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Tip Sheet

8 Tips to Help You Do Better Business – And Be a Better Person

We give you the secret for getting a finicky cat to eat.

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CAT FOOD

Sneaky Feeding

Is a customer having trouble transitioning her cat to raw food? Tracey Rentcome of Bones2Go in Houston, TX, shares this advice: “Be as sneaky as they are. ‘Accidentally’ drop a little on the floor by their dish.” For customers who also have a dog, she suggests dropping the raw cat food by the dog’s dish. “Cats love to steal from dogs.”

POSTURE

2-Second Fix

Your parents were right: Stop slouching. “If you take on a collapsed position, it really shifts the physiology,” Erik Peper, a professor of health education at San Francisco State University, told Bloomberg, adding that tests have shown that slouchers’ testosterone levels go down, cortisol levels go up, and they have more helpless thoughts. Luckily, the opposite happens when you sit up, stretch or even better, skip on the spot for just 10 seconds. People can’t sit or stand at attention all day, though, so pick your battles, says Peper.

On their sidewalk chalkboard, Green Spot offers a free treat for any pet whose name is featured that day.

PROMOTIONS

Feeling Lucky?

The Green Spot in Omaha, NE, has a cool promo we just had to share. On a chalkboard sandwich sign (and, of course, on social media channels), The Green Spot folks have a daily offer of a free treat for any pet whose name is featured that day. It keeps folks checking back and gives them a reason to pop in, if they happen to be one of the lucky ones.

INNOVATION

Failure Wall

If risk-taking, innovation and transparency are habits you want to promote in your business, you may want to consider a “failure wall” — a flat space preferably in your back room where you and staff can share your “growth lessons” with each other. “Something magical happens to failure when it’s openly acknowledged,” writes business author Jeff Stibel in a column for Bizjournals.com. “Paradoxically, it becomes less of a big deal. The idea of failure is often the elephant in the room that no one wants to mention.”

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STAFF

Write at the End of a Day

Is your staff is showing signs of stress? Ask them to do this simple act: Spend 10 minutes at the end of the day writing about three things (work related or personal) that went well that day. According to a report in the Harvard Business Review, a University of Florida study found that such a gratitude exercise lowered stress levels and physical complaints by roughly 1percent.

SELF WORTH

Cross It Off

If you use a to-do list to guide your task choices through the week, leave your “done” items at the top as you knock them off, suggests productivity website Lifehacker. The feeling of accomplishment will help you get through other items over the course of the week.

ONLINE

This Email Will Self-Destruct

Ever wanted an email address that you could discard like a pair of disposable chopsticks? 10 Minute Mail (10minutemail.com) is for you. The service sets you up with a self-destructing email address that expires in — yep — 10 minutes. Your temporary inbox works just like regular email, allowing you to forward and respond to messages, and you can add extra time if 10 minutes isn’t quite long enough. Whitepaper downloaded, anonymous comment posted, whatever — once you’re done, pull the pin and walk away.

HYGIENE

Oral Exam

Need a break from the sales floor? Take a dental hygiene break (brush gently, floss, rinse): “It can do wonders for your mood,” says online business publication, Quartz.

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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Tip Sheet

2 Words Every Salesperson Should Be Using … And 8 Other Business-Building Tips

Plus see one of your business’s greatest resources.

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STAFFUnleash the Giant Within

One of the great untapped resources of small businesses is the staff itself. It’s something the owners of Urban Tails Pet Supply in Minneapolis, MN, have sought to leverage by giving their workers the “creative freedom to use any ideas/means (within reason) to make Urban Tails a great place,” says manager Megan Trombley. “We are running a window display contest. Employees submit their ideas, and whoever wins gets their display made and a $100 Visa gift card.”

HELP DESKGet on the Floor

Ever feel like your desk is caving in on you? That you have dozens of papers, reports, books and folders coming from all directions, reducing your actual workspace to the size of a Post-It Note? If so, marketing consultant Scott Ginsburg suggests going back to your student days and working on the floor. Says Ginsburg: “It works wonders for enhancing your creativity, especially from a visual standpoint. First of all, you’ll have plenty of room to spread out your materials. This will help you more effectively solve problems, come up with new ideas and brainstorm because you’ll see all of the elements involved.”

LOYALTYBuild Trust

Want to totally win the trust of your community? Promise to personally test all the products you sell on your own beloved pets. It’s a commitment that several pet businesses are already making, including Cool Dog Gear, a two-store chain in Pennsylvania. “This allows our staff to truly understand the products and honestly answer questions about it” as well as share their personal experiences about how the product worked, says co-owner Sue Hepner. Danielle Cunningham, owner of Lewis and Bark’s Outpost in Red Lodge, MT, says the approach has helped her store cut returns to fewer than five a year.

STRATEGYGood Citizens

If you refer to potential customers as “prospects” or “targets,” marketer Seth Godin urges you to stop because “marketing-centric terms” don’t reflect the way power has shifted in the marketplace, he says. Instead, call them “citizens.” “When you stop calling people ‘targets’ or ‘prospects,’ and start calling them ‘guests’ or ‘citizens,’ you can’t help but become a little more humble and a little more respectful,” he writes on his blog. “Try it, it works.”

SOCIAL MEDIAPlan Ahead for Pinterest

Most people forget that Pinterest is essentially a search engine, so if you are pinning things you want people to see right now, you’ve left it too late. A better approach is to plan and pin two months ahead of time for holiday gifts, for example. It takes time to build rank and credibility as users search.

EVALUATIONAssess Yourself

If you think you’re being productive and making progress, author Tom Peters suggests you ask yourself a question: “What have you done this year?” Answering that question succinctly puts the focus on your big achievements — or lack thereof — over the past year.

MARKETINGGet Noticed

Keith Ferrazzi, author of Never Eat Alone, won’t be sending you a Christmas card this year. He concentrates his energies on birthdays. Why? Hundreds of businesses send Christmas cards to their clients. Few send birthday cards. If you’ve got a limited marketing budget, consider skipping Christmas this year. Instead, try handwriting birthday cards to your favorite customers (or even better, their pets).

INCENTIVESYour Logo Here

If you sell clothing with your store’s logo on it, give customers an incentive to wear it. A 10 percent discount on a purchase made while wearing your shirt will do the trick, says Kelly Mooney, author of The Ten Demandments.

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Tip Sheet

From Listening to Word Choice, 9 Tips to Help You Do Business Better

From “should” to “want”…

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WORD CHOICEStop Saying “Should”

“I should really work out tonight,” “I should talk to more strangers at trade shows,” “I should fill out Brain Squad surveys.” “Should” implies reluctance and guilt. Start saying “want” instead, recommends Sonja Lyubomirsky, author of The How of Happiness. The positive language will help you prioritize what you really want to be doing — and it can help you see healthy business behaviors in a motivating way.

COMMUNICATIONFeel Factor

Writes former Raytheon CEO Bill Swanson in The CEO’s Secret Handbook: “You remember a third of what you read, a half of what people tell you, but 100 percent of what you feel.” When communicating with your staff, your goal is not to tell or teach people what to do, but to make them feel what they need to do.

Video: Principles Learned While Traveling That You Can Apply to Your Pet Business
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Video: Principles Learned While Traveling That You Can Apply to Your Pet Business

Video: Hand Out Specialty Items That Pet Owners Actually Care About
Jim Ackerman

Video: Hand Out Specialty Items That Pet Owners Actually Care About

Video: Digital Ads Need to Do One Thing and One Thing Only
Jim Ackerman

Video: Digital Ads Need to Do One Thing and One Thing Only

LISTENINGIs That So?

In The Patterson Principles of Selling, Jeffrey Gitomer suggests training yourself to be a better listener by asking a question at the end of your customers’ statements. If you make your own statement, it’s possible you were interrupting. But if you ask a question, you almost have to wait until they’re finished speaking.

ADVERTISINGBoast Location

Outside a major city and trying to compete with the big boys? Turn your location into a competitive advantage in your ads, like one suburban used-car dealer profiled in Entrepreneur Magazine did … using the phrase “We’re just 16 minutes south of higher prices” in all of its advertising.

SOCIAL MEDIALive From the Floor of Superzoo …

Thanks to social media, everyone can be a correspondent today. It’s a role the staff at Cool Dog Gear in Pennsylvania have gleefully accepted, beaming back Facebook Live posts from every trade show they attend. “We find a cool item and do a little infomercial right then and there with the manufacturing rep telling us all about the item — “And coming soon to Cool Dog Gear!” explains co-owner Sue Hepner. “By the time we get back from the show there are already customers waiting to buy it!”

MORALEHappy Staff, Happy Life

In the spirit of Peter Drucker’s dictum that the most powerful question you can ask staff is how you can help them do their jobs better, each employee at Just For Paws in St. Charles, IL, is offered a “wish list” that allows them to choose items to enhance the work environment. “We supply them with top-of-the-line equipment. Our employees get to work in a clean, aesthetically pleasing environment. Happy employees establish an efficient business,” says owner John Webb.

PERSONAL SPACECreate A Shrine

Need a pick-me-up? Jim Krause, author of Creative Sparks, suggests creating a small “personal shrine” in your office space. Include things that are important and relevant to you: a book that taught you something, a few trinkets, a picture or two, and anything else that inspires you. Spend a moment each day in quiet thought with your shrine. Use it to get yourself into the zone for another day of wow-ing customers.

REPETITIONBetter Off Blue

Ever have a subject that you’ve talked about until you’re “blue in the face?” And figured it was time to give up because it didn’t seem to be having an effect on anyone? Well, don’t stop. Bob Nelson, author of 365 Ways to Manage Better, says that it’s often just when you’re getting tired of saying a message over and over that it starts to take hold. Repeat the message until you start hearing it back from your employees. Then you’ll know it has sunk in.

THE HUMAN BRAINSqueeze! Release!

This next tip may sound a bit odd, but work with us here as it’s doctor approved. The nodding doctor is Allen Bradon, author of Learn Faster and Remember More, who suggests bringing a tennis ball to the office. When reading documents, squeeze the ball in your right hand. This will stimulate the left side of your brain, which processes words. If it’s blueprints or instructions with diagrams, switch to your left hand. Stimulating the brain’s right side helps with visualizing and spatial relationships.

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Tip Sheet

9 Tips to Ramp Up Sales, Productivity

Follow this simple rule: Reschedule.

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PRODUCTIVITYLeave the Mess for Now

If you typically feel the urge to straighten your desk before you can start on meaningful work, The Guardian’s Oliver Burkeman suggests a simple rule: Reschedule. “If your job permits it, schedule a daily deck-clearing hour — but at 4.30 p.m., not 9 a.m.,” he says. “It’s time to abandon the secret pride we procrastinators feel in having completed 25 small tasks by 10 a.m. If they’re not the right tasks, that’s not really something to be proud of.” Instead, Burkeman recommends the timeworn advice to work on your most important project for the first hour of each workday.

NEW HIRESFreedom Must Be Earned

Something to keep in mind for those who are breaking in new employees: It’s easier to give employees autonomy and freedom than it is to take it away. So, clearly state directions and expectations when employees are new to their jobs. Then, let autonomy and flexibility “be an earned right of their performance,” says Bob Nelson in 365 Ways to Manage Better.

HIRINGBrown Bag It

According to a tale in Bob Nelson’s book Please Don’t Do What I Tell You, Do What Needs to Be Done, when an ice-cream store in Texas ran out of job application forms, a quick-thinking employee handed each remaining applicant an empty paper bag with instructions to do something creative with it. This brainstorm forced job-seekers to show their creativity and ability to entertain others, important attributes in the ice-cream business … and pet care.

MANAGEMENTChange Takes Monthly Meetings

How often are you doing performance evaluations with your salespeople? Once a year? Twice a year? Not enough, says George Whalin, author of Retail Success. To truly shape performance requires monthly evaluations. Talk with your salespeople about how they performed versus their goal for the month that passed. The goal of these meetings should always be improving performance, not simply listing the things an associate did right or wrong.

MARKETINGShout It Out from the Curbside

Your biggest sale of the year is here, and you want to be jam-packed with customers. You’ve spent big on ads and done heavy direct mailing. What else can you do? On the day of the sale, hire people to wear sandwich boards promoting the sale. (“50% Off! Today Only!”) Have them stand at major intersections within a mile radius of your store, recommends the Idea Site for Business.

THE YUCKY STUFFDot Plot

Everyone knows cleanliness is good. It indicates attention to detail, professionalism and hygienic conditions. Yet it’s an area most staff tend to take shortcuts. To enforce the deep cleaning habit, John Putzier, author of Get Weird!, suggests a game called Collect the Dots: Place little colored stickers around your store, concentrating on the most obscure corners, nooks and crannies, say, in the dusty reaches of the dry food racks. Any employee who collects a sticker and brings it to you gets points. More points, bigger rewards.

SALESThe Eyes Have It …

Eye contact is important in any kind of sales — and pet-related sales are no exception. Jack Mitchell, author of Hug Your Customers, suggests asking your sales people: “Do you know the color of your top customers’ eyes?” Quiz them on this whenever you feel your sales staff might not be making enough eye contact.

SALES… But Don’t Overdo It

Speaking of eye contact, have you ever wondered how much is too much and how much is too little? Here’s the answer from Keith Ferruzzi, author of Never Eat Alone: “If you maintain an unblinking stare 100 percent of the time, that qualifies as leering. If you keep eye contact less than 70 percent of the time, you’ll seem disinterested and rude. Somewhere in between is the balance you’re looking for.”

ATTITUDEA Mantra for Sales Success

Great sales mantra seen on the website of sales expert Jeffrey Gitomer at gitomer.com. A reader writes that while he is selling to a customer, he keeps telling himself, “I am transferring enthusiasm. I am transferring enthusiasm.”

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