SEASONAL PREP Is your grooming team ready for the heat? Ensure they have backups of blades needed for summer cuts. And consider creating educational materials for your clients. Kristina Robertson of The Pet Spa at Barkley Square in Falls Church, VA, says, “Remind them that the undercoat serves as an insulator for heat as well as cold, and that going as low as they want can open their pup up to sunburn. Help your clients be wise.”
BUYING Consider these tips for savvy summer buying: Beth Staley of Happy Dog Barkery in Downers Grove, IL, advises, “Don’t over-invest in cooling items. Check online pricing before and factor in shipping cost to you versus online free shipping direct to consumer.” Johnna Devereaux of Fetch RI in Richmond, RI, shares, “One of the things I’ve learned is to increase the volume of 4- to 5-pound bags of kibble in the summer. Many travelers forget food or run out mid-trip and only want a small bag to get them through. The same goes for freeze-dried food, but in the opposite direction. Buying larger bags for those who feed raw and need an alternative for travel has done well for my business.” And Julie Johannes of Happy Hounds Pet Supply in Bigfork, MT, recommends having more digestion aids on hand and using a summer sales spin because dogs are out and about more, “finding and consuming rotting carcasses so their tummies get out of balance. Raw goat’s milk and other tummy-settling products are very helpful.”
EXPERIENCE Smell your business today. You heard us … just stand in the middle of it and take a big, long sniff. What is your nose telling you? Do you need to deep clean and use better products to keep the air smelling fresh, especially with temps rising? Bonus points if you can sell what you use to customers.
OPERATIONS Take a look at your staffing schedule on delivery days. Do you have enough hands to get product into freezers quickly? Jill Shoush of Animal Supply Company points out, “During the summer months, we must be more mindful of zero time in the backroom or on dock with fresh and frozen, to uphold the integrity of the product.”
TRAINING One way to improve your sales skills as well as those of your staff? Sign up for public speaking club Toastmasters International. (And get ready to hear a lot of bad speeches — that’s sort of the point.)
June 25-July 1
MARKETING Janet Cesarini of Pupology in Georgetown, TX, offers this tip to draw in customers: “If you’re participating in any outdoor market days or events, ask the coordinator if you can bring a small plastic swimming pool to put beside your booth/tent. Fill it with several bags of ice. It will melt and be a perfect cooling off spot for all of the four-leggers.” And their grateful humans will surely make a purchase to say thank you.
BENEFITS Look into what’s involved in setting up a 401(k) program for your employees. It’s one of the best ways around to keep staff long-term.
INVENTORY Dig into your POS data to discover your best and worst sellers of the past 12 months to fine-tune your open-to-buy for the second half of the year.
SELF-CARE If you’re bending over backward to accommodate vacation requests this summer, remember to schedule downtime for yourself. As Adina Silberstein of Queenie’s Pets in Philadelphia, PA, advises, “Never be the person who takes pride in not taking time off. There’s zero pride in working too hard.” Perhaps an extra day or two off around the July 4th weekend?
SALES Speaking of staffing, if you’re seeing a flurry of requests for weekends off in late July and August, provide additional incentives. Shari Wilkins of Lake Dog and Their People in Eufaula, OK, says, “Last year, I did a sales contest so they would want to work. Those that sold the most bags of dog food got a Visa gift card.”
SHOW PREP If you’re headed to SuperZoo in just 30 days, get ready by putting all of the excellent advice from our March-April issue to good use again. Experts and fellow retailers alike advised on everything from putting together vendor scorecards and category open-to-buy plans to connecting with brands that give indies extra love. Here’s one fresh tip: Looking to get the best possible deals or land a brand that doesn’t do business with just any store? Prepare a portfolio that includes a letter of introduction with information about your store’s history, the demographics of your market and other brands you carry. Also include successful marketing and promotional campaigns you’ve carried out and copies of magazine articles that mention your store or staff. (Another reason to join the PETS+ Brain Squad — hint, hint). Get support for all of this at petsplusmag.com.
MANAGEMENT The management guru Peter Drucker believed that in order to grow, a business must have a systematic policy to get rid of “the outgrown, the obsolete, the unproductive.” Start that process today: Make a list of projects, policies and products that you should consider killing, and solicit nominations from your staff (via an anonymous survey if necessary). Commit to killing one part of your existing business before you leave for SuperZoo.