Growth Strategies To Increase Revenue
Retention Tips for Dog Groomers
Best Customer Retention Tips for Dog Groomers
It doesn’t take an MBA to know that retaining good customers is more cost-effective than always looking for new ones. After all, the Harvard Business Review says that a 5% increase in customer retention can boost your revenue by as much as 25-95%.
I think you’ll agree, that’s an amazing statistic. Plus, when your schedule is booked with high-quality clients, then you don’t need to market as much. That saves you time and money.
In marketing speak, it’s called customer retention.
What is Customer Retention?
Think of your dog grooming business. Would you rather spend your time working with existing clients or do you always want to be looking for new customers?
It’s not a trick question!
Once you’ve brought in a new customer, ideally, you want to keep them coming back. That way you can build a relationship with them and their dog and give them excellent service. However, that doesn’t happen by accident. A lot of it starts with deliberate communication. By communicating effectively, you can strengthen your bonds with the human client and some of them will refer others which helps you grow your business.
Think of your best customers. In most cases, they probably keep regular appointments and appreciate your skills. They can stay with you for years and when they refer to friends and neighbors, you hope those new customers share similar characteristics.
Let’s say you have 10 new clients. Two of them come once and never again. You don’t know why. Another one relocates after a few months, and out of the remaining seven, five of them are the type of clients you’d like to clone.
- They keep a steady appointment schedule
- They’re always on time
- They’re appreciative of your skills and staff
- They spend more because they trust you and your recommendations. They know you want the best for their pet.
There’s even a math formula:
It’s the number of customers at the end of a period of time (you can choose a week, a month, a quarter, whatever you like.) Subtract that from your new customers who came in through the same timeframe and divide by the number of customers at the start of the period.
You may not have ever consciously thought through how many of your customers return to you consistently though you no doubt, know your regulars.
This is a chance to take a look at your client roster and assess your percentage.
Let’s expand on that earlier example and make it 10 new customers in a week. Five of them happily rebook their appointments for next month. Five don’t. Out of the five that don’t, two text a month later to schedule an appointment. And for the sake of easier math, let’s say all five of your customers who rebooked initially, keep their appointments and they turn into regular, monthly customers. The other two are irregular but continue to book at least twice a quarter. The other three you never see again.
That works out to be a 3/4 retention rate which sounds pretty good. If you did that every week, it wouldn’t be long before you’d be booked up! From there, you can make other decisions. For example, you may decide you only want to work with consistent clients who pre-book.
That’s what Krystal Purcell of Pooch Paws to Go does. She’s a mobile groomer who pre-books appointments six months in advance. “By pre-booking, it’s easier to keep a tight schedule. “I try not to let clients dictate my schedule. I keep a rigid schedule, so there’s not much leeway for rescheduling. I also don’t take one-off clients or snowbirds anymore because they’re not the ones who pay my bills.”
Of course, she did this by setting expectations early and always communicating with clients.
Communication is Key
Relationships are built on communication and the client/provider relationship is no different. When you set expectations for others and are proactive about communicating them, it goes a long way toward establishing a healthy relationship.
For example, let’s look at the possible ways of communication outside of the face to face element. For most, it’s text, social media messages, email, and/or phone.
Yet, you probably have preferred methods. For example, you may have groaned inwardly at the thought of a customer calling you. There are plenty of people who don’t want to communicate via the telephone. Others are the opposite. You’d rather have a quick conversation than risk crossing wires via text.
For others, you don’t want to be contacted via social media.
For your customers, it’s the same. Some people prefer email, while others prefer a text. To some degree, knowing these preferences of your best customers means you can accommodate them in the way they prefer. That’s good customer service.
Yet, as you grow, that may be harder to maintain. A one or two-person groom shop with a few dozen customers is a different operation than one with two or three locations and a receptionist at each to manage doggie check-in and outs (and answer human questions.)
Or, maybe you’re a newer shop owner and want to start out with a standardized process from the beginning. For example, you implement booking software at the outset because you recognize the time savings and organizational possibilities. Plus, you want to be able to access your bookings via an app no matter where you are vs. needing a physical document.
For instance, if you use something like the automation feature of 123Pet software, then, you add your customers and can send automatic reminders (either email or text.) Set it up with their preference, include your message, and now, you’re communicating through their preferred medium (good customer service) and reminding them of their dog’s appointment. You don’t have to do it manually.
Next, when the dog is finished, a click lets the customer know the pup is ready for pick up. This can save you hours by the end of the week. Besides that, when you have people booked for regular appointments, you can better manage your time because you know who’s showing up when.
You can even ask for feedback via “please leave us a review” messages all within the software and automatically sent.
Misty says the review feature helps her catch unhappy customers “They’ll write a review but won’t necessarily tell you because they don’t want a confrontation.”
Communicating Valet Pick Up
As dog grooming salons reopened from the Spring COVID shutdown, there was a lot of confusion. Shop owners who clearly communicated with their clients during the shutdown and through the reopening process solidified their reputations as trustworthy and helpful people.
Some shop owners made social media videos for their clients that shared how to brush their dog’s teeth or how to brush out the dog’s coat. Not only did the clients appreciate having their groomers help them maintain their pet’s hygiene, but those clients now have a greater appreciation for all that you know.
As salons reopened, successful salon owners communicated their process to their customers. They talked about the sanitizing procedures they’d implemented and their process for minimizing human interaction via valet pick up.
Krystal Purcell of Pooch Paws to Go, mobile dog grooming says, “I’m asking people to either put their dog in a side yard where I can reach them or leave the dog in a crate on the porch.”
It’s essential to have clear communication.
Own Up to Mistakes
Everyone is human and makes mistakes sometimes. Yet, the worse thing to do is to ignore it. It makes you feel uncomfortable and even if your client doesn’t know, they’ll pick up on subtle body language or tones of voice.
The best way to maintain trust is to stay in communication with your human customers. You might feel like you’re over-communicating when you explain how your appointments work, drop off/pick up process, and payments but it’s an opportunity to answer any questions at the outset and clear up any confusion.
If there’s an emergency, let your client know right away. If you make a mistake, let them know and apologize. If you find out that the client didn’t like the way you trimmed their Maltese’s coat, offer to fix it if you can. It’ll take you less than 15 minutes and the goodwill could create a customer for life.
Now maybe you’re thinking this sounds great. You definitely see the value of retaining your customers. In fact, you may be doing a good job with your communication and your retention. Or, maybe you don’t have enough clients yet and you want to increase your regulars.
It starts with your sales and marketing plan.
How Your Marketing Plan Impacts Customer Retention
If you’ve been in business for a while, you probably do regular assessments of your sales and marketing process. If it’s been a while, that’s ok. It’s safe to say, that it always starts with your sales goals.
Too many people try to create a marketing plan without a goal and that’s not helpful. The reason is that you won’t know you’ve reached your goal if you don’t have one at the outset. And, no, “new clients” isn’t specific. That’s too fuzzy. How many new clients? By when? That’s starting to put parameters on it.
et’s look at your current client base. How many are regulars? In the case of dog grooming, you have certain dog breeds who need more frequent grooming than others.
If you ideally have higher maintenance breeds on a four-week cycle, what percentage of your base meets that ideal? What about once a year customers? How many of those do you have and do you want to continue serving them? (Hint: it’s ok if you don’t.)
As you break this down, you’ll have three columns:
1- Regular, loyal customers (these are your bread and butter.)
2- Periodic, irregular customers
3- New customers (fewer than 3 visits, let’s say.)
Use the retention formula above of how many new customers you get in a week. If you see 100 dogs in a week and 10 of those are new, then subtract the 10 from 100 for 90 and divide by 90 for .81. An 81% retention rate is pretty good! You could probably boost that by 5-10% without too much effort.
And if it’s much lower? Then you know you can improve your customer service.
Now that you have an idea of your current customer retention rate, you’re ready for the next step.
How Do Your Best Customers Find You?
There are a lot of ways your customers can find you. Your goal as a business owner is to find out which ones have the biggest impact on your business. That way you can double down on the most effective ones.
- Google Reviews
- Word of Mouth Referrals
- Social Media
- Meeting at an event
- Community Sponsorship
Every business needs a robust online presence in today’s world. Yet, some are more effective than others. For example, Misty Gieczys of Designer Paws Salon with two locations in Upper Arlington and Westerville, Ohio recommends Google Reviews as an easy and effective way to boost your website in search. The automated process makes it easy. “Clients get an email or text within 30 minutes of a groom. The message asks “will you write us a review?”Then, if it’s a 5-star review we ask them to send it to Google.”
Your first impression starts with your online presence. How easy are you to find and do you have a lot of happy reviews? From there, you move into booking an appointment and the greeting.
How Can You Make the Best First Impression?
Thriving groom shops make a good impression from the first greeting. From having a clean and friendly shop to easy-to-find signage and having clear drop-off and pick up procedures. You make an impression at every interaction which is why it’s useful to go over your communications and processes every so often.
You can ask your new customers if everything made sense to them or if they need clarification. You can even ask friends/family or other groomers to go through your process and let you know if anything seemed difficult to them.
It’s a good idea to spell out your hours of operation and processes on your website too. That way, people who haven’t contacted you yet, can already have a sense of what it’s like to work with you.
You don’t have to be for everyone. That’s ok. The brilliant (and sometimes, terrifying!) part of being a business owner is that you get to make the rules.
Now that you’ve thought about your customer retention ratio, are you happy with it? Where do you want to improve?
Author: Jennifer Phillips April
Jen is a confirmed marketing geek and animal lover. She started her online writing career with a dog treat website back in 2005 and grew it to 87,500 visitors a month by writing useful content. Now she writes for technology and pet clients around the globe. When not writing, she’s likely devouring a novel or dreaming of the beach.