Paws n’ Fur Details

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mGroomer interviews Elliot and Courtney Lochansky, owners of Paws n’ Fur Details in Raleigh, North Carolina. Elliot and Courtney share what they are doing about rising fuel costs and how they work with local vets to get clients.

Elliot and Courtney, what is your background?

Elliot: I have been in the IT\CRM (Customer Relationship Management) field for 7 years now. My wife, Courtney is the groomer. Courtney started grooming about 6 years ago at a big box store. Soon after she realized that in order to grow as groomer she would need to leave the big box store.

What is your background in grooming?

Elliot: There was very little training given through the big box store so most of my wife’s training came from peers, books, and a few videos.

What was one of your best techniques you used to get clients?

Elliot: We brought cards and flyers to some Vets in our area which did not have grooming shops. If all the Vets around you do have groomers, don’t dismiss them. Our personal vet (which does have a groom shop) started referring us to those clients who had older dogs and didn’t want to bring their dog out to the Vet.

We started out with a small client base and grew it from there. We actually found growing the business to be pretty easy. The van itself is a great marketing piece but we found that client referrals were really where most of our new business came from.

What are you doing to manage rising fuel cost?

Elliot: A year ago we increased our prices $5 per dog and as far as scheduling, we have tried to tighten the areas we go to each day.

We probably don’t use it as often as we should but the mGroomer mapping screen has been very helpful when we do have a cancellation or a gap in our day. It allows us to see dogs which haven’t been groomed recently near our route for the day. You can’t always expect the client to drop everything to have their dogs groomed but it works out a good percentage of the time.

How many vehicles/groomers do you have?

We have one vehicle and one groomer.

What kind of vehicles do you have?

Wag’n Tails Pet Pro.

What is the funniest story or event that has ever happened to you while mobile grooming?

Courtney: I get followed on the road. This tends to happen often. People stop by the van in the parking lot. I had one person follow me all the way to a client’s house to ask me about grooming. One person got out of his car at a stop light to ask me questions!

How is it different being a groomer and running a mobile grooming business?

Courtney: Being a groomer, you are done at the end of the day. You may not even have to schedule your appointments. You have to only worry about making sure your blades/shears are sharpened, cleaned and you have enough dogs to groom each day.

Running a mobile grooming business is much more involved. You have to handle van maintenance, generator maintenance, scheduling appointments, making reminder calls, ordering supplies and handling finances, driving to clients, getting enough dogs to groom to pay the bills, and grooming dogs in a safe and efficient manner.

Why does mobile grooming work for you?

Elliot: There are many shops in our area but few mobiles. Most of the mobiles are booked and not accepting new clients which makes it easy to find clients. Other mobiles are very friendly and more than happy to give out your name\number if they can’t take on any new business.

What was one of your worse mistakes?

Elliot: Purchasing an already up and running van\business. The van was in worse shape than was let on. The client list which was supposed to be about 150 clients and instead we ended up with about 40. We found out that the old business owner had told her clients that she was not going to be grooming anymore and to go elsewhere. On top of all of that the location of the clients were vastly spread out and the prices she was charging were less than the big box stores in some cases.

What were some of the challenges you had to overcome in getting your business going?

Elliot: Our biggest challenge starting out was the reliability of our vehicle which really ties in with our worse mistakes. Our clients were very understanding that our van was in for repair, but rescheduling clients was becoming more and more of a headache.

How do you and your wife work together to handle the business?

Elliot: When it was just my wife and I, she performed the day to day activities such as scheduling, grooming, light cleaning. I would generally handle the business aspects such as taxes, bills, and general van\generator maintenance. We both would go out on the weekends when I wasn’t working my regular job. I’d help with bathing and while she was grooming I’d start doing more detailed cleaning.

With our new groomer we’ve found the best way for us, is to keep a handle on what dogs are being done. My wife is scheduling and doing the reminder calls and the groomer is handling the grooming (with close oversight). The close oversight helps set some of our client’s minds at ease that their dogs are still getting the same care they were when my wife was grooming them.

Pricing is a big deal in Mobile Grooming. How do you handle pricing for your services?

Elliot: We charge a $15 trip fee for each house and a minimum of $60 per house. Each dog is determined by breed and coat with standard add-on services such as tooth brushing, flea dip etc.

Why did you sign up for mGroomer?

Elliot: Coming from the CRM industry I know there are many benefits of a good industry specific CRM. Before we started using mGroomer we had purchased another package which was very confusing and wasn’t available while you’re on the road.

mGroomer brings ease of use and of course you can access your data from the road.

How has mGroomer helped your business?

Elliot: My wife and I recently had our first child (a month earlier than expected) as such she is taking a break from grooming for a little bit. Our new groomer needed the schedule and all the details on each dog and client. Little notes like the key is under the rock, Scruffy doesn’t like the dryer, length and cut information.

Before we purchased the new groomer a web enabled phone, the mGroomer Appointment Report was a lifesaver!

We were a little busy with the baby for the first 2 weeks and that report had all the information our new groomer needed to know to efficiently handle clients without too many phone calls to my wife. It did however take quite a bit of paper but it gave us time to get out of the hospital and get her an iPhone she could use with mGroomer from the road.

Without mGroomer I don’t know what we would have done other than possibly shut the business down for a week or more.

How does mGroomer give you an advantage over your competition?

Elliot: The Mapping Features allow you to see the date ranges for the last time you groomed a dog. It helps us keep our schedule fuller.

If we have a cancelation or a client that is a no show we can quickly and easily pull up a list of others in the area that might need to be groomed to see if they are available.

Additionally, we haven’t started using it yet but I’m anxious to start using the automatic email reminders. I can imagine that could save us a considerable amount of time calling every client.

What would you tell other Mobile Groomer’s about mGroomer?

Elliot: First and foremost if you don’t have CRM type software you don’t know what you’re missing.

Second, mGroomer’s interface is very simple to use and will help with all of those little details that get lost. Like making sure you don’t send a holiday gift to a deceased dog.

What is your favorite feature of mGroomer?

Elliot: Access to our data from the road was certainly my biggest requirement when researching grooming software but the way the Appointments tie into the Mapping functionality is my favorite feature.

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