Steal a Page from Your Dentist’s Playbook

By Joey Villani, CEO of Intergroom International & VP of World Dog Expo

How many of us have heard this phrase from our dentist: “Everything looks good. See you in 6 months”? Whether you schedule or not,  I want every groomer to consider the statement that is repeated after every dental visit – be the client young or old, teeth in great condition or need more intense cleaning. It is the mantra of the dental profession – it is part of the dental culture. Oops, there it is – culture.

The dental profession has made it a part of the culture. The dentists, assistants, and receptionists all repeat the same recommendation: “See you in 6 months.” I recommend you steal this from the dentist’s playbook. Make repeat booking a part of your salon’s culture. This isn’t about being unethical; it isn’t about trying to rip off your clients and make them buy a service they don’t need. It is about providing better care for the pet and better service for your clients, which ultimately is better for your salon business. Let me explain.

Let’s start with the pet. If you wanted to make big bucks on a single pet, you could serve all those heavily matted pets and charge major bucks for your time – time spent combing out the mats and letting the pet rest periodically. Who really suffers from this business practice? The client? The groomer? No, the pet suffers. When a pet is matted, the problem is more than just the aesthetics of its appearance, it is about the medical risk of bacterial infections as the mats trap moisture and cause damage to the skin, and it is about the pain the pet experiences from the tightly twisted fur and irritated skin. Repeat bookings are in the pet’s best interest. Simply put, prevention is better care. Groomers care, so we want to have repeat bookings to avoid having a pet suffer.

Repeat bookings mean better client service. Clients can avoid “panic appointments” – you know the ones, the pet needs to get in today, the fur just got matted, etc. Nobody likes a panic appointment, not to mention, you don’t like having to help the client save face by agreeing with the fibs about mats that just happened overnight. Repeat bookings build relationships between you and your clients.

Did you ever consider the perception of a client when he/she calls for an appointment and can’t get in? Do they think it is his/her fault? Nope, it is your fault. Now the client has to rearrange his/her schedule just to accommodate you, the groomer (who is booked up on the requested day). Repeat bookings save everyone from a negative experience. The proactive approach satisfies everyone’s schedule, avoids panic appointments, and puts everyone in a positive relationship.

Finally, repeat booking is just good business. Consider these benefits when a salon makes repeat booking part of the culture:

  • Builds client loyalty
  • Improves the health and well-being of the pet
  • Saves the business money by not having to chase new business all the time
  • Allows for peace of mind with booked appointments
  • Provides job security
  • Increases business profits

I emphasize culture because it is so important to the success of a repeat booking program – the salon must have a culture where every groomer, every bather, every receptionist says the same thing to every client.  “Ms. Smith, Fluffy is looking awesome! We will see you again in 6 weeks.”

Why is it so hard to say this statement to a client? The worst they can do is say, “no.” The worst you can do is to accept the “no” and drop the ball on any future contact. Any client who does not schedule the next appointment for the pet allows you to use your marketing program. Send the client reminders, text the client a picture of the pet from the last appointment and tell them Fluffy says it is time to look good again! Are you worried about having a full schedule and having to turn people away? That’s a good problem to have and is easily addressed. First, run a cancellation list (think of the client’s perception of your salon being in such high demand that appointments are booked in advance). Second, run an airtight appointment confirmation program (see my last blog on doing reminder calls).

I can’t say it enough: repeat bookings make good business sense. Every salon must create a culture whereby repeat booking is the standard. This goes for the single-groomer operation as well as the multi-groomer salon. It is equally important to have the right equipment to make all of this easy and seamless. BizBark is the right tool to get it done.

BizBark helps you build this culture because it allows you to do online scheduling, repeat booking, and automatic reminders. With BizBark, it is easy to blast deals and send reminders. It is easy to let your clients schedule, move, or cancel appointments online, in real-time. Take a moment assess your tools –  the tools you use to manage the business side of your salon. Then accept a challenge from me – track your percentage of repeat bookings and track your production. I bet that you will see increased income when you increase your percentage of repeat booking appointments. Go ahead – prove me wrong. If dentists can convince people to schedule their next visit as they leave the office, you can certainly encourage your clients to do the same for their pet.