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Tip Sheet

Using the 10-10-10 Rule to Make Better Decisions, and More Advice for March

It’s a framework to help you make better choices.

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WHEN FACING A TOUGH decision, whether personal or business, Chip and Dan Heath recommend the 10/10/10 rule, which asks you to think how you will feel about the decision 10 minutes from now, 10 months from now, and 10 years from now.

“Perhaps our worst enemy in resolving conflicts is short-term emotion, which can be an unreliable adviser,” they write in their best-selling book Decisive: How to Make Better Choices in Life and Work.

If, for example, you’ve been avoiding a difficult conversation with a staff member, then you’re letting short-term emotion (fear) rule you. “If you commit to having the conversation, then 10 minutes from now you’ll probably be anxious, but 10 months from now, won’t you be glad you did it?” they say. Or maybe you’ll just view it as a trifling matter not worth getting worked up about. The important thing is that you remove some of the visceral emotion from the occasion.

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Become a Wedding Expert

Money-making idea: Promote services that will allow pets to participate in spring weddings.

Spring is wedding season. And it’s likely that you have customers who are getting married who would love to include their pets in their weddings, if only they knew how easy it is. Reach out to local wedding organizers and ask if you can put a flier in their store and/or a link on their website. And add “wedding assistance for pets” to the list of services on your website. You can sell or rent doggie tuxedos, cumberbunds, dresses and veils. Have a selection of wedding-cake toppers that include the marrying couple and their favorite pet. Even offer your services as pet handler at a wedding.

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Lunch Roulette

If you have a fairly large staff that doesn’t always seem to communicate as well as it could, try “lunch roulette” — a game developed by pharmaceuticals manufacturer Boehringer Ingelheim. Participants select a date — or dates — when they are free for lunch, then they click a “Match Me” button, and a lunch date and calendar reminder are emailed. (Numbers in a hat would work just as well.) After that, all they need to do is show up with an open mind. “Both can learn something from the other,” says Sylvia Ann Hewlett, who reported on the idea in Harvard Business Review. “Lunch roulette not only produces unexpected pairings but often sparks unexpected conversations,” she says.

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Serve up a Sandwich

You may have already heard of the concept of giving “sandwich” criticisms to employees. (Short version: Say something nice, make your criticism, end with something nice.) One more thing to watch out for, says T.J. Schier, author of Send Flowers to the Living, is using the word “but” as part of the sandwich. That one word can ruin the taste of the whole sandwich. Instead, use “and,” as in: “Jane, normally you are my best employee, and it’s critical you are here on time so you can do that awesome job. Now get out there and make it happen.”

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Serve up a Sandwich (2)

Your biggest sales event of the year is here, and you want to make sure that you’re jam-packed with customers. You’ve spent big on advertising and done heavy direct mailing. What else can you do? On the day of the sale, hire people to wear sandwich boards promoting the sale in big red letters. (“50% Off! Today Only!”) Have them stand at major intersections near your business.

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ICE Can Save a Life

Here’s something small you can do today that may save lives in the future. Ask your employees to designate ICE numbers in their mobile phones. ICE stands for “In Case of Emergency.” Putting the “ICE” designation in front of a person’s name makes it easier to contact them immediately in the event of an emergency.

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WEBSITE

Publicize Your Hours

Challenge: Call a friend, and tell him to go to your website and see how quickly he can find your business hours. Did it take 10 seconds? Awesome, you’re doing great. Twenty seconds? OK, not bad, but you might improve visiblity of this important information. Thirty seconds or more? Make a change in your design to ensure that business hours, phone and address are super-easy to find. Because that’s what people are most often looking for when they visit your website.

SIGNS

Go with the Flow

Do you have traffic that goes behind your business? Yes? Do you have signage behind your business that’s designed to draw that traffic? No? Mary Gillen of IdeaSiteForBusiness.com suggests you get busy. Check out the traffic flow around your location and place signs to attract the attention of the busiest traffic flow.

Since launching in 2017, PETS+ has won 14 major international journalism awards for its publication and website. Contact PETS+'s editors at editor@petsplusmag.com.

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Tip Sheet

2 Words Every Salesperson Should Be Using … And 8 Other Business-Building Tips

Plus see one of your business’s greatest resources.

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STAFFUnleash the Giant Within

One of the great untapped resources of small businesses is the staff itself. It’s something the owners of Urban Tails Pet Supply in Minneapolis, MN, have sought to leverage by giving their workers the “creative freedom to use any ideas/means (within reason) to make Urban Tails a great place,” says manager Megan Trombley. “We are running a window display contest. Employees submit their ideas, and whoever wins gets their display made and a $100 Visa gift card.”

HELP DESKGet on the Floor

Ever feel like your desk is caving in on you? That you have dozens of papers, reports, books and folders coming from all directions, reducing your actual workspace to the size of a Post-It Note? If so, marketing consultant Scott Ginsburg suggests going back to your student days and working on the floor. Says Ginsburg: “It works wonders for enhancing your creativity, especially from a visual standpoint. First of all, you’ll have plenty of room to spread out your materials. This will help you more effectively solve problems, come up with new ideas and brainstorm because you’ll see all of the elements involved.”

LOYALTYBuild Trust

Want to totally win the trust of your community? Promise to personally test all the products you sell on your own beloved pets. It’s a commitment that several pet businesses are already making, including Cool Dog Gear, a two-store chain in Pennsylvania. “This allows our staff to truly understand the products and honestly answer questions about it” as well as share their personal experiences about how the product worked, says co-owner Sue Hepner. Danielle Cunningham, owner of Lewis and Bark’s Outpost in Red Lodge, MT, says the approach has helped her store cut returns to fewer than five a year.

STRATEGYGood Citizens

If you refer to potential customers as “prospects” or “targets,” marketer Seth Godin urges you to stop because “marketing-centric terms” don’t reflect the way power has shifted in the marketplace, he says. Instead, call them “citizens.” “When you stop calling people ‘targets’ or ‘prospects,’ and start calling them ‘guests’ or ‘citizens,’ you can’t help but become a little more humble and a little more respectful,” he writes on his blog. “Try it, it works.”

SOCIAL MEDIAPlan Ahead for Pinterest

Most people forget that Pinterest 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.

EVALUATIONAssess Yourself

If you think you’re being productive and making progress, author Tom Peters suggests you ask yourself a question: “What have you done this year?” Answering that question succinctly puts the focus on your big achievements — or lack thereof — over the past year.

MARKETINGGet Noticed

Keith Ferrazzi, author of Never Eat Alone, won’t be sending you a Christmas card this year. He concentrates his energies on birthdays. Why? Hundreds of businesses send Christmas cards to their clients. Few send birthday cards. If you’ve got a limited marketing budget, consider skipping Christmas this year. Instead, try handwriting birthday cards to your favorite customers (or even better, their pets).

INCENTIVESYour Logo Here

If you sell clothing with your store’s logo on it, give customers an incentive to wear it. A 10 percent discount on a purchase made while wearing your shirt will do the trick, says Kelly Mooney, author of The Ten Demandments.

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Tip Sheet

From Listening to Word Choice, 9 Tips to Help You Do Business Better

From “should” to “want”…

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WORD CHOICEStop Saying “Should”

“I should really work out tonight,” “I should talk to more strangers at trade shows,” “I should fill out Brain Squad surveys.” “Should” implies reluctance and guilt. Start saying “want” instead, recommends Sonja Lyubomirsky, author of The How of Happiness. The positive language will help you prioritize what you really want to be doing — and it can help you see healthy business behaviors in a motivating way.

COMMUNICATIONFeel Factor

Writes former Raytheon CEO Bill Swanson in The CEO’s Secret Handbook: “You remember a third of what you read, a half of what people tell you, but 100 percent of what you feel.” When communicating with your staff, your goal is not to tell or teach people what to do, but to make them feel what they need to do.

Photo of Adorable Service Dogs in Theater Gets Viral Attention (VIDEO)
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Photo of Adorable Service Dogs in Theater Gets Viral Attention (VIDEO)

Video: Help Customers Understand What Makes Your Pet Business Unique
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Video: Help Customers Understand What Makes Your Pet Business Unique

Video: Principles Learned While Traveling That You Can Apply to Your Pet Business
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Video: Principles Learned While Traveling That You Can Apply to Your Pet Business

LISTENINGIs That So?

In The Patterson Principles of Selling, Jeffrey Gitomer suggests training yourself to be a better listener by asking a question at the end of your customers’ statements. If you make your own statement, it’s possible you were interrupting. But if you ask a question, you almost have to wait until they’re finished speaking.

ADVERTISINGBoast Location

Outside a major city and trying to compete with the big boys? Turn your location into a competitive advantage in your ads, like one suburban used-car dealer profiled in Entrepreneur Magazine did … using the phrase “We’re just 16 minutes south of higher prices” in all of its advertising.

SOCIAL MEDIALive From the Floor of Superzoo …

Thanks to social media, everyone can be a correspondent today. It’s a role the staff at Cool Dog Gear in Pennsylvania have gleefully accepted, beaming back Facebook Live posts from every trade show they attend. “We find a cool item and do a little infomercial right then and there with the manufacturing rep telling us all about the item — “And coming soon to Cool Dog Gear!” explains co-owner Sue Hepner. “By the time we get back from the show there are already customers waiting to buy it!”

MORALEHappy Staff, Happy Life

In the spirit of Peter Drucker’s dictum that the most powerful question you can ask staff is how you can help them do their jobs better, each employee at Just For Paws in St. Charles, IL, is offered a “wish list” that allows them to choose items to enhance the work environment. “We supply them with top-of-the-line equipment. Our employees get to work in a clean, aesthetically pleasing environment. Happy employees establish an efficient business,” says owner John Webb.

PERSONAL SPACECreate A Shrine

Need a pick-me-up? Jim Krause, author of Creative Sparks, suggests creating a small “personal shrine” in your office space. Include things that are important and relevant to you: a book that taught you something, a few trinkets, a picture or two, and anything else that inspires you. Spend a moment each day in quiet thought with your shrine. Use it to get yourself into the zone for another day of wow-ing customers.

REPETITIONBetter Off Blue

Ever have a subject that you’ve talked about until you’re “blue in the face?” And figured it was time to give up because it didn’t seem to be having an effect on anyone? Well, don’t stop. Bob Nelson, author of 365 Ways to Manage Better, says that it’s often just when you’re getting tired of saying a message over and over that it starts to take hold. Repeat the message until you start hearing it back from your employees. Then you’ll know it has sunk in.

THE HUMAN BRAINSqueeze! Release!

This next tip may sound a bit odd, but work with us here as it’s doctor approved. The nodding doctor is Allen Bradon, author of Learn Faster and Remember More, who suggests bringing a tennis ball to the office. When reading documents, squeeze the ball in your right hand. This will stimulate the left side of your brain, which processes words. If it’s blueprints or instructions with diagrams, switch to your left hand. Stimulating the brain’s right side helps with visualizing and spatial relationships.

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Tip Sheet

9 Tips to Ramp Up Sales, Productivity

Follow this simple rule: Reschedule.

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PRODUCTIVITYLeave the Mess for Now

If you typically feel the urge to straighten your desk before you can start on meaningful work, The Guardian’s Oliver Burkeman suggests a simple rule: Reschedule. “If your job permits it, schedule a daily deck-clearing hour — but at 4.30 p.m., not 9 a.m.,” he says. “It’s time to abandon the secret pride we procrastinators feel in having completed 25 small tasks by 10 a.m. If they’re not the right tasks, that’s not really something to be proud of.” Instead, Burkeman recommends the timeworn advice to work on your most important project for the first hour of each workday.

NEW HIRESFreedom Must Be Earned

Something to keep in mind for those who are breaking in new employees: It’s easier to give employees autonomy and freedom than it is to take it away. So, clearly state directions and expectations when employees are new to their jobs. Then, let autonomy and flexibility “be an earned right of their performance,” says Bob Nelson in 365 Ways to Manage Better.

HIRINGBrown Bag It

According to a tale in Bob Nelson’s book Please Don’t Do What I Tell You, Do What Needs to Be Done, when an ice-cream store in Texas ran out of job application forms, a quick-thinking employee handed each remaining applicant an empty paper bag with instructions to do something creative with it. This brainstorm forced job-seekers to show their creativity and ability to entertain others, important attributes in the ice-cream business … and pet care.

MANAGEMENTChange Takes Monthly Meetings

How often are you doing performance evaluations with your salespeople? Once a year? Twice a year? Not enough, says George Whalin, author of Retail Success. To truly shape performance requires monthly evaluations. Talk with your salespeople about how they performed versus their goal for the month that passed. The goal of these meetings should always be improving performance, not simply listing the things an associate did right or wrong.

MARKETINGShout It Out from the Curbside

Your biggest sale of the year is here, and you want to be jam-packed with customers. You’ve spent big on ads and done heavy direct mailing. What else can you do? On the day of the sale, hire people to wear sandwich boards promoting the sale. (“50% Off! Today Only!”) Have them stand at major intersections within a mile radius of your store, recommends the Idea Site for Business.

THE YUCKY STUFFDot Plot

Everyone knows cleanliness is good. It indicates attention to detail, professionalism and hygienic conditions. Yet it’s an area most staff tend to take shortcuts. To enforce the deep cleaning habit, John Putzier, author of Get Weird!, suggests a game called Collect the Dots: Place little colored stickers around your store, concentrating on the most obscure corners, nooks and crannies, say, in the dusty reaches of the dry food racks. Any employee who collects a sticker and brings it to you gets points. More points, bigger rewards.

SALESThe Eyes Have It …

Eye contact is important in any kind of sales — and pet-related sales are no exception. Jack Mitchell, author of Hug Your Customers, suggests asking your sales people: “Do you know the color of your top customers’ eyes?” Quiz them on this whenever you feel your sales staff might not be making enough eye contact.

SALES… But Don’t Overdo It

Speaking of eye contact, have you ever wondered how much is too much and how much is too little? Here’s the answer from Keith Ferruzzi, author of Never Eat Alone: “If you maintain an unblinking stare 100 percent of the time, that qualifies as leering. If you keep eye contact less than 70 percent of the time, you’ll seem disinterested and rude. Somewhere in between is the balance you’re looking for.”

ATTITUDEA Mantra for Sales Success

Great sales mantra seen on the website of sales expert Jeffrey Gitomer at gitomer.com. A reader writes that while he is selling to a customer, he keeps telling himself, “I am transferring enthusiasm. I am transferring enthusiasm.”

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