Facebook likes. The whippet media
Facebook likes. The whippet media

How to use social media to boost your grooming business.

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The best way to describe Facebook for dog groomers is as a double-edged sword. It can be a business’s greatest asset, or its greatest downfall.

For that reason, it is key for dog groomers – whether they own their own business or work somewhere as a groomer – to have a good grasp of the tools this site provides, and how best to utilise it in a positive way.

While there are a lot of social media sites available, I’ll be specifically talking about Facebook. This is because this is the one I have the most experience and success with, along with Instagram.

If you have a Facebook and Instagram account, I would recommend linking them so you can update both sites at once.

yellow dog instagram- social media
yellow dog instagram- social media

Facebook is such a valuable asset that I no longer have a website for my salon. I used to pay a small fortune for a good quality website that described all of my services in detail. It explained the grooming process in a non-scary way for non-groomers. But as more and more people took to social media, more customers came through my Facebook page than I was through my website.

Websites still have a use, but I found I could get more customers for less expense by focusing on social media.

Facebook is wonderful for free, or cheap, advertising. You can showcase all of your work in a clear way. Show before and after photos of your work, and explain what services you offer.

Just as an example. If I have a Border Terrier booked in, I will get before and after photos. Ill take a photo of the dog’s back showing one side that is stripped and one side that isn’t. A quick description of handstripping explains the pros (specifically colour and texture), and the post is ready for Facebook. Within twenty four hours of being posted, I will have at least five more Border Terriers call or message me to book their dogs in.

Customers love to be able to see the styles you can put their breed of dog in, and so I post a variety of styles on my page. They range from Asian Fusion style with full flared legs and donut muzzles. To perfect breed standard show style, to 7f shave offs.

You never know who sees your page, and by posting various styles you cover all bases.

I live in a rural area with lots of working dogs, many of these Gundogs want everything taken off completely and are quite put off by show-style handstripped Spaniels with full furnishings. So I demonstrate that I can do short, practical grooms too.

This works both ways; my customers in full furnishings would never book in if all they saw on my page were shave offs. So I make sure I regularly post those grooms too. Your page is your opportunity to demonstrate everything you are capable of.

A lot of people forget to take pride in their photos. Yes, we’re not photographers, but there are little things you can do to make the photo stand out for the good reasons.

1: If you are taking a photo of the dog while on the grooming table, make sure you clear the table of all fur and tools.

2: The chances are the floor will also be visible in the background, make sure this is clear too.

3: Check, check, and check again for anything in the background that shouldn’t be. There is nothing worse than sending a dog home and then looking at the photo you’ve taken to see a dog pooping in the bathtub in the background. In an ideal world, you need a clear, uncluttered background so the focus is entirely on the dog.

Some groomers have little photo booths set up in the salon to get truly beautiful backgrounds.

I used to do this all year round, and although customers loved it initially, the novelty soon wore off. now only set up a little booth for Christmas, and throughout the month of December every dog gets a photo in front of a snowy backdrop, with a Christmas tree and wrapped presents.

Christmas photoshoot

If the dog plays along, I put a Santa hat on them too. Owners love it! My photos get more likes and comments than at any other time of year, and the owners make sure to tag all of their friends and family because they’re so overjoyed to see their dog all Christmassy.

The downside with Facebook is that anyone can see the photos and comment anything they like on those photos. In my experience, the majority of negative comments usually aren’t actually intended as negative.

Typically, whenever I get negative comments it is on an extremely matted dog that has been shaved off. The comments are along the lines of, “oh, his curls are gone!”, or “won’t he get cold?” Because of this we have to be very careful how we respond to these messages, if we do at all.

If you do need to respond, make sure it is either light-hearted or educational.

Along the lines of, “yes, but he can see now!” or “not to worry, as long as he has a jumper or a coat he will be fine”. Don’t forget, you’re not just responding to that one person. There will be a dozen other people who had the same thought but didn’t comment, and they’ll be waiting for your answer too.

Of course there are also some genuine negative complaints, and this is where the dark side of Facebook is revealed. If someone has something bad to say, gone are the days they would call to complain. And either get a refund or agree to disagree and move onto the next groomer. Now if they don’t get the response they want, they’ll complain via message and then publicly on your page. They’ll post on local pages, get their friends and family to comment on your photos and leave fake, negative reviews. 

I like having my reviews publicly on my page. It would take an awful lot to force me to remove the review option.

Whenever I get a negative review, I respond to it professionally and try to publicly fix the problem. That one person may still disagree with the outcome and be unhappy, but at least everyone else can see your calm and rational response and come to their own conclusions. On false reviews, a polite comment of “Hi xxx, I can’t find your name on our records, do you mind telling me which dog you have and when we groomed them?” This usually fixes the problem while I report the review as a fake.

If you have a particularly persistent troublemaker on Facebook I know it can seem like the end of the world. Trust me, I’ve been there. When it feels like the entire world is slating you and you know you have done nothing wrong. It can be hard to stay optimistic about everything and keep posting pretty pictures and happy posts as though nothing is wrong. But Facebook has a short memory, and as long as you don’t aggravate the situation it is possible to move on.

Facebook Community

With all that being said, Facebook’s biggest asset has to be its networking abilities. Pre-Facebook and the grooming groups I could join, I had no idea that all groomers had the same problems. Other groomers had naughty Yorkshire Terriers to groom. They had silly complaints about the tiniest strand of hair being left a millimetre too long. And had to deal with customers arguing over a £1 increase. It is so relieving to discover that I wasn’t the only groomer in the world dealing with these problems. 

You can join The Whippet’s Community grooming group THE GROOMER HERE.

Facebook has been one of my most reliable sources of education too.

Through grooming groups I have been able to contact various breed specialists who share their wealth of experience. I have been able to arrange one-to-one workshops to really fine tune my skills with them. On top of that, many educational seminars are advertised on grooming pages and nowhere else. So by being part of these groups you can stay up-to-date with the grooming industry and learn about all of the new tools and techniques being developed every year. If you’d like to keep up to dates with seminars and FREE webinars be sure to join ‘The Groomer’ on facebook.

As Covid hit, I was eternally grateful to have the support of our Facebook groups.

There was so much contradicting information on TV that I struggled to keep up with what was happening to businesses. When lockdown finally happened, I was reassured by the hundreds of groomers who went into lockdown with positive outlooks. And when all of the information about furlough and grants was released, I relied on the wonderful groomers of Facebook to interpret the information and translate it into an easy-to-understand way for me.

A self-employed friend of mine works as a chiropodist, and has none of this support network. Over lockdown, she was chatting on a group message between our friends. She was worried about her finances since she had no idea how long lockdown would last for. She had absolutely no idea about the grants she was eligible for. It was thanks to our grooming groups that I was able to share help available for business owners. Not only did our dog grooming groups help our own industry, but I was then able to help someone in a completely different industry too.

Have you checked out The Whip It Out Podcast? Listen Here Now.