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Candace D'Agnolo

Harness Data to Earn Repeat Sales

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Whether it’s shopping malls and big-box stores or Amazon and Chewy.com, it’s easy for an independent retailer to feel threatened or even defeated by the competition. Brick and mortar has weathered a lot in the past decade. In addition to competition, social media marketing, influencers, online reviews, subscription boxes and delivery on demand all make it challenging to own a physical business.

But I believe — I know — the outlook for retail stores is bright, especially for retailers who are consistent and data-driven! Here are three solutions to get you on the right track to collecting and using data to your advantage.

Solution 1: Have the Right Software

More than ever, it’s easy to improve your ability to connect with customers and to influence them. To do that, you need a good CRM (Customer Relationship Management) system like Mail Chimp, Constant Contact or Active Campaign. CRMs capture their information and allow you to engage them in a digital marketing.

Retailers are also testing out text-messaging with select customers by using eztexting.com or Skipio. Last, you need a modern, cloud-based POS (point-of-sale) system that’s user-friendly and mobile, like Springboard Retail or Lightspeed.

Solution 2: Collect the Data

As uncomfortable as it is, you must ask for it. Ask for it! Often, retailers feel reticent to request personal information. It can feel uncomfortable, and many sales associates will just skip the process at the register out of fear. But the reality is that utilizing the information correctly can provide a more valuable, relevant and enjoyable experience for your customer.

Ask for all the key data sources like email, phone number, address, ZIP code, dog breed, dog size, favorite place to be with their dog (or something fun that allows you to get to know them better). Then one of the most critical aspects of all of this is actually assigning a customer’s name to each and every purchase. Seventy-nine percent of customers want retailers to send them personalized offers based on purchase history, and the only way to do that is by tracking their actions and behaviors with your business.

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Solution 3: Analyze the Data & Take Action

No matter how much you collect, data is meaningless without analysis. There are a variety of reports you can pull, and I recommend you look at it from two perspectives: First are the reports that show KPIs (key performance indicators) like sales reports, average sale by employee, inventory levels, best and worst vendor and products, busy times, etc. Second, you can pull reports about your customers … top customers (for a specific department, for a given time period, based on sales volume or frequency). You can even monitor when people stop shopping so you can re-engage them.

Tracking customer data will help you make decisions about the inventory you carry, what type of marketing you should do, promotions, and the types of events you should hold. Export this data from your system and target customers with specific ads on Facebook, like ads for upcoming events, sales or new product announcements. Or, shoot, even pick up the phone to just say thank you!

The Harvard Business Review says that “Increasing your customer retention rate by 5 percent can increase your profitability by 25 to 95 percent.” Wow! I like those odds! The best way to engage your customers is to make gathering information from them easy, being consistent in collecting information and engaging them on a customized level, to build brand loyalty and create experiences they love.

Candace D’Agnolo owns successful pet business Dogaholics and offers business consulting at Pet Boss Nation. For help creating a customized 90-day plan to tackle all your business goals, download a free worksheet, at petbossnation.com/petsplus. Contact her at hello@petbossnation.com.

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

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JIM ACKERMAN

How to Make Your Advertising More Effective Over Time

Pet-business owners use lots of different methods for marketing and advertising, from direct mail to social media. But they often miss a crucial step, says marketing specialist Jim Ackerman. Very few businesses properly test and track their efforts. Jim explains that carefully monitoring your ads, and adjusting them accordingly, can dramatically improve your results.

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Candace D'Agnolo

10 Ways to Prevent New Hires from ‘Ghosting’ You

Here are some strategies to help you find the love of a true teammate.

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ONE OF THE MAJOR challenges facing pet businesses is finding people to a) apply, b) show up for interviews and c) to get through training. “Ghosting” isn’t just a term used in dating when someone stops communicating with you. Job applicants and new hires just disappearing has become a big headache. Here are some strategies to help you find the love of a true teammate.

1. Keep your ears open for people you encounter and enjoy engaging with when you’re out and about. Say something like, “You’re so great at your job! I wish I had a team member like you.” You’ll find out if they are either perfectly happy where they are or are ready for a change. Maybe they feel underappreciated, or they are looking for extra work.

2. In your job posting, share what you can do for them. Of course, list job requirements, but to attract highly interested applicants, share more about why they would want to work for you. Share that the team can bring their pets to work, they can get discounts, or perhaps you have additional perks.

3. Don’t be so picky when sifting through initial applications. If you spot two or three things that stand out about the person, reach out. You can always train skills.

4. Pick up the phone. Call an applicant out of the blue. See how they handle the conversation. Keep the conversation light. Say that you received their application and would like to know why they applied. If you like what you hear, keep the conversation going. If you have to leave a message, tell them to call you back. If they don’t, toss the application.

5. While on the phone, explain that the first step of your interview process is for them to record a 3-minute video on their phone and send it to you. In this video, they need to state their name, share the best quality they would bring to your business and then tell how they can make an impact with that skill if they were hired. Give them 24 hours to text or email it to you. This puts the ball in their court and requires them to meet a deadline.

6. Toss them some easy projects. If it’s a sales associate position, have them work a sample table in your store for an hour. Give them some basic guidelines and then see how they interact with customers and whether they can get across the important things you wanted them to. Observing them in action tells you more than a sit-down interview.

7. Pressed to hire multiple people at once? Host an “Open Interview Day.” This is a great way to quickly go through applications while meeting people face-to-face, have a quick conversation and then move them onto a project like picking something from the store, doing some quick research on the product and then selling it to you. There’s lots of ways to run group interviews, and it all depends on the position you’re trying to fill.

8. Offer promising candidates the opportunity to work for a trial period. At our doggy daycare, we’ll bring in two to four potential dog handlers at different times throughout the week. This allows all team members to work with them and assess which person will be the best fit. Give the applicant a few core things they need to do, provide them with the opportunity to ask questions, and experience their work ethic and abilities before committing to a formal offer.

9. When you’re ready to make an offer, or just shortly after, make sure to communicate your vision one-on-one with them. Share the back story of your company and the direction you want to take the business. This will help connect the applicant to your business and may strengthen their commitment to you.

10. Always keep applications flowing in. Even when you’ve done an interview, and the person is in their training phase, still keep talking to potential hires on the phone and having them send in their video messages. This will give you some backup options in case your current trainee doesn’t work out as planned.

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Candace D'Agnolo

How Pet Businesses Can Profit From Facebook Live

In 60 minutes or less, you could make as much as you do during an entire business day.

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PET RETAILERS AND MANUFACTURERS all over the country are making big bucks by going live and hosting what I like to call a virtual “Paw Party.”

A “Paw Party” is when you jump on a Facebook Live, have fun with your audience and sell stuff! In 60 minutes or less, you could make as much as you do during an entire business day. Seriously. My clients are seeing crazy results, and I want you to get a piece of the action.

How to Do It

Pick a date and time for your Paw Party. Tell your audience in advance, and do it at a time that you think the most people will show up (maybe at 7 or 8 on a weeknight). You’ll want assistance from two people. One can be helping with the camera and review comments on the video as they are coming in. And the other can help prepare product and be your assistant show host.

The merchandise you feature should have a number written on a card assigned to it. When you show the product to the audience, describe it, share the hashtag and tell the price. To increase the desire for the item, you can offer a limited-time discount or have a limited quantity to sell. If a viewer is interested, they type sold and the hashtag in the comments. There are a variety of ways you can accept payment, so come up with the way that will work the easiest for potential buyers and is something you can easily handle — phone call, website, PayPal, in-store, etc.

How to Make It Interesting

Treat it like a party you’d be hosting or would want to go to. Pick a theme based on the season or an upcoming holiday. Wear festive clothing or have an interesting backdrop to create a great visual. Make it BYOB … Bring Your Own Beverage. You could be toasting the viewers and chatting with them about what they chose to bring to the viewing party.

All great parties have games! Utilize a prize wheel (see Pet Pro Gear on page 23), numbered boxes, a dry-erase board, Post-It notes on a wall — really anything you can think of to help create a game of chance that can hold either a number or the name of a prize. Encourage your viewers when it’s time to play the game to participate with you in the comments of your post. Believe it or not, viewers love this! Have fun with your viewers, engage with them and keep your energy up.

How to Make It Profitable

Sell merchandise that you no longer want to carry. Maybe it’s older than six months. (Yes, you should mark it down and move it out if you’ve had it longer than six months!) While selling something at a discount doesn’t seem profitable, goods that are just sitting on your shelves like they are in a museum will serve you better to take what you can get and replace them with something that your customers want to buy. You’ll be surprised that what they won’t buy in store, they will buy on a live video sale. Why do you think the Home Shopping Network is so successful?

Are the wheels already turning? Here are two examples for inspiration: petsplusmag.com/5193, petsplusmag.com/5194.

Grab your smartphone, head to Facebook or Instagram, and hit that “go live” button! Don’t overthink this! Just hit the button, look at the camera and be your wonderful self. This isn’t about perfection, it’s about taking action! We’re all rooting for you and can’t wait to come to your party!

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Candace D'Agnolo

Free Business Tools for Marketing, Growth & Team!

3 apps this writer’s business can’t live without.

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AS A BUSINESS OWNER, it can be so overwhelming to find the proper software, websites or apps to use in your business for some of the most basic tasks. There’s a lot of trial and error involved. They’re time-consuming to set up, and then you find out you dislike the program, or it isn’t working for you. Why even bother, right?!

Elsewhere in this issue (“An App for That,” page 31), readers have suggested their favorite business apps, and here, I share three of my favorites, two of which are shared by readers. These are proven apps that have been highly beneficial in my business for digital marketing, organization and scheduling. I hope you will find them as useful as I do!

Linktr.ee for Instagram

If you use Instagram, you know that you can’t hyperlink to anything in your posts, and you only have one space to put a clickable URL in your profile. This is why you often see, or perhaps write yourself, “Link in Bio,” and then you have to constantly change the link. As time passes on, so does your post, but the link never gets updated because you forget.

Linktr.ee gives you one URL to put in your bio, but you can connect an unlimited amount of destinations to your Linktr.ee URL. There are free and paid versions, allowing for branding, email capture and more. Send your followers anywhere: articles, web store, events, socials and more. Only your custom Linktree URL stays within your Instagram bio.

Maybe you want to direct customers to your website homepage, then your grooming appointment scheduler, your Facebook Event list for your anniversary party, your training class schedule, your wholesale website. By not utilizing this super-easy tool, you are missing out! And your customers are, too!

Trello for Organization

I’ve been using Trello since 2011 when it was released. I’ve tried a dozen other project management/team tracking/organization tools since, and I just keep coming back to Trello. It allows you to keep all your systems, process, checklists, research, customer conversations and order flow organized, all in one location.

Trello allows you to create all kinds of lists via boards, lists and cards almost like virtual Post-It Notes, all organized into journals. But they are Post-It Notes on steroids! You can make checklists, attach photos, assign team members, link to other cards and communicate with your team about intricate and specific details, from customer issues to shipment details. Additionally, add due dates, duplicate lists easily and store ideas.

You can also set notifications, so when anyone updates a task you see what changes were made, or what was marked completed. Everything is in real time, so when an update happens, everyone sees it immediately. I use Trello for just about everything in my business and personal life to keep on top of my tasks — even to shop for groceries.

When I Work for Scheduling

When I Work allows managers, like at our doggie daycare, to easily schedule their employees, keep track of clocking in and out, and availability, and it is convenient for employees to view and manage their schedules as well. The best part is, you can use this on your mobile device or desktop computer. This also allows you to view multiple locations if you have more than one.

This intuitive program allows companies to easily schedule their staff. You can create shift templates that allow you to quickly copy and paste a previous week, then edit as needed. Managers and employees can communicate and leave notes for each other. Everyone can get notifications as well. Employees can view their schedule, update their availability, request time off, swap shifts and more all from their mobile devices. There is also a function where employees acknowledge they have viewed their schedule. There are free and paid versions of the software.

With these tools, you can successfully funnel new customers, stay more organized than ever with projects and easily schedule employees — all for free!

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