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Get That Dog Outta Here Right Now

To the customer who comes in with her dog…

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“Get that dog outta here right now!”

… to the customer who comes in with her dog and says, “My dog is covered in fleas. What do I do?”

Pet Peeves are contributed by members of the Brain Squad and featured anonymously 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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Pet Sustainability Coalition

Pet Sustainability Coalition Presents: Critical Sustainability Strategies for Retailers

This webinar, held on November 7, 2019, is the second in a series from PSC discussing how retailers can establish sustainable practices in their business. Moderated by PSC’s Andrea Czobor, the webinar unveils data behind the increasing consumer demand for sustainable products, what retailers have to gain from connecting with these purpose driven consumers, and a new PSC program that makes finding these products easier for retailers.

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Set Yourself Up for Success with the Right Grooming Policies and Procedures

First, set customer policies and procedures.

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KEEPING CURRENT CUSTOMERS and gaining new customers can be a challenge for any business, especially with a service like pet grooming. Having set customer policies and procedures is the first step to success. There are several key areas that you will want to include in your policies and procedures, and this guide will help you develop your own to be successful.

General Information

This section should cover general details about your business, such as hours of operation, how to book appointments, no-show or late-arrival policies, types of payments you honor and even where the owner can walk their dog prior to appointment time. It can also cover frequently asked questions like: Do you offer online scheduling? Do you allow text or Facebook messages for booking? and What is your cancellation policy? Have each client read, sign and date your forms and provide each with a signed copy for their records. Since you and the client will be keeping a copy of this document, I find it to be a great place to record the client’s personal information. In addition to their name, address and phone number, it is very important to get an emergency contact phone number. I have had several instances where the pet parent did not pick up the pet on time, and after repeated attempts to contact, it was shop closing time. Having the emergency contact pick up the dog worked in several of those instances.

Grooming Procedures and Release Forms

This section should focus on the actual grooming of the pet. Many customers don’t understand the grooming process, so outline your grooming routine for them to better understand. If you require a senior pet release, matted pet release or flea/tick treatment form this is where you can list details about those releases. Mention the type of service you provide. For example, if you offer one-on-one appointments or drop-off windows with release-time windows, it is important to have detailed instructions in this area so there is never confusion on the pickup time and process. One great idea is to have the client bring in pictures of their pet in the trim they like, or pictures from online sources. I would attach these pictures to their agreement and use them as a reference point to start creating the trim they like. Over time, I would add photos of the dog in the trim I did.

Prices and Quotes

I always receive inquiries for the cost of my services, so it is important to include a section of your policies dedicated to pricing. It is better for you not to include exact pricing and instead include a starting price for each service a customer can expect to pay. Leaving this window open allows for cost adjustments if there is added time and work that needs to be reflected in the cost. Additionally, it is beneficial to explain in your policy that the base price is dependent upon correct size according to breed standard, coat condition, if groomed on a regular schedule and grooming temperament.

While there are many other items you can include in your policies and procedures, you can use this guide to get started and tailor to your specific business needs. Being transparent from the get-go sets the tone about how you do business and ensures your customers are on the same page. Always keep your policies and procedures on your website and social media sites. My last piece of advice is to conduct a yearly review of your policies and procedures and adjust if anything has changed.

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Learn Which Numbers to Follow 
on Your Google Business Listing

A number tracked is a number improved.

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A PET STORE’S GOOGLE Business listing has become one of the most critical components of a strong brand presence online. Having an active and optimized listing helps pet parents discover, engage with and shop at your store. As pet business owners know, a number tracked is a number improved. So, which metrics should you be tracking on your Google Business listing?

Metrics to Track Success

Customer actions are the primary indicator of your listing’s online success. These actions are broken down into four main components: clicks for directions to your store, clicks to your website, calls to your store and inbound messages. You can dig further into these numbers and see things like where people are requesting directions from, or which day of the week gets the most phone calls.

The second major metric to track is customer views. Views are broken down into two categories: Maps and Search. Maps view tracks how many users find your business on Google Maps, and Search tracks how many discover you on a standard Google search. More and more customers are discovering businesses via Maps on their smartphones.

The final metric to track is customer reviews. Reviews are trusted almost as much as a personal referral these days, and not having a strong base of positive customer testimonials is a glaring weakness in a business’s digital presence.

How to Start Tracking

The best way to identify and analyze the data you’re looking for is under the ‘Insights’ tab of your Google Business listing. From there, you can set the time period (one week, one month or one quarter) and find the above metrics displayed as graphs, charts and tables.

Create an Excel sheet and begin recording the data for the above metrics every month. You can sign up for a monthly email from Google that will provide these Insights for you if you need a reminder.

How to Improve Your Metrics

As a pet business, improving your visibility online will bring in new customers. You can gain visibility and increase customer actions by posting engaging content and photos regularly on your business listing (promotions, events, updates, coupons, etc.). Businesses with recent photos typically receive more customer actions.

To further improve your customer views and actions, ensure that your listing is optimized and up to date. The physical address, phone number, website and hours are all pieces of your listing that need to be in order.

Finally, ask your customers to provide reviews on your business listing via social media, email or in store. Gaining positive reviews will increase your business’s activity in Google’s eyes, increasing your visibility, in addition to building credibility and trustworthiness. It’s important that you respond to every review, positive or negative, to maintain this activity and credibility.

In order to understand the story of what’s happening in your Google listing, you need data, the lifeblood of strong marketing. Start tracking your listing’s metrics this month and build the positive habits to improve them.

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Candace D'Agnolo

3 Key Mindset Shifts to Prepare For and Buy at Trade Shows

It all starts by looking at your inventory.

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WHETHER YOU’RE GOING to Global Pet Expo this month or another buying show this year, in this article I’m going to help you “work it” on the trade show floor, and it all starts by looking at your inventory.

Your store is not a museum. You must move merchandise before it celebrates a birthday with you. But I know you hate giving discounts and don’t want to train your customers to buy only when you’re running a sale, so let’s untrain that motivator for them by having lots of great merchandise they do want to buy at full price!

Bring in the Independent Brands

So many retailers like to get all or most of their products from distributors because it’s easier … fewer invoices to reconcile, fewer mess-ups to handle, fewer people to have to talk to. However, what happens is you start to look like every other store in town and like the big boxes, too. It’s OK to have some items that are your “eggs, bread and milk”-type best-selling basics, but the majority of your items should make you look and feel unique. You opened a retail store. Part of being in retail is hunting for products that your customers will think are fresh and new. Stop waiting for the next best thing to be pitched to you by a sales rep or an email, and go discover what you know your customers will love. And remember, it’s OK if they don’t have a distributor.

Every Item Has to Pull Its Weight

Will it compete with another product on your shelf? Will it cause you to be over assorted in that category? Will it move out fast or slow? Does it require lots of explanation? All important questions to answer before you invest and place an order of new items. On the flip side, look at your current inventory: If an item or category isn’t selling through every 90-120 days, consider getting rid of it and trying something your customers will like better. Analyze this before you go to the show by paying close attention to what your customers have actually purchased in the past (not just told you they like), and buy more merchandise like that. Maybe you’ll find opportunities for things that flew out the door that could develop into larger or new sections in your shop.

Negotiate with Vendors

While you’re walking the miles of aisles, and looking at some of the show specials — which are definitely not as deep as they used to be — don’t pass up the opportunity to ask for additional discounts. This is the perfect time, when you are face-to-face with your vendors, to ask for better prices on their products — permanently.

So, make sure you’re talking with the right person, the one with the authority to give you improved pricing. Have margin goals for the department or store and negotiate with that goal in mind. Ask everyone. Make asking for discounted pricing part of your conversation with every vendor. Don’t assume some are too big, or too small, to negotiate with. You never know until you ask, and the worst they can do is say, “No.”

I’ve been in your shoes … no matter if you are just buying until your credit cards are maxed out, or if you’ve got your sales figures and vendor data at your fingertips. Both can make a show exciting, but it’s definitely more powerful when you can leverage what you learn, what you do and who you talk to at a show all year round.

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