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Manager's To Do

Holiday Prep, Holiday Wrap, and An Eye on Spring

You can still make that profit on holidays.

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Dec. 1-7

CULTURE Launch a store tradition, like staff wearing red and green bowties, to reinforce the message that the holiday season is here.

MANAGEMENT Hold short morning meetings. To ensure they stay brief, insist everyone stand. Update staff on which items to suggest first, ads you’re running and what’s highlighted in your window cases and on social media.

Dec. 8-14

IN-STORE Review your store’s decompression zone, that first few feet inside the front door. Shoppers here are prone to distractions. Keep this area simple and uncluttered.

MARKETING Start posting photos of your bestselling pet gifts on Facebook each day. Post the first when you open, and the other around 3 p.m.

Dec. 15-21

MARKETING Only 10 days to go until Christmas: Highlight any extended hours on your website or Facebook page.

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SALESFLOOR Take some of the stress out of last-minute shopping by offering food, drink and good music.

Dec. 22-28

MANAGEMENT Before you close on Christmas Eve, thank every team member personally for their efforts this year.

INVENTORY Seasonal inventory needs to go. It’s post-Christmas sales time — certain customers have been waiting all year for this.

Dec. 29-Jan. 4

CRM Send thank-you cards to every customer, even those who bought nothing more than poop bags.

DECORATIONS Did you see a reindeer lawn ornament, but didn’t want to splurge? Or did a towering inflatable Santa strike your fancy? Buy next year’s decorations now … at a huge discount.

Jan. 5-11

WEATHER January typically sees the coldest days of the year. Have a plan in place should the weather get so severe that it interrupts business. Could you offer a 2 percent discount for every inch of snow that falls if customers are willing to brave the conditions to come in? Or could you boost online offerings?

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PLANNING Set yourself goals and then break them down into quarterly, monthly, weekly and even daily actions. Start planning at least two big events for the year.

Jan. 12-18

DISPLAY The last symbols of snow and cold weather should have been banished the day after Christmas. It may still be freezing outside, but inside you want your customers thinking of spring.

ADVERTISING Break down your monthly ad spending based on monthly store sales of the last three or four years. (If February accounts for 7 percent of your sales for the year, allocate 7 percent of your ad budget for that month.)

Jan. 19-25

OPERATIONS Start a new routine: A weekly email to all employees to keep everyone in the loop on what is happening in your business, within the industry, and being motivated.

FINANCES Meet with your accountant to go over your balance sheet and financial goals for the year. While you’ve got your books out, create a monthly cash-flow projection for the year.

Jan. 26-Feb. 1

CONTEST PREP The America’s Coolest Stores Contest honors the country’s most innovative pet businesses. Enter today at petsplusmag.com/ACS.

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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FEATURED VIDEO

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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From Mutt Day to Weight Loss Day, December and January Calendar Events You Should Note

Holidays holidays!

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DECEMBER

2 Cider Monday! We like this date: It’s an invitation to shoppers to visit a real store and touch real products and be greeted with a warm cup of cider. First observed by Toadstool Bookshop in New Hampshire, it offers a delightful twist on Cyber Monday, which kicks off the online shopping season today.

JANUARY

1 Too many people think of new year’s resolutions as if they were prohibitions. In 2020, forget the things you want to stop doing and fill your list with goals that excite you. Learn to speak Spanish. Fully utilize your POS system. Don’t worry about how you’re going to achieve these goals. You’ll find a way.

2 National Mutt Day, also known as National Mixed Breed Dog Day, is designed to raise awareness about the great majority of dogs — those of uncertain origins. Ask your customers to share how they will be celebrating National Mutt Day with their beloved pooches.

11 Two weeks to go until Christmas. Time to hang those stockings. This year, take inspiration from Just For Paws’ “Stocking Stuffer Extravaganza.” The grooming salon based in St. Charles, IL, hands out Christmas stockings to customers and gives them 15 percent off anything they can stuff in the big sock. It’s a great way to leverage the festive-season shopping mood to move a lot of goods at a marginal discount.

22 What does Old Man Winter have up his sleeve this year? Tempt your customers to make a bet with your own snow promotion — a percentage point discount for every inch that falls in the week before Christmas.

31 Farewell, 2019. NEW YEAR’S EVE means “Auld Lang Syne,” well-deserved toasts to your hard work and success this year … and resolutions for 2020. Think big (Best Year evah!) and think small (eat more fish oil, floss daily, join the PETS+ Brain Squad). It’s going to be a terrific year.

6 Wheel of Fortune, which premiered on this day in 1975, is a format Americans never seem to tire of. That’s also the experience of Wags to Whiskers in Plainfield, IL, which rolls out its own Wheel of Fun every year. “Clients get to spin a wheel for fantastic discount and free product opportunities,” explains owner Janelle Pitula. Do your own “spin” on the concept to mark Wheel’s 45th birthday.

16 National Weight Loss Day is held on Jan. 16 to mark the date most people start giving up on their new year’s slimming resolution. Of course, humans aren’t the only ones with weight issues. A whopping 59 percent of cats and 54 percent of dogs in the U.S. are classified as overweight or obese. With your nutritious pet food offerings and knowledge, you’re ideally placed to help fight this epidemic. A few years back, Wags to Whiskers (see Jan. 6) introduced its Hounds Losing Pounds club to help dogs lose weight. What can you do?

21 It’s NATIONAL HUGGING DAY, and you’re encouraged to hug anyone who will accept one. If you’d rather not come in physical contact with most of your customers, temp staff or your vendors’ sales reps, think of “hugs” the way retailing legend Jack Mitchell did: as personal touches that impress your customers and business partners. Go on, squeeze!

MORE EVENTS

Dec. 1  Cat Lovers’ Month … Super pets but not always ideal gifts. Keep it win-win for human and feline.
Dec. 13  National Day of the Horse … They’re workers, soldiers, athletes and more soulmates than pets. Pay your tributes.
Dec. 20  Underdog Day
Dec. 22  Hanukkah … Light a candle.
Dec. 25  Christmas … Your gift? A day off. Enjoy it with your family.
Dec. 26  Kwanzaa begins … Light another candle.
Jan. 2  Happy Mew Year Day For Cats … Start the countdown.
Jan. 10  National Cut Energy Costs Day … Research ways to cut your power bill.

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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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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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