When I opened up my first grooming shop, I was young, dumb and naive. I was also very lucky. Lucky in that I had a sixth sense for marketing and didn't even know it. My grooming skills sucked. I mean, I had such bad hand-eye coordination that no matter how many seminars I went to, or how hard I tried, my grooming never looked as good as the other groomers did.
My competitors in my city had all been open for at least 30 years and they did a beautiful job on each of the dogs that they groomed. But, my shop became THE place to go for grooming in my city and quickly became the busiest. How? It obviously wasn't my grooming skills. It was pure marketing technique. You see, there is a huge difference between just advertising and actual marketing. Just in case you're not certain on the difference, Advertising is basically purchasing ads in hopes of gaining new customers. Whereas Marketing is a complete, mapped out strategy on how to get new customers, sell them and keep them for life. It encompasses everything from your entire company image, decor, advertising, customer service, communication and the complete "experience" that the customer receives.
Now since advertising is just one piece of the whole marketing strategy, I have dedicated a separate page to just that and you can view it here. But to create the whole WOW factor for your grooming business, a marketing strategy is where to begin.
With the right marketing, you can create such a WOW factor for your business that no one will ever want to go anywhere else and you will always have a steady stream of customers.
Creating The Foundation For The WOW Factor On A Budget
Ok, so this part will probably be pretty boring to most people but it is a crucial element to the secret sauce behind what makes some businesses have that "something special", whereas others don't. It's what makes some businesses memorable and worth talking about whereas others aren't. It's what makes your customers do your advertising for you! It is the foundation that needs to be put into place before you begin to try and get new clients. So here it is:
There are five human senses. They are sight, smell, taste, touch, and hearing. These five senses are the main things that are going to imprint a memory into your customers mind within the first 20 seconds that they walk into your business (this is how quick our minds form an opinion or make a judgment. It goes back to basic mammal -like survival skills & gives us our "fight or flight" response). All five of these factors are either going to make or break you and you won't get a second chance to make that first impression again.
Don't believe me? Have you ever smelled something like fresh baked cookies and it triggered a happy memory from your childhood? Or have you heard a certain song and it reminded you of a person or event? This is because people remember things based on these five senses. So if you know this, you can easily use it to "create a positive and memorable experience" for your customers and chances are that your competitors don't know this. Click here to view an awesome infograph that shows how something as simple as color can affect your sales and business image.
You can first start out by coming up with an image of the personality that you want your shop to convey to people. Once you have that image in mind, then you can begin to create it. Let's start with sight. What do you want people to see? What parts don't you want them to see? Do you want a retro look, a country look, a homey look? What personality are you going for? If you are on a budget, then you could base it on the architectural style of your building and just play it up. Stand back and take a good look at everything someone would notice if they were coming to you for the first time. Does everything look clean, neat, well organized and maintained? Would you feel comfortable leaving your pets here? Does it look safe? Is your staff friendly and professional? Most pet owners are as picky as a mom. They want to know that they are leaving their pet somewhere safe. If any of the above factors are even a bit "off", that is when you will begin to get odd questions from people that will make you feel like you are being accused of being an animal abuser. If they feel like anything is "off", they are going to get doubts in their mind as to how their pet will be treated in your facility. You can eliminate any of these doubts from their minds by simply addressing these five sensory factors.
Cleanliness and professionalism are key. However, "personality" is that little something extra that will make people talk. If you are a mobile groomer or an In-Home groomer, what does your ride look like? If it is old and outdated and you can't afford to upgrade, then work with it, play it up, maybe go for the vintage look. When I had my shop, I had a 50's theme. All pink, retro and filled with framed poodle prints. People loved it. It was something to talk about and anytime the newspaper needed to fill a space, they came in and interviewed me. I got free press all the time because of it. Now there is a lot more to it, and I could go into this for hours, but I don't want to bore you. If you want to utilize some tactics used by some of the best, this can be elaborated upon. There have even been studies on what colors evoke what emotions in people and so on, but I'm not going to bore you with all of that here. If you want to explore this more, I've included all of it in the profit kit on this site.
Let's move onto smell. Glade plug-ins with scents of apple pie will make people feel welcome and at home. Scents like citrus will make them associate your business with cleanliness and energy. Lavender or vanilla are calming. Something as inexpensive as a glade plug-in can go a long way in creating an "experience". I got so many new customers just simply because my shop smelled better than the others. People made comments that my competitors shops "smelled dirty" and that their friends told them that my shop was clean. Smell is a really big factor.
The next sense is taste. We can't do much with taste, as far as the people are concerned. But... do you hand your customer a free biscuit for their dog when they checkout? If you do, I bet their dog practically drags them into your shop every time they come back. Could just that one factor make them choose you over the competition? You bet it would if their dog has to be practically dragged into your competitors shop, but he loves coming to you.
How about touch? This one is completely subliminal. Have you ever bought a car? Chances are that the salesman handed you the keys prior to the test drive. Why? It's an old trick that subliminally sets your mind up to envision owning the vehicle. But you're not selling a car right? But if you hand your customer a cute menu of grooming services to look over, or a style guide to flip through, you are getting them to engage. Once people begin to engage with you hands on, they begin to feel more connected. This is all part of the experience.
Hearing, this is one of my favorite ones to work with. I got more clients simply from the fact that they complained that my competitors shop always had noisy, barking dogs and they didn't feel comfortable leaving their pet there. My shop didn't have that at all. Instead, my shop had soft, calming, classical music playing at all times. It calmed the dogs AND the customers. I created an "environment".
So enough about all of that. I think you get the picture. Once you get this "foundation" into place, you will immediately begin to stand out from your competition. Now this alone, will provide you with a lot of word of mouth referrals but there are many more things that you can do to actively pursue new customers. This next section will provide you with some inexpensive, yet effective ways to begin.
Free & Inexpensive Resources That Bring In New Clients
If you take a moment and add up how much you spent last month in advertising alone, and then divide it by how many customers you got from that advertising, you should then have a rough idea of how much it actually costs you to acquire each customer. With that in mind, that is how much money you can lose anytime you have an employee answer the phone, give a price quote and not book an appointment. That is also how much money you can lose each time a customer does not come back (plus the profit that you missed out on from the actual grooming appointment).
I bring this up now, before I dive into showing you how to get more customers, because once you begin to generate more phone calls with the techniques that I am about to share with you, you can first see how imperative it is to be prepared for the calls. If your staff is not, then they can lose a lot of money for you and all of your efforts to bring in new customers can quickly be wasted.
An easy way to prevent this, is to begin to make a check list and keep it by the phone. Any time you get a phone call that does not result in an appointment, write down what the caller's objection was. Was it price, was it waiting time? What was it and how could you have worded things differently so that they would have booked? Having this checklist by your phone can have the power to double your bookings. If people are calling you, it is because they want to get their pet groomed. If they are not booking an appointment, it is for a reason. Find out what that reason is and correct it. If you do so, you will begin to experience a huge growth in your customer base.
So now you have your foundation in place, and you are ready to book every single customer that calls. So let's begin to generate a flood of phone calls into your business:
I've actually come up with 232 free and inexpensive ways to get more grooming customers. I can't share them all here, it would just take up too many pages but I can share with you a few of them. Here they are:
Successful shops have a blanketed marketing strategy in place. Meaning that they have several resources that are constantly working for them to bring in new clients AND keep the ones that they already have.
Most grooming businesses rely solely on expensive advertising to acquire new customers.
The Average Shop The WOW Factor
1. Press Releases are free and you can write one any time that you have an event, a milestone, a new hire or an article that pertains to local pets (bad flea season, etc.). Need help? I have included a press release template and cheat sheet in The Groomer's Profit Kit. 2. Facebook marketing is free and there are 110 ways to use it to get more grooming clients.
3. Networking with your local veterinarians and pet stores is free and if you can put a business card holder out with grooming coupons, it becomes a very effective & inexpensive way to get new customers.
4. 87% of pet owners look online first when they are searching for a new groomer. A website only cost $10/month and will bring you in a ton of new business. If you don't have one, or even if you do, check out these free videos that will show you how to make one yourself in a couple of hours AND how to get it to show up towards the top in search results when people search online for a pet groomer in your area.
5. Offering a discount to adopted pets from your local shelter is inexpensive and very effective especially if you can get them to include a coupon in with their adoption packet.
6. Again, the internet is where pet owners look first. Online directories can offer you a way to show up in more search results when people search online for a local groomer. This is free to do. Try: www.google.com/places ; www.local.yahoo.com and www.merchantcircle.com
7. Referral coupons work great to bring in new clients. Hand one out to each and every customer to give to their friends. These work even better if you design them so that your current client also receives a coupon every time their referral becomes a client. (A customer referral coupon template is included in The Groomer's Profit Kit.) 8. Believe it or not, Pinterest can actually bring you new grooming clients if you target your pins and use a local marketing strategy. Click here if you want to learn how to use Pinterest for your grooming business. I just gave you eight ways to get more grooming clients and there are many more. Imagine the power behind these methods if you have ALL of them in place and working for you every day. After a while, it should allow you to significantly cut back on your advertising budget. But in the meantime, let me share with you some free and inexpensive advertising methods that will help you to get even more customers. Click here when you are ready.
How To Easily & Inexpensively Get More Grooming Clients
What does Three Dog Bakery, Disneyland, and Victoria's Secret all have in common?
They go beyond just being a brick & mortar business. Customers flock there because of the "experience". Just looking at the outside of any of these three places, beckons your curiosity and makes you want to go in. The visual "eye candy", atmosphere, sounds and smells drive your senses into pure bliss. When you leave there, you probably end up telling about your experience to at least one other person of how neat it was. And, you probably already have plans of going back.
THIS is marketing. It does not take a huge budget to provide your customers with this type of experience, it just takes a strong personality that you create for your business. And, it provides you with a huge advantage over your competitors. This one factor alone will draw people in, keep them coming back for more and will create massive word of mouth advertising. You will literally be the "talk of the town".
A large percentage of your competitors grooming shops probably have a home-made sign out front, peeling paint on the building and smell of wet-dog when you walk in.
The Average Shop The WOW Factor