With new puppy's getting their first grooms its a little easier but in today's world with puppy farming rife even this is becoming an unknown.
Older dogs with years of grooming with other groomers or no grooming at all pose alot more questions
So its the unknown that's really bothering us.
We need to learn how to extract all the information we need without feeling like we are being nosy and over stepping their boundaries.
Most of us don't have hours on the phone to book in new dogs so keep the first call simple.New puppies with no previous grooming take a short to the point history. Has the puppy had a bath/blow-dry/brush at home. At this point many owners will say yes but dosent like x,y. Make note of this but don't dwell on it. If an an owner found it funny to chase a puppy with a dryer/hoover you might have a tougher time with the dryer but make note and access when they come in. It does not necessarily mean the puppy will need 10 sessions to get used to the dryer but it is something you will later discuss with owner why its bad training.
Recommend starting with a puppy groom . This leaves all options open to you for this first groom. Maybe the puppy will be perfect and you will be able to do a full groom but there's no pressure to so allow yourself this.
Adult dogs coming for their first groom with you can pose a few challenges. All of which are made easier by getting the right information from the owner.
Most of us don't want to ask out right where they went previously, why they left ,what hair cut they got,how much they paid. You can of course ask these questions but personally I've found its intrusive and most clients are not very forthcoming.
So I usually start with asking how many times a year does the dog normally get groomed. This really is irrelevant because you are going to recommend a schedule but it will get them talking about previous grooms(if any). This questions can also give you behaviour information. Sparky only gets groomed once a year because he hates it.Here is your opportunity to steer the conversations more towards his behaviour for more info. Recommend an assessment prior to the groom.When they arrive for this ask the client to wait for a few minutes so you can check if they are OK to groom. Don't forget you are in charge. If you are not comfortable , do not groom the dog and this goes for any stage throughout. You are under no obligation to put yourself and your livelihood at risk.
Ask What way do they like them cut as opposed to asking what way were they cut. You'll almost always the answer about the previous cut but also what part they didn't like. Eg: I like him with long floppy ears but they always cut them short in the last place.
Sometimes the hardest part about taking a new client is figuring out what it is that they want. Train your clients ,especially new ones to use terminology that makes sense to you. For example I personally refuse to call any trim other than on a poodle a lamb trim. Its too easily misinterpreted. So from day one change this to whatever description you will always use eg:Teddy half length,Jack Russell body etc
The most important thing to remember in accepting new clients is that whether they came to you because you have come recommended or your location or pricing ,you choose whether to keep them . As your business grows you can pick ad choose what suits you. Maybe you want to help the difficult 10 year old rescues or only groom small or large dogs.
Once we realise we have a choice we have no reason to feel like we are under an obligation
Many Thanks to Sabrina Rice IPDGA Member
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