1. Brand Identity
The first step in learning how to market yourself as a groomer is to identify your “brand.” What sets you apart from others offering the same services as you? Do you specialize in a particular facet of grooming, or have a distinctive style? Put that front and center! Let the world know how you are different!
2. Deliver on Your Brand
Once you have your brand identity defined, ensure that you deliver on it! There is nothing worse than visiting somewhere that boasts a “warm, friendly atmosphere” and not being greeted immediately as you walk in, leaving you feeling cold and distant. One is not necessarily better than the other, just make sure you are transparent and honest about which you are! If you promise to offer corrective grooming and breed patterns, make sure you have studied and are up to date on the correct styles and trims. I think of this concept as ensuring that the packaging of your brand matches the quality of the service you are providing (and vice versa).
3. You Are Your Brand, and You Better Believe in It
When deciding what your brand is, and what sets you apart from others, do not decide on a pillar of your business simply because it sounds good, or because you think clients will appreciate it. It must be wholeheartedly you, otherwise your brand will fall short of meeting client expectations. You must believe in what you are offering, otherwise how do you expect clients or employees to believe in it? Core values for the business could be anything from quality to safety, low-stress environment to customer service, or even community outreach.
4. Your Staff’s Core Values Should Mirror Your Own
Speaking of which, make sure your staff’s core values mirror your own. You will depend on staff to promote your brand, therefore they need to be fully “bought in” to the concept, as well. If one of your business’s core values is customer service, you will probably be the type of salon to boast that warm, friendly atmosphere, and staff that are inviting and welcome clients into the salon will be imperative to promoting your brand authentically.
5. Be Authentic
Contrary to the last couple of thoughts, do not promise something to clients that is NOT authentic to you. If returning phone calls in a timely manner is not your style, do not promise it on your voicemail message. Instead, ask clients to send you a text message for a quicker reply. If you will not shave a double-coated breed, or will not demat, make sure that is plain and easy to see on your website and/or print advertising. Along the same lines, if you are not educated in show grooming for a particular breed, don’t offer that as a service. One of the largest pet peeves I see when flipping through social media is groomers asking others for photos to use on their websites. Make sure the photos on your website and social media are authentic to you/your salon—advertise actual work the client can get done when they walk into your salon!
6. Promote What You Want
If you are the type of groomer who has shave downs all day every day and dreams of scissoring legs, make sure you find time to scissor some legs and promote those photos on social media! Do not promote what you’re sick of—you’ll only get more of it. If you are the type of groomer who scissors everything and dreams about the days when you get a complete shave down, post those! Promote more of what you want, not what you have.
7. Hone Your Craft & Celebrate on Social Media
In regard to social media, celebrate your successes, and your continuing education! Clients like to see professionals who are constantly honing their craft. In an unlicensed and unregulated industry like grooming, be proud of every class you take, every skill you master, and every award you receive—it means you are constantly growing. Growth is huge in terms of marketability, and clients love to cheer you on!
8. Recognize Who is Your Ideal Client
Back to my earlier example, if you are the grooming salon that is gruff when you answer the phone because you are just too busy to spend time on the phone, those clients who need to ask a bunch of questions and speak to you for a large period of time, are probably not the clients for you. Recognize who your ideal client is and how you can appeal to them. Anything that falls outside of your ideal client, probably aren’t your people. That’s okay! Prefer to text or email? State that clearly on your website and offer an email address for contact info rather than a phone number. There’s enough business for everyone, and every groomer’s ideal client looks different—don’t be ashamed of the way you prefer to do business, just be transparent about it so your ideal client can find you!
9. Invite Clients Back
One great way to build clientele that is often overlooked is simply inviting clients to come back and see you. I make a point to invite each and every client I speak to back to see me. Even a simple “I’ll see you next time!” as they are leaving, leaves the client with a positive image in their head and sends the message to them that you are looking forward to seeing them again. In the spirit of transparency, if the haircut, the pet, or the client do not bring you joy, be authentic and refer them to someone else. Do not invite those clients back because you feel you have to—send them to someone whose workflow and/or values match up with theirs! You can encourage clients to prebook their next appointments with you, as well. I like to end most of my client interactions with offering them a preferred maintenance schedule for the groom I have created that day and asking if they’d like to set up their next appointment. Even if they choose not to prebook, they get an email from our salons 24-48 hours after their visit thanking them for coming in. Oftentimes, this will spur them to go ahead and make that appointment.
10. Referral Program – Word of Mouth is Important!
Another simple, very often undervalued, way to build clientele is to ask clients who are happy with your services to recommend you to others they know! Clients that are happy with your services will be all too happy to refer you to friends and family. Don’t underestimate word of mouth referrals—they are usually easy to get, hold a ton of weight with clients, and spread like wildfire! Don’t be bashful about asking for them!
11. Network with Other Groomers!
Another great way to build your clientele is by networking with other local groomers. If their businesses are established, they could easily have a waitlist, or be booked farther out than a new business. By reaching out and introducing yourself to those business owners and building a rapport, most of the time they will be all too happy to refer clients to you. As I mentioned earlier, not everyone’s ideal client is the same—there should be little competition between local businesses, and oftentimes these networking opportunities will pay off ten-fold.
Figuring out your ideal client and working toward appealing to them through grooming will help prevent burnout. Remember, when it comes to social media, promote more of what you want, not what you have. If you aren’t working with the type of client or style that inspires you—reevaluate your marketing strategies and set professional boundaries to help bring some joy back into your day!Brittney Valle is a Nationally Certified Master Groomer who resides in Louisville, KY with her husband and their dogs. Her grooming industry accolades include multiple first place contest wins, Best Groomed Dog in Division and Best All-Around in Division wins, The Peggy Harris Kindness Award, and being nominated for a Barkleigh Honors Award for Best Up & Coming Groomer of the Year. She grooms, teaches, and manages at See Spot Grooming, as well as co-writes the “Styled Up” monthly column for Groomer to Groomer magazine. She also represents Wahl Animal USA as a member of their Elite Education Team. Outside of her work in the grooming industry, she also breeds and shows miniature poodles in the AKC ring under the kennel name Camarada. She is dedicated to promoting professionalism, continuing education, and innovation in the grooming industry, and is always happy to meet new people, offer a critique, or lend a helping hand. Follow her on IG @LouisvilleGroomer.