about how many grooming salons I’ve been in that actually have a clock near the tubs. I’m having a hard time remembering any that had a clock in the tub room. There’s always clocks and on your phones and whatever else you want, but having a clock. So what you’re saying is, you know that Fido should take 15 minutes worth of bathing time. You’re watching the clock to make sure you do that. And I know that there’s a big time-waster and that is sometimes our colleagues and our coworkers, right? So we want to be sociable, but social hour can actually literally chew up an hour or more a day.

Lorri Keller: Absolutely. And then you’re in panic mode at the end of the day, it’s horrible. I’m so competitive that I’m trying to beat what times I’ve set for myself. I love getting out early, you know?

Joe Zuccarello: Or finishing early, maybe you have that call that calls in about 12:00. And you know there’s a lot of groomers that earn more than other groomers because they do things that those groomers cannot or will not do, like take a dog in at 3:00 in the afternoon. So if you can take control of your day and squeeze in an extra dog and surprise, and really elate that customer, because you can do something that another grooming shop would never think about doing. They only have to come to you one time to be happy and then you’ve got them for life. Here’s an interesting thing to leave you all with. I guess the first part of it is that when a grooming client goes somewhere for their dog to get groomed, they only have to go there one time and be happy and you’ve probably lost them for at least a long time. Right?

But unless it’s the dogs first groom, first ever groom, puppy, right? Unless it’s the first groom, somebody else has groomed that dog. So there’s some other experience that they have went through before you. So remember that in the back of your mind, know who your competition is. That also helps your day, right? Know who your competition is. Because that customer, is probably not, again, unless it’s a puppy or first time groom, maybe they rescued the dog, or whatever. But most of the time, 95% of the time, your customers have had an experience before you. Sometimes you’re the experience before you, but their first time to you, they’ve had another experience. So how do you do things that groomers won’t do or can’t do. And I think a lot of that comes down to just pure focus on customer experience, and it’s running a successful and controlled day in the life of a groomer.

So Lorri, any last sage words for the audience out there?

Lorri Keller: I think that, you know, I’m with you guys. When my day gets out of control, my grooming, if I’m trying to catch up, my grooming’s not where I want it to be. And leaving the day knowing that you didn’t maybe do your best work is a horrible feeling. Or you’ve rushed a dog when you know that dog may be a little bit fearful on your table and you go home feeling bad about that. You know guys, if we started this because we love animals, we love taking care of animals. So making control your day a priority in your life will not only make the pets day better, it’s going to absolutely make your day better. And then, you don’t have that stressful like, “Why am I doing this? This is so stressful,” and the dogs are stressed. It just makes everyone’s day better. So it is a priority.

Joe Zuccarello: Yeah. Well, I couldn’t say it any better than that. One last little tidbit I’ll repeat for you is, “Create good habits to avoid havocs.”

So anyway, this is Joe Zuccarello, your host of the “Hey, Joe!” Podcast. And as always, I thank you for listening. Lorri, thank you for joining us today.

Lorri Keller: Absolutely.

Joe Zuccarello: And to everybody out there, I can’t wait to hear your stories about how you’re taking more control of your day and starting or ending your day better than you did before. Take care.

About Joe

Joe Zuccarello is president 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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