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Upselling Your Customers Isn’t Salesy, It’s Great Customer Service

How could a retailer not upsell?

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SPEAKING AT GLOBAL PET EXPO earlier this year about luring customers into your store using old-school marketing techniques, I asked at the end, “Now that you’re successfully luring customers to your store, how many of you upsell to your customers?” In the audience of 90 people, four people raised their hands, and two of those were from the same store. I was a dumbfounded at the lack of response. How could a retailer not upsell?

So, over the next month, I did some secret-shopping to see how upselling and customer service were going in our industry.

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One pet store that failed big time was a small chain retail store that also has self-service dog-wash stations. I brought my dog there after a muddy walk in the woods, and I was greeted nicely by one employee — “Hi, here for a bath?” — while paying attention to my dog. “Yes,” peering back to see there was a Husky in the middle bath who the owner was bathing. As I walked to the back of the store, the employee said, “The tub on the right is out of order, but the one of the left works.” But the tub on the left was too low for me to bathe my dog without hurting my back.

So I went back up to the front and said, “I think I am going to come back,” as my dog was wagging and begging for attention. “Oh, OK … your dog is so cute. Can I take a picture of him?” After the picture was taken, and more treats were given to my dog, I said it again, “I think I will come back.” And after a few moments of the employees — all three, including the manager, making a fuss over my dog — I left.

They let me leave the store! There were no other customers in the store. They just lost the sale of the bath — and a dog toy that I always purchase after the bath.

The employees could have educated me about products to solve my muddy dog problem before I walked out the door. How? Simple question: “Can I show you something?” She could have led me over to the aisle where they have products to help clean my dog — bath wipes, sprays, dog towels, even car-seat covers — and explained them to me.

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Instead, they were more interested in taking pictures of my dog than helping me (the customer) solve the problem I had (a muddy pup). They could have upsold me products I didn’t know I needed, thus having a better profit than if I just washed my dog … which I wasn’t able to do in the first place.

Fantastic customer service could have been:

  • Offering to call me when the tub was free.
  • Scheduling an appointment for me — even though there is a first-come, first-serve policy. (Make an exception!)
  • Telling me to come a few minutes before they opened, to ensure a tub.
  • Offering to wash the dog for me since the lower tub hurts my back.
  • Asking whether I wanted to pre-pay for the bath, to ensure I would actually come back and bathe my dog. (I haven’t been back since.)

Upselling doesn’t have to be salesy or make you feel uncomfortable, but rather using education to teach customers about the products in your store, which will naturally get them to purchase. We are experts in the industry and know what the products are — but the average pet parent is not that keen on everything we stock in our stores, what they do, how they can be used and so on. Customers leaving without a purchase is obviously not what we want. Providing education about a product, great customer service and informing them how products can be used is more likely to lead to the cha-ching of your cash register.

Nancy E. Hassel is founder and president of American Pet Professionals (APP), an award-winning networking and educational organization dedicated to helping pet entrepreneurs, businesses and animal rescues to grow, work together and unite the pet industry. Contact her at nancy@americanpetprofessionals.com.

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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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Editor's Note

What I Learned at the Wellness Summit

The first PETS+ trade event sent us all home armed with shared information and a sense of community.

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IN OCTOBER, PETS+ hosted its first trade event — the PETS+ Wellness Summit — in which we tried an experiment: We wanted to bring the spirit of the magazine to life, complete with retailers and service providers sharing real-world knowledge and experience, alongside experts from manufacturers whose products those businesses stock, sell and use.

During those two days just outside Chicago, I know from the responses of those who attended, folks soaked in that sharing of information and went back home reinvigorated and better prepared to meet the needs — and address the concerns — of their customers.

I too left armed with new knowledge that I hope we’ll soon be pouring into upcoming issues of PETS+.

Specifically, I learned of a growing consensus to refer to raw food as “fresh.” Coming from the perspective of a consumer as much as a pet industry insider, that’s a shift I can appreciate. Deep down, there’s a squeamish factor in “raw” that I realize is irrational, but “fresh” is a term we can all embrace — and already gladly pay more for when shopping for human groceries.

I learned also that pet pros face many of the same challenges, even if their businesses are located thousands of miles apart. But when they sit down at a table together and share those challenges, their peers gladly offer up suggestions based on their own experiences. That’s heartening, and I hope PETS+, our website, Facebook community and Brain Squad will stand in for that dinner table when you aren’t able to meet face to face.

Mostly, though, I confirmed what I suspected: that PETS+ readers are every bit as cool in person as they are when hearing from them via phone and email. I, for one, hope I’ll be seeing you face to face at many more events PETS+ will host in the future. Stay tuned!

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Ralf Kircher
Editor-in-Chief, Pets+
ralf@petsplusmag.com

Five Great Tips From This Issue That You Can Do Today

1. This year, launch a new holiday tradition, such as everyone wearing red and green bowties. (Manager’s To-Do List, page 12)
2. Eliminate clutter and distractions in your business’s “decompression zone” to allow customers to acclimate. (Manager’s To-Do List, page 12)
3. To sell more of an item, try bundling at a set price. (Hot Sellers, page 16)
4. If you sell treat holders, run a buy-one-get-the-treat-free promotion. (Hot Sellers, page 16)
5. Prepare a flu kit for your business, complete with EmergenC, cough drops, vitamin C drops, pain medicine, alcohol wipes, Lysol and more. (Tip Sheet, page 38)

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Candace D'Agnolo

Boost Staff Morale with These 3 Holiday Sales Games

It’s important to first identify what your goal is.

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WHEN I WAS running my own pet retail boutique, I found that as the busy days of December rolled on, our team would become more and more run down. Every day gets longer and longer. It becomes harder and harder to keep the team motivated. I needed to find a solution, and I discovered that one of the best ways to perk up everyone was to play games.

Using “gamification” in your business is a really hot trend right now because it creates engagement, connection and results.

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When it comes to using games as a tool in business, it’s important to first identify what your goal is. Perhaps it’s to move out your holiday-specific merchandise. Maybe it’s to ensure that all the new customers coming in are being added to your database. Or you want to get the team to add on one more item over $10 to each sale. Whatever it is, make sure you pick a specific purpose for your game. Play the game only for up to one week. Games that last longer tend to lose their magic. You can play multiple games throughout the month, too. At my store, we had a different four-day game that would run every Thursday through Sunday. Each game’s tactics were different, and each game’s purpose was different.

Here are a few of my favorite games to play to help you sell more stuff, motivate the team and keep that register ringing to make the most of December.

The Dollar Tree

Tape fake dollar bills on a wall in the shape of a Christmas tree. Encourage your team to ask each customer: “Does your pet have a present under the tree this year?” If the customer says, “No” (or even yes) and that question leads them to purchase a toy, then that team member gets to pull a fake dollar from the tree. At the end of your game, they get to turn their fake dollars into you for real dollars.

Staff Santa Sack

Every time you beat your daily sales goal, each person who worked the floor gets to pull a card from the Staff Santa Sack. The sack can be filled with notecards or something similar, each with a reward, gift or surprise written on it. They can turn their cards into you whenever they want during the months of January or February. The rewards could have ideas like, “Skip my turn to clean the bathroom,” “Go to Lunch with the Boss,” “Pick one item from the store under $20,” “Get a 30-minute paid break.”

Staff Bingo

Play Bingo! Make your own bingo board by filling in the boxes with product names, tasks or questions instead of the typical bingo number. Keep them all the same or make a variety of boards. Hand them out to your team and have them try to get bingo in order to move toward your objective. When they have a completed board, they get a prize.

These are just a few examples of games you could play with your team to keep things interesting and to increase your sales at the same time. If you give one a try, make sure to share your results with PETS+.

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5 KPIs to Transform Your Social Media

See few simple targets that even those who dread data will learn to love.

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RECENTLY, I DOVE into the top five key performance indicators (KPIs) that will transform how you market your pet business (petsplusmag.com/11191). Today, we’re going to carry those through to a few top marketing channels to turn your business’s metrics from scary and something you avoid to something you’ll be asking for! The following are a few simple targets that even those who dread data will learn to love.

Competitor Reporting

Set up Facebook competitor reporting to see your top competitors’ top-performing posts. If you haven’t already done this, this is one to set up right now. Buried within Facebook insights is something called “Pages you watch.” Add your top competitors here, and Facebook will automatically deliver you a fresh serving of those pages’ top-performing posts each week — for free! You’ll be able to see what they’re posting in one place and which of those posts got their customers’ attention. (Pro tip: Chances are, if you are competitors, it will get your customers’ attention too.) This is a great way to see instantly how you’re measuring up and get ideas for what will work well for you. It can also give you an idea of how your competitors’ sales posts perform in relation to your own.

All Posts Published

Review Facebook’s All Posts Published report to see which topics are performing best on your page. Facebook makes this super simple and shows you in list form which of your posts received the highest engagement rates in the last 30 days. While some may be obvious — cute or controversial topics tend to have high engagement — some things may surprise you and let you know to talk more about them. For example, we have a pet business that kept trying to talk about topics unrelated to what they sold. However, a quick look at this report proved that posts dealing directly with the products and services they provided had the highest response from people who followed their page. Suddenly, the other kinds of posts were a lot less important to their strategy.

Audience Reports

Take a peek at Facebook and Instagram’s audience reports to see when your audience is online (and when to post). Both Instagram and Facebook pages provide businesses with a roundup of what time of day your audience is using the platforms. Consider posting shortly before the morning rush and evening rush for maximum exposure. Likewise, some email platforms will suggest times of day for emails based on where the people in your list are located.

1,000 Followers

Get past 1,000 followers on each important social channel, then reevaluate whether you need more. We’ve often noticed that 1,000 followers seems to be a sort of magic threshold for pet businesses: Suddenly potential customers are able to see that other people like and trust you, and are therefore more likely to do so as well. Yet, our experience shows that struggling to hit 10,000-plus seems to make little difference for local pet-industry brands. While some additional functionality is opened up at 10,000 followers on Instagram and it’s helpful for national entities, keep a close eye on whether it’s worth the time and money to get there. You may get more bang for the buck on building out recent stellar online reviews, or placing your products on Pinterest once you pass the magic 1,000-follower number as a local business.

Traffic Drivers

Take a quarterly peek at which channels are driving the most traffic to your website and to your store. Typically, these will be very different and not include Instagram at all. Many pet brands that have well-optimized websites find that Pinterest, email and Google drive the most clicks to the website while Facebook’s still a strong performer for foot-traffic (along with Google and email). Knowing which channels will lend themselves to driving specific actions will help you streamline your communications and prioritize your budget based on the sales goals you’ve set.

Give the above five KPIs a quick scan every few months to see what stands out and surprises you — that’s usually a good indicator of an opportunity!

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