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Manager's To Do

In June, Begin Planning for the Second Half of the Year

Maybe start it with a marketing question.

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June 2-8

MARKETING Start your planning for the second half of the year by asking yourself what one advertisement or promotion in your recent history elicited the biggest response. Just because a $10 coupon was hugely successful three years ago doesn’t mean you can’t do it again.

INSPIRATION Ask your staff to write down the top 10 reasons that people should do business with your store. Discuss this feedback at a staff meeting.

EVENTS In a lifestyle center, strip mall or downtown location? Take the lead in organizing a community block party. Loads of fun and a great crowd generator.

June 9-15

MANAGEMENT The Small Business Administration makes available a helpful guide to minimize risk. Find it here petsplusmag.com/6191, and then create your risk-management plan.

ONLINE If you don’t know how visitors are interacting with your website or where they are coming from, it’s hard to devise an effective online strategy. Google Analytics is free and easy: There is a great tutorial on the Google site and a bunch of YouTube how-to videos that can help you understand how to use it. Make mastery of Analytics a summer priority!

PERSONAL Shake up your routine. With pen and paper, write a thank-you note to someone who’s influenced you in your career. Don’t forget to mail it.

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June 16-22

STORE Update your in-store video loop. For a change, forget the promotional videos and run something that’s got nothing to do with selling at all, but that is a good fit with the summer holidays — Coco, The Lion King, Piper, Finding Dory, Madagascar, there’s no shortage of fun, animal-themed productions.

OPERATIONS What’s your pre-opening drill? If it’s “All hands to the pump!” you may want to try something more systematic. Many retailers use a 10-point checklist to make sure that all the important things are taken care of before they open the doors.

WEBSITE What hours are you open? What pet food brands do you carry? Think of the top 10 reasons people call you and then get the information up on your website in the form of an easy-to-find FAQ page.

June 23-29

evenOFFICE WORK The phone slows over summer. It’s time to do some housekeeping: Organize all the paperwork and procedural stuff that gets put aside, such as updating the customer data with new phone numbers and email addresses, reading the POS manual and so on.

STAFF Hold an “Assistant for a Day” contest this month. Award points for each positive action you determine — e.g. one point for each pet name remembered, 10 points for an outreach exercise that results in a new customer coming in, 1 point for asking for an add-on sale, 10 points for completing it. At the end of the month, tally up the points for each staff member. The winner gets you as their “Assistant for a Day.” You make them coffee, clean up their workspace, wash their car, whatever your “boss” wants.

MANAGEMENT Start meeting with staff at least monthly to share three “good things” to build on and three “development areas.”

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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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Manager's To Do

Early Holiday Prep Begins in October

Learn how to use your phones for business and more here!

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Sept. 29-Oct. 5

TEXTING Text has replaced the phone call. Discuss with staff and redraft your store manual to provide guidelines on when to call, when to chat, and how to make the process as smooth and as customer friendly as possible.

ONLINE SECURITY Do you sell any goods online? Then you need a trust badge/SSL certification (think of those Norton seals you’ll see at an online checkout). Not having one is a deal-breaker for 17 percent of shoppers. Get certified.

Podcast: Talking Cybersecurity, and Keeping Your Pet Business Safe Online
Behind the Pages

Podcast: Talking Cybersecurity, and Keeping Your Pet Business Safe Online

Podcast: Travel Deals for the Pet Pro on the Latest “Behind the Pages”
Behind the Pages

Podcast: Travel Deals for the Pet Pro on the Latest “Behind the Pages”

Podcast: Meet the Pet Product Entrepreneur Who Turned Down Shark Tank’s Investors
Behind the Pages

Podcast: Meet the Pet Product Entrepreneur Who Turned Down Shark Tank’s Investors

EVENTS Finalize arrangements for special events in the run-in to the year-end, confirm staff assignments.

Oct. 6-12

MARKETING This is a good time of year to be handing out business cards, especially cards with a special offer. Make sure that you and your staff have plenty of cards to hand out when out and about this month.

OPERATIONS Approach your own business as an outsider. Hire a secret shopper or ask a friend or relative to call or visit your store and report back on how he is treated. You may be surprised.

DISPLAY Stock products that can do double-duty as Halloween and Thanksgiving items, such as pumpkins and scarecrows.

Oct. 13-19

MERCHANDISING Are your windows working effectively to support your sales? Here is a good rule of thumb: If your store gets foot traffic, use small props; if it gets drive-by traffic, oversized props and graphics work best.

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SOCIAL MEDIA Facebook doesn’t make it easy for business posts to be seen unless you pay its gatekeeping fee (meaning buy its ad services). You can, however, give your posts a boost by encouraging staff and customers to turn on the “See First” switch, which will put your posts at the top of the Newsfeed.

SALES Work on greetings with new AND old staff. Your welcome sets the base for the entire sales transaction. Keep it low-key and friendly, and try to avoid anything that elicits a conditioned or reflexive response, especially the dreaded “No, thanks. I’m just looking.”

Oct. 20-26

INFLUENCERS Invite some local bloggers to come in (with their pets) and check out your business. The influence of such people grows every year.

MARKETING Launch a holiday-specific email newsletter with specialized content and product offers. Prominently display “best sellers,” “our picks,” “top products” etc., to stimulate purchase and even gift ideas.

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Oct. 27-Nov. 2

MARKETING Don’t assume your expertise is self-evident. Get those grooming/training/nutrition certifications up on the wall, and on your website with a brief explanation on your About Us page about what it takes to attain them.

SECURITY Holiday season means more people in the store, more distraction, and more opportunities for thieves. Alert your staff to be on the lookout for pickpockets, distraction gangs and other shoplifters. Check security camera angles and function.

MARKETING Twitter’s search function along with free applications like TweetDeck can be great tools for market research and lead generation. Start monitoring your competitors’ brand names and hashtags to see what people are saying about them and you. Set keywords related to pet services in your market and don’t be afraid to follow up. (Unsolicited messages from strangers is a fact of life in the Twittersphere.)

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Calendar

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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