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Manager's To Do

Incentivize Customer Referrals and More To-Dos for February

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Jan. 29-Feb. 3

MARKETING Most people do not think of their pets when it comes time for Valentine’s Day shopping. Your job is to convince them otherwise. Send three or four bulletins over the next two weeks and keep your social media feed filled with pictures of animals with roses and hearts.

STRATEGY Embark on a strategic review. Look at what your competitors are doing and learn from them. Visit their stores and websites, subscribe to their newsletters, and have a staff member save their ads in a scrapbook. This will keep you up to date on trends, where your market is moving, and what others are advertising, discounting and featuring.  You’ll know where to compete and how to differentiate your business.

Feb. 5-10

ONLINE Call a friend, and tell her to go to your website and see how quickly she can find your business hours and contact info. Less than 10 seconds? Awesome. Twenty seconds? Not bad, but could be better. Thirty seconds or more? Change your design so these details are super-easy to find.

MANAGEMENT There’s no one right way to arrange the information on a profit-and-loss statement. If you can’t understand yours, ask your accountant to arrange the information so you can tell instantly what went right (or wrong) the previous month.

Feb. 12-17

MARKETING Email reminder: “Two days left ’til Valentine’s Day!” And list five gift ideas.

MERCHANDISING Schedule a meeting with staff to discuss merchandising. Brainstorm buying strategies that will enable you to achieve your 2018 goals: Do you want to attract more millennials? Expand your natural product section?

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TECHNOLOGY Google your business name. If your website appears “below the fold” (where people have to scroll down to see it), you’ve got work to do. First up, join the conversation: Reply to any review posts on Yelp or Yahoo. 

Feb. 19- 24

FINANCE Check with your bank to see if it offers payroll assistance. Many now provide a service that allows you to log onto their site and enter your workers’ hours. The bank then makes direct deposits and pays your federal and state withholding taxes.

STAFF Ask staff to write an answer to these questions: “Why do you get up in the morning?” and “Why should our customers care?” You may just find a new mission statement in those answers.

MARKETING Work on a referral system to reward clients that refer friends. Maybe a bonus of a $20 credit for products or services to every client who refers someone.

Feb. 26-March 3

STAFF Do you have guidelines for handling complaints? If not, get busy. As much as possible, empower your team to make decisions without you.

FINANCES Do a manual backup of all your customer and financial records and store it offsite. Your system should be doing this automatically — it’s always good to check occasionally — but in case of a catastrophe, it’s vital you have a record to start rebuilding.

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This article originally appeared in the February 2018 edition of PETS+.

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June Marks National Microchip, Pet Preparedness and Wash Your Dog Month

…and many more June events!

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01 Sales of audiobooks have surged over the last 15 years, as smartphones made downloads as easy as a tap of the finger. During Audiobook Appreciation Month, do a Google search for “bestselling business audiobooks” and catch up on some of the great management advice that’s been published in the last few years. Best of all, there’s no actual reading required. You can finish the book while commuting to work, working out at the gym or walking your clients’ dogs.

15 Psychologist Steven Smith, one of the leaders in the study of skill accumulation, has noted that few people can juggle six tea cups, but that anyone could actually learn to do it if they had the inclination and some training. Remember, though: You can do anything, but not everything. On World Juggling Day,, choose one thing you really want to achieve this week.

16 It’s Father’s Day,, and all over America, fathers are practicing that look of thrilled surprise — that one dear old Dad always manages after receiving his third cigar cutter. This year, encourage your customers to organize a gift from Max or Bella. Gift cards, possibly illustrated with an image of said pet, always go down well. Dad’s an unfailingly practical person at heart. He’s sure to get a kick out of coming in to pick up a top-of-the line pooper scooper.

17 There was a time that the workplace was no place for pets. Not so in your business, of course, but help spread the love with promotions of Take Your Cat to Work Day,, which kicks off the annual Take Your Pet to Work Week,, and culminates with Take Your Dog To Work Day, on June 21. Find out more here: petsit.com/takeyourcat.

19 Dogs with faces only their owners could love gather at the Sonoma-Marin Fair for the World’s Ugliest Dog contest today. Hold a similar competition in your store.

21 Ask any Washington insider and they’ll say that the best way to start a campaign is with a solid base of fear. When it comes to the sunny months ahead — summer, officially begins today — there’s plenty to be scared about for pet owners: ticks, snakes, heatstroke, bad human food at barbecues, hot asphalt … the list goes on. Sharpen your shears, prep your anti-tick inventory, get out in your community, work the press.

21 What was once considered a petty self-indulgence is now viewed as a powerful marketing tool. Ahead of NATIONAL SELFIE DAY,, draw up a strategy to get your customers to take more photos of themselves and their pets with a mention of your business. The ultimate goal is to get them post the images on their Facebook, Instagram or Twitter.

27 “Happy Birthday To You” turns 160. Offer to send a singing telegram to any pet owner who shares a birthday with the world’s most sung song.

MORE EVENTS

June is National Pet Preparedness Month — It’s that time of the year when nature turns capricious. Remind customers to include their pets in the emergency planning.
June is National Wash Your Dog Month … Celebrate with a coupon. First bath free.
June 11 World Pet Memorial Day. Urns, stuffed animals, jewelry, picture books … the “over the rainbow bridge” segment is growing fast.
June 18 Clean Your Aquarium Day — Offer a DIY service.
June 20 Productivity Day … sponsored by Steel Horse Coffee. We’d have to agree, a good work routine starts with a cup of Joe.

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Manager's To Do

In June, Begin Planning for the Second Half of the Year

Maybe start it with a marketing question.

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June 2-8

MARKETING Start your planning for the second half of the year by asking yourself what one advertisement or promotion in your recent history elicited the biggest response. Just because a $10 coupon was hugely successful three years ago doesn’t mean you can’t do it again.

INSPIRATION Ask your staff to write down the top 10 reasons that people should do business with your store. Discuss this feedback at a staff meeting.

EVENTS In a lifestyle center, strip mall or downtown location? Take the lead in organizing a community block party. Loads of fun and a great crowd generator.

June 9-15

MANAGEMENT The Small Business Administration makes available a helpful guide to minimize risk. Find it here petsplusmag.com/6191, and then create your risk-management plan.

ONLINE If you don’t know how visitors are interacting with your website or where they are coming from, it’s hard to devise an effective online strategy. Google Analytics is free and easy: There is a great tutorial on the Google site and a bunch of YouTube how-to videos that can help you understand how to use it. Make mastery of Analytics a summer priority!

PERSONAL Shake up your routine. With pen and paper, write a thank-you note to someone who’s influenced you in your career. Don’t forget to mail it.

June 16-22

STORE Update your in-store video loop. For a change, forget the promotional videos and run something that’s got nothing to do with selling at all, but that is a good fit with the summer holidays — Coco, The Lion King, Piper, Finding Dory, Madagascar, there’s no shortage of fun, animal-themed productions.

OPERATIONS What’s your pre-opening drill? If it’s “All hands to the pump!” you may want to try something more systematic. Many retailers use a 10-point checklist to make sure that all the important things are taken care of before they open the doors.

WEBSITE What hours are you open? What pet food brands do you carry? Think of the top 10 reasons people call you and then get the information up on your website in the form of an easy-to-find FAQ page.

June 23-29

evenOFFICE WORK The phone slows over summer. It’s time to do some housekeeping: Organize all the paperwork and procedural stuff that gets put aside, such as updating the customer data with new phone numbers and email addresses, reading the POS manual and so on.

STAFF Hold an “Assistant for a Day” contest this month. Award points for each positive action you determine — e.g. one point for each pet name remembered, 10 points for an outreach exercise that results in a new customer coming in, 1 point for asking for an add-on sale, 10 points for completing it. At the end of the month, tally up the points for each staff member. The winner gets you as their “Assistant for a Day.” You make them coffee, clean up their workspace, wash their car, whatever your “boss” wants.

MANAGEMENT Start meeting with staff at least monthly to share three “good things” to build on and three “development areas.”

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What’s on Your Agenda for National Pet Month? Our Calendar Gives Some Ideas

There’s plenty to do in May!

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1 NATIONAL PET MONTH is your turn in the spotlight. The month typically features a string of charity events, corporate campaigns and media attention. (Brace for stories like “Top 5 pet movies of all time” and “What your pet is actually thinking.”) The campaign’s stated aims are to promote the benefits of pet ownership, support adoptions and increase public awareness of the services available from professionals who work with animals. Hey, that’s you! Get involved.

1 Every year, an estimated 20 percent of the population moves. That’s great news for pet pros because many of those people will be looking for service providers in their new communities. During NATIONAL MOVING MONTH, partner up with a real estate agent to put together a greeting package that includes a welcome note, a gift certificate and a flier outlining your services.

3 What was once known as Disabled Pets Day has evolved to become NATIONAL SPECIALLY ABLED PETS DAY, to highlight the superpowers these animals often have, like the extremely developed senses of smell, hearing and touch that vision-impaired pets have or the way hearing-impaired dogs can respond to sign language. Not only do these pets, once considered unadoptable, make great companions, they also need special products like slings, ramps and supplements. We see a specially abled opportunity. Explore!

5 Hola amigos, it’s CINCO DE MAYO, everybody’s favorite Mexican holiday. Join in the fun and invite owners of Chamucos, Chihuahuas, Xolos and any other Mexican breeds to come in for a special event. Lay on some margaritas and crunchy mini tacos, and maybe bring in a trainer to test their Spanish. Siéntate (Sit). Trae (Fetch). Everyone wants to show off a bilingual dog!

6 Which are healthier — purebreds or mutts? It’s one of the great debates among dog lovers and pet professionals. The great thing about May is that you don’t really have to reveal your preference — you can hold promotions to celebrate both kinds: May 1 is NATIONAL PUREBRED DOG DAY and May 6 is MAYDAY FOR MUTTS.

7 PUPPY MILL ACTION WEEK, organized by The Humane Society of the United States, seeks to raise awareness about the cruelty and health risks posed by unscrupulous commercial breeding. It’s also your opportunity to make a clear public stand on mills by taking the pledge to become a “puppy friendly” business. The society offers to help stores transitioning away from the sale of puppies here: (petsplusmag.com/5191.)

12 The BIRTHDATE OF THE BUDDHA is a perfect time for reflection on one of his important lessons: Focus on what’s important and on what works, and let go of the rest. This applies to advice offered by mentors and staff, the work practices you use now and what you read in PETS+. Invite input, keep an open mind and act to declutter.

12 You don’t want to get between a grizzly and her cub, or even a mother Bichon Frise and her litter, for that matter. On MOTHER’S DAY, get similarly aggressive in your market. Roll out a promotion targeting Pet Moms. Gifts from pet to parent are an admittedly small but growing category.

MORE EVENTS

May is Chip Your Pet Month. Be sure customers can locate their pets.
May is Go Fetch! National Food Drive for Homeless Animals Month.
May is National Service Animal Eye Examination Month. Encourage checkups. Visual health can be an early indicator of a host of complaints.
May is Lyme Disease Awareness Month. It’s hard to detect and debilitating. Send prevention guidelines to all of your customers.
May 7-13: Be Kind to Animals Week. Who would be otherwise?
May 12: National Animal Disaster Preparedness Day. Role-play to ensure you’re ready for the big one.

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