When you are inexperienced in the world of business it is a huge amount of pressure to make everyone happy (clients, landlord, family, etc.). The awesome part of being a business owner is you get to decide everything! The worst part of owning a business is you have to decide everything! But freedom comes with major responsibility.
I started out as a bather and worked my way up until eventually I opened my own salon. I knew the daily problems in salons so I thought I could handle whatever came my way. I was wrong, I cried way too often from either clients being unhappy or literally physically killing myself to try to appease them all. I was also trying to get certified and grow my education at the same time. One time I was sitting in my salon waiting for the last dog to get picked up. I tried everything to get ahold of them and sat for two hours past closing until they walked in the door. All they said was “oh sorry about that my phone was off and I didn’t know what time you closed, but I figured he was done”. I was so mad but I did not want to lose a client so I smiled and said it’s ok. I did not have the courage to say anything. But I knew I had to make changes. Learning from other groomers about what they had done to fix their issues gave me the inspiration to set boundaries and get better at communicating with my clients. So instead of beating myself up, I said I need to learn from every experience and make changes from there.
The worst decision you can make is short-term solutions to long-term issues.
How does this happen:
For example, Ms. Smith calls and wants in today (she is pushy), and even though you are terribly busy, you still fit her in. You recommend she books out and she gives reasons why she cannot. She continues to do this repeatedly despite your best efforts to fix this. She calls in on another crazy day and wants to come in and when you say “I just don’t think I can today” she gets angry and threatens to go elsewhere. You still work her in and on and on it goes until you get tired of feeling like you have no choice and just do not want to deal with her anymore. She calls and you say, “No I cannot I am sorry.” She gets mad and you blast her with your pent-up frustration about how you have bent over backward to help her and how she does not appreciate it etc. Ms. Smith then proceeds to post a negative review and tell everyone she can how terrible you are.
Here is the problem...
She has no idea what you do or how any of your business really works. It is your responsibility to clearly communicate your boundaries and limitations. She does not dictate your schedule YOU DO!
If you had taken a moment on your first consult to explain how your schedule works she would know how to book with you. You could explain how important it is for you to not overbook yourself so you are able to do a great job and be safe with every clients pet. By telling her how happy you are that so many of your clients prebook their spots, it does make your schedule less flexible for those that don’t, she has a better understanding of why she cannot get fit in.
How this can be avoided:
Make choices in the beginning that you will be happy with in the long term. Do not let your fear rule you. Make smart thoughtful decisions for your life. This all stems from a solid understanding of what your long-term goals are in your business. When you decide ahead of time what is ok with you (policies)you are not having to react in the moment to a request because you already know what you are going to say to their demands. If you know how much it bothered you as an employee to have clients show up late and feel rushed, make sure you set a policy fixing that issue and tell every new client what it is as the business owner.
If it is predictable, it is preventable!
When you are prepared for the problems, you can figure out ahead how to stop or lessen them. When you are ready you are not emotional which helps you not be pressured into doing things you shouldn't do or just really don’t want to do. Example: Deciding what your hours are and what consequences there will be if someone picks up late, in the beginning, means not having to figure it out in the moment.
How are you going to handle someone that shows up 30 minutes late? Tell them when they make the appointment or on your reminder what the policy is.
Who pays a vet bill when an accident occurs? Have them sign a waiver that tells them how this will be handled to protect themselves and to be transparent with them.
Do not blame the client for your frustration because YOU are in charge. So choose wisely for yourself!
Liz Hampton currently teaches private, group, and one-on-one advanced education classes for professional pet groomers. To inquire about private lessons or one on one classes, find Liz online at "Liz Sizzers."