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.

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Tuesday's Tip #38 Quoting Prices

Quoting prices...

I hate price shoppers.

I hate when people call for a price quote for grooming their dog.
Half the time they can not tell you exactly what kind of dog they have, what kind of hair their dog has, or what kind of cut they want, BUT they want to know exactly how much I will charge them.

When I first opened my shop, I had a long price list.
I had every breed listed and one price next to each breed.

When a customer called to ask for a price, I would look at my price list and quote a price.
Only the dog that they described, a small Shih-Tzu in good shape, did not walk in my door.
What walked in my door would not even come close to resembling a Shih-tzu.
The dog would be 50 pounds, matted to the skin, and they wanted the dog groomed for the price that I quoted on the phone.
Or, A Shih-tzu would come in, only it was not a normal sized Shih-Tzu, it was Lhasa sized.
The customer did not want to hear that the dog they brought in did not look like the dog they described on the phone.
Where you calling them a liar?

I had that darn price list for a long time.
I learned to ask more specific questions so that my prices would be quoted closer to what they should be.
I also started saying "the groom will be around $40 or more."

Well, that would backfire too.
The customer would not hear the word "around" or "or more", all they would hear was $40.

I eventually stopped putting up a price list.
I started quoting prices by the size and hair length, instead of breed.
Of course that didn't work either.

Let's say that I set a price of $30 for a small, long hair dog.
That might be great for a sweet little Maltese mix that got a simple clip all over with a #4f blade.
But, it did not work for the small, matted, Tasmanian devil, obese Maltese want-a-be, that took twice as long to groom.

So, for the last 10 years or so I have had basic prices for sizes, hair length, and whether the dog is getting just a bath, a close cut , or a hand scissor cut.
I talked about this in my Pricing Your Grooms post.

I have found that this way of pricing seems to be the fairest, and has worked the best for me.

There is only one problem.

I still get the price shoppers that come in or call before making an appointment.

My husband usually puts them on hold and comes back to ask me for a price.
I admit, I get frustrated.
How big is the Golden?
Does it have a ton of hair or just a little feathering?
Has it been groomed before?
Is it blowing its coat?

All of this factors into the price.

As of January my prices will be going up for the first time in two years.
I held off raising prices because of the economy, and I wanted to help my customers.
My bills have been going up too, and the time has come for a price raise.
All of my customers have been notified of this prior to making appointments for the new year.
So far all of them have been very understanding.

The increase for regular customers will be: small/medium $2-3, Large $5-7.

I have also decided to write up a new breed price list.

Not to display.

This list will be for my husband to look at when a new customer calls.
My new price list will not be a single price for each breed.
It will be a price range for each breed.
My new list will read something like this:

                        Bath, Brush &Trim                       Hand scissored                     Golden:                50-70                                              80-95

The call would go something like;

MFF: "My Furry Friends, can I help you?"
Customer: "I want to get my Golden groomed. How much do you charge?"
MFF: "What are you looking to have us do?"
Customer: "Groom him."
MFF: "Where you looking for just a bath or did you want his hair cut?"
Customer: " I want him bathed and some of his hair cut."
MFF: "Are you looking to just have his feet trimmed along with the bath?"
Customer: "Yes, and around his butt too. He gets poop there."
MFF: "Okay. I can only give you a ballpark figure. I would have to see your dog to give an exact price.  Goldens come in different sizes and hair thicknesses, the price for a Bath, comb out, and light trim can run anywhere from $50 to $70. The price also depends on your dogs temperament and the condition of the coat. If you want more than just the feet and rear trimmed, the price may be higher."

I very rarely charge 70 for a Bath, Brush and Trim on a Golden, even when it is blowing its coat, but I want to quote high just on the off chance that the Golden that comes in for the appointment is a giant bear sized Golden that deserves to be charged 70.

I don't want any surprises for me or the customer.

It is the same for a Shih-Tzu.

                   Bath, Brush & Trim                         Short Clip                 Hand scissor
Shih-Tzu:             30-40                                       43-48                         48-60

The Shih-tzu customer is told that the Bath, Comb, and Trim price is based on the size of their dog and the length and thickness of the hair.
They are also told that the ballpark price quoted is for a dog in good shape, and that de-matting will be extra.

This Shih-Tzu is groomed the same as the one below, only this Shih-Tzu is twice the size of the one below.

Because the prices quoted are ballpark prices, I am able to charge two different prices on both of these different size Shih-Tzu's.
I hope that makes sense.

 So what is the Tuesday tip?

There are a few.

First: Be very straight forward with your quotes.
Don't hedge around, or let a customer try to tie you down to an exact price.
Be nice when explaining that dogs come in too many shapes, sizes and hair types to give exact prices without seeing the dog first.
Also tell them that it would not be fair to you, or them to give an exact price only to have to change it once you saw the dog.

They are either going to come to you and pay your prices, or they are not.
My experience has taught me that customers that knit pick over your prices turn out to be  PITA (pain in the a**) customers in the long run.

Second: Only give a ballpark price.
Have a list so that you are always giving the same ballpark quote for each customer when they call.
Especially when you have more than one person answering the phones.

Third: If the customer makes an appointment, write down the the ballpark price quote given.
Also, make notes about what was talked about right there on the appointment book.
If you have more than one person making appointments, have that person making the appointment write their name down so that you will know who the customer talked to.

Last but not least: Post a sign that says that all price quotes given are subject to change upon evaluating the dog.

I have always struggled with pricing.
Even today, I still will have a dog come in that I don't charge what I really should for the work, because I feel bad charging so much.

I am trying.
Following the tips above have helped.

Happy Grooming, MFF


  1. This post was timely for me. I was just starting to work on my pricelist for my shop last night. I think I may have decided to price based on weight of the dog... I think lol. I'm planning on putting a scale in the shop. And of course, a range of prices based on coat condition as you mentioned.

  2. Completely agree, 5 years ago when I got everything together to open my own shop I created a special price list according to weight. Every other local groomer was still grooming by breed, some wouldn't even quote prices unless they were there checking in. You can't really quote by breed, between the customers with mixed or 'designer' breeds, the customers that guess (and trying to tell them that their pomeranian is not a long haired chihuahua, or that their shih-tzu is not a 'long haired pug'... it's hard to tell anyone something without offending them if they are hyper sensitive) some shih-tzu's hair or bodies are so extremely different, some are fully grown 6 lb and adorable, others are nearly 18 lbs with the thickest hair, still very sweet but just a big ol' slab of pup. Since we opened, many other groomers tried to open, most pretty much copied our prices exactly, which is why I never listen to some new customers that say we're higher in price...

    Weight is one of those things that customers cannot argue about if we weigh the pet in front of them, even if they are told the ranges on the phone and they are 'mistaken' and say their mixed puppy is 25lbs... then 2 weeks later they come in for their appt and it is a 50lb golden doodle mix... they still try to say "Well on the phone I was told the Med weight groom was X dollars!" We tell them, "It seems your pet may have changed since they were weighed last, your pet weighs 50lbs, and has much longer thicker hair than expected. These are the prices, do you still wish to have your pet groomed today?" Some customers are so understanding and sweet, some come in and immediately start bossing you, telling you that you're so much higher than the last place their pet was groomed. I always ask where that was, and ask, if I may, why they have chosen to not return.

    We do take a lot of foolishness from the more aggressive customers, we've found that talking with a smile and saying things like "I'm so sorry that you feel that way." makes them realize how they sound, others just do not get it and they are aggravated that we do not wish to fight with them and usually say "Yeah, you're sorry!" or "I'm sorry too!!" and hang up or storm out depending on the situation.

    Some customers are just wonderful, big tippers, bring us cookies and treats, or are just wonderful people... sometimes that like to tell you their life story or just talk your ear off in general. I do like those people, but often I realize that their pets are 'quirky' to be nice.
    Not just bouncing in your face to kiss you, I love those. No, the ones that want to eat your comb, or gnaw off your wrist when you file their nails.
    Then you have the extreme.
    The customers that you wish would not say anything other than what they wanted, and let you know up front if they aren't going to be able to pick-up until right AT closing time...
    Their pets for some reason, most of them, are super sweet, humble, and kind. Some of them you think twice on why they might act quite so 'beat down' in their attitude, or why they won't kiss you in the face. I've had a lot of customers look at me like I'm nuts, they stop me when I greet their pets and my face gets close to theirs. "Oh no. My pet is not allowed to kiss in the face, it's disgusting!"
    Sometimes you just have to know when to smile and walk away.
    We've joked on many occasions about opening dog grooming in the old closed Krystal Burger in town. Drive thru dogs :) yeah, that sounds perfect. It has flaws if you pick it apart, but it's a great thought to lighten the mood of your day if you've had a bad experience or two.
    Deep breaths, happy thoughts, hot tea when you get home. Maybe read a good blog :)
    Hope you have a great Christmas weekend!

  3. Hi gipsiwriter,
    I tried pricing by weight. I tried it with a already established clientele. Let's just say that the change did not go over well. Plus it didn't always work out with fair pricing. I had a St Poo come in that was very big and tall but very skinny, and its weight fell in the medium dog prices. No way was I going to charge a medium dog price for a St Poo. :) Weight pricing did not work for me.
    Lisa, MFF

  4. Hi Serena,
    I am glad the weight pricing is working for you. I always say 'do what works for you'.
    I agree that customer service can be the hardest part of a business. I am lucky that I can usually make a grumpy customer walk out with a smile on their face. I also know when to keep my mouth shut and my opinions to myself. :) Can't tell you how many time I have fantasized about drive-thru grooming! lol
    Have a Wonderful Holiday weekend!