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Do You Or Don't You

Do You Give Holiday Bonuses to Staff?

More than half of you do.

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Yes: 53%

  • I take the entire staff out for dinner pizza and beer. Depending on length of employment, and their performance, I give groomers $50-$100, bathers $25-$50. I put cash in a Christmas card. — Rachel Malmfeldt, Pampered Pups, Joliet, IL
  • It is included in their paycheck, they get an extra $20-$30 bonus per shift they work on a holiday based on their employee pay agreement. — Deana Deitchler, Dog Paw, Park Rapids, MN
  • We have monthly sales goals which are established by our inventory planning partner (Management One). I take that goal and add 10 percent. Then, all sales above that goal, employees are bonused 25 percent of anything above that. In 2018, our staff rocked it, and each received a $2.77/hour bonus for the month of December. — Michelle Nelson, The Pet Authority, Albert Lea, MN
  • Cash. Based on time with us and average hours, plus their dedication to our business. — Dani Edgerton, Paws on Main, Columbiana, OH
  • We give the employees cash in an envelope. We do not do paid vacations, so we try and base it on an average week’s pay for each employee. If we don’t think it’s enough, we add a little more to the envelope. They really appreciate it. — Diane Marcin, Benny’s Pet Depot, Mechanicsburg, PA
  • I give all employees 12 months and under $50, 1 year $100, and each year they increase by $100. I write personal cards and then give company logo jackets. — Julie Grounds, Central Pet, Tucson, AZ
  • I give my dog walkers a $25 gas card and a small gift that would mean something special just to them. My groomers get a $100 Visa card and a pizza dinner with all their families. — Kristina Robertson, The Pet Spa at Barkley Square, Falls Church, VA
  • We usually offer a shopping day where more items are available at our employee feeding prices. We do incentives all year long for cash, gift cards and paid time off, so allowing them to shop hard-core for themselves and as gifts for family is kinda cool. — Michelle Pelletier, Bentley’s Pet Stuff, Green Bay, WI
  • For my key staff, they get a bonus check based on a predetermined increase in sales from the previous year. — Mike Murray, Bonnie’s Barkery, Phoenix, AZ
  • I mailed them a holiday/thank you card last year with a $50 gift card Everyone got the same amount. They were all thrilled! — Kelly Catlett, Waggs 2 Whiskers, Bagdad, KY
  • Cash, plus we all go out to dinner. These past few months, I had some health issues, and they really stepped up to the plate. So in September, I planned to take them all to the gun range to shoot some machine guns. Different bonus? Yep! But I appreciate all they do! — Greg Gorski, Cody Pet Depot, Cody, WY
  • Our staff gets bonus gifts: gift cards for movies, grocery stores and a HUGE gift card for our store so they can spoil their pets on our dime. — Connie Roller, The Feed Bag Pet Supply, Grafton, WI
  • We give out gift cards to the luxury movie theater. We want our people to go out and treat themselves after spending all year caring for dogs and customers. We think of our bonus as more of a gift, because it comes with no judgement on performance. — Charlsye Lewis, Metro Animals, Fort Worth, TX
  • I give my staff a check. I base the amount on their hours put in, their reliability, their client base and ability to keep clients, their communication, and the length of time they have been with me. — Ashley Cook, Viva La Pet, Dover, NJ
  • The week before Christmas, my team gets a cash bonus. The amount is based on tenure. My team members get a holiday party in January to celebrate making it through the busy holiday season. — Theresa Hogge, Belly Rubs N Suds, Ashburn, VA

No: 47%

  • I typically host a staff appreciation dinner in late January or early February. — Marcia Cram, Just Fur Pets, Springfield, VA
  • We’ve never given bonuses but do pay good wages, and employees get products at cost. Since we don’t focus on the holidays, we prefer to be on our “A game” all year, the once-a-year bonus seems disingenuous. — Karen Conell, The Bark Market, Delevan, WI
  • Whereas we don’t give monetary bonuses, we do take the entire staff out for a fun night of dinner, drinks and a fun activity prior to the season to get them pumped up. We also have performance goals, and those who hit their goals get gift certificates throughout the season. — Sue Hepner, Cool Dog Gear, Roslyn, PA

What’s the Brain Squad?

If you’re the owner or top manager of a U.S. pet business serving the public, you’re invited to join the PETS+ Brain Squad. Take one five-minute quiz a month, and you’ll get a free t-shirt, be featured prominently in this magazine, and make your voice heard on key issues affecting the pet industry. Sign up here.

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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Do You Or Don't You

Do You Send Holiday Cards to Customers?

Most of you don’t …

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Yes: 33%

  • We handmake for our top clients. For the rest, we typically send out printed ones from Shutterfly with some of our client photos. — Melissa Wiltse, Happy Pooch Styling and Spa, Lynden, WA
  • I don’t customize them, I address and sign every single one, I like the personal touch. To all active customers. — Kelly Catlett, Waggs 2 Whiskers, Bagdad, KY
  • In the past we have done a holiday card, and we turned it into a contest to boost our social media presence. We asked pet parents to post the cutest photo of their dog on our Facebook page and whoever collected the most likes at the end of the contest won a professional photo shoot and was featured on our holiday card. People went NUTS getting friends and family to like their dog’s photo every day. It was really fun to watch! — Amy Zounes, CaNine to Five, Clifton Park, NY
  • We customize our cards, custom print them and send them to all of our clients. — Asha Olivia, Hoby Dogy Pet Care, Hoboken, NJ
  • We try to send personallized cards from the store manager to the top 20 or 30 customers at each location. We’ve done custom-printed in the past, but last year and this year just used boxed cards with a handwritten message. — Keefer Dickerson, Nashville Pet Products, Nashville, TN
  • We send out a post card to everyone that has purchased from us over the past year. The post card is simply “Our Gift to You” — a $5 gift certificiate, no minimum purchase. We have them created and printed by a local business. — Michell Nelson, The Pet Authority, Albert Lea, MN
  • I send post cards out with a $5 coupon good from January to March, which is my slow time. I had pictures of my dogs running in the snow last year. — Corey Heenan, Corey’s Canine Creations, Altamont, NY
  • We send customized cards featuring one or both of my dogs, a Pug and a Presa, to our top clients. I handwrite a note to them. While it takes more time than using a preprinted greeting, I feel that it is more genuine and would be more likely to be kept rather than tossed. — Wendy Megyese, Muttigans, Emerald Isle, NC
  • We send dog-themed holiday cards to our long-term (6-plus months) training/daycare customers every December. It’s very time consuming and we’re thinking about going to preprinted cards this year. — Katherine Ostiguy, Crossbones, Providence, RI
  • We send them out in several tiers: A custom emailholiday card sent out to our entire client list (thousands), a custom-printed card with calendar enclosed, and a custom-printed card with calendar and framed printed holiday photo of their dog. — Krista Lofquist, Wagging Tails, Wolcott, CT
  • Ours are Thanksgiving cards, and they are customized. We send to our top 250 customers. — Claudia Loomis, Cherrybrook Premium Pet Supplies, Phillipsburg, NJ

No: 67%

  • We send out holiday wishes to our customers via email. — Doung Staley, Pet Palace of New City, New City, NY
  • No time! Christmas is always so chaotic that we can barely breathe let alone send cards. But it would be a nice touch! — Shane Somerville, Paddywack, Mill Creek, WA
  • I used to and it would kill me when so many would come back in the mail because they had moved, or whatever the reason. So we do an email blast, facebook posts, and hand them a holiday card from us by a staff member when they come in a few days before the holiday that has a coupon to use in January. — Jessica Cooke, Yuppy Puppy, O’Fallon, MO
  • No … but we are thinking of doing a calendar this year as a gift for the holiday. — Angela Pantalone, Wag Central, Stratford, CT

What’s the Brain Squad?

If you’re the owner or top manager of a U.S. pet business serving the public, you’re invited to join the PETS+ Brain Squad. Take one five-minute quiz a month, and you’ll get a free t-shirt, be featured prominently in this magazine, and make your voice heard on key issues affecting the pet industry. Sign up here.

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Do You Or Don't You

59% of Businesses Fire Aggravating Customers

Do you fire aggravating customers?

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Yes: 59%

  • We have only fired three customers in our 30 years of business. The last one was making false accusations about one of our groomers and told us she didn’t feel safe in our store with the groomer here. — Richie Powell, All American Pet “Supplies & Grooming,” Springfield, OR
  • Clients who continually disregard our policies or take advantage of the kindness of our employees are given a warning (verbal/email) that we may no longer accept their appointment request. And dogs that are overtly aggressive or have severe medical issues are declined services without warning. — Sarah Cordes, Knotty Dog, Chelsea, AL
  • If any of my employees feel threatened or if any customer crosses the insubordination line, I give power to my employees to ask the customer to leave. It hasn’t happened in a while, though. Thank DOG! — Jennifer Flanagan, Nature’s Pet Market Sherwood, Sherwood, OR
  • I tell my aggravating clients that we do our best to give great service, but perhaps another business may be able to meet their needs. — Marcia Cram, Just Fur Pets, Springfield, VA
  • We’ve had some longtime clients that get on our “C” list. These are people that continue to take advantage of you. We simply drop them from a list or start saying no to their requests. I had one client get my cellphone number and totally abuse it. She would call on Sundays, any time she would think of something she needed for her dogs. She would want my advice and then tell me my products are too expensive and would buy from somewhere else. I just stopped returning her calls. Even having a store, there are good times and bad times in a relationship. I think knowing when the relationship cannot move forward is key to your sanity, and bottom line profits. — Debbie Brookham, Furry Friends Inc., Colorado Springs, CO
  • We don’t have any specific guidelines for this, but I know there have been unique occasions where a manager has had to make it clear to a customer that we wouldn’t be able to serve them in the future. — Keefer Dickerson, Nashville Pets Products, Nashville, TN
  • If they miss two consecutive appointments without notice, if they have an aggressive pet and they refuse to acknowledge the bad behavior and seek help from a vet for meds before the next groom. I just told a client she was no longer welcome in my store and salon with her Husky who kept trying to bite us. I even have his dangerous behavior on video and the owner insisted he “is such a good boy.” I refuse to put my staff in danger. One bad bite can end a career and cause permanent damage. — Danielle Wilson, Bath & Biscuits, Granville, OH
  • I fire clients when they consistently do not pay on time, if they are rude to my staff repeatedly, or if their pets are a liability to care for. — Ashley Cook, Viva La Pet, Dover, NJ
  • The breaking point for us is customers who routinely want us to change our rules to accommodate them, with little upside for our business. — Charlsye Lewis, Metro Animals, Fort Worth, TX
  • Above all, communication is key. If I have a client that is difficult and refuses to listen or compromise…. it’s a done deal. I don’t push, but I am clear. Clarity through communication is best. — Rachel Diller, The Poodle Shop, Littleton, CO
  • The relationship must be mutually positive. We are happy to help customers find another company to better fit their needs if we aren’t the right fit. — Sherry Shupe, Fur Baby, Milford, DE
  • I hate using the term “fire,” but I’d say more along the lines of “ending the relationship.” In the years that I’ve dealt with the public, I’ve learned some people will just never be happy. I go above and beyond to try and right every situation, but if I see you’re just a miserable human being, that’s that. No need for the two of us to be miserable. — Amanda Bowman, Fairy Tales Mobile Grooming, Cherry Hill, NJ

No: 41%

  • We did have a customer with repeated issues of rudeness, and finally one day she snapped and swore at a new employee. (The customer thought she was due for her free bag, and she’d been clearly told her previous visit how many more she had to buy.) We sent her a strongly worded email that her behavior was unacceptable, and that if she wanted to continue to shop she could NOT behave that way. She was very contrite, apologized repeatedly, and has been nice ever since. Luckily, this was a rare issue and we have not had other issues like this! — Shane Somerville, Paddywack, Mill Creek, WA
  • I handle them in the best possible way. Never be rude to them, never raise my voice, and never make them feel attacked or intimidated or humiliated. I just give them all the best possible information that I can. — Dylan Giampaolo, Woof Woof Pet Boutique & Biscuit Bar, New Bedford, MA
  • We are a kill-’em-with-kindness store. We never stop smiling; we never stop trying. As long as it doesn’t get nasty, we send them them on their way knowing we didn’t take bait. Brett Foreman, euPAWria Holistic Pet Center, Owego, NY
  • I do not allow customers to aggravate me. I generally will listen and then either agree or delicately let them know that I am in control of the situation. — Laura Haupt, Bark & Meow, Tarry Town, NY
  • We do our best to work through the most difficult customer, I, as the owner, deal with them directly. We talk over our policies and work through the issues. It often put the team members in a tough situation to deal with them, so we find if they hear it from me it is better handled. — Christine McCoy, The Natural Pet Enrichment Center, North Royalton, OH

What’s the Brain Squad?

If you’re the owner or top manager of a U.S. pet business serving the public, you’re invited to join the PETS+ Brain Squad. Take one five-minute quiz a month, and you’ll get a free t-shirt, be featured prominently in this magazine, and make your voice heard on key issues affecting the pet industry. Sign up here.

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Do You Or Don't You

Do You Have a Business-Related Degree?

More than half of our brain squad does not have one.

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Yes: 24%

  • Accounting and finance courses helped tremendously. — Russell Herman, Pet$aver Healthy Pet Superstore, Rochester, NY
  • Though I have many years of employment experience in customer service, marketing and accounting, my MBA experience and education has definitely guided my decisions about how I operate and manage my business. — Marcia Cram, Just Fur Pets, Springfield, VA
  • I had a graphic design major and business minor. Before I opened my store, I owned a successful advertising/marketing/creative design agency servicing national accounts. As creative director, I was responsible for preparing and presenting account pitches and ad campaigns. This has helped me immensely in how we present our store products, benefit-sell to customers, interact with the news media, etc. We prepare our print ads and TV spots, as well as our weekly LIVE web show “What’s Barking Local,” where I host and interview cool people in the community doing great things for pets. What I wish I knew better was accounting. That is something I hire out. — Pattie Boden, Animal Connection, Charlottesville, VA
  • I have a degree in graphic design. This helps me understand the design concept and marketing, when working on my business marketing. — Tammi Bui, Wishbone Pet Care, Missouri City, TX
  • I majored in fashion merchandising with a minor in business management. Although, my education did provide me with a good foundation in merchandising and management I learned the most from my mentors while managing for Aeropostale and The Limited Express Corp. — Toni Shelaske, Healthy Pet Products, Pittsburgh, PA
  • It has been a long time since receiving my master’s degree, and experience has certainly been a better teacher. However the foundational skills it provided are important. I wish I had a better command of finance concepts/reporting/projections. However, I am now enrolled in a SBA Emerging Leadership program, and there is a whole section dedicated to this area. — Remy Bibaud, Pet Perennials, Pittsburgh, PA
  • I started the path to my degree and shortly after started working for Chow Hound. I feel that I learned much more with my hands on experience and immersion into the business world than I did in any classes. — Jess Smith, Chow Hound Pet Supplies-Standale. Walker, MI
  • I have a BS in business administration with a concentration in marketing. Honestly, the only class I felt has been useful was my speech class. Maybe I was too young and immature when I went to college. Whatever the reason, I don’t remember much that is currently useful. Most of my business savvy has come from mentorship by more experienced business owners. I do, however, wish I had paid more attention during accounting, since that remains one of my weak areas. — Wendy Megyese, Muttigans, Emerald Isle, NC
  • My degree’s given me the confidence to know I can figure out anything, but continuous learning from audio books, blogs and podcasts have helped me gain self-mastery. — Asha Olivia, Hoby Dogy Pet Care, Boca Raton, FL

No: 76%

  • I have owned multiple businesses without a degree and have been very successful at all of them. I have learned a lot over the years hands-on about business practices and administrative duties. One of the most critical I have learned is customer care. In any business, in my opinion, that is the most important. It brings your customers back. — Jan A. Hopper, Living Pawsitively, Lafayette, NJ
  • I wish I was better with numbers but that’s why I have a wonderful accountant! — Adrienne Preuss, Animal Loving Care, Brooklyn, NY
  • I went to college for business management, just didn’t get the degree. It helped some, but it was years ago. Really it was our 20 to 30 years in retail management that help us run a successful business today. — Jennifer Larsen, Firehouse Pet Shop, Wenatchee, WA
  • But I do have a bachelor’s in zoology and am a registered veterinary technician. I’m also certified in animal nutrition. Holding these degrees helps me with recognizing many diseases in my clients’ pets and suggesting they visit their vet ASAP. — Danielle Wilson, Bath & Biscuits, Granville, OH
  • I’ve learned the hard and fast way as to how to run my business. I don’t think there’s any area that I haven’t been able to learn on the job. You just have to be open and willing to learn and not embarrassed to ask questions when you don’t know how to do something or what someone is talking about. An ego gets you nowhere in business. — Johnna Devereaux, Fetch RI, Richmond, RI
  • While I don’t have a degree, I did take some night school business classes to prepare myself with what I getting into. The real world turned out to be different than what they teach. I’d like to know of the financial end of things, including taxes. — Paul Lewis, Birds Unlimited, Webster, NY

What’s the Brain Squad?

If you’re the owner or top manager of a U.S. pet business serving the public, you’re invited to join the PETS+ Brain Squad. Take one five-minute quiz a month, and you’ll get a free t-shirt, be featured prominently in this magazine, and make your voice heard on key issues affecting the pet industry. Sign up here.

Continue Reading

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