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Manager's To Do

Plot Your Social Media Calendar … and More Business To-Dos for January

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Here’s our list of business-boosting activities for you in January. 

Jan. 1-6

WELLNESS Over the holiday season, it’s not unusual to run a sleep deficit. Remedy that by getting an extra hour of ZZZZs every night for the next two weeks. Set your phone’s alarm for half an hour before you plan to go to bed.

STRATEGY Commit yourself to running a big experiment this year: Change your hours, offer a new service like boarding or grooming, give staff more power to make decisions, or stop doing something you hate doing … there really is no limit for the bold.

MARKETING Update your email list with all the business cards you gathered over the holiday season. Think of a spiff to encourage your team members to continue to collect email addresses of customers throughout the year. ($1 a business card should be about right.)

Jan. 8-13

FINANCES It’s a new year: time to set some financial goals. If you don’t have much of a nest egg yet, start now, but accept that there are no shortcuts. As the old driving instructor advice goes: If you leave late, you’re going to get there late. 

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MARKETING Social media interactions should sound spontaneous and casual but be well planned. Start plotting a social media calendar for 2018. Schedule blogs, Pinterest boards and Facebook support for your events.

OPERATIONS Review the Christmas period with staff. Go over your ads, inventory and other marketing campaigns. Analyze what worked, what didn’t, what you learned. Highlight missed opportunities and missed targets. Discuss what other retailers did, what seemed to work and how you can do it better.

Jan. 15-20

FINANCES Tax season is upon us, and identity thieves can’t wait to use stolen Social Security numbers to claim fraudulent refunds. Whether or not you’re expecting a refund, you might want to file your taxes as soon as you have all the paperwork you need. 

ONLINE Examine the “About Us” page on your website. Make sure it is fun and energetic, or high-quality and trustworthy, and also that it isn’t a dead end. Make sure you have an offer, a link to your email bulletin registration, a link to your testimonials page, or any next step of action … to keep them going after they’ve learned “about you.”

MARKETING Go ahead, get some extra Valentine’s Day dollars with a marketing campaign for gifts for pets. Valentine’s Day is about love, isn’t it? And people love their pets, don’t they? You see where we’re going with this, don’t you?

Jan. 22-27

MANAGEMENT If one of your resolutions was to shed a few pounds, keep going! A study from the Center for Creative Leadership found lean equals “leaderly.” “Executives with larger waistlines and higher body-mass-index readings tend to be perceived as less effective in the workplace, both in performance and interpersonal relationships,” it said.

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DISPLAYS Decorate your store and reorganize your cases for Valentine’s Day. Aim for fun, not schlocky. Scatter some cupids among your shelves. While you’re thinking of displays, chart a year’s worth of a window displays.

STAFF Pledge to be a better boss in 2018. Add employee birthday dates to your calendar and those of their children as well. (Any gifts or similar gestures will win over hearts and minds.)


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

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Manager's To Do

February To-Do List: Plan Those Summer Events, Shop A Competitor, Study Your Best Customers

Go on and review these to-do list for February.

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Feb. 4-9

EVENTS In-store events are one of the best ways for independent retailers to differentiate themselves from their online peers, generate traffic and energy, build relationships, and show you’re human. They can also be a headache to organize. So let’s move on from “seat of the pants” marketing to a yearlong calendar for events and promotions, which will prove to be a huge stress reliever. Get scheduling!

STRATEGY Go out and shop a competitor this week, or send a salesperson to do it. Look to compare their customer service, sales, price points, their “unique selling point.” An understanding of the local competitive landscape will allow you to strategize better.

MARKETING Send press releases to local media outlets offering them a story about what pet owners are buying their loved ones this year. Editors love animal twists on human stories.

Feb. 11-16

PLANNING You’ve no doubt heard of the 80/20 rule. Put it into practice. Identify your top customers and make yearlong plans targeting them. Have your sales staff research what, when and how their best 20 percent of customers buy. Use this information to target their needs and deliver better and more personalized service. Input this information in your customer management database.

DATA SECURITY It’s the time of year to back up all customer and store data and other important files. (Most small business networks can be backed up to a single external hard drive.)

GOODWILL Share the love. Send Valentine’s cards to your customers with a simple message: Enjoy the day!

Feb. 18-23

FINANCES If your fiscal year ends in December, you should have your financial statements finalized by Feb. 28. Make an appointment to see your CPA.

DECOR Winter drags on … but you can get a jump on spring with fresh flowers in your store.

ONLINE The notion of creating a sea of content in the form of a company blog that Google can’t ignore may seem daunting, but it’s actually not so hard. Start with the 100 questions customers ask on a daily base and you turn them into 100 blog posts with those questions transformed into the titles.

Feb. 25-March 2

MARKETING It’s a humble tool, but the old business-cards-in-the-fishbowl-by-the-cash-register thing still works. The reward for a weekly lucky draw? A gift card.

FINANCES Check with your bank to see if they offer payroll assistance. Many banks now provide a service that allows you to log onto their website and enter your workers’ hours. The bank then makes a direct deposit into employees’ checking account as well as paying your federal and state withholding taxes.

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February Events to Note in Your Business: Chinese New Year, Wear Red Day, Love Your Pet Day

Note these dates on your February calendar.

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1 Brace for an education. The word February comes from februare, which means “to purify” in the dialect of the ancient Sabine, one of the founding tribes of the early Roman kingdom. One theory is that this had to do with how the Romans honored the dead and performed rites of purification in February. And so what’s it got to do with pet retail? Everything. The holiday season is done. The big shows lie ahead; it’s time to purify your dead inventory. If it didn’t sell between November and Feb. 14, it’s probably not going to sell in a hurry. Purify!

2 Today marks 16 years since the first National Wear Red Day to raise awareness about the No. 1 killer of women in the U.S.: heart disease. Bring out a line of red collars or pet jackets. Get involved in a business or community activity or co-host a red-themed party with a neighboring retailer. Check out heart.org/heartorg/volunteer for more ways you can get involved as a small business.

4 No advertising medium divides pet professionals like Facebook. Some swear by it; others swear it’s a waste of time. Still, with more than 2 billion users you need to be sure you’ve fully explored its potential. On the 15th anniversary of the day Mark Zuckerberg and three friends launched The Facebook, adopt the company’s motto, “Move Fast and Break Things,” and commit to shaking things up with your social marketing. Test some sponsored posts. Get super specific with your targeting. Try a contest, try more video, follow the PETS+ Facebook page at
facebook.com/petsplusmag.

5 Bow down and welcome the pig. It’s Chinese New Year, and it’s the swine’s time to shine. Unlike his Western cousin, the pig in China is considered a patient, trusty character that attracts success in all spheres of life. It means 2019 could be a great year to invest and make money, although probably best if you steer clear of the mini pig trend. Who knew those cute little teapot squealers could grow into a 300-pound house guest?

10 Death of a Salesman marks its 70th anniversary today and while never comfortable, viewing it provides a useful reminder about the need to keep up with the times and our aspirations grounded. What’s your American dream in 2019? Maybe this is a good time to ask.

11 In the human world, red-carpet season peaks this month with, first the Grammys and then the Oscars. In the dog world, the spotlight is firmly on the Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show at Madison Square Garden. Ready your social media guns to provide daily roundup of commentary and images of the stars strutting their stuff.

14 According to the National Retail Federation, Americans will spend more than $750 million on their pets for Valentine’s Day this year. Sure, that’s an average sale of only $5.50, although some tickets will be much higher. Stock up on treats, accessories and costumes in the appropriate price ranges.

20 On National Love Your Pet Day, ask customers to share photos of their pets with the hashtag #nationalloveyourpetday. Perhaps run a contest for the most popular post with a gift card as the prize. People love it when their pet is featured on a store’s Instagram or Facebook page, says Stacy Busch-Heisserer, owner of holistic pet supply store Busch Pet Products in Cape Girardeau, MO.

MORE EVENTS

Feb. 1  Pet Dental Health Month … well-being starts at the mouth. Explore dental hygiene products you can promote.
Feb. 1  Beat the Heat Month, National Prevent a Litter Month Spay/Neuter Awareness Month. Yep, the longer days mean something is in the air. Play your part.
Feb. 1  GI Joe, the action figure made his debut on this day 45 years ago, and more than a few came to a grisly end in the jaws of the house pet. Celebrate his birthday with a special on dog chews.
Feb. 3  St. Blaise Day. Light a candle to the bishop, martyr, healer of wild animals and patron saint of veterinarians.
Feb. 4  Pet Theft Awareness Day — Make sure your customers know about micro-chipping and pet protection services available in your area.

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Prep for Black Friday, Cyber Monday, Christmas … and More Activities for Nov-Dec

Here’s how to make the most of the busy months ahead.

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November

1 It’s NATIONAL SENIOR PET MONTH and a good time to do some concentrated messaging about products or services you offer to help older dogs lead healthier, longer lives. Parents of aging animals will love you for it.

5 During NATIONAL ANIMAL SHELTER APPRECIATION WEEK, shine the spotlight on local shelters on your website and social media. Offer a free product or service package to anyone who adopts a shelter animal this week.

18 Today marks the start of the NATIONAL DOG SHOW. For canine lovers, this is Wimbledon and the Masters rolled into one. Not your thing? Then fire up your favorite streaming service to watch the classic 2000 comedy Best in Show. Even funnier than This is Spinal Tap, we say.

23 The holiday shopping season “officially” starts today, BLACK FRIDAY. Are you doing what you need to be doing to be recognized as a top-of-mind destination for holiday shopping? One way to ensure that happens is to make sure, for the next month, that every advertisement you run, every banner you publish and every email you send has the word “gift” somewhere in it … preferably in type 50 points or bigger.

24 In recent years, SMALL BUSINESS SATURDAY has become an increasingly important day for many local pet businesses. And it could be for you as well. But you’ll need to do something noteworthy to get customers through your door. Hold a show, a concert, a grooming or skills contest, or even a meet-up with Santa (or the Grinch). Offer a giveaway, a special discount, a donation with purchase, or a free portrait sitting with a photographer. For more ideas, check out our Sep/Oct 2017 feature at ppmag.us/smallbizsat.

December

2 HANUKKAH starts quite early this year. Make sure your holiday promotions have been running long enough to reach customers celebrating this sacred holiday.

21 It’s UGLY CHRISTMAS SWEATER DAY. This event spotlights what well may be the absolute nadir of mankind’s sartorial achievement. Your spin on this event? Have a contest featuring pets in eye-scorchingly ugly holiday-themed sweaters. (But we’re pretty sure that they’ll still look adorable.)

22 On KEEP PETS SAFE IN WINTER DAY, add a list of cold-weather tips to the “Resources” page of your website. (You do have one of those, don’t you?) Most important, says the ASPCA, add a basic rule of thumb for the wintry days ahead: “If it’s too cold for you, it’s probably too cold for your pet, so keep your animals inside.”

25 Merry CHRISTMAS! We hope your business had a strong holiday season and an even better year overall — hopefully with a bit of help from PETS+. Like many of our readers, we’ll spend the next few days resting and enjoying our families. But we’ll be sure to burn a few brain cycles thinking of ways we can get better at what we do and provide even more value in the year to come. We hope you do the same. See you in January!

More Events in November-December

  • Nov. 1 is National Cook for Your Pets Day. Got a few pet favorite recipes to share?
  • Nov. 4 marks the day Daylight Saving Time ends. Enjoy an extra hour of sleep.
  • Nov. 7 begins National Canine Lymphoma Awareness Week.
  • Nov. 17 is Unfriend Day, a good time to prune your social media lists of negative people.
  • Nov. 26 is Cyber Monday. Tell customers about a special coupon available only on your website.
  • Dec. 5 is Bathtub Party Day. Offer an especially sudsy holiday grooming package for your pet wash area.
  • Dec. 15 is Cat Herders Day. Wouldn’t it be great if that was a real job? Of course, the rate of nervous breakdowns for those in the profession would be unreal.

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