How to set holiday appointments for the most profitable holiday rush

Updated: Nov 25, 2019

The holiday season is a time for groomers to make the most amount of money in the shortest amount of time.  As my Grooming Director Brittany says, "We train ALL YEAR for this moment!".  Well said Brittany, well said.  But many groomers book up fast and do not have openings for last minute call-ins.  Those clients will go elsewhere and may not return.  Clients are finicky and will remember the salon that 'saved the day'  in their desperation to have Fluffy look great for company.  In my opinion, most groomers leave money on the table each holiday.  Whether it is from:

  • exhaustion

  • principals "They should have made their appointments 2 months ago when I told them!"

  • or not knowing there is a better way.  

There is a 'How to' set holiday appointments for the most profitable rush.  Wanna give it a try?

Step 1:

Before Halloween, contact your regular clients either on their day of appointment or via email or phone and ask about their holiday plans.  Find out whether they are:

  • Traveling with Fluffy

  • Traveling without Fluffy

  • Having company over

This is important. Most of us just assume our favorite clients need their pet cleaned for Christmas. And we have conditioned our clients to book their appointments during the holidays no matter what. But it's kind-of like the dog you give the bandanna to, only to see on your commute home, 1 hour later, the bandanna is not on the pet during their evening walk. What a waste! If your absolute favorite pooches don't need to be cleaned up, don't give them that appointment. Give them an appointment on a slower, less chaotic day where you can do a better haircut AND make money when it is slow.

Step 2:

If the client will have their pet WITH THEM and need them spruced up, start to book their appointments or at least make a list to hold slots for them.  These are your VIP clients and they will get first dibs on openings around the holidays.

If the client will NOT have Fluffy, ask them kindly to schedule their appointments during the off weeks of the holiday rush. (Example: the week after Thanksgiving, early December OR the beginning of January). We say the following in an email to my clients:

The holidays are here again!

You are a very special client of ours and we want to give you the first chance to book an appointment during this very busy time.  If you have company coming and you know which day works best for you, please let us know asap so we can be as accommodating to your needs as possible.  If traveling with your pet, let's get them cleaned up for Grandma before you leave!  Contact us now.

If your pet will not be with you in your celebrations, we ask that you reschedule your appointment to <insert the weeks you prefer>.  This allows us to get the partying pooches presentable for their families.

Thank you again for your patronage this past year!

Step 3:

Stay on top of this list and make reminders as needed.  I like to reach out to these folks again 3 weeks before Thanksgiving and again 3 weeks before Christmas.  You do not want to upset your very best clients because they cannot get an appointment.

Your goal should be to create openings in your holiday schedules to fill with last minute call ins.

The End Result

What you have created is:

Appointments from your VIP's during the slower weeks in November, December and January.  Instead of being dead 3 weeks before Christmas, you have now filled some openings with reliable clients.

Openings during the very busiest parts of the holiday rush for the last minute call-ins.  Hey, money is money!  Who cares if they can't manage their calendars - you have spots for them now.

It's an opportunity to gain new clients for next year!  Those last minute people may have called their previous groomer and was turned away.  Can you say 'hero'?  Take advantage of saving the holidays for these folks!

I hate when Groomers feel the need to 'punish' these people. Let's face it - some people just can't manage their schedules. Other people have so much going on in their personal lives that Fluffy's haircut is the last thing on their mind. Whatever their reasons, with the openings you have created in your schedule, fill them with these pets....and charge a premium. If your normal price for a Yorkie is $55, bump it up to $65. They have the right to say no and you have the right to charge more.

Another objection I hear from Groomers is that these dogs may be bad, clients may be jerks, etc. If you have a phenomenal team - none of that should matter. We take new clients every year during the holidays and the majority of them are perfectly behaved pets. We have a couple of biters that have come through over the years, but we handle it like any other day. The point is, these clients are so grateful to us for taking them last minute that they become loyal clients in the future.

Also, set the rules for these folks. If they can't abide them, don't schedule them. This is what we tell every last minute call in:

"We would be happy to help you but we have a few rules we need to discuss with you first. If you can do it, great - we can get you in. Otherwise, you may have to call around to other shops.

#1 We are squeezing you in which means your pet will be completed after all of my clients that pre-booked this day are done. Fluffy can be here all day. Are you ok with that?

#2 Do not call us. Do not stop in. The more you contact us, the slower we will get done. We will call you when we are done. If you call, we will ask you to pick up your pet. We are on a tight schedule and any distractions makes it difficult to get done in a timely manner. Do you agree?

#3 We will give you a 30 minute heads up call, so we expect you to get here as soon as we complete her. She is not allowed to hang out after the groom. We really do not have the room during this busy time. Will that be a problem? Do you have other things going on today that will prevent you from picking her up on time?"

If you noticed, I ended all rules with a question to make them agree to these terms. It creates authority, respect for your time, an unspoken understanding that YOU are doing THEM a favor, not the other way around. Plus it is a verbal contract that you will enforce if broken.

More business on the slower weeks, more money during the rush, more clients in January and more business in the future. It's a win-win for you and your clients!

Would love to know what you think!  Do you agree that the last minute people should get appointments too?  What kind of scheduling ideas can you share to help make the holiday rush more profitable?  Please comment below.

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