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

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Manager's To Do

May To-Do List: Pet Travel Kits, Planning Your Summer Vacation, Staff’s Favorite Brands

Also, get out of the store for a few weekends this summer.

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April 29-May 5

OUTREACH Farmer’s markets are a great way to get into the community, meet new people, promote the pet health message and get out of the store for a few weekends this summer. Investigate what it would take to get your own stand.

MANAGEMENT Start meeting with staff at least monthly to share three “good things” to build on and three “development areas.”

PLANNING If you’ve typically taken your annual vacation in July, why not shake things up a bit and opt for one in August this year? Who knows what your community’s pet needs are like in July if you’ve never been present?

May 6-12

MERCHANDISING Assemble pet travel kits that your clients can take with them as they head to the beach, lakes or mountains over the next few months. The kits could include “Live Animal” stickers, water/food bowls for crates, pet pads, carrier locks and calming chews. Or you could let customers assemble their own kits from a list of suggested items.

BRAND AWARENESS Someone, somewhere is talking about your business online. To help keep track, set up Google Alerts for your name and your business name (put quotation marks around any proper names to get the most accurate results). For the result type, click on “Everything” to receive email notifications whenever your business gets mentioned on blogs and discussion sites.

May 13-19

MARKETING Your best customers are your current customers. Identify your top 200 customers. Draft a plan to market to them in the second half of 2019.

GENERAL Print business cards for your team that include the URLs of your Facebook, Instagram, website and other social media pages. Hand one out any time you ask a satisfied customer for a referral. Or put them in a fish bowl with a sign that says, “Please take one. They’re free!”

LEGAL Check with your attorney and develop a zero-tolerance policy toward employee theft, drugs and alcohol abuse. If you have current policies, review them to make sure they are legally enforceable.

May 20-26

SALES Assign staff a research project to find talking points for their favorite brands. Ask them to come up with four bullet points for each brand that they can share at the next weekly meeting.

STAFF Give some thought to recruiting college or high-school students as summer help — especially if you’ve got people taking vacations — and how you’ll deploy them. Do not be afraid to give them responsibilities where they can show some initiative, such as cleaning up your mailing lists, retagging, etc.

May 27-June 2

MARKETING Has a customer ever asked for the name of your store or business as she writes a check or just in general conversation? That’s a sign you need to boost name recognition. Start with a prominent but tasteful sign behind your checkout, and then check your other collateral (doors, floor tiling, appointment cards, sales slips, etc.). It’s hard for people to recommend your services if they can’t remember your name.

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Calendar

What’s on Your Agenda for National Pet Month? Our Calendar Gives Some Ideas

There’s plenty of things to do in May!

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1 NATIONAL PET MONTH is your turn in the spotlight. The month typically features a string of charity events, corporate campaigns and media attention. (Brace for stories like “Top 5 pet movies of all time” and “What your pet is actually thinking.”) The campaign’s stated aims are to promote the benefits of pet ownership, support adoptions and increase public awareness of the services available from professionals who work with animals. Hey, that’s you! Get involved.

1 Every year, an estimated 20 percent of the population moves. That’s great news for pet pros because many of those people will be looking for service providers in their new communities. During NATIONAL MOVING MONTH, partner up with a real estate agent to put together a greeting package that includes a welcome note, a gift certificate and a flier outlining your services.

3 What was once known as Disabled Pets Day has evolved to become NATIONAL SPECIALLY ABLED PETS DAY, to highlight the superpowers these animals often have, like the extremely developed senses of smell, hearing and touch that vision-impaired pets have or the way hearing-impaired dogs can respond to sign language. Not only do these pets, once considered unadoptable, make great companions, they also need special products like slings, ramps and supplements. We see a specially abled opportunity. Explore!

5 Hola amigos, it’s CINCO DE MAYO, everybody’s favorite Mexican holiday. Join in the fun and invite owners of Chamucos, Chihuahuas, Xolos and any other Mexican breeds to come in for a special event. Lay on some margaritas and crunchy mini tacos, and maybe bring in a trainer to test their Spanish. Siéntate (Sit). Trae (Fetch). Everyone wants to show off a bilingual dog!

6 Which are healthier — purebreds or mutts? It’s one of the great debates among dog lovers and pet professionals. The great thing about May is that you don’t really have to reveal your preference — you can hold promotions to celebrate both kinds: May 1 is NATIONAL PUREBRED DOG DAY and May 6 is MAYDAY FOR MUTTS.

7 PUPPY MILL ACTION WEEK, organized by The Humane Society of the United States, seeks to raise awareness about the cruelty and health risks posed by unscrupulous commercial breeding. It’s also your opportunity to make a clear public stand on mills by taking the pledge to become a “puppy friendly” business. The society offers to help stores transitioning away from the sale of puppies here: (petsplusmag.com/5191.)

12 The BIRTHDATE OF THE BUDDHA is a perfect time for reflection on one of his important lessons: Focus on what’s important and on what works, and let go of the rest. This applies to advice offered by mentors and staff, the work practices you use now and what you read in PETS+. Invite input, keep an open mind and act to declutter.

12 You don’t want to get between a grizzly and her cub, or even a mother Bichon Frise and her litter, for that matter. On MOTHER’S DAY, get similarly aggressive in your market. Roll out a promotion targeting Pet Moms. Gifts from pet to parent are an admittedly small but growing category.

MORE EVENTS

May is Chip Your Pet Month. Be sure customers can locate their pets.
May is Go Fetch! National Food Drive for Homeless Animals Month.
May is National Service Animal Eye Examination Month. Encourage checkups. Visual health can be an early indicator of a host of complaints.
May is Lyme Disease Awareness Month. It’s hard to detect and debilitating. Send prevention guidelines to all of your customers.
May 7-13: Be Kind to Animals Week. Who would be otherwise?
May 12: National Animal Disaster Preparedness Day. Role-play to ensure you’re ready for the big one.

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Manager's To Do

Fresh from Global Pet Expo, Outreaching and More Manager’s-To-Do for This Month

And a lot of reviewing to do.

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April 1-7

VOICE SEARCH Run some voice search tests in 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 area.

OPERATIONS Spring cleaning: The rule is if it hasn’t been used in a year, toss it. That applies to old advertising, displays and any other miscellaneous junk you’ve been holding onto.

FINANCIALS Review your cash-flow projections. With the economy in something of a state of flux, it’s easy to run into a mismatch between the cash flowing in, what you’re taking out, and what you owe your vendors.

April 8-14

IN-STORE In a study 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 wall to provide a view, buy a few potted plants to place around your sales floor.

MANAGEMENT Some things you should do spontaneously sometimes need to be scheduled. Here’s one: Find time this week for a few quality minutes of conversation with staff. It’ll do wonders for their morale and give you ideas into what motivates them.

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OUTREACH Investigate ways to become more involved with your community. Draw up a schedule to visit shelters, rescue organizations and vets clinics to introduce yourself and discuss possible co-promotions.

April 15-21

SALES FLOOR Buy a Suspicious Incident Logbook for employees to record things that appear to be “not quite right.” The log can be used to write down license plate numbers, names used, times, physical descriptions and other information that may later help police.

EMPLOYEES Make sure that all of your employees get their summer vacation requests in on time. And while you’re working on a roster, book some time off for yourself.

MERCHANDISING Has your fresh Global Pet Expo inventory begun arriving? Highlight select items in-store and online with this message: “Brand New for You From the Top Pet Show.” Consider offering your favorite customers an exclusive sneak peek at your new stuff.

April 22-28

COST-CUTTING April 22 is Earth Day. Save the world, save some money. Get in touch with your electric utility. Many offer free energy audits, giving you more ideas on how to cut down on your electrical consumption. Some water and gas utilities do the same.

MANAGEMENT Institute a fun day like Carb-Wild Wednesday or Beer Friday. Good spirits encourage innovation, better customer service and staff loyalty. They also tend to encourage bigger waistlines, but such is the price to pay for bonhomie.

FINANCES Insurers don’t reward your loyalty. In fact, via premium creep, they punish it while giving new customers great deals. Shop around to see if you can get better rates elsewhere.

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