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Manager's To Do

America’s Coolest Pet Store, Global Pet Expo and More of This Month’s To-Do List

Take notes of these important dates!

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March 4-8

BUSINESS GLORY Submit your entry to the 2019 America’s Coolest Stores Contest by March 15. For details: petsplusmag.com/acs

FINANCE April 15, aka Tax Day, will be here before we know it. This one promises to be a particularly busy one as businesses make adjustments to reflect the new tax law’s rules and deductions, let alone the chaos caused by the shutdown. Get busy.

March 11-15

MERCHANDISING Pull out your promotional calendar and view it from the perspective of using the events primarily to manage and reduce specific inventory. Annual customer appreciation sales, food tastings, product launches, anniversary parties can all be profitable, but they will give you a greater boost if you execute them with a view to move certain items.

MANAGEMENT Download a time tracker to your phone and start logging how you spend your work life. The very act of recording can have a powerful psychological impact, leading you to use your time much more efficiently. (Warning: Brace yourself to be alarmed at how you fritter away time.)

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March 18-22

BUYING Global Pet Expo starts on the 20th. Don’t miss the PETS+ Merchandising Success Panel at Global, beginning at 4:15 p.m. America’s Coolest Stores honorees will share their expertise. See you there!

MARKETING Experiment with paid Facebook advertising. Ad prices on Facebook are determined by action, as they are on Google AdWords. You can pay based on either the number of times people see the ad or the number of times people click on it. Try both to see which is more effective. Start with a $20 budget.

March 25-29

CMR List all the people who referred customers over the past three months. Thank them with a gift card that can be used at your business, or another local (independently owned) establishment.

MARKETING Make contact with other small businesses in your market to see if they are interested in some reciprocal social media action via Instagram Highlights. In your case, you could have Florists That Inspire Us, Bakers That Know Our Weakness, and Opticians Our Tired Eyes Love.

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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Pet Sustainability Coalition

Pet Sustainability Coalition Presents: Critical Sustainability Strategies for Retailers

This webinar, held on November 7, 2019, is the second in a series from PSC discussing how retailers can establish sustainable practices in their business. Moderated by PSC’s Andrea Czobor, the webinar unveils data behind the increasing consumer demand for sustainable products, what retailers have to gain from connecting with these purpose driven consumers, and a new PSC program that makes finding these products easier for retailers.

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Manager's To Do

On the To-Do List for March: Submit Your America’s Coolest Stores Entry Early

And receive suggestions on how to improve your entry.

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March 1-7

MARKETING Create a sign-up area on your website for visitors to provide their email addresses to receive promotions and store information.

MANAGEMENT Bring a chair along to your next store meeting and tell staff it represents the missing element from your conversations: the customer. Amazon’s Jeff Bezos swears that the “presence” of a customer gives Amazon the confidence to innovate in a more responsive way.

BUSINESS GLORY Submit an early-bird entry to the America’s Coolest Stores Contest by March 1 to receive suggestions on how to improve your entry.

March 8-14

SEO If you’ve wondered why cellphone makers are pushing voice control so aggressively, it’s because it has to do with the very lucrative pie that is “search,” currently dominated by Google. Run some tests on different phones along the lines of “OK Google/Siri/Bixby, where can I get my dog groomed?” to make sure your store is appearing high in your local area.

SALES Does your after-hours phone message simply state, “Sorry, we’re closed”? That’s what sales trainer Jeffrey Gitomer calls “D’oh” service. If so, re-record it to direct customers your website, or even another number through which they can contact you in the event of an emergency.

STORE Get in touch with your electric utility provider. Many offer free energy audits, giving you more ideas on how to cut down on your electrical consumption. Some water utilities do the same.

March 15-21

RESEARCH Give each member of your staff a different afternoon to shop your non-indie rivals. It’ll let you know what the competition is up to, and make your staff feel like they are more involved in the strategic part of operations.

GENERAL Adjust your will to appoint a “digital executor.” You don’t want to be paying automatic fees long after you’re dead. Authorize the person to access your log-in information and spell out what you want done with each account, whether it’s providing access to loved ones or business partners, or deleting it.

BRANDING Add a line at the bottom of all store correspondence that says: “Support local businesses. By shopping locally, you save on emissions and help the local economy.”

MARKETING Start plotting a pet trunk show for summer along with the accompanying social media promotions.

March 22-28

STAFF Losing a key staff member can cause chaos if nobody has been trained to take over their tasks. Assign backups and roll out a schedule for learning all those often mundane but crucial jobs, like ordering supplies, entering inventory, invoicing, and checking in grooming clients.

IN-STORE According to a clutch of recent studies, workers who glimpse a tree or two are both happier and more productive; in one analysis of a university building in Oregon, workers on the greenery-facing side took 19 percent fewer sick days. It apparently has to do with how we evolved to function best in nature-rich settings. If you can’t knock out a side wall to provide a view of the glorious outsides, buy a few potted plants to place around your sales floor. This has been a long winter.

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Calendar

 Socks for All on Employee Appreciation Day … and Other March Dates You Never Knew You Needed to Know

Like “Make Up Your Own Holiday” for example?

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4 There are people who feel strongly about grammar: The thinking goes that those who are careless with their writing will be careless with everything else … say, the pet care they provide. If grammar is a weak spot, use GRAMMAR DAY to buy a copy of The Elements of Style, and be sure the grammar check is turned on in your word-processing program.

6 For Employee Appreciation Day last year, the team members at Happy Dog Barkery in Downers Grove, IL, received custom-made socks with images of their own dogs on them, along with a handwritten thank-you note. Could you do something similar for your employees this year?

14 What apart from a parent’s love for his or her pet is infinite and cannot be divided? Yes, it’s pi, and to celebrate PI DAY (.314…, get it?), take inspiration from St. Louis-based Treats Unleashed, which for the last few years has held an Apple Pie Eating Contest for dogs. Lots of fun for all and a terrific chance to show off your baked goods.

15 It’s March. Embrace the madness. The NCAA Men’s Basketball Finals run March 15 to April 6. It’s a great chance to show your support for the nearest team with a mascot theme (Go Dawgs! Go Wildcats! Go Horned Frogs!), colors or just a Sheer Madness Sale to clear out inventory. At the very least, organize a pool for staff.

20 Spring is a time to renew, a time to clean, a time to send out “bathe and groom” postcards to your customer list. Everyone, including Moxie, Spot and Fluffy, want to look their best when it comes to strutting the park when the warm weather returns.

23 Thirty-odd years ago, a mountain-sized asteroid passed within 500,000 miles of Earth — a very, very close call according to NASA. Luckily, we survived, and NEAR MISS DAY was born. In thanks, dig up one of your or your employee’s recent “near misses” and conduct an autopsy. In your morning meeting today, debate what may have saved the situation or even just the sale. A lower price? More questions? Bruce Willis?

23 Puppies were made for social media, or maybe they made social media. What’s beyond doubt is that NATIONAL PUPPY DAY brings the two together. Invite your community to post their best puppy photos and to take advantage of any great deals you have for the day.

26 The staggering success of Singles Day in November ($30 billion in retail sales in China alone), should serve as a lesson to all retailers that dates — as goofy and sometimes cheesy as they seem, can be unmatched marketing pegs. On MAKE UP YOUR OWN HOLIDAY DAY, give thought to what date could set your business apart.

28 “I have lived with several Zen masters — all of them cats,” said the spiritual teacher and author Eckhart Tolle. Whether you’re a dog person or a fish person, you have to concede there is something about feline composure. On RESPECT YOUR CAT DAY, pay your dues and ask if there’ s something you can learn from these nearly always unflappable creatures.

MORE EVENTS

March: Adopt a Rescued Guinea Pig Month — Sadly it’s not just abandoned cats and dogs who need a new home. Guinea Pigs are among the most commonly ditched animals.
March 4: Pet Sitter World Online provides pet professionals with opportunities to network and learn from industry experts at petsit.com/conference.
March 6: It’s Professional Pet Sitters Week — True professionals are a great resource. Build a database for referrals.
March 10: Daylight Saving Time — Offer special “savings” for an extra hour.
March 10-16: National Sleep Awareness Week — Commit to going to bed early enough so that you wake up without an alarm clock.

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Manager's To Do

February To-Do List: Global Pet Expo Prep, A Return to the Gym, and Video Testimonials

Try video testimonials as a sales tool.

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Feb. 2-8

MERCHANDISING Schedule a meeting with staff to discuss merchandising based on what you discovered data mining. Brainstorm buying strategies that will enable you to achieve your 2020 goals. (Do you want to attract more, younger pet owners? Expand cat offerings? Should you be pushing services?)

WEBSITE If you haven’t already, post a photo of your storefront on your website, along with text-based directions. It makes it easier for shoppers to find your store and eases threshold resistance.

INVENTORY Global Pet Expo is only a few weeks away: It’s time to take a hard look at your inventory. Drill down into your data (GPM, brand performance, price points, markdowns) to weed out underperformers and identify any new category trends. Set targets and support plans for your emerging inventory stars.

Feb. 9-15

OPERATIONS Among the many service fees that climb to uncompetitive rates if not checked regularly is insurance coverage. You might, for example, have insured your computer equipment years ago when a PC cost $4,000. Pledge to conduct an annual review of your property insurance policies to ensure they represent today’s prices.

STAFF You may not need new people now but always have a list of potential candidates. Look at it long-term: When you’ve got the best people running things, you can take your kids skiing in France.

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Feb. 16-22

CUSTOMER SERVICE Set the bar high for your customers by adding a monthly pet training challenge to your website.

SAFETY Buy a power-surge protector. A POS meltdown can be costly.

HEALTH The cold busy months are retreating; it’s time to get back to the gym. Commit today to an exercise routine that fits in with your overall management style. Could that be boxing? Do-it-all Crossfit training? Aerial yoga? Or perhaps climbing the walls? With so many choices, you have no longer have an excuse.

Feb. 23-29

IN-STORE Bring in a lighting consultant for a day. With her help, you may be able to replace energy hogs with LEDs and make other changes to add life and (a kinder) light to your business. The savings will soon pay back the fee, says Ruth Mellergaard of interior design firm GRID/3.

OPERATIONS Examine your in-store signage. Is it friendly? Is it memorable? Is it working as a silent sales associate? If it’s not doing any of those things, start the process of changing it.

MARKETING Video testimonials are a sales tool of almost unrivaled power. When a favorite customer brings in a pet for a grooming or even to pick up a cute Valentine’s Day gift, ask if they would consider doing a quick video shoot for you. Stories recounting how you solved a problem for them are best. Don’t worry about looking overly professional.

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