How to handle and avoid tough client situations – Tips and Tricks!

Sometimes situations happen in the grooming room, and it can be really hard to think clearly when you have a screaming dog, or client in front of you. We’ve all been there, and we hope we can give you some tips and tricks to help you react faster and better when these tough situations arise.

Please note: many of you already have some of these recommendations in place, this article offers suggestions for groomers that may not and it is not an exhaustive list.

Scenario #1 – Accidentally cutting a dog

Very important not to panic and try to remain calm for the pet’s sake. You may be an extremely qualified, experienced, careful groomer, but when this happens your whole world comes crashing down.  Here are some easy things to integrate into your daily routine that can help you when this horrific experience happens:

1.) Have an open communication with your clients! Having an open communication with clients about the risks of grooming a dog can take place when they are first registering with you. You can explain to them that you are a very qualified professional but you are working on a moving pet that doesn’t understand how sharp your equipment is and how important it is that they stand still. Also, never accept a matted dog without stressing how dangerous the grooming process is when the dog’s coat is in that condition. You should encourage them to re-book their dog in for their next grooming appointment to avoid this from happening again.

2.) Everyone must sign a waiver! Any person that walks into your salon should fill out and sign a waiver before their dog is left in your care. This waiver should include a warning to your clients about the dangers of grooming, and how accidents can happen. The waiver should reiterate what you have spoken to them about, and have a place for them to sign at the bottom stating that they have read and understood the information provided.

3.) Have a vet on call. Find a vet near you that you are comfortable with, and talk to them about being an emergency contact if you ever need them. Most vets will be more than happy to help. You can explain to your clients verbally and on your waiver, how you will contact them (the owner) immediately if anything happens, but also that it is safest (if necessary) to take the dog to a vet that is close by and who you have an agreement with. This arrangement is ideal in emergencies, as opposed to trying to track down their vet and potentially driving across the city when the dog is in urgent need of veterinary care.  It is still diligent to get the customer’s personal vet information in case they need to be contacted for records. This explanation should be included in your waiver also!

The above suggestions are only our recommendations to help you in troubling times.  This does not mean that safety can go out the window, but this way the client understands the risks and the safety measures you have in place in case an accident happens.  If this ever does happen, stay calm and take the necessary steps to ensure the pet’s safety.

Scenario #2 – When a client complains about price

Never undervalue your worth and value! This job is not easy. People seem to think that we just play with puppies all day! If only they could understand the amount of skill, time and precision it takes to groom their bestfriend!

1.) Never give quotes over the phone. Even quoting a price range over the phone can cause a sticky situation at the til. You need to explain to your potential clients that you are a professional, that you will charge the industry standard for grooming their pet and that prices can be extremely subjective in this industry. Explain that prices depend on the dog’s size/weight, breed, condition of coat, haircut, temperament, etc.  We always recommend meeting the dog before giving an estimated grooming quote.  This is often a comforting thing for potential clients  as they get to meet you and visit the salon in advance.

2.) Have a pricing guide. Find a local pricing guide to follow. Here in Winnipeg we follow the Professional Pet Groomers Association of Manitoba’s price guidelines. If you can’t find a resource in your area, please let us know and we can send you our recommendations. This way, if a client is not happy with your price, you can show them the industry standard in your area.

3.) Explain, explain, explain. Tell the client why you are charging what you do. For example, you use professional high-quality products, you pay a lot for regular tool maintenance/upgrades, and you are continually furthering your grooming education and skills by doing seminars and going to conventions. If they have an XL breed or a dog you had to spend extra time de-matting and brushing, you can tell them that you could have groomed 2 or 3 small dogs with well maintained coats in the same amount of time.  You can’t be losing money by grooming their dog. If a dog takes 2 appointment spots, don’t be afraid to charge double!

Scenario #3 – A Client who thinks you are “rough handling” their dog

Sometimes it is hard for clients to understand that everything we do is in the best interest for their dog. We do not put loops or “nooses” around their dogs neck to cause harm to their trachea, or to strangle them. We use them to safely keep their dog on the grooming table, and to prevent them from jumping out of the bath tub. They are an essential part of safe grooming protocol that benefits the dog and groomer.  It is also important to explain to them why you may need to safely restrain a dog in certain situations.  We had a groomer contact us recently that was extremely upset after a client saw her restraining a dog in the bathtub.  After hearing her story, we recommended that she explain to this customer that if you don’t safely restrain a dog in the tub or on the table that you risk the dog seriously injuring itself.  You can also explain to your customers that the more you (the groomer) works with the dog to make it comfortable during the groom, the safer and better it is for you both.

These are just a few situations that groomers are faced with on a daily basis, we hope we have provided you with a few tips and tricks to handle these situations safer and with more ease!