What Do You Think Is Best?

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Baby’s coat and dandruff before the groom. Baby’s coat after the groom.

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Baby, after her groom, feeling so much better! Clump on left is hair I pulled out of tub after Baby’s bath. Clump on right is some of what I got out during the deshedding process.

Dear Diary,
I awoke abruptly this morning with knots in my stomach. “Today’s the day I have my first paying client!” Don’t get me wrong, I was very excited, but I was equally nervous, so I did what I do when I’m nervous: I cleaned. I went to the shop bright and early, although Baby’s appointment wasn’t until 12, and I cleaned and cleaned and cleaned some more.
After all that cleaning, I still had time to kill, so I gave Hunca Munca a bath. I figured that would give the appearance that I’m busy working and grooming instead of sitting around waiting for Ms. Peggy (even though I really was).
While I was drying Hunca Munca, I began to worry that she may miss her appointment. It was only a few days ago that she made it, but when she scheduled it, she asked me to call her and remind her the day before. I should have refused, but the question caught me off guard, so I took her number. As I took her number, I did at least warn her that I myself might forget to call her.
Needless to say, I didn’t make the call. The truth is, Diary, I didn’t forget to call her. I thought about it several times yesterday and worried that she might miss her appointment because of it. I have no desire to make reminder calls, partly because I dislike making phone calls but also because I know that I will not have time in the future. In fact, I barely have time to do so now.
I didn’t want to call her just this once and develop a habit. My strategy with clients is to treat them like my dogs. I know how that must sound, but what I mean is that I want to train them well, develop good habits early, and be consistent. If I don’t plan to call her for her next appointment, then I’m not going to call her before this one either.
I was combing Hunca Munca and trying not to fret too much. I had myself convinced she wasn’t going to show and thinking that it would be worth it to lose this appointment rather than to get off on the wrong foot when the door to the shop opened and I was greeted by Baby and Ms. Peggy.
It caught me a little off guard at first, and then my ‘autopilot’ kicked into gear. I greeted her, gave her a client card to fill in, and removed Baby from her carrier. Ms. Peggy had not been kidding about her size! She was a large and overweight brown-patched mackeral tabby and white DSH. My hands were definitely doing to be full – figuratively and literally!
I was looking over Baby’s coat and getting a sense of her temperament when Ms. Peggy came across the mention of dander on the client card. “Dandruff? Is that the white stuff all in her coat?” Ah, what a perfect set up! I gave her the speech about dandruff, explaining what it is and how a bath will help with it. While I had her full attention, I took the opportunity to mention that a bath would also help with Baby’s shedding, as I petted her back to demonstrate the extent to which she was shedding.
She asked about the “other” section on the client card, and I explained the other services I offer (sanitary clips, belly shaves, etc.). “What do you think is best?” That has to be one of the most wonderful questions a client could ever ask a groomer. I told her that Baby would be fine to be clipped, but that the decision was hers. “Well, I think she just needs a bath. You said that would help with the shedding and dandruff, right?” Holy cow! She was actually listening. I couldn’t have asked for a better first client! “Yes ma’am, it will. And you know, she has such a pretty coat that I would hate to clip it.”
I told her Baby would be ready in an hour and got right to work when she left. I was a little worried that an hour wouldn’t be long enough, but I used the pressure of the time limit to make myself get it done. I put her in the tub and started bathing. I couldn’t have asked for a better kitty! She meowed in protest but never made any real effort to escape. Drying her was just as easy, as was her final brush out. She was such a doll; I finished her with minutes to spare!
When Ms. Peggy returned, I removed Baby from her carrier for that ‘Wow’ factor Danelle had taught us to utilize. It definitely helped! Ms. Peggy had a fit, complimenting the way her coat felt, looked, and smelled. We chatted about cats for a bit while she snuggled her clean kitty, and I learned that she knew Baby need bathing but no one around would do it for her. I couldn’t resist the chance to mention my credentials: “There aren’t a lot of us out there brave enough to groom cats. In fact, there’s only one other certified cat groomer in the sate.”
I also learned that Ms. Peggy had recently had a heart attack, so I insisted that she let me carry Baby for her. After I loaded her into the truck, Ms. Peggy thanked me again and hugged my neck with tears welling in her eyes. I had forgotten to mention pre-booking an appointment, so I told her to call me when she needs me and to take care of herself in the meantime.
Everything went so perfectly! You know, Diary, I think I could make a career of this whole ‘cat grooming’ business.

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