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Here Are Our Top 15 Tips for 2018

PETS+ offers practical advice for your store.




THERE’S NO SHORTAGE of ways to rate a tip, from novelty to boldness to ingenuity to relevance … but the main yardstick would seem to be its potential to make a difference. So, with that in mind, we present our Top 15 Tipsheet items of 2018. Enjoy! And we hope they have a practical use for your business:

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 the featured name of the day. It keeps folks checking back and gives them a reason to pop in, if they happen to be one of the lucky ones.

Fond Farewells

The most important part of a sale is the final moment: This is the point customers remember most how they felt during a transaction, says Ross Shafer, the author of Customer Empathy. “Caring about people is a differentiator that costs you nothing — yet contributes more to your bottom line than all other marketing efforts combined,” he says.

Up-Sell Over Holidays

When boarding pets over holidays or special occasions, play on the customer’s guilt that his precious friend can’t be there to enjoy the occasion and offer special treats themed to the time of year at an additional cost. At Just Fur Pets in Springfield, VA, Marcia Cram offers a spring break special: “We make frozen Kongs stuffed with yogurt and banana and offer them for a small fee for those pet parents who want their dog to have treats during their stay.”

Review Your Reviews

Schedule a Yelp session every Wednesday to review customer feedback on online review sites. Not only will this allow you to keep up with what people are saying about your business, but you’ll be able to “share any positive feedback you receive in your social networks and other communication avenues with your customers,” says retail blogger Nicole Leinbach-Reyhle writing on” After all, strong reviews are earned so why not share them?” she says.


Homecoming Hires

Finding talent in a small town can be difficult — after all, most of the best and brightest prospects have moved elsewhere to work. Marketer David Wolfe suggests this strategy to try to win some of them back: Advertise your openings during homecoming holidays. Thanksgiving is the biggest, but Easter, Memorial Day and Labor Day are other prime times to catch people visiting home.

McDonald’s Theory

When faced with a dearth of good suggestions on how to tackle an issue, tech blogger Jon Bell suggests his McDonald’s Theory. When applied to eating, it goes like this: “When we’re trying to decide where to eat for lunch and no one has any ideas. I recommend McDonald’s. An interesting thing happens. Everyone unanimously agrees that we can’t possibly go to McDonald’s, and better lunch suggestions emerge. Magic!” Bell says the same strategy can be used for just about any issue, especially creative projects, where the first step (deciding) is harder than the second.

To Learn, You’ve Gotta Do

If you’re not doing most of your learning by doing, you’re probably not learning much. That’s according to Peter Sims, author of Little Bets: How Breakthrough Ideas Emerge From Small Discoveries. It’s also the view of most entrepreneurs. Overnight success is rare. Business progress comes from experimenting, taking chances, giving little things a try. It’s a lot more fun, too.

Take a Shower First

Author and business guru Norm Brodsky is a businessman who likes to take risks. But after a series of poor decisions bankrupted one of his companies, he made up a series of rules that would help cut down on poor decisions. One that you might consider stealing for yourself: Brodsky vowed he would never make an important decision without taking a shower. Brodsky says that he does his best thinking in the shower. And since he takes only one shower a day, Brodsky’s “shower rule” gives the entrepreneur a much-needed “cooling off” period, both literally and figuratively.

Assign Some Reading

The next time you interview a promising job candidate, give him a short book or magazine article in sync with your aspirations for your store and tell him or you’d like to discuss his thoughts on the material at your next meeting. Says Sam Parker on “If they come back excited about the book, you’ll know you’re possibly of the same mindset. If they balk at the work, you’ll have a good signal the person may not be willing to go the extra yard for you.”

Count Your Name

There was a time when copywriters believed the more times they could repeat a business’s name in an ad, the better. But that was in the mid-20th century, when Americans encountered 30 times fewer ads than today. “Do this today and your ads will sound like they were written in the 1940s,” warns “Wizard of Ads” Roy Williams. These days, the rule is to avoid saying your name in an ad more than you would in a normal conversation.


Shorten Your Years

Consultants Brian Moran and Michael Lennington aren’t big believers in the value of a year, at least when it comes to setting goals. A year’s too big to get your head around, they argue in their book The 12-Week Year, and there’s too much unpredictability involved in planning for 10 or 11 months in the future. In its place, they advocate dividing your year into quarters, and to think of each 12 weeks as a stand-alone “year” — a stretch long enough to make significant progress on a few fronts, yet short enough to stay focused.

Spread Out

When you bring staff to a trade show, do you visit all your old suppliers and let your staff discover new ones? It should be the opposite. You’ve already got a relationship with the older suppliers, so it might be useful for them to meet new people within your business. Since you’ve got extra bodies, place current suppliers at the top of the “to-see” list for staff members. Not only can these exhibitors give valuable insights about current or new products, but your store will benefit from the strengthened relationship.

This Year, Aim Low

For 2018, put a twist on your usual New Year’s resolution. This year, instead of trying to take on a new behavior, give up a few old ones. To start, list your 10 most important roles in life. Next, rank them. Finally, resign from at least the bottom two. So, quit your book group; stop struggling to make dates with that hard-to-pin-down friend; and accept, at long last, that you’ll never be a good cook. “Not because those things are bad,” says Guardian columnist Oliver Burkeman. But “because it’s the only way to do other things well.”

Go to Jail

The late inventor Jacob Rabinow used a technique to slow himself down when he was on a job that required more endurance than intuition. A piece in Psychology Today says Rabinow would pretend he was in jail, where “time is of no consequence.” So if something is going to take a week, it takes a week. “What else have I got to do? This is a kind of mental trick. Otherwise you say, ‘My God, it’s not working,’ and then you make mistakes.”

De-Ice Ingeniously

(Ignore this if you can see a palm tree from your window.) Long known for its ability to clean spilled oil off wild birds, Dawn dish soap has yet another animal-friendly quality, notes the blog One Good Thing ( sidewalk de-icer. Mix 1 teaspoon of Dawn, 1 tablespoon of rubbing alcohol and a half-gallon of hot water. Pour it on the sidewalk. It won’t refreeze. (We tried it in 7-degree weather, but, sorry, when it dipped to -4, we didn’t venture out to see whether it was still working.)



P.L.A.Y. Media Spotlight

At P.L.A.Y. — Pet Lifestyle & You — toy design is definitely a team effort! Watch PETS+ interviewer Chloe DiVita and P.L.A.Y.’s Director of Sales Lisa Hisamune as they talk about the toy design process, the fine-tuning that makes each toy so special and why every P.L.A.Y. collection is made with independent retailers top of mind.

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