After markdowns and multiple clearance sales, what do you do with that merchandise that just won’t sell? 

Use that merchandise as a “gift with purchase” promotion, suggests Candace D’Agnolo, owner of Dogaholics in Chicago. “We’d tell our customers that over X days we’d be giving a gift with purchases over $25 or $50,” she says. The customer could then choose an item out of a basket corresponding to the total sale price, and the baskets would be replenished as needed. “People love getting free stuff, so it makes you look like a rock star and the promotion will bring people in or increase an average sale.”

Should I teach my staff that the customer is always right?

We’ll turn this one over to sales trainer Hal Becker, who says: “Contrary to popular belief, I don’t think so. Most times, the customer is usually wrong! But here is the thing most people forget: The customer is the one in charge! When you say ‘no,’ you also say goodbye to their business.” If you’re ready to do that, then end the relationship ... as respectfully as possible. 

Ack! I just spilled coffee all over my white shirt! How can I not look like The Creature from The Brown Lagoon for the rest of the day?

Nice going, slick. But hey, it happens to everyone. And that’s precisely why you should always keep an extra shirt in the store, and maybe a spare pair of pants, too. Meanwhile, here’s a quick stain-removing tip from Men’s Health magazine. Act fast. Run, don’t walk, to the bathroom and wet the stain from the inside of the shirt, while rubbing the stain with a bar of Ivory soap. It won’t be perfect, but this quick fix-it job should be enough to prevent little kids from pointing at you and saying, “Mommy, why is that man’s shirt so dirty?”

Typos are always creeping into my newsletter. Helppp!

Well, our first advice would be to spell-check. (Did you do that? Well, did you?) In addition, before emailing or sending copy to the printer, marketing consultant Martha Retallick suggests: “I read every word out loud. Slowly and carefully, just like I did in first grade. Sometimes, I decide to have some fun and do my proofreading in the form of dramatic readings. Hey, it makes the job go faster ....”

How do I get my staff to read our company policy?

Make it fun. At your weekly meeting, offer to buy a large premium coffee for the first person who can correctly answer a question from the employee manual. The key is to have everyone participating, so put names in a hat and draw one at a time. That way, every staff member knows there is a chance he or she could be called upon to provide the answer.

How can I start offering a photo portrait service in my business?

We talked to William McQuade of The Whole Pet in Arkansas. The Whole Pet makes it a point to offer portrait sessions only after grooming or bathing. “By grooming your puppy first, we have an opportunity to get to know your dog better — and they can get to know us as well,” McQuade says. “This makes it easier to get a good expression from your dog.”


This article originally appeared in the March-April 2017 edition of PETS+.