About Me:

I am a professional Pet Groomer. I have been grooming for 28 years. This Blog is a kind of diary of my work. I wish I had started years ago, writing some of the experiences I have had while grooming. Most days are fun, some can be sad, some can be just down right crazy. If you are a pet owner and come across this blog, I hope it helps you understand how your pet is groomed. If you are a Pet Groomer, I hope you can relate to some of the stories. Maybe even learn a grooming tip or can leave a friendly grooming tip for me. There is always something to learn, no matter how long you have been grooming.

Sunday, March 27, 2011

An Apology & Customer Service

Wow, I just went back and read my post from Friday, and I have to apologize to anyone who reads my blog.
I can only say that emotions were running very high that night.
I very rarely have confrontations with anyone...ever.
I don't like them, I don't want the drama in my life.
I like a nice, quiet, easy going life.
I don't ride roller coasters, not at the Amusement Parks and not in life if I can help it.

In all of the years that I have been grooming and owned my own shop, I have had only a handful of confrontations with customers.
I do everything that I can to avoid one.
But some people are just nuts.
I have also come to believe that some people love to start trouble.
I have almost always been able to defuse a situation with a smile and a ton of sincere sweet talk.
My husband and kids just shake their heads in disbelief when I go out to talk to a grumpy customer, smooth things over, and have them smiling within a few minutes.
My husband says that sugar drips from my mouth.

Well, I don't know about that, but I do know that you get a lot further with a smile then a confrontation.
Yet, sometimes a confrontation cannot be avoided.

Friday was one of those times.

All I can say is, if you have a customer come in and some sixth scents in you sends off alarms...listen!
I knew this lady was going to be a problem months ago.
But, I am very good at biting my tongue.
I do let my customers get away with a lot before I have had enough.
I know there are other groomers, and business people out there who would say, 'don't let them get away with anything from the start.'

I really don't mind working with grumpy customers, because I have managed to turn most of them into really great, nice customers.
You never know, sometimes people have had really bad experiences someplace else, and they come in expecting the same from you.
I tend to give people the benefit of the doubt, and most of the time they turn out to be good people.

Not always.

The customer on Friday was not a bad person, just a pain in the a** type of customer who constantly expected you to move appointments around at the last minute, or cancel at the last minute with more then one dog, and best of all, tells you how to do your job.

The last straw was when she called back on Thursday (after she got her reminder call for Friday's appointment) and asking to cancel another appointment she had for this coming Tuesday, and moving that dog to the Thursday appointment she had for the other dog.

Is your head spinning yet?

Mine is.

My husband explained that she could not switch the dogs because the dog she had scheduled for Tuesday was a biting, mean, old Cocker, and he needs extra time.
I have groomed him twice.
He had to be muzzled for both groomings, for the entire grooming.
He is the type of biter that goes for blood and does not stop till he gets some.
Well, Friday I already had a large, partially paralyzed Cocker coming in for a grooming.
I will only groom One special needs or special case dog in a day, and I groom a lot of them.
She seemed to understand this, until she came in to pick up her other dog on Friday.
(Which turned out to be an elderly Springer that was overgrown, matted and could not stand for more then 5 minutes at a time.)
As she was paying my daughter, she said that she needed an appointment now for the Cocker, because he really needed to be groomed.

Remember now, she had an appointment for that dog that she canceled this coming Tuesday.

My daughter told her that the first opening we had for a special case dog was in May.
This owner immediately got upset and accused us of not wanting to groom her dog.
"I think you just don't want to groom my dog," she said.
"I don't know why you need to make special time for him," she conitnued.
"Just put a muzzle on him and he is fine to groom," she raddled on.
"My last groomer had him done in 45 minutes," she finished.
"I find it hard to believe that they could finish a Cocker in 45 minutes, but if they could you could use them again and not wait for us," my daughter informed her.
"I can't, they went out of business, and don't be flippant with me!" she told my daughter angrily.

Next, my daughter did the right thing.
She turned around and came to get me.

Now you have to understand why this bothered my daughter so much.
She has had to deal with a lot of customers talking down to her because she is so young.
They start out talking to her, then avoid her if me or my husband come into the lobby.
Some don't want to talk to her about grooming because they think she is too young to know anything.
Some don't like to be told how to brush their dog or other things, just because they don't like someone younger telling them how to do things.

I remember the same thing bothering me when I first started to groom.
Customers just would not listen to me.

Case in point.

My daughter has been grooming this dog for awhile now.
About 6 months ago she showed me a lump that she felt in this dogs neck.
At the time you could only feel the lump if you held the dogs head up and back a little.
The lump was about the size of a dime.

The owners were told about the lump several times.
They were also told every time my daughter thought it was getting larger.

My daughter grooms this dog every 6 weeks.

Six weeks ago you could still not see the lump, you could only feel it.

This is what it looked like Friday.
The Vet will not remove it.
The owners said that if they knew sooner, the Vet may have been able to do something.

Needless to say my daughter was once again very upset that the owners were not listening to her.

So, when the other owner accused her of not giving an appointment and called her flippant, she had had it.
So had I.

I did not raise my voice.
I was not mean.
But I was firm when I told this owner that my daughter was not lying to her about how long she would have to wait for an appointment.
I was firm when I told her that I would not do a rush job on an old, biting Cocker, and I didn't care how fast the other groomer had groomed the dog, I would groom the dog the way that was comfortable for me and her dog.
And, I was firm when I told her that I did not appreciate her coming into my shop and upsetting my daughter because she could not get an appointment when she wanted an appointment.

I wasn't the one who canceled the one she had.

I was told that my customer service left something to be desired.
I was also told that I was in denial about my daughters manners.
That is when the conversation was brought to an end.
"You don't want to go there!" I said. "It is time to take your dog home."

There is a lot of the conversation that I left out.
She went on and on about customer service and how I schedule my dogs and how I should groom.
Neither of us ever raised our voices.
It did not get ugly.
She just would not stop.

To make all of this even worse, another customer walked in and listened to the last 10 minutes of the conversation.
I could not stop apologizing to that customer about what he had to listen to.

His answer to me..."Don't worry about it, she was a nut."

That didn't make me feel any better.
I was shaking.
I run a very professional shop.
I spent a long time working on a good reputation.
I don't like anyone leaving my shop thinking they got bad service.
No matter how much of a PITA they were.

Okay, I have been rambling long enough.




Is anyone still there?

If you are, thanks for hanging around and reading my crazy, rambling story.

By the way, Saturday was a good grooming day.
Everything went smoothly.

I promise, my next post will be better.
I am working hard to not let people bother me, and not hold on to stuff.
All I can do is be the best groomer I can be, and give the best customer service that I know how.

Listen to those alarms in your head.
No customer is worth the drama.

Happy Grooming, MFF


  1. I know how your daughter feels! I've only been grooming for 2 years but every shop I've worked at NOBODY would listen to me about anything ! I can say anything the head groomer says (e.g. Your dog is matted to the skin! I will have to shave him!) and owners hardly listen to a word that I say (e.g. *whiiine* why can't you just BRUSH him out???), but if the groomer says it...( He's matted, I have to shave him :/ ) customer goes (Okay! No problem!! See you in 3 hours :D ) When will it get better? :O

  2. Hi Abigail,
    I wish that I had an answer for you. I can only tell you the same thing that I tell my daughter, It will get better..slowly. Even after all of the years I have been grooming, I still have customers that just WILL NOT listen to what I am trying to tell them. I also tell my daughter that it is all in how the information is delivered too. There is a very fine line in the way you talk to a customer. I try to keep my voice very light and not condescending. I don't want the owner to feel like I am talking down to them. Some owners take offense when you tell them that their dog is matted no matter how nicely you put it. :/

  3. I don't know what is going through customer's heads, but when I used to take my dog to our old groomer (at age 14, before I myself learned how to groom), I would be patient and follow through with everything Pat (the groomer) said.

    She said we were her best customers and let us stay to watch her groom our dog and the other customers' dogs. She even started to let me help with handling and bathing. Watching Pat groom my dog is what taught me how to groom. I now, at age 17 can groom anything, but specialize in Miniature Schnauzers.

    Groomers are like professors when it comes to dog hair- you must *listen* to their words of wisdom, and then you can learn! :)

    1. Hi Code 7,
      I wish more of our customers would listen to the advice that we try to give them. It is the most frustration part of grooming..when customers act like we don't know what we are talking about. :(
      Every once in a while you DO get customers that will take your advice.
      Lisa, MFF

  4. I stumbled apon uour blog because i want to learn about doing a basic grooming on my mini poodle. For in between professional grooming. First any thoughts i had on becoming a professional groomer i quickly pushed out if my crazy head! What you groomers go through is unreal! I will never send my poodle in matted and i will be clear on whati want for a cut and i will be on time for appointments!!

    1. LOL!
      I am sure that you are a good customer. Just the fact that you were looking for information on how to groom your dog between professional groomings shows that. :)
      Lisa, MFF