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You, The Pet Pro

Let’s learn more about the amazing, generous indies who took the time to take our first-ever Big Survey!




61. Gender: How do you identify?


62. How old are you?


63. Race or ethnicity: How do you identify?

East Asian
Black or African American
American Indian; Alaska Native
Pacific Islander
South Asian
Choose not to say

64. Where do you feel poorest?


65. What do you love most about being a pet pro?

Sense of accomplishment from helping pets and people
Continuous learning to better serve customers and clients
Interacting with customers and clients
Earning good money
“All of the above” was the top “Other” answer to this question, with a few of you including the caveat that you don’t earn as much as you’d like. “Seeing pets transform from sick to healthy!” represents another common response. And many of you also love being a leader. “Mentoring my staff and keeping them happy is my greatest joy as a business owner.”

66. What was the most important business lesson someone gave you? Who?

  • Bob Negen talks about the lifetime value of a customer. It changed our mindset on most aspects of our business. It changed our return policy, how we handle issues, and how we deal with difficult customers.
  • Documentation is power! That was actually told to me many, many years ago by my high school journalism teacher, and I have never forgotten it. It has come in handy on numerous occasions when dealing with difficult employees and in other situations.
  • We bought our business. The previous owner stocked a brand that we didn’t think so highly of. We were thinking of dropping this brand. We went to our first trade show and talked to an older gentleman who had been in the pet business for many years. He asked if this product line brought in customers. It did. He said, “Then why get rid of it? Build a relationship with these people, and you may be able to switch them to something better.” Best advice ever. We still carry this brand, and it still draws people in for us to start a conversation.
  • My first boss, in a sales job, told me to be someone folks would want to have a beer with after work. I always remember that — to be friendly, interesting and a person others want to be around.

  • To realize our worth and value, to never give up and to keep pushing forward. B.C. Henschen is an amazing friend and mentor and is always there when I feel like throwing in the towel. He has motivated me and kept me going, as has his wife, Kat. I am forever thankful to have them in my life.
  • My dad! He’s given me a lot of sayings throughout my journey as a businesswoman, but one I always come back to is, “If you don’t have money problems, then you’ve got customer problems. If you don’t have customer problems, then you’ve got employee problems. If you don’t have employee problems, then you’ve got money problems.” There’s always going to be something when running a business, so remembering this saying just reminds me of how I’ve gotten through all of these issues before and come out OK in the end.
  • I’m a huge fan of Walt Disney. “If you can dream it, you can do it.” I repeat this phrase from him to staff very often. “Whatever you do, do it well. Do it so well that when people see you do it, they will want to come back and see you do it again, and they will want to bring others and show them how well you do what you do.” I worked at Disney World for a bit and learned some important business lessons!
  • My mom says to do what you love and the money will follow, and to stop looking at the greener grass on the other side, just water your own.
  • Years ago, a fishing lure rep told me they make lures to catch fishermen because fish don’t have wallets. All of our products should capture the attention of the customer first.
  • Dog Gurus told us that if there’s a task we can pay someone else to do and make more in the amount of time it would take us to do that, to hire the help and use our time wisely. That has stuck with me and proven to be very helpful.
  • Gary Vaynerchuk says to audit your circle. Don’t follow or engage with anything that drains you. Ruthlessly hide, unfollow, leave groups, etc. Not just on social media, but in real life, too!
  • A previous boss of mine said that there is no hierarchy in business. No one role is better or more important than another. The order in which you should see importance in each thing you deal with should be client first, business second and self last. Take all emotion out of every decision and stick to the facts!
  • Sports analogy: No matter what you just did, great or bad, don’t spend too long celebrating or kicking yourself over it. Your business, staff and customers need your head in the game for the next play.
  • Never judge someone’s finances by the way they look (clothing, hygiene, etc.). A previous employer.
  • Not every customer is your customer. It’s OK to fire a customer. From a friend.
  • Keep consistent hours for your customers. Don’t close early or open late. That was from the restaurant owner at a place I worked in college.
  • At the end of the day, it is only dog food. Don’t let it ruin your day. Previous owner.

  • Don’t be afraid to raise your prices or charge based on perceived value. Candace D’Agnolo.
  • If a customer is being rude to you, get them to spend more money. High school boss.
  • Enjoy life — work/life balance. A former supervisor told me to take a vacation. When I said I couldn’t, too much to do, he explained that if I died tomorrow the company would go right on without me. That it could all wait, and things wouldn’t crumble without me there. It was sobering, but it helped me realize it was true. I was replaceable, and I should live my life before it was gone. Not care more about the company than my own life and sanity. Taking vacations helped me realize I was a better leader when I wasn’t so stressed and tired. After that, I always have had the next vacation on the books so I had something to look forward to. That alone has helped.
  • Your biggest competition is yourself. Boss in the late ‘80s.
  • We learned from our last place of employment that we would never run a business that the success of requires us to rely on underpaid, overworked employees. Nor would we use the “But here, we’re family” fiction to make employees feel bound to something they have no real stake in.
  • Former boss: Delegation is critical for small business success. Trust employees who are ready and able to complete everyday small tasks, so you can put your energy toward larger, more important tasks, like growing the business.
  • Not sure who gave the advice, but when you’re a small fish in a big ocean, you need to keep your eyes open and beware of big fish that might try to eat you. But know your strengths and make them be your focus. You can’t outdo the big fish in what they do, but you can be the best small fish you can be.
  • No amount of money ever bought a second of time. Tony Stark aka Iron Man.

67. What will be your one-word theme for 2023?



NASC Media Spotlight

At first it was just an idea: Animal supplements needed the same quality control that human-grade supplements receive. But that was enough to start a movement and an organization —the National Animal Supplement Council — that would be dedicated to establishing a comprehensive path forward for the animal supplements industry. In this Media Spotlight interview, NASC’s president, Bill Bookout, talks to PETS+ interviewer Chloe DiVita about the industry today: Where it’s headed, what’s the latest focus and why it’s vital to gain the involvement of independent pet product retailers.

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