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Manager's To Do

Early Holiday Prep Begins in October

Learn how to use your phones for business and more here!

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Sept. 29-Oct. 5

TEXTING Text has replaced the phone call. Discuss with staff and redraft your store manual to provide guidelines on when to call, when to chat, and how to make the process as smooth and as customer friendly as possible.

ONLINE SECURITY Do you sell any goods online? Then you need a trust badge/SSL certification (think of those Norton seals you’ll see at an online checkout). Not having one is a deal-breaker for 17 percent of shoppers. Get certified.

Podcast: Talking Cybersecurity, and Keeping Your Pet Business Safe Online
Behind the Pages

Podcast: Talking Cybersecurity, and Keeping Your Pet Business Safe Online

Podcast: Travel Deals for the Pet Pro on the Latest “Behind the Pages”
Behind the Pages

Podcast: Travel Deals for the Pet Pro on the Latest “Behind the Pages”

Podcast: Meet the Pet Product Entrepreneur Who Turned Down Shark Tank’s Investors
Behind the Pages

Podcast: Meet the Pet Product Entrepreneur Who Turned Down Shark Tank’s Investors

EVENTS Finalize arrangements for special events in the run-in to the year-end, confirm staff assignments.

Oct. 6-12

MARKETING This is a good time of year to be handing out business cards, especially cards with a special offer. Make sure that you and your staff have plenty of cards to hand out when out and about this month.

OPERATIONS Approach your own business as an outsider. Hire a secret shopper or ask a friend or relative to call or visit your store and report back on how he is treated. You may be surprised.

DISPLAY Stock products that can do double-duty as Halloween and Thanksgiving items, such as pumpkins and scarecrows.

Oct. 13-19

MERCHANDISING Are your windows working effectively to support your sales? Here is a good rule of thumb: If your store gets foot traffic, use small props; if it gets drive-by traffic, oversized props and graphics work best.

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SOCIAL MEDIA Facebook doesn’t make it easy for business posts to be seen unless you pay its gatekeeping fee (meaning buy its ad services). You can, however, give your posts a boost by encouraging staff and customers to turn on the “See First” switch, which will put your posts at the top of the Newsfeed.

SALES Work on greetings with new AND old staff. Your welcome sets the base for the entire sales transaction. Keep it low-key and friendly, and try to avoid anything that elicits a conditioned or reflexive response, especially the dreaded “No, thanks. I’m just looking.”

Oct. 20-26

INFLUENCERS Invite some local bloggers to come in (with their pets) and check out your business. The influence of such people grows every year.

MARKETING Launch a holiday-specific email newsletter with specialized content and product offers. Prominently display “best sellers,” “our picks,” “top products” etc., to stimulate purchase and even gift ideas.

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Oct. 27-Nov. 2

MARKETING Don’t assume your expertise is self-evident. Get those grooming/training/nutrition certifications up on the wall, and on your website with a brief explanation on your About Us page about what it takes to attain them.

SECURITY Holiday season means more people in the store, more distraction, and more opportunities for thieves. Alert your staff to be on the lookout for pickpockets, distraction gangs and other shoplifters. Check security camera angles and function.

MARKETING Twitter’s search function along with free applications like TweetDeck can be great tools for market research and lead generation. Start monitoring your competitors’ brand names and hashtags to see what people are saying about them and you. Set keywords related to pet services in your market and don’t be afraid to follow up. (Unsolicited messages from strangers is a fact of life in the Twittersphere.)

Since launching in 2017, PETS+ has won 14 major international journalism awards for its publication and website. Contact PETS+'s editors at editor@petsplusmag.com.

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PETS+ Live with Candace D'Agnolo

Learn More About America's Coolest Store Winner, Bar K

Catch the replay of this PETS+ Live! Lunch & Learn webinar hosted by Candace D’Agnolo of Pet Boss Nation. This episode featured Candace on location at Bar K in Kansas City, MO. Find out how owners Leib Dodell and David Hensley implemented their idea for a dog park/restaurant/bar that owners enjoy as much as their pets do — and learn why the business took top honors in the 2019 PETS+ America’s Coolest Stores contest.

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Manager's To Do

To-Do Items to Make Your Holidays Smoother

and flu-free…

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Nov. 2-8

MANAGEMENT Novemberrrrrr! Winter is on the way and with it, flu season. If you don’t have an issue with vaccines, recommend staff members get a flu shot, on company time if need be.

OPERATIONS Study your parking lot. Many buying decisions are made before your customer sets foot inside, and your parking lot is often the first impression a visitor will get. Is your lot clean? Are store signs clearly visible from the parking lot? Does your staff snag the best spots? Take action where necessary.

Nov. 9-15

INVENTORY Run through your orders and stay on top of your vendors. Timely delivery is critical now. You don’t want those Santa plush toys arriving Christmas week.

MARKETING Keep posting your end-of-year event schedule on your social media outlets — email and mailed invites can go astray.

MANAGEMENT You and your staff should start soon on your own holiday shopping to get it out of the way. Have business cards for your store handy so you can hand them out to the people you meet.

Nov. 16-22

STAFF In honor of National Pet Adoption Day (Nov. 17), reach out to local rescues to identify one particular animal in need of a home and make that the focus of a special Thanksgiving-related effort. It’s the kind of thing that infuses your team with the right festive spirit to help them get through the holiday grind.

IN-STORE Start feeding holiday songs into the store lineup. At first, aim for every fourth song, and then over the next six weeks slowly increase the rotation.

MANAGEMENT Start a store tradition to let people know the holiday season is here. It could be a special red bowtie for your store mascot (nothing’s cuter than a Bulldog in formal attire).

MARKETING With only a little over four weeks to go until Christmas, step up your email campaigns to twice per week, scheduling campaigns on Thursdays or Fridays to stimulate purchases on the weekend, when conversion rates typically peak.

Nov. 23-29

OPERATIONS Update your local pages on Google, Facebook and elsewhere to ensure they reflect any longer store hours or special services over the holiday season. Add terms such as “holiday hours” and “holiday sales” to your meta descriptions to give your web pages a better chance of ranking above those of the competition and drawing a click.

STORE Close the store early on Nov. 27, the day before Thanksgiving, for a decorating party. Order in some pizza and maybe a little wine, crank up the tunes (no Christmas carols) and make it fun.

STAFF Hold short staff meetings every day to keep everyone informed on your progress these holidays. Lay on some snacks, do what you can to boost morale and end the meetings on an upbeat note.

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November Events: Small Business Saturday, Black Friday, and, Oh Yeah, Thanksgiving

November is packed with exciting events!

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1 November is the month of modern diseases for pets, being both National Pet Diabetes Month and National Pet Cancer Awareness Month. It’s a good time to remind your customers of the signs to look out for and the importance of early detection, as well as preventatives available through pet pros. Both campaigns (usa.petdiabetesmonth.com and petcancerawareness.org) have resources you can share in your market.

19 Peter Drucker would be 110 today. He was one of the few management thinkers to talk almost unbroken good sense. Among his many contributions to the field, perhaps his most important, was his maxim that if you’re a manager, staying aware of what genuinely deserves your attention is the most crucial thing you can do. Mark his birthday by saying no to something that you feel is vaguely important, but you don’t have time for.

24 The quiz show TWENTY QUESTIONS made its debut on this day 70 years ago. Mark the occasion by coming up with 20 surefire questions to get your customers talking, other than “Nice day outside, huh?” They could range from general conversation potboilers and icebreakers like “What kind of pets do you own?” to the more engaging “Have you ever held a Burmese python? Let me show you!” Or promote a specific sale with “How would you like to be your dog’s favorite parent for under $20?”

24 Do you have a special sales, social or management skill that sets you apart? (It could be remembering the names of customers’ pets, noticing staff haircuts, being able to identify a cat person from a dog person at 20 yards …) On Celebrate Your Unique Talent Day, highlight yours on social media, especially if it’s one that just might offer a solution to a customer problem.

28 President George Washington created Thanksgiving 230 years ago by presidential declaration, ordering America to take a day off to give thanks for its many blessings. To get in the spirit of Thanksgiving and gratitude, send a goodie bag of chews to your best 50 customers. It’s likely they provide an outsized contribution to your success.

29 Since at least the Great Depression, it’s been a given: You go shopping the day after Thanksgiving, you get a good deal — it’s Black Friday. While you don’t want to compete with the big chains with their doorbusters, tip your hat to this traditional start of the holiday shopping season with a few specials on popular items displayed on your homepage or just inside your doors.

30 Small Business Saturday is your chance to show off your independent spirit and personality. Dog Krazy in Virginia did that with a comic sketch uploaded to YouTube starring their customers’ pets. “My attorney’s dog, who is my biggest shoplifter,” had a central role stealing a chew, recalls owner Nancy Guinn. The video then panned to the store vet, who says the cure for unhappy dogs is shopping at Dog Krazy, and a photo of employees with their pets. Can you come up with something similarly bold to remind your market that a corporate organization will never be able to match the ethos of an indie?

30 A lot of things dog lover and Bulldog impersonator Winston Churchill is famously quoted as saying he never did (not “Never, never, never give up,” not “Smoking cigars is like falling in love”…). But on the anniversary of his birth in 1874, look into the mirror and recite his pledge on becoming British prime minister in 1940: “I have nothing to offer but blood, toil, tears and sweat.” It will put you in the right frame of mind as you lead your team into one of their busiest times of the year.

MORE EVENTS

Nov. 1 is National Cook for Your Pets Day … Got favorite recipes to share?
Nov. 4 Daylight Saving Ends … You know the drill: Spring forward, fall back into an extra hour of glorious, most likely needed, sleep.
National Pet Awareness Month
Nov. 11 Veterans Day … Offer a discount for a vet with a pet.
Nov. 17 National Adoption Day … See our Manager’s To-Do list, page 20.
Nov. 22 Humane Society Anniversary Day … Add a link or set up a box on your counter to support its donation drive.

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Black Cat Day, Pet Obesity Awareness Day, Black Dog Day … And Other October Events

Celebrate these October dates with your pets!

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01 Winston Churchill may have forever associated black dogs with dark moods, but the truth is the joy and loyalty they give owners is no less or more than any other dog, although they are less likely to be adopted. Help change that by sharing the message that they need a home, too, via #NationalBlackDogDay on your social media channels.

01 One in five Americans claims German heritage, making the country the leading ancestral background of U.S. citizens. Germany is also the origin of several popular dog breeds: German Shepherds, Rottweilers, Pomeranians, Schnauzers, Dachshunds, Dobermans. And let’s not overlook the debt we owe German immigrants for bringing some of the world’s best beer and sausages to our shores. What’s it all add up to? Oktoberfest. Strike up the Oompah band!

01  Research by the Carnegie Institute of Technology has estimated that 85 percent of an individual’s financial success can be attributable to “human engineering skills” — that is personality and ability to communicate, negotiate and lead. In short, success is much more about EQ than IQ. During EMOTIONAL INTELLIGENCE AWARENESS MONTH, ask yourself what you can do to improve your ability to make others feel valued and understood.

10  According to the Association for Pet Obesity Prevention, 60 percent of the cats and 56 percent of the dogs in America are overweight, raising the risk of conditions from arthritis to heart failure. Use PET OBESITY AWARENESS DAY to inform your customers about the dangers, and what you can do to help through nutritious food offerings, advice and the services you offer.

13 It’s Getting the World to Beat a Path to Your Door Week. Often attributed to Ralph Waldo Emerson, his actual phrase was: “If a man has good corn, or wood, or boards, or pigs, to sell … you will find a broad hard-beaten road to his house.” The snappier version was coined by a New York ad man. The lesson? Innovation and marketing are the two main ways to grow a business. Concentrate on better words.

16 October is clearly furball month. Today is FERAL CAT DAY. The 27th is BLACK CAT DAY. And then the 29th is the biggest of them all: CAT DAY. The common theme among them all is to celebrate the special bonds cats have with humans. Get involved.

29 Think the internet is a fairly recent invention? It turns 50 today. Yes, 5-0. It’s middle aged, and bloated with too much information and the odd chronic virus, but unlike the rest of us, it gets better every year. If your online presence is little more than an electronic brochure for your business, sit down today and map out a more aggressive online strategy. The future is not waiting for you.

31 Trick or Treat? It’s Halloween, probably the single best national holiday for exploring the goofiness in your customers’ relationships with their pets. Invite customers to dress up their dogs and cats for a baked treat and to get their picture taken for a Howloween costume contest on your Instagram or Twitter feeds.

MORE EVENTS

Oct. 1 National Pet Wellness Month … Kick it off by attending the PETS+ Wellness Summit: petsplusmag.com/summit
Oct. 1-7 National Walk Your Dog Week … See our reference to pet obesity above.
Oct.1 National Work and Family Month … It’s a U.S. senate resolution, no less. Get your work and family life in balance
Oct. 6-12 Fire Prevention Week … This year’s theme is fire escape plans. You have one, right?
Oct. 21 Reptile Awareness Day … A day for education, conservation and appreciation.

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