Groomer to Groomer
By: Joe Zuccarello
Title: Welcome Mr. and Mrs. Picky!
We all have them. We all know when they are on our appointment books. We all try to avoid them. We have all cringe from the very first word in a conversation with them. We all know these people by their real names. Who am I talking about? Mr. and Mrs. Picky!
Mr. and Mrs. Picky are the type of customers I have been known to refer to as “high maintenance customers”. Why? Because these customers, if not handled correctly, can be a vacuum of your time and energy. They can, if allowed to, ruin a good mood, cause friction between employees and management, spread negative influence, and just be a good ‘ole pain to deal with. Everyone needs all the business we can get, so how do we cope with this type of customer? How do we keep a smile on our face and stay positive when we know they will visit us?
One way of dealing with this type of customer is to “divorce” or “fire” them. Essentially, you can ask them to take their business somewhere else; somewhere you believe they may be happier. In VERY rare circumstances this may be the best. However, for most situations, this type of solution is NOT recommended.
What if we take a different approach with Mr. and Mrs. Picky? Can we, if we change our mindset about them, change how they affect us and our business? Absolutely!
Take a moment to think about when you were in sports as a child, took music lessons, or were in a class that seemed like you could never earn that “A”, no matter how much you tried. What do all of these have in common? Mr. and Mrs. Picky have been around you your whole life! Mr. Picky was the sports coach that made you run extra laps, Mrs. Picky was the music instructor who would only settle for perfection, and Mr. and Mrs. Picky were the teachers that made you find the answers instead of giving them to you. See, we have been dealing with these people for much longer than we thought.
These childhood moments, and how we survived and excelled through them, make us who we are today. Why wouldn’t it be the same, then, with Mr. and Mrs. Picky customer?! It’s not. I learned a long time ago these people are not going to stop coming to do business with me and I needed to change how I deal with them and recognize the value they are bringing to my abilities and my business. The coach who made you run extra laps helped you be a more conditioned athlete, superior to those who didn’t run. The music teacher who demanded perfection helped you play music others enjoyed listening to and wished they themselves could play. The teacher who made you look everything up instead of giving you the answers helped you be resourceful and take responsibility for yourself. Mr. and Mrs. Picky customer help you to hone your skills to acquire perfection, to drive your staff to exude superior customer service skills, and help you better serve all other customers who visit your establishment. They are doing you more than just a favor.
There is something else Mr. and Mrs. Picky have taught me over the years. I have become, Mr. Picky. Yep, I admit it. I work hard for my income, as I am sure you do. The reward for such hard work is typically some level of financial compensation. If financial compensation, usually limited and not growing from the “Money Tree” I used to believe existed in my parent’s backyard when I was a kid, was so important, and takes SO much effort to obtain, then why do we often settle for mediocre service or products? Think about it. When was the last time you were “picky” and didn’t just hand over your hard earned money for a mediocre or less than par experience? Better yet, when was the last time you had SUPERIOR service? Can you even think of a time in the recent past? It’s hard for most of us to get this level of product or service because as a society we have SETTLED for sub-par and expect less from those paid to serve us. By settling, we are not doing them any favors and they are not getting any better for our next visit or any other customer visits for that matter. Other than handing over something more precious but unimaginable such as your child, your pet, or your spouse (most of the time) as payment for a service or product, the next most valuable thing you have to pay with is your money. If money is SO vitally important to us, why do we just throw it away time and time again for less than PERFECT service?
Back to Mr. and Mrs. Picky. Have they figured something out that we haven’t until just now? Have they discovered a way to match expected service levels up with the importance their valued money is to them? Do you think they push all other businesses the same as yours? Just like the coach that made you run so you were more conditioned than your opponent, are Mr. and Mrs. Picky conditioning you to be stronger than your competition? For if you rise up to their challenge, other customers will benefit as well and you will outpace your competitors.
The next time Mr. and Mrs. Picky are on the appointment books, look at them differently and teach your staff to look at them differently for they are teaching us to be better than our opponents, play the music of prosperity, and to be responsible for ourselves and our business.
Not only should we all WELCOME Mr. and Mrs. Picky, we should strive to become them.