The Business Secret That Dog Grooming and Starbucks Share

Author: Arianna Hermosillo Date: March 14, 2014

Small Biz Book Club: Customer Service Skills

The Small Business Owner: Keith Miller, owner of Bubbly Paws Dog Wash, a dog grooming business with two locations in the Minneapolis area.

The Book: The Starbucks Experience: 5 Principles for Turning Ordinary Into Extraordinary, by Joseph Michelli

Why I Read It: We met with the person who started clothing retailer Hot Mama, and she gave us a whole list of books that helped her out. And the one that really stood out was The Starbucks Experience. It was just a very fascinating book to read, and it made [us] really think about how we do things.

Biggest Takeaway: I don’t want to say that Starbucks is the perfect example of small business. I think it’s a good big business that tries to focus itself to be small.

The one thing that really came through in the book was how [Starbucks] treats its customers. We’ve always tried to go above and beyond, to make sure customers are well taken care of, happy when they leave. But in the book, they talk about how that’s not good enough. You need to do more. They’ve trained a lot of their employees to read customers, to try to do things to brighten their day up if they have had a bad day.

The other part was, make sure your employees are always taken care of. We always try to make sure they’re happy. I think that’s really important in being a small business.

Applying Lessons Learned: Any time you’re dealing with dogs and grooming, you’re bound to have somebody that’s upset with how their dog looks. [The book] talked about how to respond to negative customer feedback. Apologizing—that only gets you so far. You have to do more. The best customer service is when people really care about the incident that happened. Be sincerely sympathetic.

We recently had a customer complain that our groomer took about one-fourth of an inch of too much hair off her dog. Rather than trying to defend our groomer, I just listened to her and sympathized with her. I called her back, let her know what happened and offered her a gift card for her next visit. She was so happy that I took the time to research it. I also told her I talked to our groomer about the importance of calling or texting the owner when encountering any issues that could lead to a dog looking differently than what the owner is expecting. It was a great learning experience for us, and she just booked a grooming appointment in two weeks.

Who Should Read It: Any small business owner who really wants to think about how he or she operates. 

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