An employee is frustrated with different aspects of her job. How do I respond?

Ask what she thinks the answer is. If that doesn’t yield anything helpful, ask her to come up with three lists:

1. The good stuff: aspects of the job that make her feel satisfied.

2. The everyday parts of the job — things that are part of pulling a wage.

3. The “Ugh, I hate this!” stuff that is frustrating her.

Put these into three buckets and then find ways, together, to spend 10 percent less time on the “ugh” stuff and increase by 10 percent time spent on the engaging activities. Sometimes she’s just going to have to suck it up and do the “ugh” jobs, but at least you’ve gone the extra yard. The point of this isn’t to pander to your staff. People do better jobs when they do what energizes them. Some people get a kick out of photographing animals and posting on social media. Others find organizing shelves truly therapeutic.

How can I track the effectiveness of my social media ads?

Being “liked” isn’t enough anymore, say the folks at Cardinal Pet Care in a recent Pet Retail MarketView e-bulletin. The number of Facebook likes you receive may make you feel good, but there are better metrics for evaluating your ad’s performance. Here’s what the Cardinal folks suggest: 1. Determine the click-through rate by dividing the number of clicks by the number of ad impressions. 2. To find your conversion rate, divide the number of people taking the desired action (your ad does have a call to action, right?) by the number of clicks. 3. Calculate your return on ad spend by dividing the revenue an ad generates by the cost of the ad. 4. Strive for a low cost per 1,000 impressions. Find this by multiplying the ad cost by 1,000 and dividing by the number of impressions. 

I hate coming into work in a bad mood. Any tips for smoothing out the edges?

Here’s a tip we love from vision industry sales trainer Robert Bell: Get a hat and some paper. Cut it into 50 strips. On each strip, write a positive behavior. Here are some to get you started:  Adaptable, Affectionate, Bright, Calm, Caring, Determined, Diligent, Empathetic, Energetic, Friendly, Funny, Generous, Gentle, Happy, Helpful, Inspiring, Intelligent, Kind, Loving, Modest, Nice, Passionate, Patient, Polite, Practical, Rational, Reliable, Resourceful, Sensible, Sincere, Sociable, Thoughtful, Understanding, Warm, Witty. Take these slips of paper and throw them into the hat. Before you leave the house each day, pull a slip of paper. Acknowledge that this is how you will be today. Bring the slip with you. At day’s end, put it back in the hat and consider how successful you were at being that adjective.

I’ve hired a new employee, but she won’t start for a few weeks. How can I keep her feeling excited and positive about the job — and lessen the risk she might change her mind in the long gap before she actually arrives?

Think small, but considerate gestures, says Jack Mitchell, one of the country’s leading clothing retailers and the author of Hug Your Customers. Mitchell tells the story of a superstar salesperson with Macy’s who, after much wooing, finally agreed to come work at Mitchell’s store. Mitchell sent her flowers with a handwritten note welcoming her to Mitchell’s and telling her how bright her future was. Mitchell didn’t realize how important his gesture was until years later, when during a seminar, the sales associate told the flower story and revealed something that Mitchell didn’t know. She said that, right after she had agreed to join Mitchell’s, Macy’s had made her a counteroffer. While driving home, she was having mixed feelings, but when she arrived and saw the bouquet of flowers and read Mitchell’s personal note welcoming her aboard, she was very touched and decided to go ahead with the job switch. The lesson? Mitchell answers: “Most people think a hot button is something big, but it can also be incredibly small, like a bouquet of flowers and a nice note.”

What do I do if somebody has a medical emergency in my business?

Simple. You call 911. Immediately. However, Rick Segel, author of The Retail Business Kit for Dummies, warns you to not get so caught up in the emergency that you forget the fact you are running a business filled with merchandise. Says Segel: “Be aware, as cruel as it may sound, that the incident may be a scam. In my store once, a person faked a heart attack to distract employees, enabling an accomplice to steal unnoticed.” So, while you should of course be responsive and compassionate, be sure to have procedures in place. That way, if an emergency does occur, your staff will be alert for the possibility of product shoplifting or snatch-and-run, an unfortunately growing problem.

I have 15-foot ceilings. Will LEDs work well from that height?

While very high-powered LEDs can illuminate from such a height, the truth is they won’t do it well. “In such a situation, the better option is to lower the lights by use of a pendant or track extension,” says Howard Gurock, president of lighting supplier Econo-Lite. 


This article originally appeared in the May-June 2017 edition of PETS+.