Groomer to Groomer
Title: Mirror Mirror on the Wall
By: Joe Zuccarello
“Mirror, Mirror, on the Wall”
If you have read any of my writings, you will recall I have a handful of nieces, two of which are twins. Much like most of the little girls I have ever met, all of my nieces love girly, pink and frilly things, but one in particular found fascination, as early as a young baby, in a mirror or should I say anything reflective she could see herself in. She would smile at herself, play with her hair, laugh, and even talk to herself. She would never admit it, but I think I have seen my wife do the same thing!
So, this got me thinking and I went searching for more examples of this phenomenon. Again, I have boys to this behavior is foreign to me. I began watching people, usually at the best place EVER to watch people…THE MALL! I watched the “mallers” as I call them, walk in front of windows and turn to look at themselves, smiling, tilting their head, and I even saw a few guys suck in their gut and pretend they were thinner. I’ve watched people try on hats, scarves, necklaces, glasses, etc. and frantically search for a mirror to see how they looked in their new garb. We tend to like the way this extra “flair” makes us look, enhancing our other characteristics, body shape, clothing, etc. For whatever reason, we are attracted to the attractive, interested in the interesting, and jealous of the zealous. This extra flair seems to help bridge the gap between personality and appearance.
What does this have to do with pet grooming?! Allot! Allow me to explain my take on this.
Since I have been involved in the pet industry my entire working life, you would think I would be immune to the appeal of an expertly trained dog, or blind to the magnificence of a professionally groomed dog. However, no matter how many I have seen, I am still attracted to each. If after 26 years I am still in awe of these accomplishments, I believe our customers are even more excited when they see similar examples of perfection. While you sharpen your grooming skills in the pursuit of perfection, there are some things you can do to help “bridge the gap” between the pet’s characteristics (body shape, coat type and density, color, etc.) and the personality each pet has. It’s all about the Mirror Factor. If the pet were human, what would get it to look at itself in the mirror like the “mallers” do? Since it’s not human, what will get other people to look at this pet and ask the pet parent, “where do you get your dog groomed?” Business 101: Word of mouth advertising (referrals) is a leader in the way we get new clients; give them something to talk about! Add some Flair to your grooming.
To know the pet’s personality type, you need to get to know the pet and the pet parent. Too many times, we make the mistake of viewing the pets as just appointments instead of individuals. Although you may see dozens of pets each day, the customer only sees ONE. Don’t forget this! To really make an impact on the relationship depth between you and the pet parent, show an interest in the person and their pet, getting to know both of them on a personal level. Once you tap into this level, your opportunities to “Wow” them are endless.
Flair can take on many forms. Here are some I have seen, while I am sure there are many more out there if you go looking for them.
Bows: When I was first introduced to the grooming business, one of the very first lessons I was taught was how to make a bow. Yep, those little orthodontic rubber bands, colorful ribbon, and hemostats…all were my nemesis. Some fingers are just too big to make this task easy. Mine sure are. Anyway, I learned simple bow making and how to put them in the pet’s hair. Now, some pros use hot glue guns to affix extra items like pom poms, plastic spiders at Halloween, tassels, etc. to the basic bow.
Bandanas: There is some really cool material out there that you can use to cut your own bandanas. What some have done with vibrant fabric and a pair of pinking shears is amazing. I have seen bandanas around necks, around waists, used as leggings, and even leash or collar wraps. I have even seen some groomers provide matching bandanas to the children in the pet’s family so everyone matches for pictures or visiting family.
Color: Stencils and body/coat coloring is a unique way to temporarily alter a pet’s look, especially for special occasions like weddings, parties, holidays, etc. Add glitter or stickers and you have just transformed ordinary to extraordinary.
Themes: I once saw groomers decorating their groomed pets using color schemes matching the pet parent’s favorite team, wedding colors, and other special occasions. You could even have special “theme days” where you promote this free flair service. I tend to lean toward the surprise factor whenever possible. Pay attention, as customers will often give you clues to what really moves them and you can use this to make a big impact! Even those macho men who insist on no bows, etc. are impressed by their team colors made into a braided collar for the big game weekend.
I am certain there are plenty more creative ideas floating around out there for you to take full advantage of. But whatever you do, try to make the flair centered around the customer’s interests and not just the first ribbon or fabric you reach for.
Take a lesson from my niece. People like looking at themselves and people like their pets looking like them!