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Tip Sheet

The One Thing You Should Fear Most … and More Tips for July

The most dangerous thing you can do in business is never taking a risk.

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BUSINESS

Fear the Old

Advertising guru Roy Williams’ words are worth printing and putting in a frame on your desk. They’re a pithy reminder that the business world is always in motion. Just because you’re successful today, it doesn’t mean you’ll be successful tomorrow. And just because something worked five years ago, it doesn’t necessarily work today. Examine your business belief system regularly. Embrace exploration and experiment. Fear stagnancy. And remember these equally good words from Seth Godin: “Safe is risky. The biggest risk is to take no risks at all.”

STAFF

Get 3-Month Reviews

From Seth Godin’s The Big Moo: Do what entrepreneurial hotelier Chip Conley does at his Joie de Vivre hotels. Make it a habit to sit down with your new hires at about the three-month point. But don’t give them a performance review — have them give you, and your operation, a review. After three months, their eyes are still fresh enough that they’ll be able to see things you’re missing. And they’ll have been on the job long enough to know how things work. Chances are that they’ll have a few great ideas to contribute.

CUSTOMER SERVICE

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Express Your Sympathy

A fixture of our household, Hazel, a chocolate Labrador, passed away last week. While it may not be uncommon for a vet’s office to send a sympathy note, the card we received from Willow Creek Veterinary Service in Medina, OH, was thoughtful enough that we thought to suggest other pet businesses do the same. You can bet another pup will follow in Hazel’s footsteps, and she’ll be getting her checkups at the same vet. As yet, no other pet businesses have won the grieving household’s allegiance in the same way.

CUSTOMER SERVICE

Goodbye, Dirty Bills

Nobody really likes old, dirty money. In fact, when researchers at the University of Winnipeg gave students $20 and told them they could buy as much as they wanted and save the rest, students given crisp $20 bills spent an average of $3.86, while the “dirty money” students spent $8.35. Researchers believe worn bills generate feelings of contamination in the holder, thereby devaluing them. The takeaway? Each time a customer uses a grubby old bill to pay you, stick it in a jar for emergency expenses. Don’t return such notes to your customers or use them to pay staff.

SOCIAL MEDIA

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Prepare to Be Shared

What kind of online content is most shareable? Contagious author Jonah Berger has a few ground rules. Quality instructive content is always popular. But be as specific as you can. Making people laugh is good. And it’s better to make them mad than sad. (People don’t share content that makes them cry at the same rate they share what pisses them off.)

STRATEGY

Hate Ain’t Great, But Apathy is Worse

Think of a strong brand. Apple. Mercedes. Fox News. Some people love these brands. Some people hate them. That’s how it should be, says Doug Stevens, author of The Retail Revival. “Every strong and focused brand, just like every strong and focused person, creates this love/hate dynamic to some degree.” In other words, if no one hates you, chances are no one loves you much, either.

ONLINE

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Blogging Made Easy

Can’t figure out where to start blogging? Business blogger Marcus Sheridan, whose small pool and spa company is rated No. 1 in Google for pool manufacturers in his region, can tell you. Says Sheridan: “Start with the questions you get every day. Take those 100 questions, and turn them into 100 blog posts.” Aim for one FAQ post a week. Supplement with posts about products and events.

Since launching in 2017, PETS+ has won 11 major international journalism awards for its publication and website. Contact PETS+'s editors at editor@petsplusmag.com.

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Webinar Replay: How to Keep That Holiday Momentum Rolling

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Tip Sheet

Plan Ahead for Pinterest, Use Those Manufacturer Locators, and More Tips for Your Business

And try to keep your expectations low…

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goals

Use “will-do,” not “to-do” Lists

When making your daily to-do list, don’t pick 20 things you hope to do. You’ll overestimate your capacities. Instead, pick three or four important things, and really commit to doing them, even if you think they’ll take you only a couple of hours, suggests Luciano Passuello at litemind.com. Keeping promises to yourself is exhilarating. And with the extra time, you can pick more items from the master list.

feedback

Keep It Positive by 5 to 1

We all know that employees are more motivated by positive feedback than by negative comments. But we never knew the proper ratio for parceling out praise and punishment — until Tom Rath and Donald Clifton spelled it out in their book, How Full Is Your Bucket? They say the optimum ratio is five positive comments to every negative one. But don’t overdo it: Increasing the ratio to 13 positive comments to every negative one does more harm than good.

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customer service

Teaching Treat

At Just Fur Pets in Springfield, VA, patrons of a DIY dog bath are treated to treats for their pups, along with a teaching moment. “We offer them a complimentary treat and explain that treating in-store —and not waiting until they get home — helps their dog learn that coming here for a bath is a good experience; they often buy a bag of treats or a bone to take home,” says owner Marcia E. Cram.

creative response dept.

Humor Me

One of the constant challenges of being a small-business owner is how to respond to bad customer behavior. In the face of senseless vandalism, humor is often best, a la the manager at Bonez restaurant in Crested Butte, CO, who, upon finding a hole punched in the bathroom wall, placed an explanatory card next to the hole, as if it were a piece of art in a museum.

expectations 2019?

Don’t Expect So Much

The problem with high expectations is they often result in future disappointment. Meanwhile, low ones tend to make you glum in the present given there’s not much to look forward to. The answer? Stop expecting, says author Jason Fried. “I used to set up expectations in my head all day long. But constantly measuring reality against an imagined reality is taxing and tiring, [and] often wrings the joy out of experiencing something for what it is.” Expectations also keep you living in the future and deflated when events don’t measure up — even if what does happen is actually pretty good. In 2019, don’t expect … so much.

social media

Plan Ahead for Pinterest

Something most people forget about Pinterest is that it is essentially a search engine, so if you are pinning things you want people to see right now, you’ve left it too late. A better approach, is to plan and pin two months ahead of time for holiday gifts, for example. It takes time to build rank and credibility as users search for fashion and style information.

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marketing

Locators, Locators, Locators

Reaching new customers is a constant struggle, and marketing is expensive. In response to this, EyeStyles Optical and Boutique, an independent eyewear retailer in Oakdale, MN, targets vendors that drive traffic through store locators. “The more store locators you can be found on, the better your ability to reach your customer,” owner Nikki Griffin says.

addiction

Go Gray

Worried your relationship with your phone is less than healthy? Switch your display from color to grayscale, recommends Catherine Price in her book How to Break up with Your Phone. (It’s hidden five levels deep on the iPhone: Settings > General > Accessibility > Display Accommodations > Color Filters.) Instantly, your phone is vastly duller. Try it for a day.

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Tip Sheet

Keep Your Opinions to Yourself, and Other Tips for January

Try this advice to help your business grow and prosper.

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Marketing

Make it Rain

Your business cards do no good sitting in a drawer. Get them out, says Paul Timm, author of 50 Powerful Ways To Win New Customers. He cites one company that included a business card in every piece of first-class mail sent out, even the bills they paid. It led to a call from the local electric company asking about their product. Another manager tossed his cards in the air at football games when the home team scored.

new year’s resolutions

Weigh Station

The new year brings resolutions for people and their pets. Encourage a healthy weight for your canine customers, which can involve upgrading to a higher-quality food. Spark the conversation with a scale in your store. Frank Frattini has done exactly that at The Hungry Puppy in Farmingdale, NJ. He even installed a banner outside to promote his Doggie Weigh Station.

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discounts

Anniversary Percentage

Looking for a marketing hook to celebrate your store’s anniversary? Go with the number of years you’ve been open. For the 13th anniversary of Paddywack in Mill Creek, WA, in 2018. Shane Somerville offered a 13-percent discount, plus a prize wheel and VIP swag bags. She saw a 565-percent increase in sales over an average day.

principles

Every Day, Getting Better and Better

If you’re still scratching around for a guiding principle for 2019, consider this one from Gretchin Ruhin, author of the bestselling The Happiness Project: “What you do every day matters more than what you do once in a while.” That applies not only to the life’s work you build on a daily basis, but also the things you spend your money on. Do you need that huge SUV if you only ever drive to work and home?

management

Hold Your Piece

According to business consultant Simon Sinek, author of Start with Why, the typical business meeting follows this pattern: The manager outlines the problem, says what he thinks, and then asks staff for opinions. But by then, it’s too late, Sinek says.

The direction of the discussion has already been set. The ability to hold your opinions has two benefits, he says. “One, it gives everyone else the feeling that they have been heard. And two, you get the benefit of getting to hear what everybody has to think before you render your opinion. Simply sit there, take it all in. The only thing you’re allowed to do is to ask questions. And at the end, you will get your turn.”

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grooming

Before … and a Quick After

Anti-aging beauty products may have pioneered the before-and-after format in the back of magazines 80 years ago, but if you’re a groomer in 2019, it’s a Facebook video you want doing the contrasts for you, preferably like Mutt and Joe’s speeded styling clip. Have a look at the Severna Park, MD, business’s spot here: ppmag.us/11911.

lost pets

This is How to Offer a Cash Reward

A missing-pet sign with tear-off phone numbers, the animal’s photograph, the owner’s address, and a promise of a $100 or $1,000 reward is basically saying, ‘Here’s where I live, I have lots of cash, come steal it,’ Richard Masten, executive director of Crime Stoppers of Miami-Dade County, told The New York Times recently for an article on how to offer cash rewards. His point — one you should make to any customers with an AWOL animal — is that paying out cash rewards is risky. Instead they should partner with their local Crime Stoppers organization, which will already have a protocol in place for such incidents.

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Tip Sheet

8 Tips to Help You Do Better Business – And Be a Better Person

We give you the secret for getting a finicky cat to eat.

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CAT FOOD

Sneaky Feeding

Is a customer having trouble transitioning her cat to raw food? Tracey Rentcome of Bones2Go in Houston, TX, shares this advice: “Be as sneaky as they are. ‘Accidentally’ drop a little on the floor by their dish.” For customers who also have a dog, she suggests dropping the raw cat food by the dog’s dish. “Cats love to steal from dogs.”

POSTURE

2-Second Fix

Your parents were right: Stop slouching. “If you take on a collapsed position, it really shifts the physiology,” Erik Peper, a professor of health education at San Francisco State University, told Bloomberg, adding that tests have shown that slouchers’ testosterone levels go down, cortisol levels go up, and they have more helpless thoughts. Luckily, the opposite happens when you sit up, stretch or even better, skip on the spot for just 10 seconds. People can’t sit or stand at attention all day, though, so pick your battles, says Peper.

On their sidewalk chalkboard, Green Spot offers a free treat for any pet whose name is featured that day.

PROMOTIONS

Feeling Lucky?

The Green Spot in Omaha, NE, has a cool promo we just had to share. On a chalkboard sandwich sign (and, of course, on social media channels), The Green Spot folks have a daily offer of a free treat for any pet whose name is featured that day. It keeps folks checking back and gives them a reason to pop in, if they happen to be one of the lucky ones.

INNOVATION

Failure Wall

If risk-taking, innovation and transparency are habits you want to promote in your business, you may want to consider a “failure wall” — a flat space preferably in your back room where you and staff can share your “growth lessons” with each other. “Something magical happens to failure when it’s openly acknowledged,” writes business author Jeff Stibel in a column for Bizjournals.com. “Paradoxically, it becomes less of a big deal. The idea of failure is often the elephant in the room that no one wants to mention.”

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STAFF

Write at the End of a Day

Is your staff is showing signs of stress? Ask them to do this simple act: Spend 10 minutes at the end of the day writing about three things (work related or personal) that went well that day. According to a report in the Harvard Business Review, a University of Florida study found that such a gratitude exercise lowered stress levels and physical complaints by roughly 1percent.

SELF WORTH

Cross It Off

If you use a to-do list to guide your task choices through the week, leave your “done” items at the top as you knock them off, suggests productivity website Lifehacker. The feeling of accomplishment will help you get through other items over the course of the week.

ONLINE

This Email Will Self-Destruct

Ever wanted an email address that you could discard like a pair of disposable chopsticks? 10 Minute Mail (10minutemail.com) is for you. The service sets you up with a self-destructing email address that expires in — yep — 10 minutes. Your temporary inbox works just like regular email, allowing you to forward and respond to messages, and you can add extra time if 10 minutes isn’t quite long enough. Whitepaper downloaded, anonymous comment posted, whatever — once you’re done, pull the pin and walk away.

HYGIENE

Oral Exam

Need a break from the sales floor? Take a dental hygiene break (brush gently, floss, rinse): “It can do wonders for your mood,” says online business publication, Quartz.

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