It all started about 6 years ago.
I think it was 6 years ago, I can't remember anymore.
It all started with an innocent article that I wrote in one of my newsletters.
Come to think of it, it wasn't even an article, it was a couple of paragraphs.
What the heck am I talking about?
About 6 years ago I got what I thought was a bright idea.
My shop was very successful, and we were booking out almost three months in advance.
This was causing a problem for my faithful regular customers who came every 4-6 weeks.
It was also causing problems for me, because I was trying to fit everyone in to keep them on schedule.
So, I decided to write a couple paragraphs in my newsletter offering to pre-book 6 months of appointments in advance for anyone who was interested.
To my great surprise, about 60% of my customers took me up on this.
My daughter did the scheduling.
She likes doing that kind of stuff.
She is good at it.
She remembers everything, every dog, every customer.
I used to be like that.
I used to remember every dog I did, every customer.
Then I had kids.
My memory and my energy was sucked right out of me, a little more with each child.
I have three children and no memory left.
As for energy...what is that?
Well, our pre-scheduling worked pretty good for the first six months.
The only problem was, we were still taking call-in appointments.
The second half of the year was quickly getting booked, and we still had all of the pre-booked customers that needed to be booked for the second half of the year.
Did I just lose you?
I lost me somewhere in all of that.
So don't worry if you did not understand any of that, neither did I, and I wrote it!
Anyway, pre-booking became so popular, that the next year, 90% of our clientele wanted to pre-book for the whole year.
That is what we have been doing now for the last 6 years.
Every October I write a letter and attach a schedule form for my customers to fill out.
We mail these out at the beginning of October and give the customer till the end of October to return the form.
This is the pile of returned forms for next year.
We ask our customers to tell us how many weeks they want to go between groomings, and give us 3 choices of appointment times, and days of the week they want to come in.
We ask for 3 choices of days and times so we have something to work with, in case their first choice is not available.
My daughter still does the scheduling.
Every year I ask her if she wants me to do it.
Every year it is the same answer..."No, Mom. You can't remember half of the dogs. You would have to look them up, and you give them everything they want!"
Actually, I think she secretly likes doing the scheduling.
She likes organizing things, and planning things.
Of course our customers also drive my daughter insane.
It is amazing how someone can screw up filling out a simple form.
This customer was fairly simple, except for the fact that they gave us only one day to work with.
This customer sent her own dates along with her form.
I have set up a system were we pre-book our appointments by seniority, the customer who has been coming to us for the longest to the most recently new customer.
It always amazes me when someone will complain that some of their appointments are for 6 weeks instead of 5 weeks.
"I wanted my Fluffy groomed every 5 weeks. A couple of these appointments are for 6 weeks, she can't go that long," the customer will complain.
"Yes, that is because 5 weeks was booked when we got to your name, and you only gave us one day and one time to work with," I explain.
"But I have been coming to you for a long time." the customer insists.
Your right, I have been grooming Fluffy since the beginning of 2009, but I have customers who I have been grooming their dogs since 1985, before I even opened my shop. So, unfortunately there are about 300 other customers ahead of you." I say as nice as I can with a polite smile.
"Oh.., I didn't know you do so many dogs." the customer says.
"No, my shop is here only to groom your dog," I wish I could say instead of thinking it.
So my daughter has been working on the scheduling every night for almost a month, for a couple hours each night.
She just finished the other night.
Now it is time to transfer all of those dates to a large appointment card for the customer.
It is my turn to help fill these out (no memory needed) so that we can start handing them out to customers between Thanksgiving and New Years.
Then comes my daughters all time favorite time.
When the customers look at their schedules and want to change things because they forgot to tell us about a vacation time, or some other thing they just now remembered.
So time to tackle this stack of giant appointment cards.
Oh, and you would be amazed at how many customers lose these giant appointment cards.
One last thing that my daughter is very proud of.
A few years ago she decided to photo copy every one of the giant appointment cards after we fill them out and before we give them to the customer.
Because, one year we had a couple of customers come in on the wrong day or the wrong time and claimed that that was the day and time that we wrote down.
Now you must remember that my daughter just about has a photographic memory, and she swore that the customer was wrong, but she had no proof other than what was on our appointment book.
My daughter was never going to let that happen again.
So now if a customer tries to do that now, my daughter whips her binder out with all of the copies just to have the satisfaction of proving them wrong.
Of course Mom screws that up by taking the dog anyway.
Thank God that does not happen very often.
Happy Grooming, MFF