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.

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Early Day.....Unplanned

We have all had them.
Those unplanned early days.
You get up in the morning, syncing yourself up for a full day of dogs, because the last time that you checked, before you left work the day before, you had a full day of dogs on the books.

Or, in my case, we already knew that we lost two dogs for today, because when my husband called to remind the customer of their appointment for today, the first thing he heard was the; "oh, I meant to call you"

It turned out that this customer had to work and could no longer keep the appointment for her two dogs.
Sadly she knew this for a few days...but she meant to call.

A lot of times this is not a problem, because we still had some time to call someone off of the waiting list, only....there was nobody waiting for today. :/
 Then right before you close for the day, one of the customers that you left a reminder call for calls. 

"I was going to call you," is the first things he says.
He was calling to cancel his appointment, because he got his dog groomed Saturday, because he could not wait till today...Wednesday.
Oh, one side note...we last groomed the dog 5 months ago, soooooo she certainly could not wait 4 more days.
And, we were open all day Tuesday but,.....he was going to call.
So, we went to work today knowing that we did not have a full day.

Sometimes that is okay too, because even though you hate losing the money, the thought of possibly getting finished early and having some extra time to yourself can be very appealing.
So, you can be upset and happy at the same time.
I think only a groomer can understand this kind of logic.

Then we get to work.
The phone rings within 5 minutes of opening.
"Hi, C**** won't be coming today, because she has been sick."
You sincerely wish the dog well and tell the customer no problem.
At the same time, you are trying really hard to bite your tongue, and not ask why, if the dog has been sick for awhile, why did you wait till the day of the appointment to call?

Are you keeping count?

That would be 4 appointments lost for the day so far.


I said so far.....we were not done yet.

Besides the late cancellations, we had to throw a No-Show in the mix too.

A new customer who said that they would be here when called yesterday to remind.

Five lost appointments that could have gone to other customers.

30% of the grooming day gone.

Someones pay is effected.

The business is effected.

What are groomers to do?

How do you make your customers understand that they need to respect you and your time?

How do you get them to understand that when they cancel an appointment too late to replace it, or they just don't show up, that it effects the groomer and the grooming business?

Thankfully, a day like today does not happen very often.

I honestly believe that most customers just don't get it.
I used to be one of them.
Before I became a groomer, I would have an occasional appointment that I forgot.... say an hair appointment.
Even though I had that darn reminder card right on the refrigerator, I would forget about the appointment.
When I remembered, I would just call for another.
It never once crossed my mind that I might be messing up the hairdressers day, or the salons business.
No big deal, just make another appointment.

Of course I am much better now.
I don't miss appointments now, and I make sure to call well ahead of time if I need to change something.

I truly believe that a lot of customers don't think that it is any problem missing an appointment, especially a dog grooming appointment.
It's just a dog after all.
How hard can it be to groom a dog?

I have no problem when a customer has to cancel last minute, because of a true emergency, or they truely have car trouble, or were called into work without notice.
It is the people who knew well ahead of time that they could not keep the appointment, and didn't call that bother me.

I think some of the cancellations that bother me the most are the customers that wait to call 5 minutes after their dogs appointment to say; "he doesn't need a haircut yet, he still looks nice. Can you make another appointment for next week instead?"
Then they get mad at me, because I don't have an appointment for next week, and they will have to wait 4 weeks to two months for another appointment.

Sometimes you feel like you just can't win.
Even reminder calls are not a guarantee that all of your appointments will show up.

I don't believe in charging a missed appointment fee.
Yes, the customer made you lose money, but I still don't think it is right to take money when you didn't groom the dog.
I know that a lot of other groomers will not agree with me, but that is okay.
It is my business and my own personal opinion.

Every time I see a sign at a business that says that they charge for missed appointments, I always ask them how well it works for them.
Not one of them tells me that it changes anything, and just about everyone of them say that they never collect, and the customer just goes somewhere else.

I will say that the last couple of years the late cancellations and no-shows have gotten worse.
So much so, that I actually thought about not letting my customers schedule for the year like 90 % of them have gotten used to doing.
I feel that they don't appreceate the work that goes into making all of those appointments.
But, that is not entirly true, because most of my customers do keep their appointments.
As with so many other things, it only takes a few to mess things up for everyone else.

Did you know that the first day of every month the Military opens their phone lines up for Vets to make doctor appointments for that month?
Once the month is filled up (usually within the first two days) they stop taking appointments till the first of the next month.
What do you think that my customers would think of that?

The Tattoo parlor that my daughter and son go to makes you put down $50 to make an appointment. (the lowest cost of a tatoo)
If you don't show for the appointment, they keep the money.
If you keep your appointment, the $50 goes towards the total cost of the tattoo.
What do you think my customers would think of that?

Well, of course we are letting our customers book up for the whole next year as usual, but this time I am doing something a little different.


Every year we send out forms for our customers to fill out if they want to make next years appointments in advance.

Along with this form, we send a cover letter.
I usually use the cover letter to explain the form, to tell the customer when we want the form back, and any other new news that I would like them to know.

After years of sending out this form and cover letter, I have noticed that most of my customers don't even bother to read the cover letter anymore.

They see the form, fill it out, and send it back.

I have talked about late cancellations and no-shows in the cover letter before, but since I don't think that my customers are even reading it, I am going to do something different this year.

We usually have our customers new schedules, for the next year, ready to go by the first of December. (thanks to a lot of hard work on my daughters part)

This year I will be stapling another letter to their grooming schedule.

It will be about keeping these appointments, late cancellations, no-shows, and respecting our time.

I will try to make it straight and to the point without sounding preachy.

I also don't care if I sound like I am begging them to respect me and my time.

I want them to understand the harm that late cancellations and no-shows can do to a groomer and a small business.

I have not written the letter yet.
I will most likely write several drafts before I am happy with it.
When I finish writing it I will post it here to see what all of you think, and to use it yourselves if you like it.

The next thing to tackle?
Customers who arrive late for their appointments....very late.

I can't worry about that right now.
At least they showed up for their appointment. :/

I'll tackle late arrivals when I fix late cancellations and no-shows.

The only problem....that may not happen in my lifetime. :)

Happy Grooming, MFF


  1. Late cancels are SO frustrating, especially since I only do one dog at a time. I'll wind up with an hour and a half empty, too late to fill. Then I sit around and do nothing and/or call other customers that day to see if they can move up. Late cancels and no shows affect other customers in my case in addition to me, the other groomers, and the small business we work for. I'm not sure it will ever change, but I'm curious to see how your new letter works out.

    Also, I know exactly how you feel about being upset and happy at the same time. :-)

    1. Hi Jennifer,
      I have struggled with scheduling for years. I have tried several different ways, trying to make my days less stressful and more productive.
      In my first couple of jobs, all of the dogs were dropped off between 8-9am and the first dogs didn't start going out till between 3-5pm. I hated that way of booking. When I went to work for a pet shop, I was the only groomer and I was free to schedule the way I wanted, so I tried a couple of different ways. The first way was the way that you groom, one dog at a time. I quickly learned that that way did not work for the same reasons that you have stated.
      The next thing I tried was to overlap my appointments by half an hour so that I always had my next dog there and ready to be groomed. That worked much better for me, although there were still down times when a customer did not show.
      I hope that my letter works too. :)
      Lisa, MFF

  2. Hi Lisa,
    No Shows - tell me about it. Where do i even begin! The customers in my area do not like to make their appointments in advance.
    They like to call in last minute and in most cases, want to have the appointment on the same day :/
    My husband came up with this brilliant idea of offering the customers who pre-book their next appointment,10% off the next groom and it has so far worked very well for us. Even though we loose the 10%, at least we now know what our schedule for the day would be and we have better staff planning. I have a fulltime staff and we also employ a casual staff to work on busy days.
    Our busy days are the weekend, yes we groom on Sunday too :-(
    We had a customer who no show a few times and on several occasions, on the weekend - our busy day! She did not turn up for her appointment and when we called, she said she forgot (we send text message reminder the day before appointment) so we rescheduled her appointment to the following day (cancellation by another customer) and can you believe it she did not turn up for her rescheduled appointment and never called. We now have a policy that if a customer no show twice, the account will be restricted i.e. no booking on the weekend. Yesterday, she called to make an appointment for Saturday and i politely said to her that her account was restricted due to no shows. She wasn't impressed and said "you can't do that...i come here all the time and you know what i will never bring my dog here ever again and you are being rude to me!".
    I think only dog groomers could understand what i'm ranting about.

    1. Hi mayw16,
      I understand your rant very well.
      We lost one almost the same way. The woman had booked her Yorkie about a dozen times in one year and only show up for 3 of the 12 appointments. The last time she tried to book, my husband gave her an appointment and then said to her; "Will you keep this appointment?" "What do you mean?" she asked. "You have not shown for over half of the appointments that you made with us this past year," my husband told her. "We just want to make sure that you are going to keep THIS appointment." She hung up on my husband and we took her appointment off of the books. We have never seen her again.
      As for the 10%...been there, done that. I am glad that it is working out for you. It kind of back fired on me. My customers did not start to book in advance until we started booking out 8 weeks and my regular 4 and 6 week customers could not get appointments. They learned really quickly to book in advance. :)
      Lisa, MFF

  3. I always struggle with the late appointments. Do you turn them away on principle, so they try not to do it again, even if you still have the time? Of course I'm just a bather, but it still throws my day off for someone to come in 20-40 min late. Even if I can't finish the dog it often means missed breaks. So is it fair to me?

    I don't know what to do about the late cancellations either. We get them all the time (more for grooming than baths). I do find that reminder calls really help because weekly I end up rescheduling someone or finding out they want a haircut not a bath. Usually (since I work in the morning and the salon is open until 9pm) I can fill that slot--if I know about it. Not all of our employees do their calls though, and a few have admitted that they don't care if people show up--they get the same hourly pay regardless.

  4. Hi Micheleis,
    Being a salon owner, I don't feel that I have the luxury of turning away business. Although I understand completely where you are coming from. To me showing up late is a lack of respect my time. It is not the least bit fair to you.
    Unfortunately, I have an overhead to cover and must groom a certain amount of dogs a day to meet that overhead.
    What I do do is, nicely inform them that because they are 25 minutes late for their appointment, I will still groom their dog but I now have to fit it in between the other appointments, and their dog will take longer to finish today. This helps teach some people to show up on time for their appointment the next time. Some customers don't learn a thing. :/
    Lisa, MFF

  5. I was a single groomer working at a vet on commission-only. I booked my dogs 2 every 2 hours on a point system (1pt = 30min of hands on work, so I could take 2 shih tzu-sized haircuts in those 2hours, or a standard poodle, etc.), with staggered arrivals 30min apart (does that makes sense? haha). It gave me time to chat with each owner, bathe the dog and wrap in a towel in time to go check in #2 in that block, bathe #2, dry & finish #1, dry/finish #2. Then it started again. It worked well for me and the clients since I had appointments available at all different times, only a few pets were in the salon at the time, and I had very little distractions. If I had a bather, I'd probably do 3 every 2hours with staggered arrivals every 15min. I ran a very tight ship and late arrivals and no shows were not tolerated. If you were more than 15min late, you got rescheduled (if they called with a legitimate reason I could determine how late I could fit the dog in). If you had 2 no shows or last minute cancellations, you had two options: pre-pay for your appointment (non-refundable) or call and hope for a same day appointment (which I almost never had, was booked 4 weeks in advance, more for Saturdays). You say the clients don't read the cover letter, why would they read the notice that is just taking the place of the cover letter? IMO if you don't want it to happen, there needs to be consequences. If I no show a doctor's appointment, they send me a bill for $35 (or whatever it is). If you end up collecting and the client doesn't return, what have you lost? A client with bad habits! And you can replace them with a better client. When I started my grooming business at the vet, I had 6 months of savings to fall back on. I was patient, firm and fair with my policies. I was booking 80% full after 3-4 months, and by 8 months I was booked 2 weeks in advance. My clientele was full of clients who appreciated my services and agreed to follow my policies. If you really want things to change you are going to have to put your foot down more than just a letter the people it is targeted to probably won't read anyway.

    1. Hi Lynn,
      I will be the first one to admit that I was not meant to be a business owner. I am a very good groomer, and a very good boss, but business owner....?
      I have tried several ways of trying to put a stop to late arrivals and no-shows. I have a hard time turning dogs away once they are in the shop. I also don't financially have the luxury of telling someone to reschedule because they are late. I have an overhead to meet every month and must do a certain number of dogs a day to meet that overhead. The couple of times that we did turn away late customers, turned into a major confrontation that is just not worth it to me. If my customers come in late I tell them that I will still groom their dog, but now it has to sit and wait in a kennel until I can get to it. That teaches quite a few of them to never be late again...not all, but most.
      As for no-shows, I personally do not agree with charging someone for a missed appointment no matter who you are. Doctors double book anticipating no-shows, and you end up waiting in the waiting room from half an hour to an hour after your appointment time. Then they hardly give you 5 minutes of their time when you finally see them. They don't deduct money from MY bill for the time that I wasted sitting in their waiting room. That is just my opinion, and if I don't agree with the fee I can't charge it myself. Can you tell that this is a very touchy subject for me? lol
      I understand that I don't need a customer who will no-show. Once you no-show on me, I will still groom your dog (usually because I really like the dog), but you will have to wait for another appointment and that will be at least 2-3 months away. I will also no longer do any favors for you.
      Every time I see a sign in an office saying that they charge a no-show fee I always ask how that works for them. Everyone of them tell me that people don't pay it and they don't come back, but the no-shows still happen. Legally you can not demand collection on services not rendered.
      I am still going to try my note attached right to their schedules, and also verbally explain the note when they are handed their schedule. We shall see. To each their own and whatever works for them and their business. I am glad that your way worked for you. :)
      Lisa, MFF