This question has revealed some tricky customers common to you all and it seems it isn’t just one! Difficult customers seem to have similar demands and the most common issue is getting through to owners who persist in bringing their dog in with a coat in a poor state. Some of you have talked about your canine customers, some human and some of you both!
Jitka Krizova, Vita Canis
The worst dogs I have had to deal with are the ones you can’t touch! That is the ones who bite and mean it. My most difficult is a two-year-old Fox Terrier who came a few months ago. I really thought I wouldn’t be able to do her at all because she was so vicious and putting a muzzle on was impossible. However with a lot of patience and using tuning forks and a calming floral spray we are finally making progress. It’s is a fine line between whether it’s worth investing all that time and effort over one dog when you could be doing easier ones but I must admit it is very rewarding when you start to see a change in a dog’s behaviour.
As for human clients I’ve been really lucky so far. Only once have I had difficult owners to deal with. All was going absolutely fine until the dog was booked in for its third groom with me and a week beforehand I was sent a threatening email saying that I’d cut the dog’s ear. This was nonsense as it was a Blue Merle Collie so I didn’t touch the ears! They sent me nasty messages on facebook and threatened to report me to the RSPCA. I responded diplomatically, explaining what I did and that they were welcome to send the RSPCA around to check my business. I sometimes see them in town and I always say hello.”
You can get a few difficult customers; they are usually highly strung, very demanding and sometimes I think they’re on a different planet! The dogs are usually fine. As an example I have a cocker spaniel that was very matted. The dog was well-behaved but it took ages to de-matt him and the owners did not want me to cut him short. They were not short of money either so could afford to bring the dog in more regularly. It has taken a lot of gentle persuasion to make them commit to bringing him in more often so we can keep on top of his coat. They finally have grasped that letting the coat get so matted is not fair on the dog. In these situations it is about educating the owners but it often involves high levels of patience! Another difficult customer is often the labradoodle owner who doesn’t understand the type of coat and has probably been sold a dog that they’ve been told doesn’t need any grooming. They bring them in in the spring for a tidy up for the summer. Often the coat is so badly matted that the only option is a shave-off. This is never a popular option and can mean you get a bad name as a groomer.”
Peter and Becki Ensell, K9 Grooming
We can spot the worst kind of customer the minute they walk through the door! They’re often a new customer who the first time you groom their dog say it’s the best groom their dog has ever had. The next time they’ll say he looks great but … and want you to do something a bit different. By the fourth or fifth groom they’re getting very particular about specific areas and you end up spending more time on the dog than you should because you want to hear them say again that it’s the best groom the dog’s ever had. In the end it just gets very stressful as whatever you do is never quite right! They are also often the type of customer who bring in a picture of a show dog and their dog’s conformation and coat is all wrong and will never look like that in a million years. Trying to convince them of this is always extremely difficult.”
Martin Mawson and Lee Hollingsworth, Furzt Class Lounge
The worst customers are the ones who despite you explaining numerous times about how to maintain the dog’s coat in between grooms completely ignore the advice and the dog comes back in just the same state as before. We’ve had one customer who we have explained about brushing the dog’s coat numerous times and she still isn’t getting it. She’s also bought in a picture of a show dog – and her dog is nothing like this – and has started to tell us how to brush the dog and what type of scissors to use! Often it is the cross breeds. We now tell our customers that the state their dog goes out of the salon depends on the state their dog comes in. We’ve started to put up our pricing for those customers who still don’t get it and we’re having to spend extra time on. Our philosophy is very much to work with owners and we invest a lot of time in trying to educate them. But sometimes you have to be firm as ultimately it’s not fair on the dog.”
Karen Lofthouse, Ulti-mutt Dog Grooming
We have quite a few awkward customers here. We have ones who don’t show up for their appointment and then phone the next day asking when it is and pretending they’ve forgotten! They then get annoyed when you can’t fit them in within the next week or so. The other difficult ones are the matted ones. Mostly the coat’s got to come off, it’s the only fair way for the dog. I had a Bichon that was so bad but the owner didn’t want me to shave it off so I told them it would be unfair on the dog to try and de-matt the coat and sent them home to think about it. Three weeks later they came back for a shave-off! It’s the dogs with the cotton-wool coats that pose most problems – owners don’t seem to understand that a coat can seem smooth on top when you brush it but there’s lots of matts underneath. The other customers I find trying are the ones who want you to handstrip the dog but leave it fluffy!”