By Lucy Stevens
We’ve all heard the mantra that “the customer is always right.” Happy customers are likely to stay with you, even if a bigger, better competitor opens up shop nearby. At their core, people want to feel special. As pet parents, they want their fur-babies to feel special. I’m always surprised when business owners inquire about software without consideration for the one–to–one connection that pet groomers (and other pet service professionals) can develop with their biped and quadruped clientele. In the pet business, a customer-centric approach is truly the key to success.
The Customer Centric Approach to Business
Let’s start at the beginning. What does it mean to apply a customer-centric approach to one’s business? When you’re taking steps before, during and after the service to ensure a positive customer experience, that is customer-centric. This approach is designed to have customers ready to book their next appointment as soon as this one is complete. It lends itself to positive reviews, sharing of the experience with friends, and a desire to return. Thus, the business is driving new sales, repeat business, customer loyalty and increased profitability. Successful businesses, regardless of industry, need to retain a good percentage of their current business as well as consistently drive new customers. The combination of the two result in steady profitability and growth.
How to Incorporate a Customer Centric Approach in the Pet Business
Professionals in the pet industry have two sets of clientele – those for whom they provide the service and those who adore them. Both need to be happy for the provider to achieve success. Let’s consider that you are very good at the service you provide, whether grooming, dog walking, pet sitting or another pet service. With that in mind, how do you set yourself apart from other quality professionals in your area? The following are some small steps that, when added together, provide a customer centric approach to keep them coming back for more.
Before the Service
Prior to the client’s arrival, place a confirmation call, text or email. Clients will appreciate the quick reminder. If you have a software system with this functionality, by all means use it. A benefit of such a product is taking that task off your plate. If clients are booking by phone, be cheerful when answering the phone. Ask how Fluffy’s coat has grown in and be as accommodating as possible in scheduling.
During the Service
When Fluffy and her parent arrive, be sure to welcome both. Greet them by name, showing you have a keen knowledge of your clients. Confirm the specifics for the service and ask if there is anything special needed. Perhaps he/she is going out for the morning and would prefer a pick up call/text via mobile instead of the home phone. By allowing them to get on with their morning, you are exhibiting consideration and flexibility. If you have others on your team, let the pet parent know who will be tending to their fur-baby. Calm nervous clients with a mention that you will handle Fluffy with kid gloves.
At pick up time, make a fuss about how well Fluffy fared. Hearing that Fluffy did well lets them know you handled her with care and provides a prideful moment about their good girl. Perhaps you can have treats available that, with permission, may be offered to Fluffy for a job well done. Thank your customers! I cannot say this enough. Yes, you or a member of your team performed the service, but clients have a choice. They chose you. Acknowledging that speaks volumes.
After the Service
If you are using software for the business, send an automatic thank you email or text. Ask clients to post reviews that you can post onto your website and/or social media. Consider encouraging reviews with an offer of a discount or special gift at the next service. You can do the same for those making referrals (i.e. refer a client and take a 20% discount at your next service, or refer 4 clients and get one free service). Follow up emails or texts should have a link to book the next service. Doing so will likely reduce the time between services and may increase the number of visits in a one year window.
For those using a scheduling book, always offer to schedule the next appointment before the client walks out the door. Consider contacting clients the next day to make sure Fluffy is happy with her grooming. While on the phone, offer to schedule the next visit. Provide clients with a card with the link to your Facebook or Instagram page (or other social media). A visit and review can garner a discount or gift at the next visit.
Be sincere, honest, friendly and grateful for your customers. You will develop loyal customers who appreciate the TLC (Tender Loving Care) you give their pet as much as you appreciate their business.
Lucy Stevens is the President and General Manager of Punchey.com, a software development company providing operational management software to an array of industries. GroomPro POS, where “Tech meets Pets”, a business management software designed specifically for pet groomers, pet salons and other pet service providers, is the brainchild of Stevens, a pet lover and pet mom. Merging her customer-centric software expertise with her love of animals, Stevens has developed a much needed product for pet service professionals to grow their businesses and provide excellent service every day.