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, June 5, 2011

Complaints and Compliments

I got both a complaint and a complement yesterday.
Within 10 minutes of each other.
Which one do you think stayed with me all day?

The complaint, of course.  :/

I am very proud to say that I do not get many complaints.
We work hard to make sure that we don't get any complaints, but of course, we are only human and it is almost impossible to please everyone all of the time.

Shortly before I opened my shop, I went through a groomers burnout.
It wasn't really the grooming that burnt me out, it was my employer at the time.
Can you say used and mistreated.
That man made going to work everyday miserable.
Anyway, I stopped grooming for about three months.

I didn't go far.  :)
I found a job answering phones and taking appointments for another groomer that I had gone to grooming school with.
She started up one of the first mobile grooming businesses in Maryland at the time.
She had 3 vans on the road.
I was to set appointments up for all three vans, and take messages for any complaints that called in for my friend to call back later and take care of.
I remember thinking, when she told me to take the messages for complaints, 'complaints'? 
Did they get a lot of complaints?'
It turned out that they got at least 2 to 3 a day.
A day!
I was amazed.
It was bad enough taking the message, I am glad that I didn't have to deal with the complaints.
I found out later why they got so many complaints, but that's another story.

I decided then and there that if I ever got my own place, I would not have complaints like that.

I do the best work I can with every dog.
Even dogs of owners that I don't particularly care for.
I once had another groomer tell me, that if I don't want to groom a particular dog again, because of the dog or the owner, I should do a crappy groom and the owner won't come back.
I looked at him like he was joking, but he was very serious.
He did not see anything wrong with that way of thinking.

I disagreed with him 100%.
I feel that every dog that walks out of my shop is a walking billboard.
Other people are going to look at that dog, and if they like what they see, they will ask the owner where they got their dog groomed, and I get a new customer.

I will admit that there have been some dogs that the owners have asked me to do such a goofy cut that I wanted to ask them not to tell anyone where they got their dog groomed.  :/

Okay, back to the complaint.

 The complaint was from this guys owner.

This little guy is one of my favorites.

His owner...not so much.

As my husband describes him, this owner comes in looking like he just smelled something really bad.
He never smiles.

I almost got him to smile once, I saw one corner of his mouth tilt up ever so slightly when I tried to joke about something.

This owner is one of those owners that, when I first started to groom would have scared and intimidated me.
It took along time for me to stop letting owners like him intimidate me.

Years ago, when I had only been grooming about two years, I had a new customer call for an appointment for her Yorkie.
When she made the appointment she commented that she hadn't found a groomer yet that would groom the dog right.
I still remember how nervous I felt about that dog coming in.
I had only been grooming for 2 years.
How could I possibly get this dogs grooming right, and please this customer if no one else had?
I was scared to death.
I hated that feeling.
I hated that someone could do that to me, when I was doing something that I loved so much.
That Yorkie turned out to be a tiny, very thick haired Yorkie.
She had enough hair for four Yorkies.
I remember standing there and asking that customer every question that I could think of, about how she wanted that dog groomed.
I wrote down everything she said.
I had instructions for the head, eyes, ears, body, feet, tail, belly.
The dog was very good, and I followed her instructions to the T.
At the time, she seemed to be a nice lady, she was just very intimidating to me.

I was so worried waiting for her to pick up her dog that I made myself sick.
Did I get it right?
Yes, I passed the test.
She was one of my first customers ever to book in advance.
 The customer was happy, and I continued to groom that dog for 12 more years, every 4 weeks like clock work.
I will admit that I was kind of hoping she wouldn't like the groom, and she would never come back.
I still got nervous every time that dog and owner came in.
Not the whole 12 years, but about 6 years of it.
It was crazy, because that owner never complained.

Finally, while grooming the dog one day, nervous a usual, I suddenly got mad at myself.
I gave myself a lecture about what I was doing to myself.
I told myself to 'cut it out!'
I did the best work that I could and if the owner didn't like it, well, then they would have to find someone else.
I don't know why it took me so long to develop that attitude.

I still groom with that attitude today.

I do have to admit that I would hate to lose this customer.
Well, not the customer, the dog.

He is such a sad little dog.
He comes in cowering every time.
I am sure that they take good care of him.
He is well feed, and they have him groomed about every 6-8 weeks.
I am just not sure how much affection he gets.
You can tell that he is never picked up, he clings to you for dear life.
His owner will not even pick him up when it is raining outside, to carry him to the car.
When he comes to pick up the dog, he greets him by telling him to 'sit'.

I know that every owner deals with their dogs in different ways, and that I should not judge.
This little guy just gives off such a sad fib, and I can tell when a dog is always watching to see if he is doing the wright thing and waiting to be corrected.

So I give him a ton of affection.

I can see him relaxing.

So he goes from hiding like this when first comes in...

To sitting up with more confidence by the time I am ready to dry him.

He still has such a sad face.

Anyway, what was the complaint?

There where three!

1~ The beard was  left uneven.

2~One ear was longer then the other.

3~There was a long tuff of hair left on the dog last time.

I was so surprised by the number of things that he said I messed up on, that I didn't really respond to the complaint.
I just kind of mumbled okay.

It was not that I couldn't believe that I messed something up, I am only human.
What I was having a hard time with was, how many things he said that I messed up on.
I put him on my table and tried to see what he was talking about, but he was too dirty.

                                  After the bath and blow dry >

Let's see, the ears look okay to me.
But, the beard!

How in the world did I miss that!

I just stood there staring at him, trying to figure out how I let this dog go home with his beard that uneven.

 As for the last complaint.

I could not find any long tuffs of hair sticking out on his body.

Even so, the uneven beard was bad enough.

Especially on a customers dog who never seems happy.
Of all people, why did I mess up on this customers dog?

I usually scoop out an area under the chin and down the throat to help get the beard even.

I usually use the same blade that I use on the body to do this.

I clip from the third whisker under the chin down and into the neck.

Then I trim and shape up the sides of the face and beard.

I scissor and blend in what I clipped under the chin.

I am embarrassed to admit that I spent forever making sure that the beard was even.

It looked pretty good when he had his mouth open.

But, I didn't like it when he closed his mouth.

It doesn't help that this dog spends most of the groom with his head down.

I kept scissoring, then standing back and taking a look.
I was constantly begging him to raise his head so that I could see his beard.

Because he will only hold his head up for a few seconds at a time, I was taking pictures so that I could look at the beard.

I think he was getting tried of listening to me whine and beg him to lift his head, because this is what he did after one of my whining fits of asking him to "please, please raise your head for me for just a minute, pleeease!"

'You are driving me crazy!'

'You want me to lift my head, I'll lift my head for you!'

'How is this?'

'Am I lifting it high enough for you?'

'Or is this what you want?'

'Did you get that?'

'I am not going to do it again.'

I couldn't believe he did that.
He did it so fast that I am surprised that the pictures didn't blur.
After I stopped laughing, I had to go over and give him a big hug.

Have I said how much I like this dog?

When the owner came in to pick up, I apologized for the last grooming.

I didn't have any excuses, just an apology.

Thankfully it was the wife who picked up.

She was very understanding.
I told her, that if she ever saw something out of place again, just bring the dog back in for me to fix it.

Try not to let anyone intimidate you.
It takes the fun out of your job.
Always do the best work you can, and if someone is still not happy let them move on.
There are some people out there that are never happy, and will find some little thing to complain about every time.
If those customers really bother you, tell them that you are sorry you could not please them, but maybe another groomer will.

I have one customer that I have been grooming her dogs since I started grooming.
Almost every time I groomed her dogs I would get a call back about some little thing she thought I should do differently, or the beard was too long or too short, or the ears were too long or too short, so on and so on.
I usually just tell her that I would take care of it the next time, and apologize.

One day I think she caught me on a PMS day.
My husband came back to tell me that she was on the phone and wanted to talk to me.
I did something that I never do.
I answered the phone by saying, "What did I do wrong this time!?"
I did not say it nasty, I was just exasperated.
I think that I startled her so much that she ended up apologizing to me.
She never called to complain again. :)
I still groom her dog.

Groomers need to take up for themselves.
There are more then enough dogs out there to groom.
Don't keep a customer that makes your job miserable.
Replace them with a nice customer.

Now if only I could practice what I preach more often.  :)

Happy Grooming, MFF


  1. This is a wonderful post! Thank you for sharing!!

  2. makes me feel better about the complaint I had gotten today. there are some folks who aren't willing to let you make it better for them.

    1. Hi Melanie,
      It is always aggravating when a customer will not let you fix something that they think is wrong or they do not like. Pet owners seem to forget that we are only human and make mistakes also. Grrr.
      Try not to let the complainers get to you....If only (I) could practice what I preach. lol
      Lisa, MFF

  3. A few weeks ago a customer brought in a dog and I was looking up her file on the computer to bring up old grooming notes and saw that I had groomed her dog not the last time but the time before that so I stated in an excited tone "Oh I groomed so and so before the last groom!" The customer became serious and said "No offense but I can I get another groomer?" My heart sank. I looked back at when I did the groom and saw it was literally the first week I came back from grooming school. (I'm still new I guess I came back in June) I let her know I was just starting at the time and I'd love if she gave me another chance and she gave it to me. She liked the groom this time but did not like that her back was still wet from the flea treatment I put on her.. (we offer advantix spot on treatment with grooms) Its drops and the back is always a little wet/oily from the treatment it takes about 48hrs to dry :/ oh well at least she liked the groom..

    1. Hi,
      I think that it is great that you stood up for yourself. Just remember that she DID like your second groom. :)
      As for the Advantix....check the instructions, but I am pretty sure that they recommend that you wait at least 24 hours after a bath before applying any spot on flea treatment. I would also warn any customer wanting the Advantix applied that it WILL leave a wet/greasy look on the freshly cleaned hair. That way they are prepared, or can turn it down if they want.
      Lisa, MFF