OUTREACH

Scout Out New Customers

Contact local Boy Scout and Girl Scout troops. Both organizations have pet care badges/medals to complete. “Recently, we hosted a group of Girl Scouts at our doggie day care where worked with our dog trainer on dog behavior and light dog training,” says Stacy Busch-Heisserer of Busch Pet Products and Deer Creek Doggie Day Camp in Cape Girardeau, MO. Doing so cultivates the next generation of customers, and in the meantime, they bring their parents back.

SELF-IMPROVEMENT 
Speak, Wait, Listen

Just about everybody believes they need to improve their speaking skills. Yet just about nobody wants to do the one thing that can help them improve fastest: to listen to recordings of their voices. Christy Fletcher, a spokesperson for QVC, advises you use this trick: Don’t play back the recording immediately. “Allow time to separate yourself from whatever you have recorded, so you can be more objective,” she says in a column for eHow. “Record something. Wait a day. Then listen to your voice.”

MANAGEMENT 

Egg on Your Face

Have you ever screwed up, big-time? As a business owner, it’s time to step up and take responsibility. In his book 1,001 Ways to Energize Employees, Bob Nelson describes the actions of one tech company founder after a disastrous earning cycle. During one of his company’s conferences, he walked on stage and discussed in detail a mistake he had made. He then proceeded to smash three fresh eggs on his forehead.

THE RESULTS 
An Unfortunate Turn of Phrase

An anecdote from Doug Stephens’ book Retail Revival reveals how Apple store employees were instructed never to use the word “unfortunately.” The reason: “unfortunately” is a negative word that makes people feel a sense of loss. Instead, staff were told to use “as it turns out,”  as in “As it turns out, we don’t have that item in stock.” Try it next time you’re in an “unfortunately” situation.

CUSTOMER SERVICE 
Make Your Toilet Stand Out

Looking for a little extra touch to differentiate your business? Try colored toilet paper. Author Jonah Berger (Contagious) featured black rolls of toilet paper in all the bathrooms at a party he hosted, and they somehow became the talk of the party. Get your own colored toilet papers at myrenova.com.

ADVERTISING 
Too Good to Be True?

Test new advertising mediums with an offer that’s “too good to be true.” Let’s say you plan to spend $5,000 with a radio station. Try spending the first $1,000 this way: Create an ad offering a $60 case of high-end dog food for only $10 for the first 10 people who come in with the secret code word. Your cost is $500 for the advertisement, and another $500 to subsidize your product cost. If you don’t get 10 people responding to your ad, you’ve likely saved yourself $4,000 on a medium that probably wouldn’t have worked for you. Of course, if they’re lined up 20-deep outside your store, you will certainly be advertising again soon (though probably not with such a jaw-dropping offer).

WEBSITE 
Small, But Powerful

Does your website have a favicon? That’s the little icon that appears next to the URL in a Web browser — like Facebook’s blue box with the “F.” If you haven’t set one, you might have a generic one (e.g. Internet Explorer’s halo-ed “E”) or one that indicates your Web host or content-management platform. Anyway, it’s a small, but noticeable, professional touch to make one specifically for your business. (See what The Hungry Puppy in Farmingdale, NJ, has for its site.) Create your 16-by-16-pixel square masterpiece, name it favicon.ico, and place it in your Web server directory. Bam, you’re looking better already!