Groomer to Groomer
By: Joe Zuccarello
“A Penny Saved…..”
Benjamin Franklin once said, “A penny saved is a penny earned”. Good ole’ Ben never thought his famous quote would ever be used in a pet industry trade publication, but here it is!
What was Mr. Franklin trying to convey when his lips muttered these words? Who was he speaking to exactly and in what context? Why would a phrase coined many years ago still have relevance today? How much was a penny worth back then anyway?
Can you imagine if Ben were around today? Would the quote sound more like, “Stuff a thousand dollars in your mattress for an emergency fund because getting a loan from a bank, making money in the stock market, or enjoying the fruits that come from hard work and great customer service just aren’t happening any longer.”?
All of you that know me, know that I am very optimistic and about as positive as one can be, but let’s face it folks….we have to get smarter if we want to survive this period in our children’s and grandchildren’s history books. Cutting back, sacrificing, offering less services, and “shrinking” our business is an automatic response to today’s challenges. These responses can lead us down a variety of different paths. Done incorrectly, we are delaying the inevitable and simply preparing for the death of our business. Done CORRECTLY, we can take control of our current situation, develop strategic and creative solutions, and show some initiative; proving to our customers we are doing what it takes to stay in business and serve them well into the future.
So let’s talk about some creative and strategic solutions to “earn our pennies”.
- Reduce the costs of doing business. There are some costs that are unavoidable while others can be controlled with a little ingenuity and effort.
- Towel Drive. You are a grooming salon. You need towels, right? Sometimes the towels you have become tattered and you need new ones. Instead of rushing out to the store for CHEAP towels, get your customers involved. Our customers’ “old” towels are usually luxurious to what we would purchase on our budgets! Have a Towel Drive and offer your customers a $1 discount or a FREE extra set of bows or bandana in exchange for their “old” towel! You will be surprised at how quickly you restock your towel supply. Here’s a thought, use “reusable” towel alternatives like chamois.
- Conserve Hot Water. This works at home as well. Turn your hot water heater down a few degrees. Pets do not need hot bath water; just water that is room temperature. You would be shocked to know the amount of energy it takes to simply heat water.
- Use Fans, not heat. Just like in the case above, you would be amazed at how much money you spend on electric heating elements in dryers. Not only can you save money by using fans to dry pets, you are actually reducing a big risk of dehydration, over heating, or worse.
- Choose your shampoo wisely. Use shampoos that clean effectively without the use of artificial ingredients meant to increase suds. More suds do not necessarily mean a cleaner pet. More suds means longer rinsing times, more water usage, and more time waiting for the tub to drain. Low to medium lather, quick rinse, and mild formulation is the key to cost conservation.
- Buy in Bulk. I know, the initial outlay of cash can sting a bit, but paying less money for something you are going to use in the future anyway is a great way to save your money in the long run. Learn to buy more to save more.
- Reduce the costs of Labor. The right people for the job.
- Skilled Labor. Use your skilled people for tasks requiring skill. That is, do not use yourself or other highly paid, commissioned people, to do tasks or appointments that do not require their level of talent and subsequent compensation.
- Consider compensation as a “reward” for effort, not time. Pay your staff according to their level of effort, not time. That is, when you hire people, pay them according to their talent level and offer them a plan to increase their compensation as they meet certain qualifiers like quality of work, speed, customer satisfaction, etc. You will be surprised as to how motivated these people can be when they know they are actually in control of their raises.
- Create your next staff. Teach hourly people to do “bath” dogs start to finish and pay them better than they can make at other employers such as the local fast food restaurant or convenience store. Using hourly people for this type of appointment frees up the skilled workforce to accept more appointments on any given day. Who knows, maybe they’ll end up as your next apprentice and next batch of skilled groomers?! Turnover is a killer on the checkbook and the business in general!
- Reduce the costs of lost customers. GROW instead!
- Grow through convenience. While other shops are closed on Sundays and Mondays, customers are used to a seven-day week with all of their other needs, so offer appointments on these days and seize this opportunity. I know, the last thing you want is to add days to your personal schedule, but follow my tip above and create staff that will cover these for you. Capitalize on providing convenience!
- Grow through exposure. Make a point of participating in local, neighborhood events. Get your name out there and prove to potential customers why they should trust you with their pets’ care instead of someone else. Customers can be shy. Don’t wait for them to come to you. GO get them.
- Grow through persistence. Call your customers. Reach out to them if you haven’t seen them in a while. Better yet, don’t just react to lost customers, but stay familiar and in touch with them through email, Facebook, and Twitter! The more familiar you are the more your competition looks like a stranger.
I could go on and on, but you have to get to work! I leave you with this….” The easiest money to earn is the money that is already in your pocket!”