There are some moments when dealing with customers that teach us important lessons. Here is an example. Many years ago, when I was an employee, I sometimes groomed a sweet, happy little cocker spaniel. Her owner, a rather stern man, kept her in a #5 kennel clip from nose to tail and had her groomed regularly. He frequented all the groomers in town, whichever could see him on the day he wanted. When I opened my business, he called for an appointment. I was happy to see the dog again; she was a friendly pup and an easy groom. When the man came to pick her up, I said, “Thanks so much for bringing her in. She is a delightful little dog, and I enjoyed grooming her.” Her owner stopped in his tracks and stared at me. “You know, no one has ever told me that they enjoy grooming my dog.” He paused a moment, then said, “Can I book another appointment?” He’s been bringing his dogs to me ever since. That simple compliment earned me a loyal customer and thousands of dollars of income over the years. The fact that I took a moment to communicate how I felt about his wiggly pup made him happy and taught me something. People like to know that we are fond of their pets. We might think it’s obvious, but it may not be.
Here is another example. I had a customer with two beautiful, sweet, Standard Poodles. I liked the dogs a lot, but the owner? He was one of those impossible-to-please types. Nothing ever made him happy. The grooms were never quite suitable. He once flew into a rage when I put a bandana on one of the dogs, ripping it off and throwing it at me. I was always polite but not overly friendly to him because he was not much fun to deal with. One day he was in the reception area waiting to pick up his dogs. Another regular customer popped in to introduce her adorable new puppy to me. I greeted her enthusiastically, gushing over her pup. When she left, Mr. Grumpy said to me, “You never do that with my dogs.” “Do what?” I asked. “Act excited to see them.” You know what? He was right. I never did, even though I really liked those poodles. The man’s demeanor put me off. But that unpleasant guy loved his dogs just as much as my nice customers did, and I neglected to show him that I l was fond of his dogs, too. Maybe he wouldn’t have been so cranky if I had.
These customers never knew what a gift they gave me. I am now mindful of telling my customers that I like their pets. Even challenging dogs have things about them to appreciate, and I make a point to look for them. “Killer has the most expressive eyes!” or “Cruella has the loveliest coat,” or, when I am really reaching, “Precious has an admirable attitude!” Pass out the compliments; they don’t cost a thing.
By Daryl Conner, MPS, MCG
Daryl Conner has been devoted to making dogs and cats more comfortable and beautiful for almost 40 years. You can find her happily working at FairWinds Grooming Studio with her daughter and infant granddaughter, or typing away at her latest grooming-related article. Daryl was awarded both a Cardinal Crystal Award and Barkleigh Honors Award for journalism. She shares her meadow-hugged antique Maine farmhouse with her practically perfect husband and too many animals.