I have customers who are  reluctant to purchase plush toys for their pets because they or their children are allergic to dust mites. Is there anything I can tell them?

Speak of the dirt devil! We just had some advice come across our desk from a British allergy specialist who works with European vacuum manufacturer Vorwerk. Dr. Jill Warner suggests putting soft toys in the freezer for 24 hours. That will kill mites. And then toss them in the washing machine to finish the job. That way, Spot’s favorite plush toy is in the clear from any blame.

I sometimes catch my staff saying things to customers that make me cringe. What are some of the key no-nos? 

Here’s a nice list of “let’s not go there” service statements — with suggested replacements — from Karen Leland and Keith Bailey, the authors of Customer Service for Dummies. “Don’t say, ‘I don’t know.’ Do say, ‘I will find out.’ Don’t say, ‘No.’ Do say, ‘What I can do is ...’ Don’t say, ‘That’s not my job.’ Do say, ‘This is who can help you ...’ Don’t say, ‘You’re right — this stinks.’ Do say, ‘I understand your frustration.’ Don’t say, ‘That’s not my fault.’ Do say, ‘Let’s see what we can do about this.’ Don’t say, ‘You need to talk to my manager.’ Do say, ‘I can help you.’ Don’t say, ‘You want it by when?’ Do say, ‘I’ll try my best.’ Don’t say, ‘Calm down.’ Do say, ‘I’m sorry.’ Don’t say, ‘I’m busy right now.’ Do say ‘I’ll be with you in just a moment.’ Don’t say, ‘Call me back.’ Do say, ‘I will call you back.’”

What’s a rule of thumb for saying a customer’s name during a sales presentation?

Author and speaker Scott Ginsberg, aka “That Guy With the Nametag,” imagines what goes on in a customer’s head as a salesperson says his name during a transaction:

Nada: “They didn’t even use my name once. I don’t feel valued.” 

Once: “Ahhh ... the cashier said ‘Mr. Lynch.’ Man, you gotta love this store.”

Twice: “Whoa! Two times! This salesman has a great memory. Now that’s what I call service!”

Three times: “All right (mild chuckle). I got it. You know my name. Thank you very much.”

Four times: “No, seriously, you don’t have to keep using my name. The first two times were enough.”

Five times: “This is ridiculous. And annoying. I no longer believe you are sincere. Please go away.”

Social media ... what do I do with it?

Ha! You know, even when we talk with some of the businesses that do a really good job with social media, they pretty much have the same question. A whitepaper recently released by the World Pet Association says to start off thinking “Social, Selling, Mindset.” Play up the social aspect by not trying to sell, but rather engage. When thinking “Selling,” don’t think product but rather sell your knowledge and expertise. And “Mindset”? Get in the mindset of trying new things, realizing you have a lot to learn and being committed to succeeding. That whitepaper contains tons of useful, specific advice. Download it here: superzoo.org/free-white-paper

How do I avoid a cash crunch? 

The key to warding off liquidity problems is the ability to accurately project your cash-flow needs. If you’re off by more than 5 percent of your receivables each month, then you’ve got a problem. The capability to produce cash-flow projections is one of the greatest strengths of a POS system. If your POS system is not spitting out the numbers you need, find a tutor — quickly!


This article originally appeared in the July-August 2017 edition of PETS+.