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Category: Groomer Interviews

Creating an Experience in a Service-Driven Industry: What Sets Dukes Grooming Studio Apart

Finding a great groomer can be tough to navigate as a pet owner. Especially when you have so many options that exist. Unfortunately, not all grooming salons are created equal. While some prefer the traditional cage-style experience, many pet parents prefer to bring their pets to a place where they can receive full attention in a relaxed setting. That’s why our good friend Duke, from Duke’s Grooming Studio Pet Styling in Chicago, branded himself to creating a luxury grooming experience and emphasizes the importance of implementing an “experience” vs a visit. We caught up with Duke to see if he’d share what makes him unique, and here’s what he had to say.

Hi, I'm Duke, from Duke’s Grooming Studio Pet Styling

Located in Chicago, Illinois. I currently have over 8 years of grooming experience with specializations in faces, clean lines, and structure. My journey in the pet industry has been a life-changing event that has been very rewarding thus far. I practiced a lot on dogs during grooming to perfect my faces and try other styles, so I advanced quickly. Branching off into my grooming studio wasn’t an easy decision. It was intimidating leaving a big brand store with clients that would walk in daily, to then start my own operation from scratch. Honestly, in the beginning, it was rough, and I had second thoughts about if I was making the right move, but I believed in my ability and I knew I had a passion for this work. I had the task of finding the right equipment to make sure my operation was safe and then I had to learn how to market myself so that I could bring in current but also new clientele. I didn’t have many mentors at the time of starting so I had to do a lot of research so that I could get to a point where I knew I could produce top-notch work from my studio. Everyone says how time-consuming and expensive it is to start a business, but you don’t understand those statements until you step out and do it for yourself. Working for yourself is 24/7 work, and if you don’t have passion, drive, and vision that can discourage people from even trying. I’m glad that I didn’t let that stop me and I'm proud of the work I produce from Duke’s Grooming Studio. 

Experience vs Service:

I don’t just show up to work I prefer to create an experience. I feel that clients can go to any groomer to get a service, but my clients continually come back to Duke’s due to the hands-on 1-on-1 experience that they receive, and they trust me with their grooming needs. At Dukes Grooming Studio, I specialize in an experience over service because I know the importance of consulting with my clients for their individual needs their grooming expectations. When you go to a traditional groomer, you will typically see multiple dogs at the location at once and quick turnaround times. Not stating that nice work can’t be done during that time, but at Duke’s Grooming Studio, I like to give a more detailed experience. Instead of waiting hours, one on one experiences can range from 45 – 120 minutes depending on the consultation that I have with my client about their vision for the groom.

Why Clients Choose me:

 Each client is different, and I try to create an experience by having them complete a specific questionnaire for their pet and then have a conversation with them to make sure I get the vision. One cool aspect of my relationship with clients is that they return for my work, and they trust me to freestyle in some cases because they know I produce work with care. In a traditional grooming shop with crates, you don’t get that special touch of partnership for the look. It can be generalized with no flare. Creating a personalized service sets me apart from most and my clients come back and even travel from other states for the work that I produce for them.

My clients choose Dukes Grooming Studio over others because even with the cost of the experience they know the craftsmanship of the work will be exceptional. I offer detailed packages for specific dogs with additions as well which sets me apart from the competition. Some of these services can include your traditional mini or full grooms depending upon need at the time, I also provide custom coloring to fur, nail polish when requested, feather extensions, body jewelry, and temporary tattoos just to name a few. All these things can be added to the experience you will receive at Duke’s, and this helps to draw the clients back and new referrals. The consistency will help me expand my business and the vision of growth I see for Duke’s Grooming Studio over the next 5 years.

How you can Create an Experience:

1. Tips from clients are pivotal in funding my continuous learning in the pet industry. I’m able to utilize that extra money to fund attending workshops and expanding my brand with new tools, upgraded equipment, etc. Tips are a great way for the customer to not only show their appreciation for the work you do but also reaffirms that they believe in you. That extra money is something that helps with expansion and growth. As a small business owner every little bit count, and I would advise those coming into the industry to reinvest in themselves with tip money. It will only enhance your learning, techniques, and overall experience for the client. 

2. One of the main things that helped me along the way is not taking shortcuts when it comes to proper setup. You always want to make sure you have top-of-the-line equipment that’s up to industry standards so that you can always produce the best results. Investing in your operation may be costly on the front end as a new business owner, but down the line, it will help with cost savings of not having to replace faulty equipment over and over.

3. Another tip I would give someone in thinking about the field is to practice, practice, and then practice some more! You’ll want the work to look sharp, clean, and well-refined, and not all groomers can showcase that. Yes, it can be very time-consuming, but it will show in your work and clients will notice the difference. Pets are like children, and you must remember that people are entrusting you with a member of their family. You must be thoughtful of that and try to produce the best-trusted work and that comes with my hours practicing technique, safety protocols, and finding your signature look that will appeal to an audience and bring you newer clients and hopefully brand deals/partnerships.  


In Closing:

As a business owner, I take pride in my ability to network and market my brand. I feel that as a business owner you must know how to make people want to work with you. When you have that ability along with proper skill and technique, your brand will spread, and you will start to yield results by growing/retaining your clientele.