This is part two of a two part article I've written. You should read part one first, or this may not mean anything to you. Part one is entitled "Another example of corporate America" and can be found on I
After realizing I may be what the the mainstream refers to as unemployable, I decided to revise the resume. But an 18 month gap in employment history was as bad, if not worse, than a bad reference from the last employer. So the job search continued to produce no fruit.
As I looked at the options, I drew a conclusion. There were no options. The workforce was a bust.
What about the knowledge I had acquired from my employment at my last job? I've done customer service most of my life, I'm good with people, I can have a conversation with anyone, about anything, anytime. Hmmmmmm.....What can I do.
How about starting my own business?
And so at age 45, so begins a ride that has been wilder than any amusement ride I have ever taken!
I knew money would be needed. Of course. Family backing. Maybe. So begins the research. I learned much. I learned that I didn't know as much as I thought I did. I learned things I didn't even know I'd ever learn. I learned things I didn't realize existed.
I decided to open a dog grooming salon because I had the resources, the knowledge, the experience with animals, and the customer service skills.
I researched the equipment. I researched the costs. I learned that cheaper is not always better. But when you are working on a shoestring, sometimes cheaper is the ONLY way to accomplish the goal.
There was more information than I knew what to do with. Supplies. Paperwork. Software to keep track of everything. Specialized software. Credit card processing. That in itself is a sea of sharks waiting for the fresh meat. I still get calls from people trying to sell me their processing services. I have the best deal going thank you. I know this because I did my research. City permits. Zoning. Looking at property after property after property. I am realizing that commercial real estate rental is a very very expensive venture. I knew it would be, but how expensive I didn't realize until I actually started looking at available space.
Finding a space was fairly easy. The economy is not conducive at this time to open a business, therefore, every strip mall, office space, etc, had empty space to offer. The problem was that I did not have the money to remodel. So I had certain requirements which had to be met in order to make the location
work. Read: shoestring budget.
Move in. File all necessary paperwork. Day 2 after moving in every window in the building is broken. Police and landlord all agree it is the ex-tenant who was evicted by court order for non-payment of rent, but no way to prove it so insurance pays to have the glass replaced. No charges are filed.
Mid January I open the door for the first day of business. That first day I got a Dalmatian named Bandit for a bath. The next day we sat for the entire day and had not one person come in or call. I remember being so very disappointed. I will say at this point that including that day, there have only been two more in which we closed the day with a -0- on the book. Both within that first month of operation.
This was in January of 2010. I'm writing this around the middle of May 2010, and the last 5 months have become a blur.
The business has grown beyond my wildest dreams. It's grown every month, adding new customers. The first customers who I had continue to come in on a regular basis and I'm getting to know them personally now. And their dogs. And their families. It's very fun when a customer who has been in three or four times returns with their dog and the dog remembers you and runs to greet you, similar to when the owner has left the dog for boarding for several days and returns.
The excitement is genuine. The pet parents love this. It tells them their dog is taken care of when it is in my care, and builds confidence. This causes them to tell their friends, and so on, and the process repeats. Loyal customers. They are more than customers now. Many of them have become friends.
I have had to take on an additional groomer, and an additional bather. I did not expect this to happen in the first five months.
There are other grooming salons around this area. They are not competition. In fact, I have become friends with the guy who owns the grooming salon a couple of blocks down the road. He is so busy that he sends his overflow to me. This most certainly has not hurt. We are all busy. People are free to take their dog to whomever they wish. I provide top notch services, top notch customer service, and respect to each and every customer who I come into contact with. This is paying off as I believed that it would.
It is no longer only about grooming the dog. It has become an experience, more of forging relationships, a bond of trust, where the pet parent is willing to leave their dog in my salon for a half day to be groomed, or a week while they go on vacation. They know their pet will be cared for with the same loving care I exhibit toward my own pet. And they see this in their pet's behavior when they return to pick him/per up and before leaving the dog runs back to me (or the groomer or the bather) and offers a paw in shake, or a lick, or just a "pet me" before leaving.
Looking ahead, I see only more growth. Bigger things. A second location? My stomach gets a knot just thinking about that....
I believe the underlying point of this whole two part article is that any business can succeed. If you provide good service, be honest in your dealings, and treat people the way you would want to be treated. We have all had bad experiences in business. Remember those, and endeavor not to let them happen in your business.
It's really a simple formula and there are no secrets. Provide good service, know your customers, treat them as you would want to be treated, and the rest just comes.
Now quit working for "the man" and start doing it for yourself. In this "bad" economy, I can't think of a better action to take for you and your family.