I have been thinking a lot lately about how to balance the number of clients I have and what I want those relationships to look like to best benefit my clients, myself and most importantly the dogs I work with. I am a one man show as it happens, meaning I have no staff. Every dog I handle as a groomer is handled by me from start to finish. My shop is small, around 400 sqft and keeping the chaos level to a minimum is important to me. About a year into my career I figured out how many dogs a day I can do and how to schedule them as best I could to make the most efficient use of my time and keep things on the quieter side for the dogs. At this point I know what I can do in a day physically and not loose the will to live or have to survive on ibuprofrin and/or strong drink. So I thought I would give grooming clients and potential grooming clients some insight in to the things that I think in general are things groomers appreciate in their clients.
Short version- Don't be that guy who only gets his dog done once a year and drags in a border collie matted to the skin and full of hunks of mud, plant debris and cow crap. D O N ' T.
Dogs who are groomed regularly are much more relaxed and accepting of the process. Dogs who only come in once or twice a year are in my observation, the worst dogs to work on. Your dog's coat needs regular maintainance year round regardless of coat type. This keeps grooming sessions predictable for the groomer time wise and for the owner predictable price wise. If you are a reliable client that treats our time with respect you will get more from us than flaky or infrequent ones.
Clear communication with your groomer is important. If you don't articulate what your expectations are for your dog's haircut it will be hard for us to interpret what it is that you want. I personally love it when clients bring in pictures of what they like style wise and then we can discuss what will work based on their dog's coat type. If I can't do something you want I want to be able to communicate that to you and make sure we all understand each other.
If I have clients who like to nit pick or really love the idea of being able to hyper critical and I can determine that it is a pattern for them I honestly cut them loose. I just don't have time to deal with the stress that brings into my life. I want to do as good a job as I can but I am not a robot, some days nothing seems to go right, I am working on a moving target, equipment doesn't always cooperate and mistakes can happen. Your groomer may have days where something doesn't come out as planned, that is not an indictment on that groomer's ability in general. It can also take a few sessions for you and your groomer to iron out what you want, so give some time for your relationship with your groomer to develop. If you are forgiving and mellow it is very appreciated.
If you aren't sure what the best schedule for your dog's coat and style is your groomer will recommend that. Please go with what is recommended. Doodle owners I am looking at you. Again going with your groomer's recommendations will generally keep your dog's grooming appointment time and price more predictable and you won't be as likely to end up with a shaved dog unexpectedly. It will also help ensure that your dog is more comfortable during grooming sessions. That is the most important thing.
I personally treat my clients very much as a relationship, if my introvert self has to see you every month or two I need to know we mesh well. I want to meet every new client and their dog prior to scheduling a grooming appointment so I can get a feel for them and they can get a feel for me. If I find that seeing a particular person on my schedule that makes my soul die a little because they are a perpetually stressful client, it honestly is not going to be long before I quit scheduling them. This is a survival tactic for me as the burn out among dog groomers is legit. The average career of a dog groomer is 7 years. This is a stressful job without the human element, add in the scope of human behavior and it gets REAL.
To wrap up, think of it this way you and your dog and your groomer are going to be in this for several hopefully long, happy years so making the investment in the relationship will be a big benefit in the long run. I have been grooming for 11 years and I'm now seeing some of my first clients who came in as puppies grow into old age, some who came in as young dogs have now passed away and their owners are now back with a new puppy and we've gone through all the emotions of those events together, the worry, joy, pain and the excitement. I'm so grateful for the time my clients have invested in me and the relationships that have developed. Those are the best rewards in this line of work!