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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 11 major international journalism awards for its publication and website. Contact PETS+'s editors at editor@petsplusmag.com.

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JIM ACKERMAN

Things Are Looking Good in the Pet Business … but Don’t Get Too Comfortable

PETS+'s marketing guru just wants to remind you that eventually, the upswing will become a downturn. When that happens, will you be ready?

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Tip Sheet

Hire at Homecoming, Take an Improv Class and 6 More Business-Building Tips

Why consistency matters.

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INTERNET MARKETING

Be Consistent

As you’re adding your business to online directories like Yelp, BringFido.com, Rover.com and Thumbtack.com, make sure the company name, address and phone number information is uniform across all of them. Most SEO specialists agree that search engines consider your name-address-phone consistency across the web as a way to validate that your business is legitimate. “Google might show incorrect information or not show your business in its search results if your information is not consistent in the various places they appear online,” says Dawn Mentzer of internet marketing agency Straight North.

RECRUITING

Homecoming Hires

Finding talent in a small town can be difficult — after all, most of the best and brightest prospects have moved elsewhere to work. Marketer David Wolfe suggests this strategy to try to win some of them back: Advertise your openings during homecoming holidays. Thanksgiving is the biggest, but Easter, Memorial Day and Labor Day are other prime times to catch people visiting home.

OFFICE SUPPLIES

Peel Sticky Notes Right

For you sticky note to-do list keepers, apparently there’s a right and a wrong way to peel Post-It notes off the pack. Think side-to-side, not bottom-to-top. Peeling from the bottom makes the notes curl at the adhesive strip. Work coach Martin Schapendonk shares this tip on Whitehorses: Start at the left of the pad and pull the note to the right (or vice versa). Voilà, a flat-lying note. This way your notes will have a better chance of sticking to your wall, monitor, mirror or the fridge in the breakroom.

SALES

Improv Your Skills

Looking for something a little different to do this fall? Gary Ware at the Dumb Little Man blog suggests an improv class. It can make you a better listener, train you to think faster on your feet, and perhaps best of all, make you more comfortable with rejection. “Not all audiences appreciate or understand your humor and that’s fine. It doesn’t mean that you’re not good at what you’re doing. You learn to embrace the failure as much, if not more, than the success,” he writes on the blog. Real failure he notes, is not trying.

HIRING

Keep Looking

As you look out for new staff, keep in mind this reminder from Jim Collins, author of Good to Great: “When in doubt, keep looking.” (This is absolutely true of full-time staff … for temporary staff, you can always bend a little.)

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IN-STORE SIGNS

Creative Examples

We’re always telling you to get creative with your in-store signage. Here are two that have worked well for Paul Lewis of Bird Unlimited in Webster, NY.

ONLINE

Review Your Reviews

Schedule a session every Wednesday to review customer feedback on online review sites. Not only will this allow you to keep up with what people are saying about your business, but you’ll be able to “share any positive feedback you receive in your social networks and other communication avenues with your customers,” says retail blogger Nicole Leinbach-Reyhle writing on Forbes.com.” After all, strong reviews are earned so why not share them?” she says.

FOOTBALL ANALOGY

Player Stats

Salespeople love to keep score. So why not indulge their competitive nature with stat sheets à la the NFL. Post weekly reports showing total yards gained (dollar sales), touchdowns (sales closed), conversions (add-ons), turnovers, fumbles and so on. Offer small prizes to keep it fun and lighthearted. Too much rivalry can undercut sales floor cooperation.

 

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Tip Sheet

Speed Up Check-In with a Menu Board and 7 Other Tips

Improve client experience with easy-to-read price board hangs.

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CLIENT EXPERIENCE

Speed up Check-In

Looking to speed up check-in for boarding and grooming? And improve client experience? Follow the lead of Wag Hotels in California. Its large, easy-to-read price board hangs from the lobby ceiling, letting pet parents consider their options before approaching the front desk. The magnetic board features a color-coded list of services that proves easy to update; each item gets its own panel, which can be reprinted when the price changes. There are also blank panels staff can use for special promotions and events.

TRADE SHOWS

Spread Out

When you bring staff to a trade show, do you visit all your old suppliers and let your staff discover new ones? It should be the opposite. You’ve already got a relationship with the older suppliers, so it might be useful for them to meet new people within your business. Since you’ve got extra bodies, place current suppliers at the top of the “to-see” list for staff members. Not only can these exhibitors give valuable insights about current or new products, but your store will benefit from the strengthened relationship.

EVENTS
Slush Fun

Having a summer party? Then you absolutely need to be serving the drink of the moment: wine slushies. Fresh, fun and couldn’t-be-more-refreshing for a hot summer night. ppmag.us/7183

TIME MANAGEMENT

Become a Meeting Miser

Meetings are an invaluable part of any successful business, but they can also be tremendous time-wasters. And since time is money, well, you get the point. To get an idea of how much a one-hour meeting costs your business, use the meeting cost calculator at Meeting King (ppmag.us/7182). Multiply that number by the number of meetings you hold weekly, monthly or annually, and you’ll see quite a large number. Don’t get us wrong — meetings are absolutely essential. But they’re also filled with wasted time and effort. Having a firm grasp of what each meeting costs should inspire you to trim the fat.

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BRANDING

Every Message Is a Branding Message

“Oh, it’s just a ‘help wanted’ ad. The only people who are going to see it are people looking for jobs.” Wrong way to think. You need to view every type of business activity as a chance to engage people and seed your story. That means doing things like adding your company slogan and web address everywhere and making the extra effort to ensure that your company logo appears correctly. You might even spend a few extra dollars for the featured ad option. Make sure that every place your brand can be seen, no matter how small, sends a message of quality.

DECISION-MAKING

Mcdonald’s Theory

When faced with a dearth of good suggestions on how to tackle an issue, tech blogger Jon Bell suggests his McDonald’s Theory. When applied to eating, it goes like this: “When we’re trying to decide where to eat for lunch and no one has any ideas, I recommend McDonald’s. An interesting thing happens. Everyone unanimously agrees that we can’t possibly go to McDonald’s, and better lunch suggestions emerge. Magic!” Bell says the same strategy can be used for just about any issue, especially creative projects, where the first step (deciding) is harder than the second.

COMPLAINTS

A Good Whine

There can be some solid mental health benefits from having an occasional moan, says Guy Winch, a clinical psychologist and author of The Squeaky Wheel: Complaining the Right Way. The secret is don’t go on for too long and never let your words devolve into a whine. When it comes to criticizing employees, Winch recommends a “complaint sandwich” — placing your criticism between two positive statements. “The first positive statement will lower the other person’s defensiveness and make them more open to the complaint itself. The last will motivate them to resolve the issue,” Winch told New York magazine.

 

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Tip Sheet

Freshen Up Your Product Selection Without New Orders … and 7 Other Tips

Flip it!

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MERCHANDISING

Freshen Up a Display

Want your cat or dog toys display to look like you have all new, fresh product? “Flip it,” says Toni Shelaske of Healthy Pet Products in Pitssburgh, PA says. Bring toys in back to the front, and move toys in front to the back. And flip products vertically. The “flip it” technique can make older items seem new to regular customers (to your staff too!) catching their attention and helping to make a sale.

MARKETING

Bank on Treats

The Green K9 in Mount Dora, FL, shared this awesome low-cost idea: “We supply our bank with Chicken Chip treats that have our business cards attached to them,” says owner Marni Lewis. “They give them out to their drive-thru customers who have dogs in their cars. New customers come into our store looking for more.” The folks at the bank will love you, because they won’t have to by treats out of their own pockets anymore.

ORGANIZATION

Launch “Operation Inbox”

Let’s get your inbox organized, with some help from productivity guru Dave Allen. From now on, view your inbox as a repository solely for “Active” tasks, meaning things that need addressing. Everything else should be deleted or viewed as a “Reference” matter (receipts, photos, thank-you notes from customers — and archived; you can find them when you need them). Get this done, and your life will be less stressful, and you’ll get more done. Promise.

MANAGEMENT

Make Little Actions Add Up

Big dreams have their place, but it’s the sum of the little things that get you there, says John Jantsch of Duct Tape Marketing. To ensure you’re focused on the right things — making more sales calls, networking in the community and taking a local reporter out for coffee — Jantsch suggests you create a scorecard with 10 marketing-related actions and rate each one for importance, say five points for attending a local pet rescue meeting and one for writing on your blog. Set a weekly target of 20 points. This should help you stay focused on what’s important.

MARKETING

Big Logos, Small Results

Are you one of those business owners who is always asking your designer to make your logo bigger? Or to fill that annoying white space with more text? If so, this oldie-but-goodie video will show you EXACTLY what those designers think of you. Note: In case it’s not obvious, this is a sarcastic video. Watch, and you should get the message: ppmag.us/biglogo.

STRATEGY

Stop Being Afraid

For all of you out there who are wondering whether or not you should take that big risk, we give you this quote from author Gaelen Foley: “Leap, and the net will appear.”

SALES

Create a Memory Game

The most successful salespeople have a knack for remembering people. As a consultant for a major brewing company, author and consultant Marcus Buckingham devised a program to test a critical skill for a good bartender: remembering customers, by face and by their favorite drinks. Bartenders who could remember a total of 100 different customers and their favorite drinks were named members of “The 100 Club,” with a cash prize and a special button to wear on their uniform. There were additional levels, rising up to the world-class “500 Club.” But Buckingham underestimated — eventually, an English bartender surprised everybody by becoming the first member of “The 3,000 Club.” Could you come up with a similar program for your business?

STAFF

Don’t Hire Employees; Hire Talent

Do you think of your staff as “payroll,” “employees,” “human resources” or “talent”? Author Seth Godin thinks you should view them as “talent,” arguing that such an understanding holds the key to success in today’s skills-based business environment. “What if you started acting like the Vice President of Talent? Understand that talent is hard to find and not obvious to manage,” Godin writes on his blog. “Talent is too smart to stay long at a company that wants it to be a cog in a machine. Great companies want and need talent, but they have to work for it.”

 

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