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Manager's To Do

Plan a Pet Fashion Show … and More To-Dos for March

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March 5-10

OPERATIONS The year is gathering pace and those small operational adjustments you made in January should be starting to stick. Make a point of documenting best processes as they emerge as well as common errors to save employees time troubleshooting redundant problems in the future.

STRATEGY Set times to meet with your advisers — your lawyer, accountant, banker, consultants and especially if you haven’t done it yet, your tax pro. Review the state of the company and how it’s placed to benefit from the economy’s current strength, and take advantage of your changing tax obligations.

EDUCATION If you send staff to Global Pet Expo (starts March 21), ask them to each pick a course they particularly enjoy and plan to recreate it for the rest of your staff.

March 12-17

STAFF It’s time for your twice-yearly employee reviews. You’ll do them again in September.

MARKETING Start plotting a pet fashion show for summer along with the accompanying social media promotions.

TECHNOLOGY Do you offer free Wi-Fi in your business? Does the name of your network promote your services, as in “$10-a-night-pet-boarding”? If not, it really ought to.

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March 19-24

MAINTENANCE Schedule a technician for a tune-up of your A/C. Yes, it’s probably still cool outside, but maintenance now will save you money come summer.

MARKETING Send a spring-themed promotional email highlighting your range of pet products and/or services.

SALES FLOOR Step outside your store and assess things through the windows. How do the visuals and displays look — and how is your staff interacting with customers? It’s amazing how much more you can observe without sound. Research suggests words account for only around 7 percent of communication. What kinds of things are your sales staff communicating with their body language?

March 26-31

GENERAL March is a good month to catch your breath. You’ve likely been working non-stop since the end-of-year holidays. Try to grab a long weekend to recharge.

ONLINE The dissolution of net neutrality introduced a lot of uncertainty for small business with regards to how their online operations might be affected. Visitors to your site won’t have much patience if pages don’t open quickly. Most shoppers will abandon a page if it doesn’t load within 5 seconds, but they start getting impatient at 2 seconds. Check your website’s download speeds at internetsupervision.com.

OPERATIONS Create an employee suggestion box but add a twist — they have just 30 days to suggest ideas to make your business and their working lives better.

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

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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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Manager's To Do

February To-Do List: Global Pet Expo Prep, A Return to the Gym, and Video Testimonials

Try video testimonials as a sales tool.

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Feb. 2-8

MERCHANDISING Schedule a meeting with staff to discuss merchandising based on what you discovered data mining. Brainstorm buying strategies that will enable you to achieve your 2020 goals. (Do you want to attract more, younger pet owners? Expand cat offerings? Should you be pushing services?)

WEBSITE If you haven’t already, post a photo of your storefront on your website, along with text-based directions. It makes it easier for shoppers to find your store and eases threshold resistance.

INVENTORY Global Pet Expo is only a few weeks away: It’s time to take a hard look at your inventory. Drill down into your data (GPM, brand performance, price points, markdowns) to weed out underperformers and identify any new category trends. Set targets and support plans for your emerging inventory stars.

Feb. 9-15

OPERATIONS Among the many service fees that climb to uncompetitive rates if not checked regularly is insurance coverage. You might, for example, have insured your computer equipment years ago when a PC cost $4,000. Pledge to conduct an annual review of your property insurance policies to ensure they represent today’s prices.

STAFF You may not need new people now but always have a list of potential candidates. Look at it long-term: When you’ve got the best people running things, you can take your kids skiing in France.

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Feb. 16-22

CUSTOMER SERVICE Set the bar high for your customers by adding a monthly pet training challenge to your website.

SAFETY Buy a power-surge protector. A POS meltdown can be costly.

HEALTH The cold busy months are retreating; it’s time to get back to the gym. Commit today to an exercise routine that fits in with your overall management style. Could that be boxing? Do-it-all Crossfit training? Aerial yoga? Or perhaps climbing the walls? With so many choices, you have no longer have an excuse.

Feb. 23-29

IN-STORE Bring in a lighting consultant for a day. With her help, you may be able to replace energy hogs with LEDs and make other changes to add life and (a kinder) light to your business. The savings will soon pay back the fee, says Ruth Mellergaard of interior design firm GRID/3.

OPERATIONS Examine your in-store signage. Is it friendly? Is it memorable? Is it working as a silent sales associate? If it’s not doing any of those things, start the process of changing it.

MARKETING Video testimonials are a sales tool of almost unrivaled power. When a favorite customer brings in a pet for a grooming or even to pick up a cute Valentine’s Day gift, ask if they would consider doing a quick video shoot for you. Stories recounting how you solved a problem for them are best. Don’t worry about looking overly professional.

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Calendar

Heel, ye! Heel ye! February is Dog Training Education Month

See what February has for you!

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1 Dental disease is the most common major health problem of cats and dogs today, with an estimated 80 percent of dogs and 70 percent of cats suffering from some degree of gum disease by the age of 3. Yet it’s something most pet parents do very little to ward off. Help get the word out about preventative actions during National Pet Dental Health Month while sharing what products and services you offer.

2 The Super Bowl is as much a test of a business’s advertising acumen as it is a sporting event. Most Valuable This or That, offers to return the cost of a purchase if a certain point spread is breached, Souper Bowl charity drives … It goes without saying your pet mascots should be kitted up for the big game. Make sure you’re ready, too. America will be watching.

2 OK, here we go again (and again, and again …). It’s Groundhog Day, and that celebrated if unreliable meteorologist Punxsutawney Phil will emerge today to predict if winter might meet an early end. The unspoken truth of this 134-year-old tradition is to think as if you were living in backwoods Pennsylvania in 1886, and your nearest neighbor is 12 miles away and there’s 2 feet of snow on the ground … you’d be looking for any excuse to have a party or a promotion. Perhaps something like, “It’s Groundhog Day. Specials at 2015 prices!”

10 The Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show gets under way at Madison Square Garden, offering the perfect peg for a “pupperware” party. Team up with a local jeweler to bring together your high-end pet owners with some of the jeweler’s best-in-class pet jewelry.

14 Participation in Valentine’s Day has been steadily declining for years, with a few exceptions, one of which is people who consider their pet to be a love of their life. Pet-related gift buying is expected to get close to $1 billion this year, which buys a lot of heart-shaped treats. ($7 seems to be the sweet spot for pet gift purchases on V-Day, according to the National Retail Federation).

21 “To do two things at once is to do neither.” So said Publilius Syrus about 100 years before Jesus Christ was born. If the ancient Romans understood that, you’d think we’d have a better grasp on it now. On SINGLE TASKING DAY, choose one important task to complete. That other “urgent” stuff will take care of itself.

22 Fire hydrants, squirrels and telephone poles … the things that interest your dog are likely to be different than what’s on your mind as you wander your neighborhood. But that’s the great thing about a stroll with Fido. You both get exercise and the chance to ponder random objects and random thoughts. On Walking the Dog Day, invite customers to join you, too. Few things are as beneficial as a daily walk.

23 This year, go big on INTERNATIONAL DOG BISCUIT APPRECIATION DAY. Get in touch with vendors to arrange a wide selection of dog biscuits that your customers’ pets can sample. Laying on some wine and cheese for customers to sample probably wouldn’t hurt either. What’s better than hanging out with like-minded people in a pet store?

29 LEAP YEAR DAY only comes every four years, so jump on this sweet little marketing op. Offer discounts to those leaplings (pet or human) who have the fortune or misfortune to have been born on this calendar anomaly. Get out your frog- or rabbit-oriented promotions and enjoy the bounce in sales from this extra selling day. Hoppy Hour, anyone?

MORE EVENTS

Feb. 1: Heel, ye! Heel, ye! It’s Dog Training Education Month.
Feb. 2: Hedgehog Day. Never mind Kylie Jenner. These marmots are the real stars of Instagram. Join in the social media fun today.
Feb. 10: It’s the Oscars — best performance by a pet in a social media feed goes to … (Ask your customers for their nominations).
Feb. 15: The Great Backyard Bird Count is Feb. 15-17. Submit your findings at birdcount.org.
Feb. 26: It’s Spay Day USA, plus Spay/Neuter Awareness Month. Spread the message.

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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.

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