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Give the Bad News First, Distribute Swag, Spill Your Coffee During an Interview and 5 More Ingenious Tips

And throw a party!

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TESTIMONIALS

Throw a Party

What month was your business born? Throw a birthday party, and ask your customers to bring “gifts” of testimonials that you can use in your marketing. Including such third-party recommendations on your website and in your ads is one of the best ways to convince others that your store is, indeed, the best place to shop, says Entrepreneur magazine’s Idea Site for Business.

AMIABILITYSmile Right

A smile originates in two places — the mouth and the eyes, says Paul Timm in “50 Powerful Ideas You Can Use to Keep Your Customers.” Give your customers a mouth-only version, and it looks like your smile was pasted on. It’s like saying “Cheese!” for a photographer. But your eyes are the true window to your soul. If you can’t muster a convincing smile, practice in front of a mirror until you get it right.

EMPLOYEESDistribute Swag

Next time you return from a trade show, give all your freebies and product samples away to staff members … with one caveat: They have to review the new products. “This shows that you value their opinion,” says Shawna Schuh, president of Women in the Pet Industry Newtork. It’s a win all around: “They get free products, and they also become experts featured at the store.”

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INTERVIEWSTime for Oops!

A good job interview idea from Selling Power magazine is to have a little accident. Tip over a trashcan or spill a cup of coffee on your desk. If the job candidate immediately leaps up to help … well, then they have cleared another hurdle in the interview process.

CREATIVITYOn a Roll? Take a Break Anyway

According to a Columbia University study, the key to taking breaks — meaning to maximize their impact on your creative thinking and to ensure you stay refreshed — is to stop even when you don’t feel like it. “Participants who didn’t step away from a task at regular intervals were more likely to write ‘new’ ideas that were very similar to the last one they had written,” the authors explained in Harvard Business Review. So, “if you’re hesitant to break away because you feel that you’re on a roll, be mindful that it might be a false impression.” The “break” in each case merely involved switching tasks. A change, it seems, really is as good as a rest — so long as you do it on schedule.

MARKETINGUse Sign Language

When you go to a trade show, you ask your vendors what’s new, right? Of course you do. Merchandising consultant Larry B. Johnson says the best way to draw customer interest from regular clients is to put a whiteboard on an easel (total cost: $79) just inside your door with all of your new products written on it.

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MANAGEMENTYes, They Want The Bad News First

When you’re delivering good news and bad news to employees, always give the bad news first, says Daniel Pink, author of When: The Scientific Secrets of Perfect Timing. Pink acknowledges that many bosses hope to cushion the bad stuff to come. “But that is wrong,” he explained to The Washington Post. “If you ask people what they prefer, four out of five prefer getting the bad news first. The reason has to do with endings. We prefer endings that go up, that have a rising sequence rather than a declining sequence.”

RECRUITINGAdjust Your Expectations

The strong economy, heightened competition for good employees, and societal changes mean the guidelines you used to hire may not be as useful as they once were, says Kate Peterson of consultancy Performance Concepts. “Employment history can’t be interpreted the way it used to be,” she says, noting that workers are much less likely to hold jobs for long periods of time. “Stop tossing applications because the candidate has had five jobs in the past 10 years. It’s the way of the world today.”

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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Tip Sheet

Tips to Get Your New Business Year on the Right Track

Anxious of public speaking? Practice with a canine.

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SPEAKINGAn Easy Audience

If giving a public speech makes you so nervous you can’t even do it in front of friends or family, you may want to try a dog. American University is trying such an approach to help anxiety-prone students. “Addressing a friendly and nonjudgmental canine can lower blood pressure, decrease stress and elevate mood — perfect for practicing your speech or team presentation,” says a brochure for the project. “It makes you smile looking out at the dogs,” one student told the New York Times.

ACTION Shout Out (Some of) Your Goals

You’ve probably heard advice that you should tell your friends your goals for the year, because such a declaration will motivate you to achieve them. But according to a recent study in the journal Psychological Science says “identity goals” are less likely to be achieved if made public. Tell everyone you’re committed to being a better boss, a great pet parent or a more active citizen, and you may slack off because your brain confuses telling people with taking action.

WANTS You Can’t Do It All

According to business writer Greg McKeown, questions such as, “How can I fit everything I want to do into my schedule?” are fundamentally dishonest. They’re based on the false premise that trade-offs are avoidable. The honest question, he says, is: “What is it I really want?” Knowing you can’t possibly have everything or get everything done spares you the anxiety of trying to figure out how you could.

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LIFE FUEL Rekindle the Joy

Do one thing every day that you loved as a kid. “This is usually the fuel that can power your life,” writes entrepreneur and business author James Altucher on his blog.

CHARITY Round Up

Want a way for your customers to leave your business feeling they’ve done some good? Take your lead from Urban Tails Pet Supply in Minneapolis, MN, and offer a register round-up. “Customers can round up to the nearest dollar, with the difference going to a (different local rescue every month),” explains manager Megan Trombley. “It has been really helping the animals in our community.”

ROUTINE The Golden Hour and a Half

Research shows that starting the day on a good note has an enormous positive effect on productivity. To actually get things done in the morning, “Four Hour” productivity guru Tim Ferriss suggests having the first 90 minutes of your workday vary as little as possible. “I think that a routine is necessary to feel in control and non-reactive, which reduces anxiety. It therefore also makes you more productive.”

JUDGMENT Time Decisions

Can’t make a decision? Use a timer, suggests Oliver Burkeman in his Guardian column on lifestyle optimization. For everyday matters, set it to allow yourself a few minutes for deliberation, and then, when your time is up, make a decision. “Often, what we think of as deliberation is really hours of indecision, followed by a snap judgment,” he notes.

ENCOURageMENT Wow, Wow, Wow

“Everybody likes a compliment,” Abraham Lincoln famously observed. But most humans are weirdly parsimonious about handing out kind words. To keep the good feelings flowing at New Jersey eyecare practice Focus Eye Care, management installed a “WOW Box” in the back office and encouraged staff to write something positive about another staff member that motivated them. “Often the notes contain funny messages and inside jokes that go over our heads, but the point is we enjoy it,” manager Vlad Cordero told PET+’s sister magazine,
INVISION.

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Tip Sheet

Prep a Flu Kit This Winter … and 8 More Tips to Make Your Holidays Smooth

It’s time to up your reading game.

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self enrichmentUp Your Reading Game

Want to read more? Try what serial entrepreneur, business author and general overachiever James Altucher does: Read about 30 pages of five books each day. Given the average American reads about 250 words a minute, or about a page a minute, that’s 2.3 hours. Don’t have that much time? How about 25 pages of three books? That’s little more time than it takes to watch an episode of the Kardashians.

EXPECTATIONSSet Clear Goals

According to a study cited in INC. magazine, 63 percent of employees reported that they wasted time at work because they weren’t aware of what work was a priority. As a leader, make sure staff knows what your key goals are heading into the holiday season: Is it to reach new customers, take really good care of your VIPs, hit aggressive new sales targets? No one should have any doubts.

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MOTIVATIONThe Power of Appreciation

Salespeople like performance-based pay incentives, but don’t overlook the power of appreciation, says Wharton professor Adam Grant. “Extrinsic motivators can stop having much meaning — your bonus gets spent, your raise in pay feels like your just due, your new title doesn’t sound so important once you have it,” he told The Wall Street Journal last year. “But the sense that other people appreciate what you do sticks with you.” So, give the people what they want, and what they want is compliments and pizza, he says.

HEALTHPrep a Flu Kit

Flu activity typically starts to pick up around now. This year, be prepared with a “wellness” box in the back of the store. The medicine kit at Toner Jewelers, an independent jeweler in Overland Park, KS, includes EmergenC, cough drops, vitamin C drops, pain medicine, alcohol wipes, Lysol and more. “Temperatures vary so much at this time of year that someone is always sick,” manager Alisha Moore told our sister magazine, INSTORE.

WISDOMDon’t Stop Moving

As one year ends, and you start to plan for the next, here’s an inspirational little nugget to consider from Will Rogers: “Even if you’re on the right track, you’ll get run over if you just sit there.”

MERCHANDISINGWe’re All Early Birds Now

With all the emphasis in recent years on Black Friday and Cyber Monday, consumers have learned that deals don’t get any better as the season progresses and the selection dwindles. What to do? Be ready for them now, says management consultant Kate Peterson of Performance Concepts, “with a system of refreshing bestsellers and calling attention to gift items through placement and signage.”

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PRODUCTIVITYPhysical Action Equals Results

You’ve got a thousand things to do at this time of year, but some just seem to elude completion. The problem could be that you’re not phrasing your tasks correctly, says productivity guru David Allen, author of Getting Things Done. A powerful anti-procrastination trick is to keep rephrasing a task until it involves the use of your limbs: “Pick up phone and call …,” “Open laptop and search for….”

MEETINGSMix It Up

Your sales meetings should be intensifying as you prepare for the holidays. Alexi Venneri, author of Balls: 6 Rules for Winning Today’s Business Game, suggests lightening the mood by having a bit of fun. For one meeting, you might ask staff members to bring in high-school yearbook photos. For another, bring in a guest speaker. Or have staff write down five or so of their favorite things … and let the others guess who created each list.

TIME OFFBreaking Good

Breaks are not a deviation from performance; they are part of performance, says Daniel Pink in When: The Scientific Secrets of Perfect Timing. “And the most restorative breaks are social rather than solo, outside not inside, moving instead of stationary, and fully detached rather than semi-detached.”

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Tip Sheet

8 Fresh-Off-the-Press Tips to Better Your Business

Aim for busy, not rushed.

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TIMEAim for Busy, Not Rushed

How should you strive to feel when working? Busy, but not rushed. Research undertaken by the University of Maryland found this is when people are happiest. And when you’re happiest — meaning engaged and in the flow as opposed to giddy with joy — you invariably do your best work. So, start creating realistic schedules, stop checking email every 15 minutes, take breaks to exercise and stop letting other people set your deadlines. (Yes, you could finish the job by tomorrow, but Friday is best for everyone.)

LANGUAGEWhich Means?

Two of the most powerful words you can add to any sales presentation are “which means …,” when delivered after a product feature has been identified. “You can add these words verbally, or you can add them silently, but this habit will bridge you into language the customer can see in their mind,” says Wizard of Ads Roy H. Williams in his weekly marketing column. A pet example? “This collar is embedded with a GPS tracking chip, which means you’ll always know where your dog is.”

Video: Bush Service Dog Honored with Life-Size Statue — Take a Look
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Video: Bush Service Dog Honored with Life-Size Statue — Take a Look

Video: Adorable Cat Melts Hearts By Trying on Eyewear for Children
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Video: Adorable Cat Melts Hearts By Trying on Eyewear for Children

Video: Cat Surprises Airport Security After Stowing Away in Family’s Luggage
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Video: Cat Surprises Airport Security After Stowing Away in Family’s Luggage

HOLIDAYSPersonalize Cards

If you’re sending holiday cards this year, do not send a greeting with nothing but your signature. Frankly, sending nothing works better, says Harry Beckwith, author of What Clients Love. Instead, write a short note — how about “Thinking about one of my favorite customers as the holidays approach …” or even “Happy, happy holidays to you”?

ADVERTISINGCheck for Success

If you’re a planning your holiday ad buy, Mary Gillen of IdeaSiteForBusiness.com suggests doing research first. If you’re considering a local publication, look at the other ads in the section where you may be placing your ads. Call the companies who are already advertising there to find out how their ads are performing.

CUSTOMER SERVICEGive It Away Good

If you’re going to give it away, give it away good. That, says Dianna Rae High, owner of Dianna Rae Jewelry, one of Lousiana’s top independent jewelry stores, is one of the most important customer service lessons she picked up during her career. That means if you are offering free nail-clippings with a dog wash, tell them you normally charge $15 for the service. Or if you have to replace a dog toy under warranty, don’t do it with a bad attitude and blame them for it. Treat the customer as if you had just made a sale.

STRATEGY“How” is the Enemy

Something all true entrepreneurs know: “How” is the enemy. “We always want to know how things will happen,” says Claudia Azula, a popular podcaster and co-author of the Power of No. “But ‘how’ is the enemy because it blocks the possibilities that open up when we are willing to not know. When you don’t know about tomorrow, all you can do is focus on doing your best today.” Stop thinking. Just go do it.

MANAGEMENTThe Decision Hour

Once a week, spend an hour making choices. A lot of things masquerading as “things you have to work on” are really decisions you need to make, notes Steve Chandler in his book Time Warrior. Many can be made instantly; the notion that you need to gather more information is often merely avoidance. Make it a game: Challenge yourself to make as many decisions as you can in an hour, and see how many items you can nuke from your list. It’s weirdly energizing, he says.

MEMORIALSAt the End of the Rainbow

The end of year is a time to restock, revisit and remember, especially those no longer with us. Treats Unleashed in Saint Louis, MO, underscores the fact that its relationship with customers isn’t purely a commercial arrangement with a tribute to departed pets. “At the end of every year, we ask our customers to share a photo and a memory of their pets who have crossed over the Rainbow Bridge with us. We save all the photos and create a memorial tribute slideshow,” explains owner Teresa Miller.

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