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Mastering Client Communication to Elevate Your Pet Grooming Business

Communication Tips for Pet Groomers: Ensuring Client Satisfaction

In the world of professional pet grooming, effective communication with clients is paramount. Clear communication ensures clients are well-informed and satisfied with the grooming process and final results, leading to better client retention and reducing misunderstandings and complaints.

This blog will explore the importance of communication at various stages of the grooming process: during the initial phone call, before the appointment, before pickup, and after the groom. We also cover helpful tips and important questions to ask during client intake and strategies for handling unhappy clients will be discussed, including taking detailed photos and thoroughly explaining the grooming process beforehand.

Initial Communication: The Appointment Phone Call

Effective communication starts even before the client steps into your grooming salon. The phone call to schedule the appointment can provide valuable insights into the client's needs and set the stage for a successful grooming session. By asking a series of targeted questions, you can identify any red flags or green flags regarding the pet's grooming requirements. This initial conversation helps you determine the type of groom needed, the time frame required, and whether the dog should be groomed first thing or later in the day or potentially not at all, based on specific circumstances.

Here are some essential questions to include in your intake of new clients over the phone:

  • Breed and size of the pet : Understanding the breed, size, coat type and approximate weight of the pet is crucial. This information helps determine the specific grooming techniques required, such as deshedding, scissoring, hand stripping, or clipping. For crossbreeds, knowing these details ensures accurate pricing and scheduling, preventing surprises like unexpected costs to the client or longer grooming times for you which can be frustrating. It's important to note that some clients may consider their 30 kg oodle as a small breed, highlighting the importance of clarifying these details in particular approximate weight upfront prevents miscommunication.

  • Age of the pet: Understanding the age can help anticipate the pet's energy levels and potential grooming challenges. Remembering an elderly pet may require as much time as a young pup and staff maybe be needed to help with these pets. You may consider doing these pets first thing or last appointments of the day to allow more time. 

  • Last grooming session: Knowing when the pet was last groomed provides context for the current state of the coat.

  • Previous grooming experiences: For new clients, asking what they were unhappy about with the last groom can reveal important details and set expectations. For example you can say “ Could you share what you were unhappy with during the last groom? This information will ensure we provide the best grooming experience for your pet.”

  • Grooming frequency: Understanding how often the pet is usually groomed can indicate the level of maintenance needed.

  • Behavioural tendencies: Inquiring if the dog nips at the groomers helps you prepare for any handling precautions.

  • Coat condition: If the client wants a longer length, ask if they can get a comb (not just a brush) through the coat. If not, explain the likelihood of needing to trim down the coat to manage matting.

  • Quotation: If you choose to provide a quote on the phone, you can say “I can provide you with an estimated quote over the phone. Just keep in mind that the final price may vary depending on your dog's coat condition when we see them in person”

Setting realistic expectations during this initial phone call is crucial. If the client’s dog has a matted coat and the client prefers a longer length, explain that the coat will need to be trimmed down initially. You can assure them that regular grooming sessions can eventually achieve the desired trim. This proactive communication helps align the client's expectations with the grooming possibilities. 

Drop Off and Pick Up Times 

Establishing clear drop-off and pick-up times is crucial to maintaining an efficient grooming process. During your initial client interactions, emphasise the importance of scheduling specific time slots for drop-offs to avoid disruptions throughout the day. Each pet requires dedicated grooming time to ensure thorough and unhurried care. Explain that early pick-ups can disturb the grooming process, as pets may become excited upon recognising familiar sounds like their owner’s car and voice, or the sight and smell of their owners.

Once you've discussed an approximate quote and confirmed the booking, it's essential to clearly define the drop-off time and approximate turnaround time for each dog. If your salon doesn't have set drop-off and pick-up times, stress the importance of securing a specific time slot for their dog. Advise clients that deviating from this schedule may incur a late fee to prevent disruptions to your daily routine. Setting firm boundaries and communicating them clearly with your clients helps maintain a calm and focused environment, ensuring each dog receives the necessary time and attention for a smooth and timely grooming experience while establishing healthy boundaries.

In-take Assessment: Establishing Good Communication

When the client arrives for the appointment, conduct a thorough assessment of the pet with the owner present. Take a few minutes to explain the grooming process and what it entails. This step not only helps in establishing good communication but also builds trust with the client. Clearly outlining what will happen during the groom goes a long way in managing expectations and preventing misunderstandings.

Handling Matting: Ensuring Pet Comfort and Client Satisfaction

When a pet arrives with a matted coat, it’s essential to address the issue with the owner promptly and thoroughly. Begin by showing the matting to the owner and documenting it on the pet’s record. Don't just point out the mats; explain the pain and discomfort they cause the pet. It’s important for owners to understand that matting can cause many other issues including skin problems, and that dematting can be even more painful than the mats themselves. Your top priority should always be the pet's safety and well-being.

If the pet is severely matted, inform the client about the necessity of a short trim and ensure they fully understand this. Clear communication at this stage can help avoid issues later on, as the owner has the right to decide what happens to their pet. If the client is unhappy with the options you provide and chooses to go to another groomer, that can sometimes be a blessing in disguise.

When an owner consents to have their pet clipped down, ensure they understand what the final result will look like. Having an album of your grooming to show results can be a game changer!

Show them before and after photos of other matted pets you’ve groomed and what trim can be done with regular visits, to set clear expectations. Keeping a large mat or pelted coat to show clients can also help them better understand the condition beneath their pet's fur.

Reassure your client that you can achieve their desired look once you start with a blank canvas. Explain that the current trim is temporary and necessary to remove the mats, reducing the pet's pain and preventing potential skin issues lurking beneath the knots.

Don't fall for the "please just trim the knots out" request if the dog is matted all over. Explain to clients that leaving patches would make their dog look like a patchwork quilt. Instead, suggest starting fresh with a clean, even trim today, and work towards their preferred style over time. Remind them that, you as a groomer,  have a reputation to uphold as a grooming artist, and you want every dog you groom to look its best!

Alongside advising the client to brush and, more importantly, comb their pet’s coat at home, recommend and sell the appropriate detangling products and grooming tools. Additionally, suggest a grooming schedule if they cannot bathe and dry their dog at home. Remind them that a dog's skin turnover is approximately every 21 days, so a bath and trim or bath and groom every two -three weeks is ideal. Regular grooming appointments are essential for maintaining healthy skin flora and overall coat health. 

Protecting Yourself and Your Business

It’s crucial to protect yourself and your business by having every client sign a release or waiver form, whether it is a general grooming release, puppy release, matted release, or senior release. If a client is unwilling to sign, that’s a significant red flag. Trust your instincts—if something about the grooming or the client's behaviour makes you uneasy, it’s okay to decline the appointment. Remember, release forms and waivers clarify that the client understands your policies and procedures. 

The waivers must explicitly state what rights the client is waiving. This includes acknowledging potential risks associated with grooming and consenting to certain procedures.While they may not always be enforceable in court, they do offer a layer of protection for your business. You can consult with a Lawyer to have  waivers reviewed by a legal professional to ensure they are properly drafted or draft your own covering your concerns.

Additionally, document the grooming process meticulously. Take before, during, and after photos  or videos to have proof of the pet's condition at each stage. This documentation is vital, especially when dealing with matted pets, as it provides evidence of any issues found under the matted hair, such as hot spots, parasites, or skin problems. You can add for example to your waiver "For the purpose of maintaining accurate grooming records and ensuring the best care for your pet, we may take photos of your pet before and after grooming. These photos will be kept and used for our business records. If you consent to photos being shared on our social media or website, please indicate your preference below.

Hidden Problems and the Importance of Documentation

Often, problems don’t become apparent until after the groom and the pet has returned home. When the trim needs to be close to the skin, skin irritations can occur due to the pet rubbing, chewing, or scratching with newly trimmed nails, which in turn causes self-inflicted injuries. These irritations can appear days later, and the groomer may be blamed. This is why photos are crucial. 

Another example, when matting is removed from the ears of for example, English Cocker Spaniels, the dog may shake its head repeatedly, causing hematoma’s to form after leaving the shop. The excessive shaking causes blood vessels in the ear flap (pinna) to rupture, leading to a painful swelling filled with blood. It requires prompt veterinary attention to alleviate the pet's discomfort and prevent further complications.Also ensure a soothing bathing routine is used for dogs thats having a shave down as the skin will often be sensitive, often the skin will be dry, red or have bacterial or fungus issues, harsh shampoos can exacerbate skin irritations.and also cause irritations, If you are unsure you are using the correct products during this process, Iv San Bernard Range is ideal for these types of skin issues. Dont forget to take photos and use proper documentation, this is essential to protect yourself and your business.

Whenever you clip a pet's coat short, ensure you explain the after-groom care to the owner. Provide them with printed information as a handout to take home can be helpful to your client and their pet. 

Photos of the finished groom can be crucial in preventing accusations of causing these injuries. Keep all documentation on file with your client’s details. If you don’t have an online booking system that allows for this, store the photos in an album on your phone under the client’s name, or print the photos and file them physically.

Setting Realistic Grooming Expectations with your clients

Understanding client expectations is crucial when discussing grooming options. After assessing the age, coat type, skin condition, and lifestyle, it's important to discuss the trim type. Clients often have specific desires that may not align with their pet's coat type. For example, a client with a drop coat may want a poodle show trim, similarly, dogs with combination coats like Cavoodles or oodles may not have the coat to achieve the exact look seen on the cute photos on social media. This is where we, as groomers, armed with thorough knowledge of breed standards and coat types, can effectively educate our clients. Education is key.

When discussing specific breeds like Westies, it's important to clarify that the photos seen on social media often depict show dogs. Regular stripping of the head coat is necessary to maintain the distinct chrysanthemum look. As groomers, we often groom soft coated West Highlands due to regular clipping and not stripping, but we can achieve this temporarily with the right products, ensuring that each pet West Highland leaves our salon looking like a show dog. If you would like to learn more about hand stripping the West Highland head over to our Groomer Nation and sign up to our Evolving Groomer Pro Plan : .

Inquiring about the dog's schedule and environment is also crucial. Dogs that frequent beaches or in rural areas prone to burs and ticks may benefit from shorter trims to ease maintenance, while those in cooler climates may require longer lengths and more frequent grooming. Gathering this information through simple questions helps tailor the grooming experience to meet the client's expectations and their dog's needs effectively. Taking the time to ask these questions, typically about five minutes for new clients, with a set of specific questions, not only clarifies grooming preferences but also strengthens the rapport between the groomer and the client. Remember sometimes the client doesn’t even know what they want, so you can suggest the trims that are best suited for that dog. 

 Handling Complaints Professionally

Dealing with complaints is an inevitable part of any grooming business, and how you handle them can make a significant difference in client retention and satisfaction. When a client voices a concern, listen attentively and empathise with their perspective. Address the issue promptly and professionally, ensuring you remain calm and courteous throughout the interaction. Document all complaints and follow up with the client to demonstrate your commitment to their satisfaction. Additionally, for strategies on handling negative reviews and maintaining your professional reputation, check out our blog post on navigating negative reviews: Navigating Negative Reviews: Strategies for Pet Grooming Professionals. For more in-depth strategies on handling difficult clients, refer to our blog post on navigating interactions with challenging clients: Navigating the Ego: Handling Narcissistic Clients in Dog Grooming :

Setting boundaries

Clear boundaries manage expectations, reduce stress, and ensure the best care for each pet. They foster trust, prevent misunderstandings, and minimise interruptions. Healthy boundaries also improve client relationships, prevent burnout, clarify policies, and promote consistency, leading to a reliable and high-quality grooming experience for all clients.

Tips for Setting Boundaries in Your Grooming Business:

  • Clear Communication: Clearly communicate drop-off and pick-up times and the importance of adhering to these schedules.

  • Questionnaire for New Clients: Use a set of questions for new clients to determine the pet's needs and set realistic grooming expectations.

  • Release Forms and Waivers: Ensure clients sign release forms and waivers to understand and agree to your policies and procedures.

  • Photo Documentation: Take before, during, and after photos of each groom. This provides proof of the pet’s condition and can help resolve disputes.

  • Set Policies: Establish and regularly review your policies on cancellations, late arrivals, and payments. Make these policies clear to clients from the start.

  • Follow-Up Care Instructions: Provide clients with printed after-groom care instructions to ensure they know how to care for their pet post-groom.

At Groomer Nation, we believe that ongoing education, personal well-being, and client education are crucial elements for running a successful grooming business. We offer resources and training to help you stay updated with the latest techniques and trends. Visit our website at to explore our educational offerings.

Effective communication is key to maintaining a smooth business operation. Remember that not everyone processes information the same way. It’s important to explain your policies and procedures clearly and in different ways to ensure full understanding. This approach, similar to explaining things in multiple ways for clarity, helps avoid misunderstandings and ensures clients are well-informed. For more insights on establishing clear policies and procedures, check out our blog at 

By focusing on these aspects, you can build strong client relationships, improve your business efficiency, and ensure a high standard of care for the pets you groom.

Thank you for being part of Groomer Nation. We are here to support you every step of the way!

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