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Tip Sheet

Don’t Let Expensive Exceptions Become the Rule at Your Pet Business

Instead, budget for them — plus other tips for spending less, managing wisely and selling more.





Activate Dormant Ties

Every successful business person knows the power of this truism: “It’s who you know, not what you know.” But building a network is hard work, and overzealously doing so can even feel a bit demeaning at times. What to do? Leverage the power of your dormant ties, says Eric Barker of the popular Barking Up the Wrong Tree science newsletter. “Reconnect with those Facebook friends and Twitter followers and Linkedin contacts you haven’t talked to in a while,” he says. The benefits are two-fold: “With weak ties, you get to hear about opportunities you wouldn’t otherwise from people who are one or two degrees away, but with whom you still have trust and shared perspectives.”

Ask Helpful Questions

Society, culture, our genes constantly ask that we judge ourselves: Am I a success, a failure or an also-ran? But Karl Weick, a professor at the Ross School of Business at the University of Michigan, says it’s an unhelpful question in the sense that the closest you can come to a true answer is that everyone is both a success and a failure. A much better question when you find yourself doubting a plan, your business or even yourself, is to ask: “What prevents me from learning here and now?” To be preoccupied with the past or the future is to be inattentive toward the present, where learning and growth take place, Weick says.

Don’t Let the Exception Become the Rule

If you’re like a lot of business owners, you struggle with exceptional expenses. A piece of equipment breaks down, so you upgrade to a fancy new model, thinking it will boost productivity and pay for itself some fuzzy time in the future. The following month, it’s the store’s 20th anniversary, and you end up spending more than you’d intended. And so it goes. The problem with all of these “exceptions” is that if they crop up all the time, they aren’t really exceptions. In a recent Journal of Consumer Research article, University of Chicago researchers Abigail Sussman and Adam Alter say we chronically underestimate how much such “exceptions” will cost us. The antidote for this psychological idiosyncrasy may be simply remembering it exists. Formulate a category for exceptions and decide what that might include. Most importantly, mistrust that inner voice when it starts arguing for you to make an exception.


Be Consistent

Most pet pros appreciate how vital it is to get accurate business information online but many don’t realize that being consistent is also crucial. “Google is a stickler for details,” says Hayley Sonntag, a marketing specialist at review management service Podium. Make sure your business name, address and phone number exactly match everywhere you can be found online, including your Google listing. This includes such details as whether you spell out or abbreviate the word “street.” “When Google sees those key elements match on listings, it will add credibility with not only Google, but also potential customers and improve your ranking,” she says.

Get Ready For the Next Crisis

We’re starting to put the pandemic behind us. Start looking to build a reserve now. The one inviolable law of business is that trouble is nearly always around the corner, management guru Peter Drucker told “I saved more enterprises than I can remember by simply telling the founder who showed me how beautifully things were going that now is the time to provide for your next financing. If you have six months to a year to provide for your next financing, you can be reasonably sure you’ll get it and at favorable terms.”m

Tick. Tick. Tick.

If you read a good idea in any of these pages, you now have 48 hours to make a change in your business. Otherwise, the idea will likely fall through the cracks, says business author Norm Brodsky. Get to it. The clock is ticking.



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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