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An App That Will Have Your Pets Talking … and More Answers to Your Questions for May

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How do I get my pet to talk to me?

We could be snarky here and say something like: “Patience, and lots of training.” Or we could tell you about what’s possibly the funnest app ever made: My Talking Pet. Download the $2.99 Android or iPhone app, take a pic of your pet, record something in his voice — and we know you have a special voice for him — and let ’er rip. This app will single-handedly transform your social media feed and create a new spokespet for your business. Use the clips for marketing, for contest fodder, for fun. And make sure you share the clips with us!

My best sales associate has been offered a position at a rival store. Should I match their offer?

First, check that you can actually afford to match the offer. Then think hard about what kind of relationship you will have with this person if she accepts. Are you going to be more demanding of her? Are you going to resent paying her more if her production doesn’t pick up? Also give thought to the possibility that keeping her will trigger other employees to demand similar pay raises. Finally, raise the possibility of what else you can offer other than money — more flexibility, the opportunity to get more training or more responsibility. If it’s really just about the money, you may be able to find a replacement who is a better cultural fit.

Are there any business questions that are too stupid to ask?

No.

My employees think they are entitled to everything. What can I do?

Management consultant Kate Peterson says to start with the mindset that no one is indispensable. Articulate your core values and expectations. Then, look at the people you have. “If the fit isn’t right, put a plan for recruitment in place. Don’t be paralyzed by the belief that somebody is better than nobody.” Next goal is a system that ensures your standards are maintained. Peterson recommends installing a clear management structure and adopting a performance management system with “semi-annual performance reviews that actually mean something.” Everyone on your team should be given performance goals (sales, gross profit, professional development, etc.), and progress should be monitored closely.

We just got a one-star review on Yelp. How can I ensure this never happens again?

Brand storytelling expert Bernadette Jiwa has this advice on how to avoid bad reviews: Start by writing the five-star review you’re hoping for. Make this your manifesto and share it with your team. Now design every touch-point in your business to make that review a reality. Also: Care twice as much about how your customers feel as you do about what they might say. Make sure reality exceeds expectations.

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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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