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Manager's To Do

Time for Round 2 of 2018 Employee Reviews

With a strong economy, it may be time to review and realign job descriptions.

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Sept. 3-9

INVENTORY College football is underway, and the NFL starts this week. Do you offer sports merchandise for pets? If not, explore the options at petsportsgear.com and sportsfanimals.com

DESIGN Want to refurbish or repaint old shelves and displays cheaply and creatively? Hire fine arts students from a local college to help you add special finishes, and even to repair cases. “They have the eye, the updated vision and often the building skills. Work with them to explain what you’d like to accomplish,” says Sarah Yates, director of marketing at interior design firm GRID/3 International.

INVENTORY Ahead of every weekend, give a different staff member $50 and ask her to drop in and browse other pet businesses in your wider market. Come the holiday season, you don’t want to be offering the same merchandise as every other store in a 10-mile radius.

Sept. 10-16

TECHNOLOGY In 2018, we shouldn’t have to tell you how important that initial online contact is. Test how your website loads on 3G, 4G and WiFi on smartphones and tablets to understand how your site really works in the hands of users. Visitors won’t hang around if they get anything less than a good experience.

MANAGEMENT Develop a standardized gripe response formula. Be sure everyone on the team knows how to execute it perfectly.

PUBLIC RELATIONS Start plotting ways to get your face out into the community. Dust off your animal training speech, update your pet-fashion-trends analysis and volunteer to be the voice of the small business community. There are meeting halls and newspaper column inches to be filled.

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Sept. 17-23

STAFF It’s time for the second of your twice-yearly employee reviews (last one was in March). With a strong economy, it may be time to review and realign job descriptions.

ONLINE Investigate what it takes to sell digital gift cards from your website. True, it’s the kind of gift someone buys at 3 p.m. on Dec. 24, but you should start researching now. Gift cards get more popular each year, and young consumers don’t have any issues with digital gifts.

MARKETING Launch “Project Tell-a-Friend.” Encourage your best customers to tell their friends about your store.

Sept. 24-30

TRAINING Work on greetings with new and old staff. Your welcome sets the base for the entire sales transaction. Keep it low-key and friendly, and try to avoid anything that elicits a conditioned or reflexive response, especially the dreaded “No, thanks. I’m just looking.”

EVENTS In the past, we’ve urged you to test holiday-season coffee and cookie offerings on staff. This year, why not invite your best customers in to help you choose the edible goodies you will serve at your holiday event(s)?

FINANCES Meet with your CPA and discuss a strategy for 2019. A string of new small-business tax breaks has been introduced in recent years. Are you taking advantage of them?

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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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June Marks National Microchip, Pet Preparedness and Wash Your Dog Month

…and many more June events!

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01 Sales of audiobooks have surged over the last 15 years, as smartphones made downloads as easy as a tap of the finger. During Audiobook Appreciation Month, do a Google search for “bestselling business audiobooks” and catch up on some of the great management advice that’s been published in the last few years. Best of all, there’s no actual reading required. You can finish the book while commuting to work, working out at the gym or walking your clients’ dogs.

15 Psychologist Steven Smith, one of the leaders in the study of skill accumulation, has noted that few people can juggle six tea cups, but that anyone could actually learn to do it if they had the inclination and some training. Remember, though: You can do anything, but not everything. On World Juggling Day,, choose one thing you really want to achieve this week.

16 It’s Father’s Day,, and all over America, fathers are practicing that look of thrilled surprise — that one dear old Dad always manages after receiving his third cigar cutter. This year, encourage your customers to organize a gift from Max or Bella. Gift cards, possibly illustrated with an image of said pet, always go down well. Dad’s an unfailingly practical person at heart. He’s sure to get a kick out of coming in to pick up a top-of-the line pooper scooper.

17 There was a time that the workplace was no place for pets. Not so in your business, of course, but help spread the love with promotions of Take Your Cat to Work Day,, which kicks off the annual Take Your Pet to Work Week,, and culminates with Take Your Dog To Work Day, on June 21. Find out more here: petsit.com/takeyourcat.

19 Dogs with faces only their owners could love gather at the Sonoma-Marin Fair for the World’s Ugliest Dog contest today. Hold a similar competition in your store.

21 Ask any Washington insider and they’ll say that the best way to start a campaign is with a solid base of fear. When it comes to the sunny months ahead — summer, officially begins today — there’s plenty to be scared about for pet owners: ticks, snakes, heatstroke, bad human food at barbecues, hot asphalt … the list goes on. Sharpen your shears, prep your anti-tick inventory, get out in your community, work the press.

21 What was once considered a petty self-indulgence is now viewed as a powerful marketing tool. Ahead of NATIONAL SELFIE DAY,, draw up a strategy to get your customers to take more photos of themselves and their pets with a mention of your business. The ultimate goal is to get them post the images on their Facebook, Instagram or Twitter.

27 “Happy Birthday To You” turns 160. Offer to send a singing telegram to any pet owner who shares a birthday with the world’s most sung song.

MORE EVENTS

June is National Pet Preparedness Month — It’s that time of the year when nature turns capricious. Remind customers to include their pets in the emergency planning.
June is National Wash Your Dog Month … Celebrate with a coupon. First bath free.
June 11 World Pet Memorial Day. Urns, stuffed animals, jewelry, picture books … the “over the rainbow bridge” segment is growing fast.
June 18 Clean Your Aquarium Day — Offer a DIY service.
June 20 Productivity Day … sponsored by Steel Horse Coffee. We’d have to agree, a good work routine starts with a cup of Joe.

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Manager's To Do

In June, Begin Planning for the Second Half of the Year

Maybe start it with a marketing question.

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June 2-8

MARKETING Start your planning for the second half of the year by asking yourself what one advertisement or promotion in your recent history elicited the biggest response. Just because a $10 coupon was hugely successful three years ago doesn’t mean you can’t do it again.

INSPIRATION Ask your staff to write down the top 10 reasons that people should do business with your store. Discuss this feedback at a staff meeting.

EVENTS In a lifestyle center, strip mall or downtown location? Take the lead in organizing a community block party. Loads of fun and a great crowd generator.

June 9-15

MANAGEMENT The Small Business Administration makes available a helpful guide to minimize risk. Find it here petsplusmag.com/6191, and then create your risk-management plan.

ONLINE If you don’t know how visitors are interacting with your website or where they are coming from, it’s hard to devise an effective online strategy. Google Analytics is free and easy: There is a great tutorial on the Google site and a bunch of YouTube how-to videos that can help you understand how to use it. Make mastery of Analytics a summer priority!

PERSONAL Shake up your routine. With pen and paper, write a thank-you note to someone who’s influenced you in your career. Don’t forget to mail it.

June 16-22

STORE Update your in-store video loop. For a change, forget the promotional videos and run something that’s got nothing to do with selling at all, but that is a good fit with the summer holidays — Coco, The Lion King, Piper, Finding Dory, Madagascar, there’s no shortage of fun, animal-themed productions.

OPERATIONS What’s your pre-opening drill? If it’s “All hands to the pump!” you may want to try something more systematic. Many retailers use a 10-point checklist to make sure that all the important things are taken care of before they open the doors.

WEBSITE What hours are you open? What pet food brands do you carry? Think of the top 10 reasons people call you and then get the information up on your website in the form of an easy-to-find FAQ page.

June 23-29

evenOFFICE WORK The phone slows over summer. It’s time to do some housekeeping: Organize all the paperwork and procedural stuff that gets put aside, such as updating the customer data with new phone numbers and email addresses, reading the POS manual and so on.

STAFF Hold an “Assistant for a Day” contest this month. Award points for each positive action you determine — e.g. one point for each pet name remembered, 10 points for an outreach exercise that results in a new customer coming in, 1 point for asking for an add-on sale, 10 points for completing it. At the end of the month, tally up the points for each staff member. The winner gets you as their “Assistant for a Day.” You make them coffee, clean up their workspace, wash their car, whatever your “boss” wants.

MANAGEMENT Start meeting with staff at least monthly to share three “good things” to build on and three “development areas.”

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What’s on Your Agenda for National Pet Month? Our Calendar Gives Some Ideas

There’s plenty to do in May!

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1 NATIONAL PET MONTH is your turn in the spotlight. The month typically features a string of charity events, corporate campaigns and media attention. (Brace for stories like “Top 5 pet movies of all time” and “What your pet is actually thinking.”) The campaign’s stated aims are to promote the benefits of pet ownership, support adoptions and increase public awareness of the services available from professionals who work with animals. Hey, that’s you! Get involved.

1 Every year, an estimated 20 percent of the population moves. That’s great news for pet pros because many of those people will be looking for service providers in their new communities. During NATIONAL MOVING MONTH, partner up with a real estate agent to put together a greeting package that includes a welcome note, a gift certificate and a flier outlining your services.

3 What was once known as Disabled Pets Day has evolved to become NATIONAL SPECIALLY ABLED PETS DAY, to highlight the superpowers these animals often have, like the extremely developed senses of smell, hearing and touch that vision-impaired pets have or the way hearing-impaired dogs can respond to sign language. Not only do these pets, once considered unadoptable, make great companions, they also need special products like slings, ramps and supplements. We see a specially abled opportunity. Explore!

5 Hola amigos, it’s CINCO DE MAYO, everybody’s favorite Mexican holiday. Join in the fun and invite owners of Chamucos, Chihuahuas, Xolos and any other Mexican breeds to come in for a special event. Lay on some margaritas and crunchy mini tacos, and maybe bring in a trainer to test their Spanish. Siéntate (Sit). Trae (Fetch). Everyone wants to show off a bilingual dog!

6 Which are healthier — purebreds or mutts? It’s one of the great debates among dog lovers and pet professionals. The great thing about May is that you don’t really have to reveal your preference — you can hold promotions to celebrate both kinds: May 1 is NATIONAL PUREBRED DOG DAY and May 6 is MAYDAY FOR MUTTS.

7 PUPPY MILL ACTION WEEK, organized by The Humane Society of the United States, seeks to raise awareness about the cruelty and health risks posed by unscrupulous commercial breeding. It’s also your opportunity to make a clear public stand on mills by taking the pledge to become a “puppy friendly” business. The society offers to help stores transitioning away from the sale of puppies here: (petsplusmag.com/5191.)

12 The BIRTHDATE OF THE BUDDHA is a perfect time for reflection on one of his important lessons: Focus on what’s important and on what works, and let go of the rest. This applies to advice offered by mentors and staff, the work practices you use now and what you read in PETS+. Invite input, keep an open mind and act to declutter.

12 You don’t want to get between a grizzly and her cub, or even a mother Bichon Frise and her litter, for that matter. On MOTHER’S DAY, get similarly aggressive in your market. Roll out a promotion targeting Pet Moms. Gifts from pet to parent are an admittedly small but growing category.

MORE EVENTS

May is Chip Your Pet Month. Be sure customers can locate their pets.
May is Go Fetch! National Food Drive for Homeless Animals Month.
May is National Service Animal Eye Examination Month. Encourage checkups. Visual health can be an early indicator of a host of complaints.
May is Lyme Disease Awareness Month. It’s hard to detect and debilitating. Send prevention guidelines to all of your customers.
May 7-13: Be Kind to Animals Week. Who would be otherwise?
May 12: National Animal Disaster Preparedness Day. Role-play to ensure you’re ready for the big one.

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