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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 14 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

Do You Give Holiday Bonuses to Staff?

More than half of you does.

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Yes: 53%

  • I take the entire staff out for dinner pizza and beer. Depending on length of employment, and their performance, I give groomers $50-$100, bathers $25-$50. I put cash in a Christmas card. — Rachel Malmfeldt, Pampered Pups, Joliet, IL
  • It is included in their paycheck, they get an extra $20-$30 bonus per shift they work on a holiday based on their employee pay agreement. — Deana Deitchler, Dog Paw, Park Rapids, MN
  • We have monthly sales goals which are established by our inventory planning partner (Management One). I take that goal and add 10 percent. Then, all sales above that goal, employees are bonused 25 percent of anything above that. In 2018, our staff rocked it, and each received a $2.77/hour bonus for the month of December. — Michelle Nelson, The Pet Authority, Albert Lea, MN
  • Cash. Based on time with us and average hours, plus their dedication to our business. — Dani Edgerton, Paws on Main, Columbiana, OH
  • We give the employees cash in an envelope. We do not do paid vacations, so we try and base it on an average week’s pay for each employee. If we don’t think it’s enough, we add a little more to the envelope. They really appreciate it. — Diane Marcin, Benny’s Pet Depot, Mechanicsburg, PA
  • I give all employees 12 months and under $50, 1 year $100, and each year they increase by $100. I write personal cards and then give company logo jackets. — Julie Grounds, Central Pet, Tucson, AZ
  • I give my dog walkers a $25 gas card and a small gift that would mean something special just to them. My groomers get a $100 Visa card and a pizza dinner with all their families. — Kristina Robertson, The Pet Spa at Barkley Square, Falls Church, VA
  • We usually offer a shopping day where more items are available at our employee feeding prices. We do incentives all year long for cash, gift cards and paid time off, so allowing them to shop hard-core for themselves and as gifts for family is kinda cool. — Michelle Pelletier, Bentley’s Pet Stuff, Green Bay, WI
  • For my key staff, they get a bonus check based on a predetermined increase in sales from the previous year. — Mike Murray, Bonnie’s Barkery, Phoenix, AZ
  • I mailed them a holiday/thank you card last year with a $50 gift card Everyone got the same amount. They were all thrilled! — Kelly Catlett, Waggs 2 Whiskers, Bagdad, KY
  • Cash, plus we all go out to dinner. These past few months, I had some health issues, and they really stepped up to the plate. So in September, I planned to take them all to the gun range to shoot some machine guns. Different bonus? Yep! But I appreciate all they do! — Greg Gorski, Cody Pet Depot, Cody, WY
  • Our staff gets bonus gifts: gift cards for movies, grocery stores and a HUGE gift card for our store so they can spoil their pets on our dime. — Connie Roller, The Feed Bag Pet Supply, Grafton, WI
  • We give out gift cards to the luxury movie theater. We want our people to go out and treat themselves after spending all year caring for dogs and customers. We think of our bonus as more of a gift, because it comes with no judgement on performance. — Charlsye Lewis, Metro Animals, Fort Worth, TX
  • I give my staff a check. I base the amount on their hours put in, their reliability, their client base and ability to keep clients, their communication, and the length of time they have been with me. — Ashley Cook, Viva La Pet, Dover, NJ
  • The week before Christmas, my team gets a cash bonus. The amount is based on tenure. My team members get a holiday party in January to celebrate making it through the busy holiday season. — Theresa Hogge, Belly Rubs N Suds, Ashburn, VA

No: 47%

  • I typically host a staff appreciation dinner in late January or early February. — Marcia Cram, Just Fur Pets, Springfield, VA
  • We’ve never given bonuses but do pay good wages, and employees get products at cost. Since we don’t focus on the holidays, we prefer to be on our “A game” all year, the once-a-year bonus seems disingenuous. — Karen Conell, The Bark Market, Delevan, WI
  • Whereas we don’t give monetary bonuses, we do take the entire staff out for a fun night of dinner, drinks and a fun activity prior to the season to get them pumped up. We also have performance goals, and those who hit their goals get gift certificates throughout the season. — Sue Hepner, Cool Dog Gear, Roslyn, PA

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 Have a Business-Related Degree?

More than half of our brain squad does not have one.

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Yes: 24%

  • Accounting and finance courses helped tremendously. — Russell Herman, Pet$aver Healthy Pet Superstore, Rochester, NY
  • Though I have many years of employment experience in customer service, marketing and accounting, my MBA experience and education has definitely guided my decisions about how I operate and manage my business. — Marcia Cram, Just Fur Pets, Springfield, VA
  • I had a graphic design major and business minor. Before I opened my store, I owned a successful advertising/marketing/creative design agency servicing national accounts. As creative director, I was responsible for preparing and presenting account pitches and ad campaigns. This has helped me immensely in how we present our store products, benefit-sell to customers, interact with the news media, etc. We prepare our print ads and TV spots, as well as our weekly LIVE web show “What’s Barking Local,” where I host and interview cool people in the community doing great things for pets. What I wish I knew better was accounting. That is something I hire out. — Pattie Boden, Animal Connection, Charlottesville, VA
  • I have a degree in graphic design. This helps me understand the design concept and marketing, when working on my business marketing. — Tammi Bui, Wishbone Pet Care, Missouri City, TX
  • I majored in fashion merchandising with a minor in business management. Although, my education did provide me with a good foundation in merchandising and management I learned the most from my mentors while managing for Aeropostale and The Limited Express Corp. — Toni Shelaske, Healthy Pet Products, Pittsburgh, PA
  • It has been a long time since receiving my master’s degree, and experience has certainly been a better teacher. However the foundational skills it provided are important. I wish I had a better command of finance concepts/reporting/projections. However, I am now enrolled in a SBA Emerging Leadership program, and there is a whole section dedicated to this area. — Remy Bibaud, Pet Perennials, Pittsburgh, PA
  • I started the path to my degree and shortly after started working for Chow Hound. I feel that I learned much more with my hands on experience and immersion into the business world than I did in any classes. — Jess Smith, Chow Hound Pet Supplies-Standale. Walker, MI
  • I have a BS in business administration with a concentration in marketing. Honestly, the only class I felt has been useful was my speech class. Maybe I was too young and immature when I went to college. Whatever the reason, I don’t remember much that is currently useful. Most of my business savvy has come from mentorship by more experienced business owners. I do, however, wish I had paid more attention during accounting, since that remains one of my weak areas. — Wendy Megyese, Muttigans, Emerald Isle, NC
  • My degree’s given me the confidence to know I can figure out anything, but continuous learning from audio books, blogs and podcasts have helped me gain self-mastery. — Asha Olivia, Hoby Dogy Pet Care, Boca Raton, FL

No: 76%

  • I have owned multiple businesses without a degree and have been very successful at all of them. I have learned a lot over the years hands-on about business practices and administrative duties. One of the most critical I have learned is customer care. In any business, in my opinion, that is the most important. It brings your customers back. — Jan A. Hopper, Living Pawsitively, Lafayette, NJ
  • I wish I was better with numbers but that’s why I have a wonderful accountant! — Adrienne Preuss, Animal Loving Care, Brooklyn, NY
  • I went to college for business management, just didn’t get the degree. It helped some, but it was years ago. Really it was our 20 to 30 years in retail management that help us run a successful business today. — Jennifer Larsen, Firehouse Pet Shop, Wenatchee, WA
  • But I do have a bachelor’s in zoology and am a registered veterinary technician. I’m also certified in animal nutrition. Holding these degrees helps me with recognizing many diseases in my clients’ pets and suggesting they visit their vet ASAP. — Danielle Wilson, Bath & Biscuits, Granville, OH
  • I’ve learned the hard and fast way as to how to run my business. I don’t think there’s any area that I haven’t been able to learn on the job. You just have to be open and willing to learn and not embarrassed to ask questions when you don’t know how to do something or what someone is talking about. An ego gets you nowhere in business. — Johnna Devereaux, Fetch RI, Richmond, RI
  • While I don’t have a degree, I did take some night school business classes to prepare myself with what I getting into. The real world turned out to be different than what they teach. I’d like to know of the financial end of things, including taxes. — Paul Lewis, Birds Unlimited, Webster, NY

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

Have You Ever Moved Your Business? Here’s What Our Brain Squad Says

63% have never moved their business.

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Yes: 37%

  • More space … more visibility. Customers gladly accepted it since it was only about 2 miles from our previous location. — Frank Frattini, The Hungry Puppdy, Farmingdale, NJ
  • The motivation for moving my business was to expand (add a bakery and more retail space.) The building owner was selling the building and therefore would not extend a long lease. It went over well with clients. I sent them newsletters, posted big signs in my old windows directing to the new location, and posted on social media. Tip 1: Use your local city agencies to see if you are eligible for a store front improvement programs, discounted programs through your utility company and more. It’s takes longer but results in HUGE savings! Tip 2: Especially for groomers … before you negotiate your lease, ask if there is HOT WATER. — Leel Michelle, Bow Wow Beauty Shoppe, San Diego, CA
  • We have moved twice. In some ways, it is almost like starting a new business each time. No matter that you shout it to the rooftops, you will have people pull up and rattle the door as you are packing. Best thing we did was put signs in the window of the old location to tell people where we went. — Connie Roller, The Feed Bag Pet Supply, Grafton, WI
  • When we added the coffee shop we moved from a 1,500-square-foot location to a 3,000-square-foot space. Thankfully, it was only across the street. I created a “Wheel of Fortune” board each day for the two weeks preceding the move and had our followers guess letters. I “turned over” a new letter each day until our new name and addition of the coffee shop was revealed. Then I let them know the address. It was a fun way to get their attention and keep them following us. — Wendy Megyese, Muttigans, Emerald Isle, NC
  • We moved the business about 100 yards south to double the size with much better parking. It was easier for customers to find us. We told them over a 3-month time period using Facebook, our monthly newsletter and word of mouth. We gained customers right from the opening. — Nancy Okun, Cats n Dogs, Port Charlotte, FL
  • By moving one block away, we were able to cut our rent by more than half. We did not lose customers. — Jack Carey, Amoskeag Pet Supply, Manchester, NH
  • Grew out of old space. Customers all accepted the move (but it was less than half a mile from the original location). We sent email blasts, used social media and had signs up all over the old location. Also, we shared on the phone when customers called. — Myra Tsung, Camp Kitty, Decatur, GA
  • We moved from one location in New Jersey to a more rural location. The customers from our former area followed us. We used social media and email to let everyone know when we moved, which was in late 2012. — Jacqueline Levy, Cross Keys K9, Williamstown, NJ
  • We started telling customers about 30 days prior to the move in July 2018. It was the hardest thing I’ve ever done, but I believe it will pay off. — Janelle Pitula, Wags to Whiskers, Plainfield, IL
  • We moved from a poor location — we were a destination location at that time — about seven years into business, to a great location right on the main road through our town, and our business literally doubled over night. We rented a portable sign with the address of our new location that sat at our old business location for two months. Plus, we told customers the entire month previous to the move that we were moving. If you have the opportunity to improve your location, do it! The greater investment (yes, it was scary) was 200 percent worth it. — Michelle Nelson, The Pet Authority, Albert Lea, MN
  • We moved from a warehouse to a storefront five years ago. When I realized people were finding us in a warehouse area, I realized if we moved to a storefront business would only go up. Our client base is much larger now. — Debbie Brookham, Furry Friends Inc., Colorado Springs, CO
  • We were lucky enough to move into a larger location less than 3 miles away from our first store. We notified our customers in-store, online, via email and through advertising. — Johnna Devereaux, Fetch RI, Richmond, RI
  • We moved twice in 10 years, both times to get away from unreasonable landlords . If I had to do it over again, I would buy my property. I just didn’t know how long we would be in business! — Robert “Jungle Bob” Smith, Jungle Bob Enterprises, Centereach, NY
  • I’ve moved my stores multiple times in order to gain more square footage. Most customers were thrilled, but some, of course, were unhappy. You can never please everyone, especially the customers who expect you to be in their back yard. We started telling customers way ahead of time, put a huge sign on our door, included in our newsletter, website and shared on all of our social media platforms. — Toni Shelaske, Healthy Pet Products, Pittsburgh, PA
  • I moved from a strip mall that I rented space in to a freestanding location that I purchased. The mortgage was one sixth of the cost compared to the rent I was paying for the worst location in the mall. The smartest thing I’ve done in 30 years in business. — Paul Lewis, Birds Unlimited, Webster, NY
  • We’ve had three locations since we first opened. With each move, we gave our customers four-plus months of notice, signage around the store, emails, postcards, front-page newspaper ads and radio commercials. And then once we moved we held grand openings, ribbon-cuttings, open houses adoptions, sales and specials for services. It’s never easy. Each move requires lots of renovations and down time of about 30 to 45 days. We kept our customers updated with photos and news of our progress during that time so they could share in our excitement. Now, we are about six months our from our next and final move. We are preparing our team members before we share the news with our customers. We’ve changed our logo, website, updated our name, business cards etc. in preparation for the move. We are also sending out letters to our customers to help generate excitement with a survey of what they would like to see, services and retail wise, and a chance for them to help us raise funds and be a sponsor with lots of perks. — Sherry Shupe, Fur Baby, Milford, DE

No: 63%

  • We are moving very soon to a much larger location. We will be launching a campaign across social media and sending out email and texts as soon as we have a move date. We will also be having a big grand opening/shop-warming party and invite rescues and others to partner with us to increase our reach. We are way overdue moving to a bigger space due to the owner’s health and not finding the right spot. — Angela Smutny, Swanky Paws Pet Spa, Lawrenceville, GA
  • I love my location and my customers. I have worked hard to build a reputable business and do not have any interest in moving and starting over. — Laura Haupt, Bark & Meow, Tarrytown, NY
  • Our location is absolutely stellar for walk-by traffic. The only things that might get me to move are a bigger unit opening in our center, or a place not too far away that would be able to affordably house retail and an indoor dog park. — Shane Somerville, Paddywack, Mill Creek, 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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