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Candace D'Agnolo

5 Ways to Sell More to Your Best Customers

Benefit from the lucrative opportunities walking through your door.

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

EIGHTY PERCENT your sales come from 20 percent of your customers. So while your competition worries about getting new customers in the door, you can take advantage of the more lucrative opportunities already walking in. Here are five strategies to strategically sell more to your top 20 percent.

Lead with a Conversation. “Hi! How are you?” …

“My name is Mary, let me know if you need anything.”

You’d better be cringing. Saying either is almost as detrimental as ignoring the customer completely.

Train your team to have a conversation: “What brings you in today?” or “Tell me about your pet.” Include open-ended questions to encourage customers to open up. Customers get to know and trust a sales associate who genuinely listens and responds. Suddenly, the right products and services are an easier sell (and you have the information to make recommendations).

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Remember Add-Ons. Items that complement the primary purchase should never be forgotten but often are because we get lazy and just assume that if the customer needed it he would have asked. Stop assuming and make it automatic to suggest the most natural add-on to every sale. For example, a customer buying a collar might need a matching leash or updated ID tag. Complementary items are the path of least resistance from the customer as you’re suggestively selling, and they’re just good customer service from a knowledgeable expert.

Service providers have an especially easy time with add-ons — if they only ask. When a client books a boarding appointment, ask if she’d like her dog to be groomed before pickup so he smells fresh and clean. After she says yes, ask about teeth brushing or de-shedding. Before you know it, you’ve added an extra $50 to that reservation just because you asked a few simple questions.

Dig to the Root of the Issue. Once you master the basics of the conversation, use it to sell more while wowing the customer with service. Let’s say a customer comes in for a harness. Instead of immediately jumping to the complementary matching leash, a conversation can get to the heart of the need. What’s really making the customer come in for the harness? What if you discover he’s fed up with his dog pulling? While fitting the dog for a harness, drop some expert knowledge: While the harness will help, the true trick to ending the pulling is teaching the dog the “heel” command. And to have a focused dog during training, he needs your absolute favorite, no-dog-can-resist treat. Carry on with the suggestion of a treat pouch. Toss some training tips on how to master heel, and score! Double add-on!

Connect the Dots. Taking the harness example further, connect all the dots of the purchase he is about to make. What other products might he need as a result of using the product he came in for? Will the dog’s fur mat from the harness rubbing? Inform him of this and suggest a slicker brush. Does the dog have little to no hair like a boxer or pit bull? Let him know about balms to soothe rough patches.

Sell at the Register. The register area is the final place where you can increase a sale. Be strategic with the items you feature here instead of cluttering it up with miscellaneous afterthoughts. At my boutique, we had three buckets overflowing with bully sticks at three price points to accommodate all budgets. We included a sign that read “Your dog will be upset if you leave empty-handed. He’ll be able to smell that you were near a bully stick. Stock up today — Buy 3 Get the 4th Free.” More than half our customers would bite and most of those bought more than one. This concept sometimes resulted in a $60 impulse purchase!

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Candace D’Agnolo owns successful pet business Dogaholics and offers business consulting at Pet Boss Nation. For help creating a customized 90-day plan to tackle all your business goals, download a free worksheet, at petbossnation.com/petsplus. Contact her at hello@petbossnation.com.

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Very Few Pet Businesses Do This With Their Ads … But You Definitely Should

Testing and tracking your ads can make a huge difference in the ROI that you get, says marketing specialist Jim Ackerman. But very few pet businesses take the proper steps to run successful ad campaigns. Here, Ackerman shows an example of what effective testing looks like.

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Candace D'Agnolo

The Basics Stats You Need From Every Customer

You’re missing out if you don’t collect customer data. Here’s what you should be asking for.

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IF YOU ARE not collecting your customer’s information, you are missing a huge opportunity.

One of the main reasons is so you can send something in the mail to customers. I know: You’re already thinking mail is dead. However, Chewy.com sends lots and lots of mail. Not just direct-mail flyers, but handwritten thank-you cards, complete with the pet’s name and the product purchased! It shows the customer that they matter to the company and that Chewy cares about them. How do you show your customers you care?

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If you wanted to do something special for a customer, do you have enough information about them? Could you pick up the phone to inform them of a recall? Could you mail them a card congratulating them on their wedding? Could you remind them that their pet’s birthday is just around the corner?

Your list is everything. Think about how pet sitters, dog walkers, sales reps and mobile groomers have all of their clients’ information in a database. That’s like gold to them. They know every last detail about the pets and their owners. Now, apply this to retail, groomers, trainers and day cares, and think how these businesses can benefit as well from having their own thorough customer list and database.

Consider if you decide to move locations, or sell the business. You’ll want everyone to know about your move, or that a new owner is taking over and encourage their continued support and thank them for their years of business.

Here’s the information I believe you should collect from your customers and how you should tag them in your system/identify them so you can communicate with them based on their needs.

  • Full Name
  • Spouse’s / Partner’s Name
  • Address
  • Email
  • Cell Phone
  • Pet’s Names and Birthdays
  • Customer’s Birthday
  • Dog, Cat, Fish, Horse or Bird Owner
  • Breed of Dog, Cat, Bird, Etc.
  • Puppy vs. Senior Pet
  • Pet Gender
  • Multiple Pet Family
  • New Pet Owner
  • Loyalty Program Users or Frequent Buyer Food Program Users
  • Event Attendance
  • Participate in Training Classes
  • Grooming Customers
  • Top Customers (25 Percent Customers)

Having this kind of data about your customer is key. The online stores have it and use it. So should you. You will impress your customers when you’re ringing them up and you ask about their pet by name, or mention an upcoming birthday. It is a step above and beyond that shows you care.

Along with this process comes having a Customer Relationship Management — or CRM — system in place to easily insert the above information, utilize your customer segmentation, pull sales reports, send emails and so on. A good point-of-sale system should allow you to track all this information right in your system, then you can export that information and load it into one of these systems, which have all kinds of relevant strategies that you could use. Of course, there’s Mailchimp and Constant Contact, but there is also Zoho, Hubspot, Salesforce, Insightly and FreshSales.

Get started immediately, even if you just use an Excel sheet. Every person you meet in person (or even online) is a potential customer, and you should grab the information that you can! In September’s PETS+, I’ll share creative ways to get this information, so stay tuned!

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Candace D'Agnolo

10 Ways to Prevent New Hires from ‘Ghosting’ You

Here are some strategies to help you find the love of a true teammate.

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ONE OF THE MAJOR challenges facing pet businesses is finding people to a) apply, b) show up for interviews and c) to get through training. “Ghosting” isn’t just a term used in dating when someone stops communicating with you. Job applicants and new hires just disappearing has become a big headache. Here are some strategies to help you find the love of a true teammate.

1. Keep your ears open for people you encounter and enjoy engaging with when you’re out and about. Say something like, “You’re so great at your job! I wish I had a team member like you.” You’ll find out if they are either perfectly happy where they are or are ready for a change. Maybe they feel underappreciated, or they are looking for extra work.

2. In your job posting, share what you can do for them. Of course, list job requirements, but to attract highly interested applicants, share more about why they would want to work for you. Share that the team can bring their pets to work, they can get discounts, or perhaps you have additional perks.

3. Don’t be so picky when sifting through initial applications. If you spot two or three things that stand out about the person, reach out. You can always train skills.

4. Pick up the phone. Call an applicant out of the blue. See how they handle the conversation. Keep the conversation light. Say that you received their application and would like to know why they applied. If you like what you hear, keep the conversation going. If you have to leave a message, tell them to call you back. If they don’t, toss the application.

5. While on the phone, explain that the first step of your interview process is for them to record a 3-minute video on their phone and send it to you. In this video, they need to state their name, share the best quality they would bring to your business and then tell how they can make an impact with that skill if they were hired. Give them 24 hours to text or email it to you. This puts the ball in their court and requires them to meet a deadline.

6. Toss them some easy projects. If it’s a sales associate position, have them work a sample table in your store for an hour. Give them some basic guidelines and then see how they interact with customers and whether they can get across the important things you wanted them to. Observing them in action tells you more than a sit-down interview.

7. Pressed to hire multiple people at once? Host an “Open Interview Day.” This is a great way to quickly go through applications while meeting people face-to-face, have a quick conversation and then move them onto a project like picking something from the store, doing some quick research on the product and then selling it to you. There’s lots of ways to run group interviews, and it all depends on the position you’re trying to fill.

8. Offer promising candidates the opportunity to work for a trial period. At our doggy daycare, we’ll bring in two to four potential dog handlers at different times throughout the week. This allows all team members to work with them and assess which person will be the best fit. Give the applicant a few core things they need to do, provide them with the opportunity to ask questions, and experience their work ethic and abilities before committing to a formal offer.

9. When you’re ready to make an offer, or just shortly after, make sure to communicate your vision one-on-one with them. Share the back story of your company and the direction you want to take the business. This will help connect the applicant to your business and may strengthen their commitment to you.

10. Always keep applications flowing in. Even when you’ve done an interview, and the person is in their training phase, still keep talking to potential hires on the phone and having them send in their video messages. This will give you some backup options in case your current trainee doesn’t work out as planned.

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Candace D'Agnolo

How Pet Businesses Can Profit From Facebook Live

In 60 minutes or less, you could make as much as you do during an entire business day.

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PET RETAILERS AND MANUFACTURERS all over the country are making big bucks by going live and hosting what I like to call a virtual “Paw Party.”

A “Paw Party” is when you jump on a Facebook Live, have fun with your audience and sell stuff! In 60 minutes or less, you could make as much as you do during an entire business day. Seriously. My clients are seeing crazy results, and I want you to get a piece of the action.

How to Do It

Pick a date and time for your Paw Party. Tell your audience in advance, and do it at a time that you think the most people will show up (maybe at 7 or 8 on a weeknight). You’ll want assistance from two people. One can be helping with the camera and review comments on the video as they are coming in. And the other can help prepare product and be your assistant show host.

The merchandise you feature should have a number written on a card assigned to it. When you show the product to the audience, describe it, share the hashtag and tell the price. To increase the desire for the item, you can offer a limited-time discount or have a limited quantity to sell. If a viewer is interested, they type sold and the hashtag in the comments. There are a variety of ways you can accept payment, so come up with the way that will work the easiest for potential buyers and is something you can easily handle — phone call, website, PayPal, in-store, etc.

How to Make It Interesting

Treat it like a party you’d be hosting or would want to go to. Pick a theme based on the season or an upcoming holiday. Wear festive clothing or have an interesting backdrop to create a great visual. Make it BYOB … Bring Your Own Beverage. You could be toasting the viewers and chatting with them about what they chose to bring to the viewing party.

All great parties have games! Utilize a prize wheel (see Pet Pro Gear on page 23), numbered boxes, a dry-erase board, Post-It notes on a wall — really anything you can think of to help create a game of chance that can hold either a number or the name of a prize. Encourage your viewers when it’s time to play the game to participate with you in the comments of your post. Believe it or not, viewers love this! Have fun with your viewers, engage with them and keep your energy up.

How to Make It Profitable

Sell merchandise that you no longer want to carry. Maybe it’s older than six months. (Yes, you should mark it down and move it out if you’ve had it longer than six months!) While selling something at a discount doesn’t seem profitable, goods that are just sitting on your shelves like they are in a museum will serve you better to take what you can get and replace them with something that your customers want to buy. You’ll be surprised that what they won’t buy in store, they will buy on a live video sale. Why do you think the Home Shopping Network is so successful?

Are the wheels already turning? Here are two examples for inspiration: petsplusmag.com/5193, petsplusmag.com/5194.

Grab your smartphone, head to Facebook or Instagram, and hit that “go live” button! Don’t overthink this! Just hit the button, look at the camera and be your wonderful self. This isn’t about perfection, it’s about taking action! We’re all rooting for you and can’t wait to come to your party!

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