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The Art of Giving Great Service – The Zingerman Way

bookAbout 6 years ago I read a great book while sailing on my dad’s boat. It was Zingerman’s Guide to Good Leading, Part 1: Building a Great Business.  At one point, my dad picked up the book. He read a few paragraphs I had highlighted when I went below. When I returned a few minutes later, he said, “Good book. They know what they are talking about.” Wow. Coming from my dad, that meant a lot.

Zingerman’s is an institution in Ann Arbor, Michigan. Hailed by Inc. Magazine as The coolest small company in America,” the original business was founded in 1982 with Zingerman’s Delicatessen. Since then, Zingerman’s has expanded to 11 food-related business, 724 staff members, and sales of over $62 million.

Service is a cornerstone of Zingerman’s success. Zingerman’s has earned its reputation for great service by intentionally creating a culture that nurtures amazing service. They teach every one of their team members system “recipes” which are at the heart of their extraordinary service.

I was so impressed with the book, I ordered copies for all my team leaders!

At Whiskers Resort and Pet Spa, we really rolled up our sleeves. We took the summer to read the entire book together. Once a week we met to review, strategize, and implement what we learned from the pages.

When we started Zingerman’s training in 2011, we were earning about $655,000 in annual gross sales between overnight lodging, daycare, and grooming. Last year we grossed just short of $2.25 million. And the real kicker – we spent virtually nothing on advertising! Our growth has been fueled by stellar customer service from an amazing team of enthusiastic, pet-loving staff.

I know the Zingerman’s training isn’t totally responsible for the growth. However, I’d like to think it helped us formulate a positive culture for our Whiskers team.

Recently, we learned ZingTrain was coming to Grand Rapids for a half day of service training. We could not sign up fast enough. We had 13 team members there from all facets of my companies taking up two corporate tables. We all walked away pumped up and energized! Some of what we learned was a refresher for some of us – for others is was all new. Plus, it was refreshing to learn new service ideas the Zingerman team had formulated since we read the book. The concepts are all easy to implement, too.

I’d like to share a few of those with you.

Zingerman’s 3 Steps to Great Service

zingerman#1. Figure out what the customer wants.

  • Ask questions. Listen to what they really want. Give choices. Repeat questions back to the customer for clarity and understanding.
  • 10/4 Rule. When you get within 10 feet of either a customer or a coworker– make eye contact and smile. Once you get within 4 feet of a customer or coworker, verbally exchange a positive comment. (I’m not talking about those that you work with side-by-side all day long – however a room full of smiles and positive interaction is energizing).
  • Spend as much time as necessary to positively impact the customer. For repeat customers, it might be a quick exchange. For new customers, it’s going to take longer to help build a relationship, form a bond, and build trust.

#2. Get it – or do it – for them…

  • Let people know realistic deadlines, cost estimates, and realistic outcomes. Be specific. Under promise and over deliver.
  • Always say please and thank you. Avoid industry jargon.
  • You want the customer to leave feeling like the interaction with you was the best part of their day.

#3. Go the extra mile.

  • Do something the client didn’t ask for and didn’t expect. It doesn’t have to be elaborate. It doesn’t have to be costly. Even simple things can delight and pleasantly surprise your customers.

Within this framework, employees use their own best judgment about how to serve each individual customer.

If you’ve never heard of Zingerman’s or ZingTrain, I encourage you to look it up. If you want to dig in deep, grab the book and apply its principles. If you need a quick pick me up, participate in one of the mini sessions like we did today. Their systems approach is applicable to businesses of varying industries, organizational structure, and size. They are committed to helping others succeed.

You can learn more about their training programs at www.zingtrain.com. You can get the book at the best price by ordering directly from Zingerman’s www.zingtrain.com/building-a-great-business

My entire team left energized and ready to implement many ideas immediately. We were all impacted by the training we received. Hats off to the Zingerman team of Elnian Gilbert and Tabatha Mason and to the Grand Rapids Chamber of Commerce for sponsoring the program!

Happy trimming!

Melissa

 MVpaw_no_Inner_whiteWhat did you think about these ideas? What do you do that works great for your team? Jump on the Learn2GroomDogs.com Facebook page and tell us about it.


Get ’em Talking

The lifeblood of any successful business is positive word of mouth marketing – but how do you get people to talk about you? The answer is simple.

IMAGErrDynamite customer service.

When it comes to creating amazing customer service, there are a few things you need to focus on.

  1. delight your customers
  2. earn their trust and respect
  3. be interesting
  4. make it easy for them to talk about you

Going the extra mile pays huge dividends. Yet sometimes you don’t have to even go that extra mile. Sometimes it’s the simple things like:

  • helping people and their pets
  • solving problems
  • treating both the client and the pets with dignity and respect
  • creating a warm, clean, and safe environment

If you genuinely care about your business and your career – none of the items listed above are difficult.

One my companies, Whiskers Resort and Pet Spa, is phenomenal at impressing people which in turn gets them talking. We do virtually zero paid advertising. Instead, we focus on those four key elements listed above; delighting our customers, being interesting, earning our clients’ trust, and making it easy for them to talk about us.

Here are a few examples.

We offer full facility tours ANYTIME we are open to the public. We have extended hours from 6 AM until 9 PM Monday through Friday. On Saturday and Sunday, the resort is open from 7 AM to 8 PM.

When folks tour the facility, it is an automatic wow factor. Even though we have 180 rooms for the dogs, it is always spotless. It’s wide open and inviting. The noise levels are not out-of-control for a facility the size. One area of any pet care facility most people do not give a lot of thought to but it makes a HUGE impression. The smell. Rarely is a tour given where the participants don’t comment on this fact. We normally get that wide open expression people get when they are surprised. They look at us and say, “I would never guess there are over 200 dogs here! There is NO doggy odor!!” We pride ourselves on the fact that it always smells fresh and clean.

Our tours get people talking. Stop and think about it – what do you think someone is going to do as soon as they leave the tour? They have just experienced an amazing place that can help them solve many problems when it comes to their beloved family pets. Most of our prospective clients race home to tell their friends and family. Almost all of them become customers.

Here is another way to foster word of mouth marketing. Photos and events. Over the years, the Whiskers team has hosted many special events for both our overnight guests and doggie daycare clients. The entire goal for these events it to get people talking in the community. The parties are promoted through our monthly client newsletter and Facebook page. It works.

In fact, parties and photos worked so well, we’ve scaled back the amount of parties we offer. Why? Because we operate at over 100% occupancy rate during most of the summer season, almost all weekends through the year and major holidays we’re booked out weeks – if not months – in advance.

Even though these examples are talking about a pet resort – the grooming spa feeds off the same frenzy the word of mouth marketing creates. At the resort, the grooming department is open 7 days a week and with two shifts running on most days.

So how do you apply this type of marketing to your business?

First, make sure you have remarkable grooming and customer service skills. If there any weak links – fix them. You need to be able to delight your customers with your grooming skills while winning their respect and trust. Once you have done that, then you can start getting creative with the fun stuff. How to get clients and prospective clients talking about you. What will make you interesting? What will make you stand out from your competitors? If you are successful – people will start talking about you.

Remember, you need to make it easy for your customers. If they adore what you were doing – they will automatically love talking about you with their family, friends, coworkers, or anyplace people gather.

So here are a few ideas that you can use to help spread the word while making it easy for others to find you. On every piece of promotional material that goes out, whether it be print or in digital format, your name, address, and contact information easy to find and readily accessible.

  • Facebook Page – Make it appeal to your customers. Have fun with it. Post appealing photos you take while working. Add items that would be of general interest to the bulk of your customers. Pet general health. Fun things to do with your dog. Behavior and training articles. Recipes that cater to dogs or cats. Find things that will make people smile and laugh that are pet related. Always keep it clean. Always keep it professional.
  • Email Addresses – In this digital age, capturing an email address is more important than a street address. Having a robust email contact list will be your most economical source to stay in touch with your customers and potential customers. Always – always look for ways to collect email addresses.
  • Create a Monthly or Quarterly Client Newsletter – Electronic newsletters do not have to be long. Two or three smaller articles or points of interest are generally enough in our fast-paced information loaded society. Combine the articles with a few promotions you have scheduled for the month or for the quarter. And make sure it easy for your customers to share the newsletter through other social media outlets.
  • Special Events – Even if you do not have room to host a full-fledged party, don’t let that stop you from doing something special for your customers are participating at events. Most small towns have a parade – maybe they are taking part. What about charity dog walking events? Matching themed T-shirts and bandannas combined with freshly groomed dogs from your salon can make a big impact in the community. Maybe you give them a free spa upgrade with a special gift to take home. On Valentine’s Day, make sure every dog leaves with a special treat – maybe a rose with a card attached to it “signed” by the dog. Maybe you do a free pet facial or pet-i-cure. Whatever the event – make sure you have the promotional materials at your fingertips. That will make it easy for them to pass along your contact information when they talk about whatever interesting event you just hosted. Pay attention to details.
  • Encourage people to talk about you – Post signs around your salon. On your front door. Add it to your receipts. Make sure it is on all your informational handouts and service menus. Encouraged people to speak in a positive light about your services. Make it a personal goal to make your customer smile – or better yet – aim for a reaction that makes them gleam as they say thank you. Do something memorable!
  • Business Website – Make sure that it is clean and easy to navigate. It doesn’t have to be long or lengthy. With smaller businesses, simplicity can go a long way. Pictures are worth 1000 words – so make sure you use high quality images to support your text. One of the most popular pages on any website is the gallery. This is a wonderful place to showcase your facility and or your work. You don’t need 100 photos – that would be overwhelming and too difficult for most devices to download. 10 to 15 of your best images will do. Also, don’t forget to make sure your website transfers cleanly between computer and handheld devices.

These are just a few ideas to help you get folks talking about you. There are thousands of ways to get the ball rolling – it just takes a little forethought and creativity on your part.

Happy customers are always your greatest advertisers. If you expect them to share their experiences with you, you’re going to have to help it along. To spur it along, make sure you give people a simple message to share and then ways to help them pass it along to others.

Remember, you need to give prospective customers and clients a positive reason to talk about you. People do not talk about things that bore them. They do not talk about just acceptable service. The only talk about things that excite them. Delight them. Wow them. If you focus on making your customers happy, earning their trust and respect – they’re going to start talking about you.

Word-of-mouth marketing is the most effective form of marketing any service company can do. It will far outperform any coupon or paid advertisement you can run anywhere. When people share their experiences about your company to their friends, family, coworkers and associates, It’s the highest compliment they can get. They are putting their trust in to you. They are encouraging people they know to use your services. That’s success and that’s the reason you need to get them talking about you!
Happy Trimming!

~ Melissa

P.S.

How do YOU deliver amazing customer service? Go online and tell us about it on the Learn2GroomDogs Facebook page.


Is Your Image Newsworthy?

imagerrIf your local TV news station were to drop by – unannounced – to do a story about you and your business, would you be prepared? What about your local newspaper? Could you make a great impression to the community as they interview you with cameras flashing? Would you be proud of your shop? Your staff? Yourself?

Impressions are made in an instant. It doesn’t matter whether it is a TV news crew, reporter, or client. If you are open for business, you need to be prepared to be splashed across the screen or featured on the front page of your local newspaper.

Be honest. Can you proudly flaunt your business, even if the local media showed up without notice?

If you shudder at the thought, you need to take the steps necessary to create a professional image. You want to create a lasting, positive impression on your clients – and prospective clients.

It takes less than 30 seconds for people to form an opinion about you and your business. Don’t forget, we’re not just talking about what the client sees, but what they smell and hear.

I’ve been in this industry over 30 years with multiple businesses and this has happened many times. If there is a slow news day, nothing can fill the space better than our furry friends! I make sure that my companies understand that cleanliness and professional appearance are a top priority. They need to be prepared and ready to be front page news – at all times. You never know when an opportunity to shine will present itself.

As pet care ambassadors, it our job to groom pets but also our job to present a professional image for our industry. We cannot afford to look like we just rolled out of bed. Take a moment each day to put yourself together so that you would be proud to be featured in your local media.

Which side looks more professional?

Which side looks more professional?

I don’t know any successful person who doesn’t sweat the details. Being impeccable, both personally and in your work space, shows the client that you care about yourself. The message you are sending out is that you are confident with your skills. That you are successful. That you respect yourself enough to do the same for them – and for their pet. It also shows that you care about your client.

I know it can get tiring to dress up a little every day. However, our clients are entrusting us with the care of their pets. Like it or hate it, you can easily influence their trust by simply changing the way you look when you greet your clients. Think of yourself as your own brand. Don’t you want your product to be consistent and look great? Of course! And your clients are looking for that, too.

A neat, well-groomed appearance is essential when it comes to professionalism in this industry. You need to dress in a way that attracts clientele.

Come to work each day looking crisp, clean, and pulled together. Blue jeans, sweat pants, and athletic shorts ARE NOT professional attire! They don’t inspire confidence. Black, white, or khaki slacks work well. Longer skirts are great for women in warmer climates. Conservative shorts or Capri’s may work for your environment, as well. Matching grooming pants are also nice. I’ve even seen dressy leggings work when paired with an over-sized, long, top or smock. Look for clothing that is not prone to wrinkling or be prepared to learn how to iron!

Today, there are many options for hair-repelling garments. There are all types of tops and bottoms in a wide variety of styles. If you work in a salon with a dress code, this may be easier. If not, have some fun with the pet styling fashions that are available. It may even be a good idea to keep an extra outfit or smock around the shop as a back-up. If you get drenched or messy, a quick change will instantly boost your comfort level and mood.

Consider the color of your outfit, as well. If your logo is blue, you may want to consider this your brand color and wear it everyday.  It will make you instantly recognizable to your clients.

Remember, low-cut tops and short-shorts are never appropriate. If you have shorts that are too short or a top that is too revealing (especially when you are squatting down to pick up a dog), it just doesn’t look professional. Muscle shirts and shirts with the sleeves cut off don’t make the grade, either.

Being professional means speaking, behaving, and dressing in a manner that tells people you are qualified to do the job. If your appearance causes anyone to doubt – even for a second – that you don’t know what you’re doing, you could lose their business before they even see your work.

Proper hygiene is also crucial. It should go unsaid, but being clean and odor-free is a must. There is nothing more offensive – and embarrassing – than personal body odor. The famous motivational speaker Zig Ziglar, noted, “People often say that motivation doesn’t last. Well, neither does bathing – that’s why we recommend it daily.” Nothing could be more true!

Your own hair needs to be clean and neatly styled. If your hair is long, tie it back and away from your face. As your work with clippers or shears, you don’t want to be trimming a lock of your own hair as you scissor that leg. I hate to think of how many people with long hair have caught their tresses in the spinning grinder as they worked. Ouch! Or worse yet, drag it through anal gland expressions, defecation, or urine.

Having a touch of jewelry is a nice finishing touch. Done well, it always reflects positively. However, just like with fragrance – go light. A few simple rings. A durable watch (and you always need to know the time!!). If your ears are pierced – stick with super simple earrings – something a dog can’t accidentally catch in a paw, ripping your ear lobe. If you opt for a necklace, keep it tasteful. Don’t be in love with it. Dogs will catch it in their paws and break it, eventually. The same thing with is true with bracelets.

Having well-groomed fingernails is what I consider a bonus. Working with dirty dogs and trimming toenails lends itself to dirty fingernails – even if you do a lot of bathing. Trimming Poodle feet has a tendency chip fingernails. Personally, I liked to keep my nails painted. Painted fingernails will hide all sorts of flaws. Unfortunately, when you do a lot of bathing, standard nail polish has a tendency to peel off quickly – sometimes in as little as one day. My solution was to have my fingernails professionally done every two weeks. Both acrylic and shellac nail applications seem hold up well to the abuse groomers put their hands through. Ragged nails on women or men can be easily tidied up. When you give the pet to the owner, their eyes are naturally drawn to your fingers as you hand over the leash. Wouldn’t filed nails make a great impression? Plus, it gives you a little time to pamper your most valuable asset – YOUR HANDS!

Pay attention to the details. Judy Hudson is one our popular Learn2GroomDogs.com Training Partners. In her video, What I Know For Sure, she shares this tip: “It doesn’t cost a lot to be clean. It doesn’t cost a lot of money to be neat and tidy. All it takes is a little elbow grease.”

The next time your local news company calls for an interview, you’re going to have the confidence to greet them at the door even if you only have a few moments notice before they arrive. When your image is splashed across the TV screen, you’re going to be proud of what you see – and your clients and prospective clients will be impressed.

There is no amount of marketing dollars that can buy free publicity. Are you ready for the media to show up on YOUR doorstep?

Happy Trimming!

~ Melissa

>P.S.

You never know when the media will knock on your door! Has this ever happened to you? Go online and tell us about it on the Learn2GroomDogs Facebook page.


Am I a Good Boss?

Welcome to my blog!  For the next few weeks, my marketing expert, Joelle Asmondy, will be filling in for me while I work on a large project.  Joelle is a whiz with marketing.  I can’t wait to see which helpful tidbits she shares with you!  Enjoy!

Let’s take a little poll:

  • How many of you own or run a salon?
  • Which of you have a degree in business or have taken any business classes?
  • Has anyone taken any management classes?

That sounds about right.

One of the best things about going to trade shows is meeting people. I get to talk to people from all over the country and I love it when they tell me their stories. We talk about dogs (of course), dog books (um, yeah!), and working with dogs (why not?). It’s a great way for me to stay in touch with our clients’ needs and find out what people are really thinking about.

Let me share a conversation that I have all the time…

“I became a groomer because I love dogs. At first, I just had a few clients. It started with friends and family, then their friends heard about me, and I got even busier. I got to the point where I had to hire someone just to keep up! Now I groom, book appointments, answer phones, run my own business, AND I have (one, two, three…) groomer(s) working for me!”

Sound familiar?

I love that so many dog grooming businesses have grown in such an organic way. It starts with a passion, grows because we’re needed, and thrives because we’re good at what we do. Our clients keep coming back because they know we love their pets and care about their health and safety.

The flip side to this is that very few people who own or manage these businesses have any formal training in supervising employees. We suddenly find ourselves in the role of “boss” simply because we needed help. For many, it’s a natural fit and the transition is painless. For others, the change is more challenging.

The question of the day is, “Are You a Good Boss?” The answer may surprise you.

I reached out to folks from the industry and asked them about the best qualities of their managers. Many of the answers were similar. Let’s look at the answers together and see if we can understand what it really means to be a good boss.

“I’ve grown a lot by working here.”

Do you take the time to offer praise as well as constructive criticism? In busy salons, it can become easy to fall into the habit of communicating like our furry customers – we bark at each other instead of talking. Don’t let a hectic schedule become an excuse for bad manners or meanness. Remember, you’re not just running a business, you’re building a culture. Do you want yours to be team-oriented or hostile and withdrawn? Things don’t get done any faster or better with rudeness than with courtesy.

“She’s willing to try new ideas.”

If you want employees who step up and really help out, you have to be open to trying new things. “That’s the way we’ve always done it,” will quickly kill initiative. Employees who feel like they have input into bettering the process tend to stick around longer and contribute more to the overall business. After all, isn’t that what you need?

“He’s organized.”

If you are constantly running late, running out of stock, and running out of patience, you could be running yourself right out of business. Let your team help you get things in order. Delegate duties that are well-suited to them. It empowers them and also takes a few things off your plate.

“She encourages me.”

I once worked for an amazing supervisor who motivated me just by being encouraging. I tried a new sales approach once, and it went so well that she had me present it to others in our district. Knowing that she believed in me did more than compliment me, it made me want to work even harder!

“He tells me how I can improve in a positive way.”

Two words: constructive criticism. It’s easy to tell someone when they do something wrong. If you want change that sticks, it takes a little more work.

  • Use the sandwich technique: tell them what you liked, tell them what needs to change, then offer positive feedback.
  • Be specific: saying something is done wrong is not helpful. WHAT was wrong about it? HOW should it be done next time? WHY is it important that it be done right?
  • Don’t attack the person, attack the problem: telling someone they’re terrible at trimming nails hasn’t solved anything. Look at the problem – in this case, quicking too many nails – and look at technique. If a person isn’t trained properly, they can’t be blamed for doing something wrong.
  • Don’t assume they know what you mean: it may sound simple to you, but it may not seem that obvious to them. It’s impossible to over-communicate.

“We never stop trying to get better.”

Complacency is the enemy of good business. Successful businesses are always trying to become better, more efficient, and less wasteful.

“She says, “thank you.”

Those are magic words, aren’t they? Thank you for staying late. Thank you for helping me carry in the supplies. Thank you for helping that elderly client to her car. Recognizing effort boosts morale and encourages them to keep giving their best.

“He tells me what is needed and doesn’t expect me to read his mind.”

“I shouldn’t have to tell them…”

“It’s just plain old common sense!”

Work on removing these phrases from your vocabulary. Just because you’ve done something a thousand times doesn’t mean other people understand it as thoroughly as you do. Take a minute, take a breath, and give them the benefit of the doubt.

“She recognizes effort even if we fall short of a goal.”

All success is success. It’s ok to be excited about progress even if you didn’t get quite all the way there. Learn from the experience and try again. Sometimes shared enthusiasm or experience is what’s needed to really make things happen.

Whether you became a manager by choice or by coincidence, it’s important to know how to be a good boss. Building a team and a business takes work – and you don’t have to do it alone. By developing a positive culture, you’re helping to make a better work environment that will attract better employees, will help keep your best staff, and will make your days a lot better.

What topics would you like us to cover?  Jump over to the Learn2GroomDogs Facebook page and tell us.

Click here for a complete video list to make searching Learn2GroomDogs.com even easier! 

Make it a great day!

~Joelle Asmondy


Presenting a Professional Image – It’s time to revisit an important topic.

As pet care ambassadors, it’s our job to keep things looking professional. In my opinion, there are plenty of salons and pet businesses that fall far below the realm of professionalism.  I know the saying can be cheesy – but seriously – dress for success. Would you want to get have your personal pet groomed by someone who doesn’t take pride in his or her own personal presentation? Would you feel confident that his grooming shop was clean, sanitary, and safe?

professionalI know it can get tiring to dress up a little every day. However, our clients are entrusting us with the care of their pets. Like it or hate it, you can easily influence their trust factor simply by the way you look when you greet your clients. Think of yourself as your own brand. Don’t you want your product to be consistent and look great? Of course! And your clients are looking for that, too.

A fashionable, well-groomed appearance is essential when it comes to professionalism in this industry. When you are in a salon, kennel, pet resort, veterinarian clinic, or mobile grooming unit, you have to look the part. Come to work each day looking crisp, clean, and pulled together. Blue jeans, sweat pants, and athletic shorts ARE NOT professional attire! Black, white, or khaki slacks work well. Longer skirts are great for women and so are skorts in warmer climates. Conservative shorts or Capri’s may work for your environment, as well. I’ve even seen leggings work when paired with an over-sized, long top or smock. Look for clothing that is not prone to wrinkling or be prepared to learn how to iron!

Today, there are many options for hair-repelling garments. There are all types of tops and bottoms in a wide variety of styles.  If you work in a salon with a dress code, this may be easier. If not, have some fun with the pet styling fashions that are available. It may even be a good idea to keep an extra outfit or smock around the shop as a back-up. If you get drenched or messy, a quick change will instantly boost your comfort level and mood.

Remember, low-cut tops and short-shorts are never professional!  If you have shorts that are too short or a top that is too revealing (especially when you are squatting down to pick up a dog), then you’re not displaying professionalism. Muscle shirts and shirts with the sleeves cut off don’t make the grade, either.

Don’t forget your footwear.  Most pet groomers are on their feet for hours. You are standing, lifting, bending, squatting, and twisting – all day long. Although clients may not be looking at your feet, having solid, supportive footwear will promote comfort for to you. Being comfortable makes it easy for you to be warm and friendly to all your clients. Supportive footwear will also enhance the longevity of your career.  Over the long haul, your feet will take a beating.  Don’t skimp on your footwear. Invest in the best.

Scent is a very powerful sense. When it comes to your perfume, cologne, or fragrance you put on pets, be light-handed with the spray. Many people have allergies and are sensitive to fragrance. Plus, if you have multiple staff members wearing all different scents, it can be unpleasant for all. The same can be said for your makeup and hair color.  You want to appeal to a wide range of clients, so conservative is best in most cases. When in doubt, be a minimalist. Remember, you can always “be yourself” once you leave the shop.

While we are on scent – what about your breath? If you are communicating to others – clients or coworkers – bad breath is down-right offensive. Brush, floss, and use a mouthwash regularly. Not only will it save your teeth, your clients won’t be offended as you discuss what trim will work best on Fluffy today.  Breath mints and gum can be helpful between brushings. Lose the gum quickly once it has done its job. Chewing gum in front of clients is distracting and it is unprofessional in front of clients. It’s no fun to listen to someone chomping away while on the phone, either. The same can be said for eating and drinking on the floor. Keep snack and coffee breaks limited to behind closed doors.

Proper hygiene is crucial. It should go unsaid, but being clean and odor-free is a must. There is nothing more offensive – and embarrassing – than personal body odor. The famous motivational speaker Zig Ziglar, said, “People often say that motivation doesn’t last. Well, neither does bathing – that’s why we recommend it daily.” Nothing could be more true!

Your own hair needs to be clean and simply styled. If your hair is long, get it tied back and away from your face. As your work with clippers or shears, you don’t want to be trimming a lock of your own hair as you scissor that leg. I hate to think of how many people with long hair have caught their tresses in the spinning grinder as they worked. Ouch! Or worse yet, drag it through anal gland expressions, defecation, or urine.

proHaving a touch of jewelry is a nice finishing touch.  Done well, it always reflects positively. However, just like with fragrance – go light. A few simple rings. A durable watch (and you always need to know the time!!). If your ears are pierced – stick with super simple earrings – something a dog can’t accidentally catch in a paw, ripping your ear lobe. If you opt for a necklace, keep it tasteful. Don’t be in love with it. Dogs will catch it in their paws and break it, eventually. The same thing with is true with bracelets.

Having well-groomed fingernails is what I consider a bonus. Working with dirty dogs and trimming toenails lends itself to dirty fingernails – even if you do a lot of bathing. Trimming Poodle feet has a tendency chip fingernails. Personally, I liked to keep my nails painted. Painted fingernails will hide all sorts of flaws. Unfortunately, when you do a lot of bathing, standard nail polish has a tendency to peel off quickly – sometimes in as little as one day.  My solution was to have my fingernails professionally done every two weeks. Both acrylic and shellac nail applications seem hold up well to the abuse groomers put their hands through. Ragged nails on women and men can be easily tidied up. When you give the pet to the owner, their eyes are naturally drawn to your fingers as you hand over the leash. Wouldn’t filed nails make a great impression? Plus, it gives you a little time to pamper your most valuable asset – YOUR HANDS!

Pay attention to the details. Judy Hudson is one our popular Learn2GroomDogs.com Training Partners. In her video, What I Know For Sure she shares this tip: “It doesn’t cost a lot to be clean. It doesn’t cost a lot of money to be neat and tidy. All it takes is a little elbow grease.”

When we become frustrated that no one seems to take us seriously, we need to look objectively at ourselves to see if we are projecting professionalism.  If you have clients who…

  • fail to show up for scheduled appointments,
  • don’t bother to call when they have to cancel an appointment, or
  • constantly haggle with you over grooming prices,

…it’s a sign of a lack of respect for you and your profession. It may be time to be honest about your personal presentation. Your appearance should convey the message, “I’m a professional and I deserve respect.” When you respect yourself, others will, too.

As pet care ambassadors, not only is it our job to groom pets – but it’s also our job to present a professional image for our industry. Can you afford to look like you just rolled out of bed and ran into work? What about trade shows? How does it look when you accept your award at a grooming competition when the pet looks better than you do? How can you command respect from your peers and clients when you don’t look the part? I don’t know any successful person who doesn’t sweat the details. Being impeccable, both personally and in your workspace, shows the client that you care about yourself. The message you are sending out is that you are confident with your skills. You are successful. You respect yourself enough to do the same for them – and for their pet.

What do you think? Do you feel like a professional? Jump over to the Learn2GroomDogs Facebook page and tell us about it.

Happy trimming,

~Melissa


Making the Most of a Seminar

DogStudyingWith the Atlanta Pet Fair just around the corner, I thought it would be a good time to revisit one of my favorite topics: getting the most out of a seminar.

When you attend trade shows and clinics, preparing in advance can help you make the most of this experience.  Seminars are a great way to improve your skills and recharge your batteries.  Meeting your mentors and soaking up their knowledge is a fantastic opportunity, and if you can see and hear them in action, it maximizes the experience.  When you know what you need and what you hope to get out of the session, you can better prepare yourself to squeeze out as much as you can from your time together.

1.  Step into the session with a very open mind.

If you are young and fresh to the industry, the amount of information that you get can be intimidating.  Listen, take notes, and soak up every bit of knowledge that you can.  Sometimes that may mean suspending what you know in order to make room for something new.  Trying new techniques or ideas can be uncomfortable just because you’ve never tried it before.  Keeping an open mind enables you to break from your routine to get different results.  With time and practice, the awkwardness goes away and you become more efficient.  Remember: having more tools, techniques, and knowledge allows you to have multiple approaches to a problem.

2.  Make efficient use of the time available.

Many trainers at these sessions have limited time.  They are often rushing from one obligation to another – judging competitions, speaking in seminars, or providing hands-on clinics.  If they can, many will take the time to answer your questions.  If you know what you need to ask, it helps you make the best use of the brief time you may have together.  Be prepared – write down your questions in advance so you don’t forget something important or stumble over your words.  Being ready to participate in the learning experience helps you make the best use of the session – and the presenter will respect you for it.

3.  Don’t be nervous – plan ahead.

With so much to see and do at trade shows, it’s easy to feel overwhelmed.  Break out the catalog and study the floor plan before you arrive.  Map out your plan of attack to make sure you get to everything you need to see.  Some shows have free apps you can download to help make the most out of your experience.  Know the schedule of events so you don’t miss that speaker you’ve been hoping to see.  Sometimes it’s good to go to shows like this with a friend – divide and conquer, then compare notes later.

UntitledAs your knowledge and skills advance, the clinics won’t be as daunting. They will become a great way for you to fine-tune your skills.  You can begin to network and exchange thoughts with others in the industry who can provide insight when you need it.  Plus, these types of functions are a great way to invigorate your career.

These principles remain valid for many forms of advanced learning in the pet grooming industry. Maybe you don’t have the opportunity to do a hands-on training session. There is a wealth of information to learn from these all-star pet stylists. You might be in the audience at a trade show, pet grooming competition or watching a grooming video lesson featuring one of these top stylists. The better you can execute the core skills with your everyday grooming, the easier it will be to successfully transfer their lessons to your own grooming table.

If you are not as accomplished as these award-winning and highly successful pet groomers are — take note. You can learn a lot from their well-developed skills. Learning new skills, tips, and tricks make grooming pets all that more fun!

Click here to see a seminar in action!

Happy Trimming!

~ Melissa

What do YOU want most from a seminar?


Time = Money in a Pet Grooming Salon

blog imagerrTime is money in our business. Sure, we love pets. I don’t know anyone who gets involved in this career who isn’t passionate about animals. Still – time is money. And in this fast paced world, it never seems any of us have enough of either!

My goal is always to turn a small to medium-sized pet in an hour or less; bathe, dry, haircut, and/or finish-work on a bath and brush style pet.

If you are not turning at least a dog an hour, you have an issue somewhere in your routine.

Here are some ideas/methods that allow seasoned pet professionals to hit that goal. Take a read and see if you can identify ideas you can try to help increase your speed in the grooming department. The times given are for small to medium-sized pets.

Prep-Work: 5 – 15 minutes

  • Get the dog to the tub as quickly as possible. In the case of a 6 week or less small pet, 5 minutes would be enough time to do the nails, ears, and privates.
  • On a six-week or more pet, you may take up to 15 minutes to do the prep work. Quickly knock off the bulk of the coat to minimize wash and dry time. But still, no more than 15 minutes.
  • Leave loose matting alone. Soap, lather, conditioners, and high velocity dryers are magic on a clean coat. It will be much easier to remove in the bath and blow out stage.
  • If water cannot penetrate the mat or tangled coat, it needs to be removed prior to bathing.
  • Notice trouble areas whether it be dirt, oil, or matting. Pay attention to those areas when you move through the grooming process and handle them when it would be most effective.

Bathing Time: 5 – 10 minutes

  • Let gravity do the work when wetting a dog down. For smaller dogs, stand them up and let the water run from their shoulders.
  • Don’t worry about getting them TOTALLY soaked if you dilute your shampoo. Diluting shampoo allows for the water to act as a distributing agent of the shampoo, allowing for even saturation.
  • If you are working with a shampoo dilution ratio of 15:1 or more – skip wetting the dog down all together prior to applying shampoo. Just apply the shampoo and water together at the same time.
  • Apply shampoo in the same order, every time. Let gravity do the work. Start at the back, down the legs, under the tail, ears, and face.
  • Use a scrub brush or a rubber curry on very dirty dogs . This works well in exceptionally dirty areas to enhance speed, thoroughness, and ease of cleaning.
  • If washing twice, don’t worry about getting every trace of shampoo from the coat on the first rinse, only enough to remove the bulk of the dirt build-up.
  • If dealing with exceptionally dirty areas, let ‘em soak a bit before you handle them. Coated faces often have hardened food in them. Tackling them before the food has time to soften causes you too much work and discomfort for the pet. Use a bristled brush, toothbrush, or even a slicker brush for really tough, stuck in food particles.
  • If dealing with major mats, utilize a slicker brush in the tub. Just be sure to protect the skin while brushing through the matted coat. The shampoo will aid in making the coat slippery, much like getting a stubborn ring off a finger.
  • Use the correct shampoo for the job, especially in the “problem areas.”
  • Utilize some sort of squeegee to aid in the speedy and thorough removal of shampoo.
  • If the coat does not feel “squeaky clean,” it’s not rinsed well enough. Double check the area for soap residue or cleanness. Unclean coats appear oily when dry and will never allow for a quality finish in the final product. Soap residue can also lead to skin irritation.
  • Have a routine that you use to wash every dog and follow it every time. Repeating the same method EVERY TIME builds consistency, effectiveness, thoroughness, and speed.

Drying Time: 5 – 10 minutes

  • Squeegee and squeeze as much excessive water off as possible in the tub.
  • Utilize a towel magnet to take off the majority of the moisture.
  • Use a second towel to wrap the pet. Hold off on areas that do not lend themselves to wrapping. You will not be as effective as possible if there is any water dripping off any portion of the pet, feet, ears, tail, etc. You will also be ineffective if there is a visible spray of water coming off the pet when you do use the high velocity dryer with a condensing cone.
  • Turn on your dryer to let it come up to running temperature a few minutes prior to drying the pet.
  • If the pet is new to you or seems nervous, introduce the pet to the dryer slowly.
  • Once the pet has accepted the dryer, start at either the base of the tail or the withers. Where you start depends on how you want to set up the coat for finish work. Blow the coat so that it lies close to the skin (example: many Terrier or Sporting dogs) or fluffed up for clipper work (most haircut type trims). Next, move to the legs and finally the chest. If the dog allows it, work the head quickly as well. Go over the entire pet first with a condensing cone to remove loose water. Cover every inch of the pet in this manner. If there is a fair amount of moisture still retained in the coat during this process, hold a towel just ahead of where you are working to catch the spray, minimizing how much moisture is passed on to other areas.
  • If you are dealing with a curly coated dog, leave the condensing cone on to straighten the coat out, working the shortest areas first, moving into the longer areas and finishing with the head, ears, and tail. Do not move out of a small area until the coat is perfectly dry and fluffed.
  • If dealing with a shedding dog or a slightly matted dog, leave the condensing cone on, working in the same order as described earlier. Once the bulk of the moisture is removed, start again at the rump and work small areas until dry and loose coat is no longer coming out. Keep the air flow as close to the body as possible without folding the coat back onto itself.
  • If dealing with mats or tangles, use the force of the air to move the mats away from the skin. Stay in one area and move the air slightly, pushing the mats out. Watch the area closes to monitor the progress. It will look like a spider web as you loosen the tangle.
  • If dealing with a slightly wavy or straight coated dog, once the bulk of the moisture is removed, remove the condensing cone and hold the nozzle right next to the skin allowing for maximum temperature and lift of the coat.
  • If the pet has a long, shedding type coat, remove the condensing cone and place the air close to the pet’s body. Use a heavy brush where the air is flowing to “boost” the rest of the loose, spider webbed, coat out of the pet.
  • If dealing with longer coat that will need to be scissored or trimmed with a long guard attachment, “stretch drying” will be needed for additional lift and straightening of the coat. Use a heat dryer and a brush. With very light and rapid strokes, brush only where the air is blowing on the pet. Work against the grain if lift is needed for fullness. Work with the grain if a close lying coat is desired. Use caution – too much heat applied to an area can be painful or even burn the pet. In many cases, only sections will need to be attended to in this manner for optimum quality.
  • If you noticed mats still in the coat, finish with stretch drying the areas. Utilizing a heavy brush. Use line brushing techniques from the toes up the leg. Work with very small sections at a time and keeping the touch of the brush very light. Rapidly pat and pull the coat where the air is flowing over the area. Very little heat is needed for this method.

Clipping Time: 20 – 30

  • You are never done clipping until there is not anymore coat coming off when the coat is properly set up.
  • Three pass passes over the pet and you should have the coat super smooth… anything less than that will reduce time.
  • Minimize the amount of movement around the pet. Arrange the pet on the table so that the loop is taut but not tight. Place a small pet crosswise on the table minimizing groomer stretch and maximizing comfort.
  • Start your clipper work by standing behind the dog and pull the clippers towards you starting from the neck or withers. If you are reverse clipping, reverse the process by starting at the rear or the dog and work towards the head.
  • Handle the bulk of the body first, including the underside if that is to be clipped as well.
  • Lift the pet from the haunches to effectively get the undercarriage while still standing behind the pet.
  • Move to the side of the pet and work the neck and shoulder areas. Return to the rear of the pet and back brush the entire dog. Repeat process a second time. Back brush once again and check for high spots or rough spots.

Attitude

  • Work methodically; be friendly but aloof with the pet. Correct any undesirable action before it becomes a major problem. Accept what you cannot correct and work with it in a calm, cool, and collected manner. Once the job is complete, they you can snuggle with the pet and let it know how much you enjoy your job.
  • Always remember the “Three Cs” – Calm, Cool, and Collected. Whenever you forget them, you are wasting time and energy.

blog rrJust like pennies add up to dollars, seconds add up to minutes and hours. Anywhere you can save time without making a major sacrifice in safety or quality, it’s a skill or technique worth learning.

The most indispensable thing any of us can have it time; when it’s gone, it’s gone – never to be retrieved.

Time Frames for ProceduresrrHere is a graphic breakdown of how long each phase of grooming should take.  Print off a copy and keep one by your work station to help keep you on track.  Click here to download the PDF: Time Frames for Procedures.

Happy trimming,

~Melissa

P.S.

Click here to see the latest video available on Learn2GroomDogs.com.

 

 

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Customer Service Basics

happy-clientrrrThis is the time of year when we think a lot about being grateful. As someone who works with people every day, I often think about customer service and how much of it makes an impact on our business and ourselves.

It’s easy to take your customers for granted when your shop is booked out several weeks in advance – or if you’re the only game in town. Sooner or later, another business like yours is going to spring up nearby. Are you ready? If all things are equal…

  • convenience
  • location
  • quality
  • price

…what do you do to set yourself apart? When your clients have coffee with their friends do they say, “They aren’t that great, but they’re so close to my house…” OR “I have to drive out of my way to get there, BUT IT’S WORTH IT.

I’ve been to many businesses, large and small, corporate and home-grown, where the service has been so great that I was already making plans to come back before I even left the store. And it wasn’t even that they did something over the top for me – you know the stories:

  • The guy who wanted a lemonade with lunch but the restaurant didn’t have it, so a server ran to the store next door and bought one for him.
  • The store clerk who gave out the wrong change and walked to the customer’s house to correct the situation. (Yes, that WAS Abraham Lincoln.)

I’m not only a customer service provider, I’m also a customer.

I always think about both sides of each business transaction when I’m eating in a restaurant or picking out new pens at the office supply store. I expect to be noticed when I enter a business establishment, be treated fairly by someone who doesn’t treat me like an interruption, and helped to get what I need in the most efficient manner possible so I can get on with my day.

blogWhile the stories above are nice, I would never expect someone to go so out of his way that it makes the next customer in line wait (I’m not the only person in the store, nor am I more important than anyone else.) Or have the rest of the staff have to work extra hard to cover everything because one of their co-workers was being monopolized. I personally believe that when I enter a store as a customer, I am entitled to the services and products they provide. I do not believe I am entitled to receive a custom order every time I walk through the door.

With that being said, I do have standards and expectations for how I treat customers and for how I expect to be treated. When I feel I’ve received great service, it’s because:

  • I was greeted with enthusiastic and authentic friendliness as soon as I walked through the door. Did they stand up and come to me instead of shouting across the lobby? Which makes you feel more welcome?
  • They knew about their products and could help me find and choose the right one for my needs. I felt confident about my purchase.
  • The business was clean, organized, well-lit, and smelled nice. ‘Nuff said.
  • The employees were well-groomed, easily identifiable as staffers, and seemed to like their jobs. (I don’t expect business suits. I expect clean and neatly kept hair and beards, clean clothes appropriate for the business, and appropriate language being used.)
  • There were enough employees to handle the workload. I don’t mind waiting, especially if they’ve acknowledged me. A quick smile and a look that says, “I see you – I’ll be with you as quickly as I can,” is enough.  Ignore me – I’m gone, no matter how fast my money is burning a hole in my pocket.
  • The parking lot, sidewalks, and exterior were neat, well-lit, and safe. Nothing fancy – just clean.
  • My transactions were completed correctly and I was treated like a valued guest even as I walked through the door. Nothing gives you buyer’s remorse faster than staffers high-fiving and congratulating themselves on the sale before the door even closes behind you.

These are the basics, folks. We can go on and on about more possibilities and in greater detail, but the bottom line is this: great service is what brings people back. It should be the reason people come to your business, not the reason they don’t.

Remember, even if you are booked for an entire year in advance, there’s no excuse for taking your client for granted. Be thankful – this is the time of year when we think about this the most! After all, just because they have a recurring appointment in 6 weeks doesn’t mean they’ll keep it if you don’t treat them well.

Being busy does not excuse rudeness with clients – it’s not their fault that you don’t have enough people to handle the workload, even if it’s just for that afternoon. Your problems are not their problems – sharing your burden is not the service they were hoping you’d provide. Believe me when I say I understand about staffing budgets… sometimes you can’t afford to hire anyone – I’ve been there.

Do your best for each client.

Be present.

Be nice.

And above all…

SMILE… and be thankful.

You just might find that you enjoy your day a little more.

~Joelle Asmondy

Learn2GroomDogs.com has hundreds of videos to help you become the groomer and businessperson you’ve always wanted to be.  Check out one of our videos here:

[youtube]http://youtu.be/alZtP-F7yDk?list=UU6QEPG7JG7exQRpEr9e_nHA[/youtube]

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Surviving the Holiday Rush

blogrrAfter working professional in the pet grooming industry over 35 years, the only time I worry about dealing with clients is the Christmas holiday season.

The two weeks preceding the actual day can be a chaotic mess.  With Christmas shopping, decorating, baking, family gatherings, holiday socials to attend, and every regular client you have wanting to be booked as close to Christmas as possible . . . phew!  December can be an exhausting month!

But, wait – t doesn’t have to be!  Christmas organizing all year round will let you create that picture perfect holiday without nearly the stress.

Getting Organized & Ready

The Salon

  1. Is it clean – really clean? Floors, walls, kennels?
  2. Is the lighting up to snuff?
  3. Are your laundry machines working properly?
  4. Are the tubs draining?
  5. What are the conditions of your pet dryers?
  6. Are your blowing fuses on a regular basis in one outlet?
  7. Does your computer need to be de-bugged for a glitch free running machine?
  8. Do you have a stock pile of all the office supplies you’ll need?
  9. Are your blades shears all sharp and ready to go?
  10. Are your clippers operating smoothly?
  11. What is your stock level of all your dispensable products? Shampoos, conditioners, cologne, flea foggers, cotton balls, ear cleaner, etc.
  12. Are there plenty of towels on the shelves?

The Holiday Image

  1. Are your holiday decorations fresh and up-to date for your salon?  Keep it simple and easy… pick a simple theme and work with it.
  2. Do you have your client’s gifts ready to go so they can easily be passed out when the client is having their pet groomed?  Remember, expense isn’t the key, packaging is. Pay attention to the details.
  3. Have fun with festive accessories.  Head gear, costume jewelry – anything that can bring a smile to someone else is a good thing.
  4. Are all your holiday bows special and pre-tied?  Are bandanas ready to be attached to the pet?
  5. Do you have red and green nail polish that is actually usable?  What about other colors?
  6. Do you have plenty of air freshener to lend a sparkle to the air without being overly powering?
  7. Music is everywhere – is your holiday collection handy or is there an ‘all Christmas’ station you can tune into?
  8. Have you brought extra clothing or makeup to freshen up after work before heading out?
  9. If you’re worried that you’ll be slow after the holiday season, do you have any grooming promotions for January and February that you can be handing out now?

$$ Saving Tip: Buy all your holiday items the day after the holiday to save up to 50% the retail price; fabric for bandanas, decorations, Christmas cards…

Getting Through the Dogs

  1. What are the pros and cons of working extra hours?
  2. Should you take on new clients?
  3. Make sure all your regular clients have their holiday appointments BEFORE taking on new clients or ‘non- regulars.’
  4. Hiring extra help – is there something you can easily delegate with some basic training that would free you up to deal with clients?  Cleaning? Answering the phone?  Taking out the trash?
  5. Have you worked out a system to maximize the types of pets you take per stylist?
  6. Work out a drop-off and pick-up schedule that allows you to stay focused on grooming pets.
  7. Stay calm, cool, and collected no matter what happens during the course of the day.
  8. Set realistic time goals that push you, but stay on target.  Use an egg timer if necessary or place a clock where you can’t miss it – no matter what.
  9. Use every speed trick in the book from prepping – to bathing – to drying – to trimming.
  10. When clients pick up their pet, are you offering a promotion to assist in re-booking 6 weeks down the road when it can traditionally be really slow?

Organization on a Personal Level

  1. Do you have a master list of all the things you need to do for the holidays?  Is it broken down into smaller do-able chunks?  What about a master gift list that’s simply updated year to year?  Master Christmas card list?  Weekly meal planner? Regular shopping tick-sheet list?  For great inspiration go to www.organizedchristmas.com
  2. Are you are a store, catalog, or Internet shopper?  Are you prepared to have ALL your holiday gift shopping done by December 15?  What about the wrapping?
  3. As time gets closer, demands get greater and healthy meals go by the wayside…  If you are in a city, do you have a full selection of menus at your fingertips?  Who has great take-out that you quickly sweep in and grab on the way home or while you are at the shop?  If you are a country dweller, is your freezer packed with great frozen meals that only require reheating whether homemade or store-bought.
  4. Does a messy house stress you out?  Before is gets really busy, clean and organize the house or hire someone to help you… (or if you have kids, enlist their help.)  Also think about having carpets cleaned, windows washed, or dropping you heaping laundry off at a laundromat, letting them do it for you.
  5. Do you need a masseuse or chiropractor to help you stay loose and limber ? If you do, book your appointment early.

After the Holiday?

  1. Take the week off! Trust me – your clients don’t need you for the week between Christmas and New Year’s!  Take that time and spend it on yourself and your loved ones!  You’ve earned it.

With a little bit of pre-planning, you’ll be breezing through the holiday.  It’s so much more enjoyable for everyone to be in a festive spirit instead of being the Grinch.  Put some effort into setting yourself up to enjoy the best of the season – it makes the time fly by.  And you might even get a few moments to relish this time of year!

We had a lot to say on the subject in this clip.  You can see the rest on Learn2GroomDogs.com!

Happy trimming!

~Melissa

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Nine Seconds to Make a First Impression

Dog-Computer-Wallpaper-1024x768rrYou meet someone for the first time – it could be a new client walking through your doors, someone at a grooming trade show or a new team member.

The moment that stranger sees you, their brain makes a thousand assumptions.  It might be a new client or someone you meet anywhere else.  You are giving off clues about yourself before you ever begin to speak.  They are gathering a wealth of nonverbal clues about you.

What are nonverbal clues?

Nonverbal clues include all the ways you present and express yourself, apart from the actual words you speak.  Things like eye contact, gestures, posture, body movements, and tone of voice.  All of these signals can convey important information that isn’t put into words.  They are extremely important at work and in business.  Perception is reality.

If you are dealing with a prospective customer – the following items will instantly fly through their head upon your first meeting:

  • Are you trustworthy?
  • Will you be kind to their pet?
  • Do you have the skills required to groom their dog or cat?
  • Are you likable?
  • Are you confident?
  • Will you charge a fair price for your services?

These impressions form at lightning speed.  Making major decisions about another person happens within seconds of meeting them.

Picture1In business, first impressions are crucial.  You can’t stop people from making snap decisions – the human brain is hardwired this way as prehistoric survival mechanism.  However, you can understand how to make those decisions work in your favor.

First impressions are more heavily influenced by nonverbal clues than verbal clues.  In fact, studies have found that nonverbal clues have over four times the impact on the impression you make than anything you say.

Here are nine nonverbal ways to make a positive first impression with a grooming client, a new team member or a new business associate.

  1. Present yourself professionally.  Blue jeans, sweatshirts, T-shirts and a baseball cap are not professional.  If you are in your shop or van, wear fresh garments that repel dirt, grime and hair.  At a trade show? Dress in ‘professional casual.’
  1. Pay attention to details.  Hair style, light make-up (for women) and your nails all give strong visual cues.  Having fun with personal style is fine – as long as it stays a little more on the conservative side.  Over-the-top piercings, tattoos and gauges will not instantly form a positive impression on most people you meet – especially prospective clients.
  1. Attitude – attitude – attitude.  People pick up on your attitude instantly.  Before you turn to greet someone, or address a team member, or walk into a trade show, think about the situation.  Make a conscious choice about the attitude you want to project.
  1. Fine-tune your posture.  Position and authority are non-verbally conveyed by height and space.  Standing tall, pulling your shoulders back, and holding your head high are all signs of confidence and competence.
  1. Facial expression.  Human faces are incredibly expressive including the eyes, eyebrows, mouth, and any other movement.  Open your eyes slightly more than normal to simulate the ‘eyebrow flash’.  This is the universal signal of recognition and acknowledgment.  Emotions such as anger, happiness, hurt, and boredom are all easily expressed with facial movements.
  1. Smile more.  A smile is an invitation, a sign of welcome.  It says you are friendly and approachable.  Smile at the pooch too.  Owners love that!
  1. Make eye contact.  To transmit energy look at someone’s eyes.  Looking into someone’s eyes indicate interest and openness.  And if that person has a pet in tow, make sure you look into the pets eyes as well.
  1. The handshake.  This is the quickest way to establish a connection.  It’s also the most effective.  Here’s an interesting fact.  On average it takes about three hours of continuous interaction to develop the same level a rapport that you get with a single handshake.  A firm handshake indicates a strong personality.  But don’t crush someone else’s hand – as groomers, our hands are typically really strong!  A weak handshake is taken as a lack of strength.
  1. Lean forward slightly.  Leaning forward shows you’re engaged and attentive.  But be respectful of the other person space.  That normally means staying about two feet away.

Every encounter from chatting with new clients, going to trade shows or attending training sessions presents an opportunity to meet people.  It’s a great way to network, expanding your professional contacts.  Making a positive first impression counts.  You’ve got nine seconds – but if you handle it well, those nine seconds are all you need.

~Happy trimming,

Melissa

PS.

You should check out our videos on Learn2GroomDogs.com.  Here is a featured video clip from our channel on YouTube:

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