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Tip Sheet

Ask Yourself These 4 Questions to Avoid Overconfidence

Plus more tips to better your business in June and July.





SERVICEBe a Trip Advisor

In the wake of the pandemic, people are looking to take longer vacations and increasingly with their pets, with one study finding more than half of dog owners will take their pups on the road with them this year. If you’re in a tourist destination, be the resource for those families. Wagging It In The ADK in Old Forge, NY, does that with a brochure they update and publish each year, with information about local attractions, hotels and restaurants that welcome animals.

STRATEGYMe, Overconfident? Pfft!

Nobel-winning behavioral scientist Daniel Kahneman once said that if he could wave a magic wand and eliminate a single human foible, it would be overconfidence. We human beings believe we know more than we really do. In particular, we have unwarranted faith in our forecasting abilities and our intuitions. In his Book of Beautiful Questions, Warren Berger argues that the answer to this cognitive blind spot lies in honest self-interrogation, asking yourself: 1) Do I think more like a soldier or a scout? (Soldiers defend positions, scouts explore new territory.); 2) Would I rather be right or would I rather understand? (Long-term knowledge is way more valuable than a short-term victory.); 3) Do I seek out opposing views? (Say “Tell me if you disagree and explain why” instead of asking “Don’t you agree?); and 4) Do I enjoy the pleasant surprise of discovering I’m mistaken? (Being wrong is only a failure if you didn’t learn something new). Ask them before your next strategy review.


SALESGo Easy on the Eyes

Something cats would understand. One of the things that every new salesperson is taught is to look the customer in the eyes. But it’s easy to overdo it, especially for people of a more reserved nature. “One of the ways you can spot an introvert is if you stare them right in the eyes. Introverts will often feel like they’re staring into the sun and be like OK, I need to back up here and reset a little bit, whereas extroverts tend to find eye contact much more energizing, and the intensity is not the same for them,” says Wharton psychologist Adam Grant. If rapport is your goal, be “very mindful of those kinds of preferences.”

INVENTORYSummer’s Bounty

Everyone loves seasonally fresh produce, and that goes for tortoises and hamsters, too. To ensure humans’ small friends are eating well, Northwoods Pets in Rhinelander, WI, partners with local small farms in the summer “to offer fresh, organic packaged greens for both reptiles and small pets,” owner Jennifer Marshall says.


Roundups are a neat way to help a worthy cause, costing the customer little but giving them a chance to feel good after interacting with your business. In 2021, All Pets Considered in Greensboro, NC, raised over $30,000 through such an initiative for local non-profits by simply “inviting our customers to roundup their total,” owner Alison Schwartz says.


Some jobs, such as managing a pet business, are prone to interruptions, which can make them exciting as you rush to deal with problems or help customers, but they can wreak havoc on achieving your goals for the day. In “18 Minutes: Find Your Focus, Master Distraction and Get the Right Things Done,” Peter Bregman recommends that you: Set your phone to beep every hour, and when that timer goes off: Take a deep breath and ask yourself, am I doing what I need to be doing right now. If you’re with a client — great. Ignore it. You’re doing something constructive and will feel good. If you’d intended to spend five minutes looking for a new umbrella online but have now fallen down a hole of 1970s TV trivia, it will pull you out and get you back on track.


MANAGEMENTForce a Real Decision

The next time you ask an employee for their opinion on a business matter, say to rate a job candidate or a new line, ask them for a score between one and 10, but not seven. Seven is a fudge, says author Kyle Maynard. Force the person to choose between at least eight, an indication that they’re genuinely excited by the prospect, and six or below, a sign they’d pass on it.

MANAGEMENTDivide and Conquer

Create “areas of pride” in your store to promote a fun spirit of competition and a better knowledge of inventory among the staff, urges sales pro John Nicolosi. How to do it? “Assign each sales associate to merchandise, promote and clean a particular area each month,” he says.



NASC Media Spotlight

At first it was just an idea: Animal supplements needed the same quality control that human-grade supplements receive. But that was enough to start a movement and an organization —the National Animal Supplement Council — that would be dedicated to establishing a comprehensive path forward for the animal supplements industry. In this Media Spotlight interview, NASC’s president, Bill Bookout, talks to PETS+ interviewer Chloe DiVita about the industry today: Where it’s headed, what’s the latest focus and why it’s vital to gain the involvement of independent pet product retailers.

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