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Editor's Note

Live Your Life Like a Pet Business Superhero

This month, we give eight pet pros the whole superhero-in-a-cape comic-book treatment.

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SHAWNA SCHUH hits it right on the mark in her column this issue (page 44), when she tells us “Your life is like a novel.” Surrounding that statement, she makes a case for telling the story of yourself and your business in the fashion of a binge-worthy TV series — one so engaging, you can’t help but keep coming back for more.

She’s right: Your life is like a novel. So’s mine. So’s that guy’s across the street. It’s all in finding the right way to look at it and tell the story. Often, though, we’re so in the thick of things, it’s hard to see it that way.
It’s in that same spirit of stepping back from the mundane to view our lives, workdays and businesses from a different — even fantastic — perspective that we bring you this issue’s Big Story: “The Super 8.”

Ask any of the eight featured pet pros whether they think what they do daily is worthy of the whole superhero-in-a-cape comic-book treatment, and they’d probably just shrug it off. (Isn’t that just like a superhero for you?)
But by the PETS+ way of thinking, that’s being far too modest.

We think what every one of you is doing every day deserves the same sort of recognition, the same view from a different perspective and the same go-get-’em pat on the back.

Here at PETS+, we received a piece of news recently that had a similar effect on us.

Just as we were wrapping up our second year of publication, we received word that our February 2018 issue took gold in the General B2B category of the Folio: Eddie Awards for magazine excellence. (In silver and bronze positions were two magazines that have been around a total of 180 years.) And, senior editor Pamela Mitchell scored two honorable mentions for stories she wrote this year.

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Does that make us cape-worthy? Maybe not so much as The Listener (page 34) or Super Pet Food Man (page 36), but we’re hoping binge-worthy, at least.

Wishing you the best in business,

 

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Ralf Kircher
Editor-in-Chief, Pets+
ralf@petsplusmag.com

Five Great Tips From This Issue You Can Do Today

  1. Dec. 21 is Ugly Christmas Sweater Day, and we’re envisioning you and your staff in awful sweaters, overseeing a crowd of pets and their owners in a pageant for the ugliest. (Calendar, Page 10)
  2. The perfect holiday season sales opener? “Does your dog have a present under the tree for Christmas?” … “No?! Well don’t be a Grinch! Let’s find them something special.” (To-Do List, Page 12)
  3. Bundle broken treats from your bar in individual bags, priced at $1.99. (Hot Sellers, Page 16)
  4. Cat food has the same margins as dog food but takes up less space. Expand your offerings. (Benchmarks, Page 46)
  5. Try a pet-name-of-the-day promo to lure in customers. (Tip Sheet, Page 53)

Ralf Kircher is the Editor-in-Chief of PETS+. He has worked with SmartWork Media since 2006, and is the busy father of a son and three Jack Russells.

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Editor's Note

What I Learned at the Wellness Summit

The first PETS+ trade event sent us all home armed with shared information and a sense of community.

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IN OCTOBER, PETS+ hosted its first trade event — the PETS+ Wellness Summit — in which we tried an experiment: We wanted to bring the spirit of the magazine to life, complete with retailers and service providers sharing real-world knowledge and experience, alongside experts from manufacturers whose products those businesses stock, sell and use.

During those two days just outside Chicago, I know from the responses of those who attended, folks soaked in that sharing of information and went back home reinvigorated and better prepared to meet the needs — and address the concerns — of their customers.

I too left armed with new knowledge that I hope we’ll soon be pouring into upcoming issues of PETS+.

Specifically, I learned of a growing consensus to refer to raw food as “fresh.” Coming from the perspective of a consumer as much as a pet industry insider, that’s a shift I can appreciate. Deep down, there’s a squeamish factor in “raw” that I realize is irrational, but “fresh” is a term we can all embrace — and already gladly pay more for when shopping for human groceries.

I learned also that pet pros face many of the same challenges, even if their businesses are located thousands of miles apart. But when they sit down at a table together and share those challenges, their peers gladly offer up suggestions based on their own experiences. That’s heartening, and I hope PETS+, our website, Facebook community and Brain Squad will stand in for that dinner table when you aren’t able to meet face to face.

Mostly, though, I confirmed what I suspected: that PETS+ readers are every bit as cool in person as they are when hearing from them via phone and email. I, for one, hope I’ll be seeing you face to face at many more events PETS+ will host in the future. Stay tuned!

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Ralf Kircher
Editor-in-Chief, Pets+
ralf@petsplusmag.com

Five Great Tips From This Issue That You Can Do Today

1. This year, launch a new holiday tradition, such as everyone wearing red and green bowties. (Manager’s To-Do List, page 12)
2. Eliminate clutter and distractions in your business’s “decompression zone” to allow customers to acclimate. (Manager’s To-Do List, page 12)
3. To sell more of an item, try bundling at a set price. (Hot Sellers, page 16)
4. If you sell treat holders, run a buy-one-get-the-treat-free promotion. (Hot Sellers, page 16)
5. Prepare a flu kit for your business, complete with EmergenC, cough drops, vitamin C drops, pain medicine, alcohol wipes, Lysol and more. (Tip Sheet, page 38)

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Editor's Note

What on Your Plate Are You Excited About?

For us, it’s the PETS+ Wellness Summit and the prospect of more events that help both pets and businesses.

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IN OUR LATEST BRAIN SQUAD survey, we asked readers to let us know what they had on their plates that they were excited about … and maybe even a little bit scared by. But before I get into that, I’m going to take the editor’s prerogative and tell you my answer to the same question: I’m excited about the PETS+ Wellness Summit.

The summit is our first opportunity to bring you PETS+-style advice, live and in the flesh. We have an amazing two days of exhibits and education planned Oct. 1-2 outside Chicago, packed with pet-wellness experts and vendors as well as with PETS+ readers, who — as they do

in every issue — will be sharing the spotlight, providing their real-life, learned-in-the-trenches perspectives.
We know that not everyone can make it. But we’re hoping — and here, yes, is the scary part — those who do come love it so much they’ll want more … and that we’ll be able to put on similar events throughout the year and throughout the country.

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To borrow a phrase from Brain Squad member Kimberly Gatto, who’s launching e-commerce shopping at The Wagging Tail in Las Vegas, NV, we’re hoping it takes our little business to the next level.

Like Anna Woodcock, who is adding grooming to her Brown Dog Barkery in Ankeny, IA, and who says “it’s exciting and scary at the same time,” boy, can we ever relate.

But what I think may bring home the sentiment best is The Bark Market’s Karen Conell, who tells us she’s ecstatic over the number of pet parents around Delavan, WI, advocating for and educating themselves about raw food, CBD and supplements. “It’s not just the sales we love,” she says, “it’s the feedback we are getting on the improved health and wellness of the pets. It doesn’t get much better!”

We couldn’t have said it better ourselves.

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Ralf Kircher
Editor-in-Chief, Pets+
ralf@petsplusmag.com

Five Great Tips From This Issue That You Can Do Today

1. Make a list of 20 questions your staff can ask a customer that open a conversation. (Calendar, page 18)

2. Head to your parking lot. Is it clean? Are staff taking the best places? (Manager’s To-Do List, page 20)

3. One great way to develop a fan base for products like toppers is to run a free-with-purchase-of food offer. (Hot Sellers, page 24)

4. Remind customers you’re not all about business by creating an online tribite to customers’ departed pets. (Tip Sheet, page 48)

5. Set aside an hour a week just to make — and announce — decisions. (Tip Sheet, page 48)

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Editor's Note

With the Wellness Summit, We’re Listening

Thanks to feedback, we’re planning a new Oct. 1-2 timeframe, nearby location and education schedule that coincides with buying.

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BY NOW, YOU’VE SEEN the ads for the PETS+ Wellness Summit, an event coming soon that combines business-building education, buying opportunities and networking with others in the industry — all centered on the vital topic of pet wellness. I’d like to take you behind the scenes in Summit planning for a moment.

As with everything we do here at PETS+, our first and last thoughts are about you. We’ve said since our first issue that our No. 1 rule is if it doesn’t help American pet business owners sell more, save more, manage better, or even just sleep better at night, it doesn’t go into PETS+. That rule applies to everything we put out, from our bulletins to the PETS+ Wellness Summit.

Part of meeting that standard means listening to you and including your voice in what we do. As soon as word of the Wellness Summit got out, we started hearing from you. We started listening, and then we started acting.

We’re thrilled that you’re as excited about it as we are, and we’re glad that, among other constructive comments, it was suggested our original schedule might be too long to be away from your business.

As a result of the feedback, we have tweaked the event in ways we believe will make it even more useful to you.

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The dates are now Oct. 1-2, and each day features a dose of education prior to the show floor opening, at lunch and in mid-afternoon.

The location has changed to the more intimate Loews Chicago O’Hare Hotel in Rosemont, IL, near Chicago’s airport, which makes it easier to get to if you happen to be flying in.

What has not changed is the value of the education sessions, covering CBD, raw food, raw alternatives, supplements, healthy play, aging and partnering with local vets.

Learn all the details and register at petsplusmag.com/summit. And never stop telling us what you think.

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Ralf Kircher
Editor-in-Chief, Pets+
ralf@petsplusmag.com

Five Great Tips From This Issue That You Can Do Today

1. Surprise yourself by asking a friend or relative to secret-shop your store. (Manager’s To-Do List, page 12)

2. If your professional accreditations aren’t hanging in your business or on your About Us page, they ought to be. (Manager’s To-Do List, page 12)

3. Check with your suppliers to see what deals or freebies they’ll offer your customers. (Hot Sellers, page 18)

4. Upsell your smelliest clients on aromatic shampoos. (Hot Sellers, page 18)

5. The time to begin posting holiday gift ideas to PInterest is now. (Tip Sheet, page 42)

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