I’d like to slap the shit out of the person who came up with the saying ”The customer is always right” along with “return policy”. One reason among many is the customer usually has no clue as to what is about to go on after they drop their dog to a groomer and walk out the door, but never before saying, “What do you think, about an hour?” Have you ever tried to return something by saying “I’m the customer so I’m right”? Here is what has happened, John Doe put his own hair in his food and got it free way too many times. Jane Doe, well she kept stealing and returning her stolen items for cash too many times! Now no one can use that saying anymore so get out of the 20’s step into my world! I believe that the first year I opened my shop I had the lowest prices in town. I sold myself that way, like the little Italian I am, handing out samples of the best cheese in town! You know you need to have that cheese! I got people in the door and wanted them to see for themselves what I had to offer. I’m an amazing groomer…toot toot… (That was my own horn). My clients have stayed and now I am one of the highest prices in town. I have been loyal to those who were loyal to me.
Do you know dog groomers consider their work as art? It’s a name we have come up with for the average asshole who looks at us as cleaning their dogs’ ass and squeezing that “butt thing” in a different way. It’s a word of meaning. People respect artists, they create things from nothing, from blank pages, from a piece of metal or shabby chair. The word “groomer” just sounds old. It sounds like a type of slave to me. “Pet grooming” There’s the word again. It’s our industries fault for putting our artistic value in the same sentence as what the dogs come in for. It’s natural that people associate us with their dog or on that level, after we created the perception we are just that, “dog groomers”. When in fact I am without certifications a skin diagnosis professional, behaviorist, trainer, bone and joint specialist, parasite detector, internal disease psych, bump and lump finder, aside from pet styling, counselor, mother, wife, sister, a business and family woman. No wonder my flower pots are filled with sticks. Who the hell has time to water plants when you are on a mission!
I will often mention my father because of all the things I will become and am, a fatherless daughter is the one that altered me the most. He was my go to guy for advice and most of what I do is with him in mind. He said to me when I had been in trouble that my “silence will not help, because there is always someone watching who will tell lies for you” and I have never experienced this more so then being an “insider” now that I own a business. What I get most on facebook when I publicly post to a page or respond threw the business facebook page in disagreement or challenge an opinion, are things like “I can’t believe a business would respond and not just say sorry”. “I can’t believe a “groomer” ( there is the freaking word again) would say that, of all people”. Really? So, because I own a business I have to have this compassionate feeling for the idiot who is assaulting me and stay tight lipped? Nod my head to agree with them and apologize for my honesty being brutal? Ummmmm take the shop keys away and burn the bitch down now because I’d rather move back to my mother’s basement! I don’t think people understand, I AM NOT MY BUSINESS MY BUSINESS IS ME!
I don’t respect the business person who makes a living off lying, or promoting what is not factual just to get people in the doors. IE: an Italian bakery but serving French croissants. What the hell is that? Where I’m from, the Pawtucket Times would have a rally to sue you for fraud! It’s like going to a Dog Grooming business and a chicken is on the table. People lie to make you happy. They are afraid that when they tell you Sugar bites like she’s rabid, you will ask what we did to make her bite. Your bullshit groomer will tell you nails, I will tell you I did nothing but your overbearing, nut case attitude treating the dog as if it were a human and never letting anyone interact with it has caused it to become Cujo on crack. After that I will tell you I will help you fix it and give you advise on how things can be changed this way another groomer wont sue you. YUP it’s true, a groomer can sue you if your dog bites them. I’m sure that’s a shocker! But truth.
I’ve tried to be quiet but I found myself cooking chicken Marcella a little more each week, you know there is wine in that. There is an art to honesty. There is a way to tell someone they are ready for the straight jacket and still have a returning client. You have to be a good stylist, know your shit and be ready to show off your stuff because in the end all you said flies out the door when the dog looks amazing. My wish is for everyone to stop being afraid to tell people the truth because you’re afraid of their reaction. There was a point I had to ask myself what’s the worst thing that could happen to me if I stood alone and tried to change things. The end results, if they were the worst, would not stop me in life so I went for it. I needed people to respect my work. I needed people to see results if they had a problem with their dogs coat looking dull or flaky. I needed resolutions for them so they would hear me when I spoke. If I gave them a reason to see then they would listen to my crazy mouth when crazy things came out of it. Unorthodox pet stylist, a little personal, but I’ll remember the family issue you had two months ago, and I actually care if you’re having financial issues. I will support your crazy if you support mine kind of deal.
Being brutally honest has cost me some clients but I find they do come back. I love my clients (the dogs), love my business, and can’t say enough about my clients’ owners! One of my 5 year goals was to be able to repeat what I heard at a seminar years ago. A Master Groomer was asked, “What if the client wants something else” she replied “tell them your hands won’t do that” (talking about a style she created that was standard on a dog.) My best friend and I looked at each other and said “Yea sure, that will fly over well” we laughed. Then like a little seed it grew in my head. It may have exploded in my brain a little. I knew I had to be that because that is something I RESPECTED. She was confident enough to tell a potential client what NEEDED to be done, not what they wanted. With most clients it’s either they want what is just unrealistic, ie: they have a pelt matted dog that they want brushed out. It is my job to “HONESTLY” tell them in a kid glove kind of way, they are freaking nuts! And not shatter their world. I may have taken the master groomers advice to the extreme, a little, (laughing). The look I get with new people is usually a very questionable one. Wrinkled foreheads are common with cocked heads, similar to the dog when confused kind of look. My goal was met in year 2! At my shop I do what’s NEEDED. Always trying to better a dogs look, always questioning health and body structure before a groom. I give each dog my all and developed some amazing relationships with the clientele by doing so. I believe my imprint, my attitude and my “way” is now known locally by many people. Ironically enough I have some of Lakeland’s finest Business Men and Woman who come to me. I’m proud of that. I’m honored to know some of my clients parents can go any place they want and they choose me. That has to say something about my “way” and my skill. Even better are those who are exactly like me, and come in yelling about some “crazy ass” who just cut them off in her car, when all she wanted to do was take Bella and Mia in!
My Activism… Is accepting and telling the truth, the bold embarrassing truth, that none of us want to hear especially from their dog groomer!