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Do You Or Don't You

59% of Businesses Fire Aggravating Customers

Do you fire aggravating customers?

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Yes: 59%

  • We have only fired three customers in our 30 years of business. The last one was making false accusations about one of our groomers and told us she didn’t feel safe in our store with the groomer here. — Richie Powell, All American Pet “Supplies & Grooming,” Springfield, OR
  • Clients who continually disregard our policies or take advantage of the kindness of our employees are given a warning (verbal/email) that we may no longer accept their appointment request. And dogs that are overtly aggressive or have severe medical issues are declined services without warning. — Sarah Cordes, Knotty Dog, Chelsea, AL
  • If any of my employees feel threatened or if any customer crosses the insubordination line, I give power to my employees to ask the customer to leave. It hasn’t happened in a while, though. Thank DOG! — Jennifer Flanagan, Nature’s Pet Market Sherwood, Sherwood, OR
  • I tell my aggravating clients that we do our best to give great service, but perhaps another business may be able to meet their needs. — Marcia Cram, Just Fur Pets, Springfield, VA
  • We’ve had some longtime clients that get on our “C” list. These are people that continue to take advantage of you. We simply drop them from a list or start saying no to their requests. I had one client get my cellphone number and totally abuse it. She would call on Sundays, any time she would think of something she needed for her dogs. She would want my advice and then tell me my products are too expensive and would buy from somewhere else. I just stopped returning her calls. Even having a store, there are good times and bad times in a relationship. I think knowing when the relationship cannot move forward is key to your sanity, and bottom line profits. — Debbie Brookham, Furry Friends Inc., Colorado Springs, CO
  • We don’t have any specific guidelines for this, but I know there have been unique occasions where a manager has had to make it clear to a customer that we wouldn’t be able to serve them in the future. — Keefer Dickerson, Nashville Pets Products, Nashville, TN
  • If they miss two consecutive appointments without notice, if they have an aggressive pet and they refuse to acknowledge the bad behavior and seek help from a vet for meds before the next groom. I just told a client she was no longer welcome in my store and salon with her Husky who kept trying to bite us. I even have his dangerous behavior on video and the owner insisted he “is such a good boy.” I refuse to put my staff in danger. One bad bite can end a career and cause permanent damage. — Danielle Wilson, Bath & Biscuits, Granville, OH
  • I fire clients when they consistently do not pay on time, if they are rude to my staff repeatedly, or if their pets are a liability to care for. — Ashley Cook, Viva La Pet, Dover, NJ
  • The breaking point for us is customers who routinely want us to change our rules to accommodate them, with little upside for our business. — Charlsye Lewis, Metro Animals, Fort Worth, TX
  • Above all, communication is key. If I have a client that is difficult and refuses to listen or compromise…. it’s a done deal. I don’t push, but I am clear. Clarity through communication is best. — Rachel Diller, The Poodle Shop, Littleton, CO
  • The relationship must be mutually positive. We are happy to help customers find another company to better fit their needs if we aren’t the right fit. — Sherry Shupe, Fur Baby, Milford, DE
  • I hate using the term “fire,” but I’d say more along the lines of “ending the relationship.” In the years that I’ve dealt with the public, I’ve learned some people will just never be happy. I go above and beyond to try and right every situation, but if I see you’re just a miserable human being, that’s that. No need for the two of us to be miserable. — Amanda Bowman, Fairy Tales Mobile Grooming, Cherry Hill, NJ

No: 41%

  • We did have a customer with repeated issues of rudeness, and finally one day she snapped and swore at a new employee. (The customer thought she was due for her free bag, and she’d been clearly told her previous visit how many more she had to buy.) We sent her a strongly worded email that her behavior was unacceptable, and that if she wanted to continue to shop she could NOT behave that way. She was very contrite, apologized repeatedly, and has been nice ever since. Luckily, this was a rare issue and we have not had other issues like this! — Shane Somerville, Paddywack, Mill Creek, WA
  • I handle them in the best possible way. Never be rude to them, never raise my voice, and never make them feel attacked or intimidated or humiliated. I just give them all the best possible information that I can. — Dylan Giampaolo, Woof Woof Pet Boutique & Biscuit Bar, New Bedford, MA
  • We are a kill-’em-with-kindness store. We never stop smiling; we never stop trying. As long as it doesn’t get nasty, we send them them on their way knowing we didn’t take bait. Brett Foreman, euPAWria Holistic Pet Center, Owego, NY
  • I do not allow customers to aggravate me. I generally will listen and then either agree or delicately let them know that I am in control of the situation. — Laura Haupt, Bark & Meow, Tarry Town, NY
  • We do our best to work through the most difficult customer, I, as the owner, deal with them directly. We talk over our policies and work through the issues. It often put the team members in a tough situation to deal with them, so we find if they hear it from me it is better handled. — Christine McCoy, The Natural Pet Enrichment Center, North Royalton, OH

What’s the Brain Squad?

If you’re the owner or top manager of a U.S. pet business serving the public, you’re invited to join the PETS+ Brain Squad. Take one five-minute quiz a month, and you’ll get a free t-shirt, be featured prominently in this magazine, and make your voice heard on key issues affecting the pet industry. Sign up here.

Since launching in 2017, PETS+ has won 16 major international journalism awards for its publication and website. Contact PETS+'s editors at editor@petsplusmag.com.

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Do You Or Don't You

Have You Ever Mystery-Shopped Your Business?

75% of you said no.

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Yes: 25%

  • We do this we all branches of our businesses. It is the best way to see things from the customer’s point of view. There are always ways to improve. — Jana McDaniel, First Saturday Lime, Okarche, OK
  • We first did it when we expanded to a second store. We had it done by someone in our industry who had years of experience. The results led us to expanding our training program for all staff, which led to a better overall customer experience. — Doug Staley, Pet Palace of New City, New City, NY
  • I had a customer secret-shop. She was not greeted because she was a regular. I have about five customer secret-shoppers, but I use one more frequently. I reward with a goody bag filled with new product. — Jennifer Flanagan, Nature’s Pet Market, Sherwood, OR
  • I utilize mystery shoppers often. Typically, I’ll ask a friend with pets to visit one of our stores that they haven’t shopped at before. I’ll give them $10 or $20 and ask them to go buy something for their pets. I don’t usually ask them to look for specific things, but afterwards, I’ll ask specific questions that let me know if our customer service training is being put into practice. — Keefer Dickerson, Nashville Pet Products, Nashville, TN
  • We had an outside firm mystery-shop us. We actually were right on the mark as far as customer service, friendliness and professionalism. — Bob Howard, DogWatch of Upstate NY, Otego, NY
  • It has been awhile, but I asked on the HOA Facebook page for people who had never been to our store. They had to do a phone-call shop and in-person. Then we met roundtable-style and discussed and they got a gift card to the store for participating. It was great feedback! — Molly Taylor, Molly’s Mutt House, Houston, TX
  • We used to advertise on the radio and they did this as part of “the package.” It was informative, as one of our team we felt was always exceptional … was not so exceptional to our secret shopper. This helped our team realize that every single interaction with customers matters! — Nicole Olesen, Woofs & Waves, Sioux Falls, SD
  • I found out our staff is amazing. I ask other business owners to mystery-shop my stores when they are visiting me. I always get told how helpful our staff is, and most of my business-owner friends leave my stores with ideas for their store. — Nancy Guinn, Dog Krazy, Fredericksburg, VA
  • Not intentionally. However, a number of years ago, two of my family members came in one evening after I had left and reluctantly told me after that the two staff members ignored them and carried on a personal conversation the entire time. I was appalled and immediately had stern conversations with both staff members about expectations and how they had let us down. Thankfully, their behavior improved, though neither is employed with us anymore. But perhaps with newer employees starting up it would be worth looking to start a mystery-shopper program. — Shane Somerville, Paddywack, Mill Creek, WA
  • I often have friends call and ask basic questions, then tell staff how they did and provide more training if necessary. — Jessica Cooke, Yuppy Puppy, O’Fallon, MO
  • I had a friend my staff didn’t know shop the store heavily and ask a lot of questions. One employee did really well; one failed miserably and was found to be on her phone the whole time, which I don’t allow. Great opportunity to review our company policies. — Pattie Boden Zeller, Animal Connection, Charlottesville, VA

No: 75%

  • I would like to but haven’t. I think if I started seeing bad reviews or hearing things from customers I would. We do talk to customers about their service and how their experience was. — Jennifer Larsen, Firehouse Pet Shop, Wenatchee, WA
  • I’ve always thought about it but never got around to it. — Toni Shelaske, Healthy Pet Products, Pittsburgh, PA
  • But we watch cameras to see how customers react and are greeted, etc. — Annabell Bivens, The Dog Store, Alexandria, VA
  • I was a professional mystery-shopper many years ago and have been a corporate retail manager receiving mystery-shopping reports. Social media these days fill that mystery-shopper void because now everyone is a mystery-shopper and can post their results for all the world to see. — Leel Michelle, Bow Wow Beauty Shoppe, San Diego, CA

What’s the Brain Squad?

If you’re the owner or top manager of a U.S. pet business serving the public, you’re invited to join the PETS+ Brain Squad. Take one five-minute quiz a month, and you’ll get a free t-shirt, be featured prominently in this magazine, and make your voice heard on key issues affecting the pet industry. Sign up here.

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Do You Or Don't You

Do You Eat Lunch Regularly with Team Members?

More than half of you do not.

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Yes: 31%

  • Lunches at our staff meetings always improve morale and participation. — Robert Feller, Verona Veterinary Medical Service, Verona, WI
  • Although I don’t eat lunch that often as I lack the time, I always enjoy the opportunity to spend time with team members eating lunch because it creates great camaraderie between the entire store staff. — Leel Michelle, Bow Wow Beauty Shoppe, San Diego, CA
  • It allows for informal and casual conversations, which help solidify the team-building process. — Frank Frattini, The Hungry Puppy, Farmingdale, NJ
  • We celebrate five-star reviews with pizza parties! It really keeps the entire team, from management to cleaning crew, invested in our clients’ satisfaction. — Katherine Ostigy, Crossbones, Providence, RI
  • It gives us time to refresh and finish the day, I only have done this off site with my managers, but I purchase lunch for my staff on a weekly basis. — Jessica Cooke, Yuppy Puppy, O’Fallon, MO
  • I put a new couch in our large grooming room, and everyone congregates there for lunch or short breaks every day. We catch up with each other, talk about the business and laugh about weird clients. — Danielle Wilson, Bath & Biscuits, Granville, OH
  • It’s just me and one team member, so we eat together every day. We eat the same food, treats and cookies for dessert. Our dogs are best friends. Effects? We smile a lot. — Nancy Okun, Cats n Dogs, Port Charlotte, FL
  • A lot of non-work conversation happens when we eat together. Our team is its own little family, and I am blessed and grateful for the opportunity to work with these great individuals who care so deeply about animals and what we are trying to do at Fetch RI. — Johnna Devereaux, Fetch RI, Richmond, RI
  • Everyone likes their voice heard, and sitting with staff at lunch makes me a real part of the hands-on team and keeps the conversation from getting gossipy. Also, it’s good to hear about dogs and clients from the vantage point of the staffers who spend more time with them. It helps me as an owner be able to strike up conversations with clients, as well as get good ideas from my staff about things that are going well and things that are not going well. They still know I’m the boss, but it makes me seem approachable, knowledgeable, and receptive to input from staff. — Angela antalone, Wag Central, Stratford, CT
  • Every Wednesday is our truck day and it gets kinda crazy in here. I have started buying my team lunch every week. We hang out talk and it gives us time to connect. Yes, it does cost me, but the payoff is worth it. I highly recommend it! — Anna Woodcock, Brown Dog Bakery, Ankeny, IA

No: 69%

  • Who has time for lunch when you own the place? — Tammy Vasquez, Bark Life, Seminole, FL
  • I feel like it’s their time to get away from it all and watch videos, relax and do what they want. Several usually sit together in our common kitchen, so I do walk around them quite a lot, interacting in a fun way at that time. — Suzanne Locker, ABC Pet Resport & Spa, Willis, TX
  • My husband and I eat out every day for lunch at a local downtown business. It’s our time together and away from the store. It helps us catch up, think clearer, communicate the day/week/etc. It also supports small local businesses like ours. — Jennifer Larsen, Firehouse Pet Shop, Wenatchee, WA

What’s the Brain Squad?

If you’re the owner or top manager of a U.S. pet business serving the public, you’re invited to join the PETS+ Brain Squad. Take one five-minute quiz a month, and you’ll get a free t-shirt, be featured prominently in this magazine, and make your voice heard on key issues affecting the pet industry. Sign up here.

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Do You Or Don't You

Do You Send Holiday Cards to Customers?

Most of you don’t …

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Yes: 33%

  • We handmake for our top clients. For the rest, we typically send out printed ones from Shutterfly with some of our client photos. — Melissa Wiltse, Happy Pooch Styling and Spa, Lynden, WA
  • I don’t customize them, I address and sign every single one, I like the personal touch. To all active customers. — Kelly Catlett, Waggs 2 Whiskers, Bagdad, KY
  • In the past we have done a holiday card, and we turned it into a contest to boost our social media presence. We asked pet parents to post the cutest photo of their dog on our Facebook page and whoever collected the most likes at the end of the contest won a professional photo shoot and was featured on our holiday card. People went NUTS getting friends and family to like their dog’s photo every day. It was really fun to watch! — Amy Zounes, CaNine to Five, Clifton Park, NY
  • We customize our cards, custom print them and send them to all of our clients. — Asha Olivia, Hoby Dogy Pet Care, Hoboken, NJ
  • We try to send personallized cards from the store manager to the top 20 or 30 customers at each location. We’ve done custom-printed in the past, but last year and this year just used boxed cards with a handwritten message. — Keefer Dickerson, Nashville Pet Products, Nashville, TN
  • We send out a post card to everyone that has purchased from us over the past year. The post card is simply “Our Gift to You” — a $5 gift certificiate, no minimum purchase. We have them created and printed by a local business. — Michell Nelson, The Pet Authority, Albert Lea, MN
  • I send post cards out with a $5 coupon good from January to March, which is my slow time. I had pictures of my dogs running in the snow last year. — Corey Heenan, Corey’s Canine Creations, Altamont, NY
  • We send customized cards featuring one or both of my dogs, a Pug and a Presa, to our top clients. I handwrite a note to them. While it takes more time than using a preprinted greeting, I feel that it is more genuine and would be more likely to be kept rather than tossed. — Wendy Megyese, Muttigans, Emerald Isle, NC
  • We send dog-themed holiday cards to our long-term (6-plus months) training/daycare customers every December. It’s very time consuming and we’re thinking about going to preprinted cards this year. — Katherine Ostiguy, Crossbones, Providence, RI
  • We send them out in several tiers: A custom emailholiday card sent out to our entire client list (thousands), a custom-printed card with calendar enclosed, and a custom-printed card with calendar and framed printed holiday photo of their dog. — Krista Lofquist, Wagging Tails, Wolcott, CT
  • Ours are Thanksgiving cards, and they are customized. We send to our top 250 customers. — Claudia Loomis, Cherrybrook Premium Pet Supplies, Phillipsburg, NJ

No: 67%

  • We send out holiday wishes to our customers via email. — Doung Staley, Pet Palace of New City, New City, NY
  • No time! Christmas is always so chaotic that we can barely breathe let alone send cards. But it would be a nice touch! — Shane Somerville, Paddywack, Mill Creek, WA
  • I used to and it would kill me when so many would come back in the mail because they had moved, or whatever the reason. So we do an email blast, facebook posts, and hand them a holiday card from us by a staff member when they come in a few days before the holiday that has a coupon to use in January. — Jessica Cooke, Yuppy Puppy, O’Fallon, MO
  • No … but we are thinking of doing a calendar this year as a gift for the holiday. — Angela Pantalone, Wag Central, Stratford, CT

What’s the Brain Squad?

If you’re the owner or top manager of a U.S. pet business serving the public, you’re invited to join the PETS+ Brain Squad. Take one five-minute quiz a month, and you’ll get a free t-shirt, be featured prominently in this magazine, and make your voice heard on key issues affecting the pet industry. Sign up here.

Continue Reading

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