Connect with us

Shawna Schuh

Teach Your Team to Become True Leaders

Published

on

RECENTLY I WAS in a retail store, not pet-related but the lesson is the same. It was major chain crafts store. 

I was looking for something when I stumbled upon a display of notebooks that would be perfect for girlfriend gifts this holiday. I decided to buy the whole box.

After that find, I was in a buying mood. I ended up getting nearly another full box of gift items for clients and family.

As I wheeled my cart to the front and the girl checking me out began to unload my things, I asked her if we could just keep all the notebooks in the display box they were already sitting in. It was a simple white box, had a little tear in the corner, and the items fit, of course.

Here’s where things went sour and the lesson for your pet store.

Instead of simply looking at all my purchases and making a call right then to please me and make it easier for me, she said, “I’ll have to call my manager.”

Advertisement

Really? You can’t please a customer who is making a hefty purchase? She had in her power a way to make the experience of shopping there good, and instead she had to get permission.

Think about this for your pet store. Does your team have the attitude of “Let’s make this person and pet happy”? Or do they have the restriction that they have to ask someone — you perhaps — if a customer asks for anything out of the ordinary?

Now, before you dismiss this and think, “My team would have given her the cardboard box,” think how this situation must have come about. What decisions did someone make earlier that made it “policy” that they now needed to ask? 

This young woman was making a mistake with me because she had to call her manager (making me wait and treating me like asking for a box to carry my 40 items was over the top), but it gets better.

The manager said no.

Really? You can’t give a customer the broken box the notebooks came in?

Advertisement

And here’s the real kicker: She didn’t offer me a different box! This is a huge store, with hundreds of items, and instead of making it easy and good, I was going to haul out notebooks in lightweight plastic bags.

Lesson: Besides not doing this, here is what she could have done:

  • Agree with me that a box would be great.
  • Give me the box (the simplest and fastest decision).
  • Tell me she would find out about that box but regardless assure me that she would help me.
  • Offer to run back and get me another box. 

Instead, I was irritated. My mood shifted, and I didn’t want to purchase anything. I grumbled and I actually told the young woman that her manager was short-sighted and because of a box I would not be back.

In hindsight I wished I had not gotten irritated with this young woman who had no power to help me. I wish I hadn’t been so put off that I said I would not return, and yet I feel that way.

If by reading this you take some time and discuss this with your team, and come up with a clear goal as to how you want your customers, both — two- and four-legged — to feel, then the whole experience was worth it.

Advertisement

Shawna Schuh is a certified speaking professional, an executive coach, master neuro linguistic program- ming practitioner and president of Women in the Pet Industry Network. Email her at shawna@womeninthepetindustry.com.

Advertisement

FEATURED VIDEO

JIM ACKERMAN

Very Few Pet Businesses Do This With Their Ads … But You Definitely Should

Testing and tracking your ads can make a huge difference in the ROI that you get, says marketing specialist Jim Ackerman. But very few pet businesses take the proper steps to run successful ad campaigns. Here, Ackerman shows an example of what effective testing looks like.

Promoted Headlines

Shawna Schuh

To Get to the Bottom of a Complaint, Pause, Smile and Ask

When a customer lies, it may not be for the reasons you think.

Published

on

THE RESTAURANT IS a favorite of mine. The food is good, and it’s fun and kinda funky. When we sat down to meet for this first date, I had no expectations. The conversation was fast and fun, and so we decided to order dinner. He ordered a burger and fries, me a salad.

When the food came, the female server set it down with a flourish, and it looked great. I barely had a moment to admire my salad when the man sitting opposite me said, “The fries are cold.”

The server was momentarily stunned but quickly recovered and said, “I’ll bring you new ones.” And she hightailed it out of there to have a word with the kitchen.

There was a pause, so I said, “I’m so sorry you got a bad order, this place is usually great.” Because, of course, I’m feeling bad for suggesting a place that, it turns out, serves cold food. What does that say about my taste and judgment?

Then he said, “No worries, the fries aren’t really cold. There’s just not enough, so now they’ll bring more.”

I blinked in stunned silence and then gathering my wits about me asked, “Do you do this often?” To which he said, “Only when I think I’ve been shorted on something.”

Think about this for a moment. Where do you land on the right or wrong of this exchange?

As a consumer, you might agree that if you feel shorted in service, or product, or value, it’s within your rights to complain or ask … but to lie?

As a business owner, you may feel outraged and taken advantage of by a customer who is clearly misleading you or your team for additional gain.

Here’s my take from a leadership standpoint:

  • Pause to take a breath. This can allow you to get emotions in check.
  • Smile. This may be forced — after all, they are bringing up a complaint.
  • Ask a question. This is the best thing however only if it’s a question that still makes the customer feel in control (rather than wrong), and it clarifies the real issue.

The example in this instance may have been that the server could have paused, smiled and asked, “Do you want me to replace them?”

Since the answer is most likely yes, then take the whole meal away.

If you get pushback — “It’s OK, just bring me more fries” — this is when you know the real intent behind the comment, and you can say, “If the fries (or whatever the complaint is) are not to your liking, we must check your whole meal so you are completely satisfied.”

If you have a pet business, you’re not selling fries, of course. However, you do have some customers who are hard to satisfy, and they can surprise you or take advantage of you, all the while feeling justified in doing so. Luckily, the same techniques will work: Pause, smile, ask a question.

Think about and discuss with your team the kinds of questions that are able to get to the bottom of the issue (or customer intent) without making the customer feel wrong.

For me, I learned several things that evening, the most important being to put myself in the position of both the customer and the business owner. If all of us did that more, maybe the experience for everyone would be better.

Continue Reading

Shawna Schuh

Are You a Seeker or a Conquerer?

The seeker finds success daily; the conquerer attains it only at the top.

Published

on

SUCCESS CAN MEAN DIFFERENT things to different people, although the dictionary definition of success is: The accomplishment of an aim or purpose.

For me, it’s shifted from a destination to the journey — or what I like to call an adventure — because for me, life, love, pets and relationships are all adventures, usually to undiscovered places or experiences.

As we travel forward in life, we can hold success out in front of us like a carrot for a horse, or we can experience the pleasant feeling of being successful every time we take an action step.

So when you have the aim to learn something, and you do … success!

When you set out to make a customer smile, and you do … success!

When a new concept is presented, and you learn it, use it and excel in it … success, even though the process, the adventure may not be not complete.

When we think and feel successful, we do the actions that produce the results we seek. We also skip the painful process of thinking: “When I reach X, I’ll be successful,” or, “After I have Y, I’ll feel successful.”

We can live more fully, more engaged, energized and creative because every action is a success when we move forward with the right intention.

Let me explain it further with two mountain-climbing analogies:

In one case, the climber is the Seeker: Every prep, every step, every hurdle and every experience is a success getting to the top, and more important, returning from the top of the mountain.

In another case, the Conquerer: Success is only at the top. This permits less focus on getting back down gracefully or safely. So success is measured only by being on top, by taking control and forcing it.

Stop and ask yourself whether you relate more to the Seeker or the Conquerer. I’m not going to judge you. However, in my work with wonderful, successful professionals, I do know the happiest ones are those who seek and experience that happy jolt of success every step, every hurdle and every sale they take or make each day.

How do you become a better Seeker?

1. Set up all the action steps to take you where you want to go.
2. Track those steps so you know you accomplished them.
3. Note your progress and celebrate how far you’ve come.
4. Bask in the fact you are moving in the right direction.
5. Embrace the knowledge that there is no top/end to attain.
6. Revel in being a Seeker because those who seek, find!

This feeling of success is truly wonderful. Being a Seeker reminds me that I am creating the life I live, and if I can do it, so can you.

Continue Reading

Shawna Schuh

What You Believe About Your Customers Influences How You Treat Them

Are buyers liars?

Published

on

THE OTHER DAY I caught someone in a lie. It was a little lie, a white lie they call it.

Here’s the definition of a white lie from the Urban Dictionary: “A minor, polite or harmless lie. A white lie can be excused because it doesn’t cause great harm.”

And this is where the slippery slope begins!

What do you believe about lying? Is it totally wrong? Or are little white lies OK since they don’t cause great harm? And what is harm, anyway?

How do you feel about your customers and clients telling you little white lies? Like: “I’m not really looking.” Really? They called or came in, right? Apparently they are at least looking …

Or what about us? If we leave out something that affects someone’s decision, is that harmless?

An example would be a little white lie that there is only a limited number of something, when in reality there are plenty more.

There is a belief that people are not honest when they deal with others, that most people are focused on themselves, on getting the best deal for their needs.

Though there is truth mixed in with most things, today I want you to really think about what you believe about your clients and customers.

The reason is, if we believe buyers are liars, then that will affect how we treat them. With suspicion, with uncertainty and with our guard up.

Shakespeare once wrote, “There is nothing either good or bad, but thinking makes it so.”

And so it is with people.

What if we chose to believe, “People are neither good or bad, but thinking makes it so”?

What if we decided, right this minute, that:

  • All my customers are special.
  • All my clients want attention and guidance, and I know how to deliver it.
  • All of those who inquire about my business and services are looking for what I offer.
  • People are generally good.
  • Pets are the best thing about life (I know you believe this already!).

The bottom line really is: What do you believe about your customers? Answering that truthfully and determining that you will, from this point on, believe only the best will made a profound difference in your results.

If you already have this positive belief, ask yourself whether you are sharing it enough with your team and community. If not, there’s your action plan for this month!

I believe in you!

Continue Reading

Most Popular