Thursday, February 12, 2009

In pursuit of a new groomer. . . .

We lost our groomer, I'm not sure what happened, her shop is closed. No notice, no phone call, just an empty shop and a phone that is no longer in service. The economy? A personal situation? I don't know, but I wish her well even though I wish she had called.

She was a really good groomer, my dogs jumped for joy - literally - when it was their turn to go "get pretty." She was great with them, most are mill survivors, none ever crated except when they were groomed. She understood that and whatever happened in her shop when I wasn't there was all good. My pack loved her. I did too, sigh. . . . Kathy, I miss you.

So with 10 dogs and no grooming skills, I'm in pursuit of a new groomer. I debated and decided to try the groomer we had for 9 1/2 years. She always did an okay job on my pack (only 6 at the time) until the day her assistance shaved Prince and Mason in the middle of winter. When I went to pick them up, I literally did not recognize Prince at first. I was furious, she said they were matted. I keep them in puppy cuts, they go to the groomer once a month - if they were never brushed they could not matt so badly in a month that they needed shaved. When I cooled off, I called to talk to the owner - no apology - no offer to do my dogs herself again - not the least bit upset when I cancelled the standing apointments for my pack.

But, she was close, most of my pack knew her so I called and asked if she wanted to do my dogs again as my groomer had gone out of business. She said yes, so I said if I bring them back there are several non-negotiable conditions we need to discuss. I wanted her to do my dogs, not her assistant - no problem. I want to bring them in 3 at a time, she does my dogs then calls me to come get them - I want them crated for the minimal amount of time. I dropped them off at my previous groomer between 7:30 and 8:00 and picked them up between 10:30 and noon at the absolute latest. Could she do that? no problem And none of my dogs were ever to be shaved. If she thought one was matted and needed shaved - just bathe them, trim as best she can and we'll discuss when I come to pick them up. no problem She made an appointment for Wednesday as she was not busy and could easily do my three within the time requested.

I dropped Prince, Mason and Punkin off at 8:00 am and restated no shaving, she does my dogs and do my dogs right away then call me. no problem

At 1:15 I called and asked how soon I could come pick them up, she said an hour and a half, she was finishing one dog and had another to do before she finished mine. I'm not a happy camper. At 3:15 I called and her fiance answered the phone saying he was just starting Punkin - come get them in 35 minutes. I asked if he call when done - he said no, just come in 35 minutes. Okay.

I arrived at 3:50 to pick up my dogs. Punkin is shaved almost to the skin - you can see the freckles on his little body. He will be in T-shirts and sweaters fot the next month - it's 36 degrees out today - a heat wave in comparison to the past month. She said she debated which attachment to use and apparently had chosen the wrong one. Uh huh.

Prince and Mason are cut pretty short, not as bad as Punkin so we'll live with it. We have lots of T-shirts and sweaters. Their faces are somewhat of a mess but hey, they'll grow. I pay the bill and leave without making another appointment for the remaining dogs. We won't be back, I did not waste the hours past noon waiting for her to call saying they were ready.

I did an internet search for other groomers nearby and called several and interviewed them over the phone. I explained my needs and asked if they could accommodate them. I spoke to one who seemed to understand and was agreeable. We have an appointment Monday for the next 3, we'll see how it goes.

In this economy, I would think small busines owners would want to keep their clients, I would think they would be happy to add 10 dogs to their client list, I would think they will do what they say they are going to do. I did change from taking my dogs every 4 weeks to every 6 weeks, but that's still 10 dogs they know will have a standing appointment. I don't get a discount, I pay the going rate for small dogs that are well-maintained.

So I wonder. . . . was today's groomer trying to send me a message? If so what was it? She doesn't want my business? I certainly picked that one up. That she detests dogs and could care less what she does to them in the winter? Got it. That her word is no good? Got that one too. That she will not have a customer tell her when they want to pick up their dogs? Yep, I reading her loud and clear. Does she think she is doing me a favor grooming my dogs? Maybe, but I am not looking for favors, I paid the price she asked in exchange for doing what I asked. Only one of us lived up to our word. Did she want me to know that as the owner of the business, things will be her way and not the customers? That message was received - I sure get it.

Small business owners certainly have the right to run their buiness any way they choose. With or without integrity. Customers agree or disagree by patronizing the business. I disagree, I won't be taking any of my pack back - 8 hours to groom 3 small dogs is ludicrous. Doing my dogs last is ludicrous. Caging 3 mill survivors to make a point (whatever your point was) is ludicrous.

Dog grooming services need customers willing to spend their discretionary income at their facility. They are dependant on a customer's want, not a customer's need. I don't have any dog grooming skills but I certainly could trim my dogs myself. I choose to spend my dollars on dog grooming services and I want it to be a pleasant experience for my dogs. Gosh, I miss my old groomer. But life goes on and I will find another groomer who is good with my dogs. I will find the groomer who's attitude and care of my dogs literally makes them jump for joy when it is their turn to go.

I suspect a lot more small businesses will not survive this economy. I don't know if this particular groomer will or not. I do know that my 10 dogs will be going to a different groomer. I was looking for a new groomer when I scheduled the first group and I'm still looking . . . . I am doing what we all do when we are dissatisfied with the service we receive - I'm taking my business elsewhere. Message sent - perhaps she will get it.