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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.

partnering

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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team-building

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.

hard talks

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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marketing

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.

rescue

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 11 major international journalism awards for its publication and website. Contact PETS+'s editors at editor@petsplusmag.com.

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Tip Sheet

 Give the Bad News First, Distribute Swag, Spill Your Coffee During an Interview and 5 More Ingenious Tips

And throw a party!

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TESTIMONIALS

Throw a Party

What month was your business born? Throw a birthday party, and ask your customers to bring “gifts” of testimonials that you can use in your marketing. Including such third-party recommendations on your website and in your ads is one of the best ways to convince others that your store is, indeed, the best place to shop, says Entrepreneur magazine’s Idea Site for Business.

AMIABILITYSmile Right

A smile originates in two places — the mouth and the eyes, says Paul Timm in “50 Powerful Ideas You Can Use to Keep Your Customers.” Give your customers a mouth-only version, and it looks like your smile was pasted on. It’s like saying “Cheese!” for a photographer. But your eyes are the true window to your soul. If you can’t muster a convincing smile, practice in front of a mirror until you get it right.

EMPLOYEESDistribute Swag

Next time you return from a trade show, give all your freebies and product samples away to staff members … with one caveat: They have to review the new products. “This shows that you value their opinion,” says Shawna Schuh, president of Women in the Pet Industry Newtork. It’s a win all around: “They get free products, and they also become experts featured at the store.”

INTERVIEWSTime for Oops!

A good job interview idea from Selling Power magazine is to have a little accident. Tip over a trashcan or spill a cup of coffee on your desk. If the job candidate immediately leaps up to help … well, then they have cleared another hurdle in the interview process.

CREATIVITYOn a Roll? Take a Break Anyway

According to a Columbia University study, the key to taking breaks — meaning to maximize their impact on your creative thinking and to ensure you stay refreshed — is to stop even when you don’t feel like it. “Participants who didn’t step away from a task at regular intervals were more likely to write ‘new’ ideas that were very similar to the last one they had written,” the authors explained in Harvard Business Review. So, “if you’re hesitant to break away because you feel that you’re on a roll, be mindful that it might be a false impression.” The “break” in each case merely involved switching tasks. A change, it seems, really is as good as a rest — so long as you do it on schedule.

MARKETINGUse Sign Language

When you go to a trade show, you ask your vendors what’s new, right? Of course you do. Merchandising consultant Larry B. Johnson says the best way to draw customer interest from regular clients is to put a whiteboard on an easel (total cost: $79) just inside your door with all of your new products written on it.

MANAGEMENTYes, They Want The Bad News First

When you’re delivering good news and bad news to employees, always give the bad news first, says Daniel Pink, author of When: The Scientific Secrets of Perfect Timing. Pink acknowledges that many bosses hope to cushion the bad stuff to come. “But that is wrong,” he explained to The Washington Post. “If you ask people what they prefer, four out of five prefer getting the bad news first. The reason has to do with endings. We prefer endings that go up, that have a rising sequence rather than a declining sequence.”

RECRUITINGAdjust Your Expectations

The strong economy, heightened competition for good employees, and societal changes mean the guidelines you used to hire may not be as useful as they once were, says Kate Peterson of consultancy Performance Concepts. “Employment history can’t be interpreted the way it used to be,” she says, noting that workers are much less likely to hold jobs for long periods of time. “Stop tossing applications because the candidate has had five jobs in the past 10 years. It’s the way of the world today.”

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Tip Sheet

Yet Another Excuse to Bring Donuts, Brighter Trade-Show Mornings and a Sly Way to Fire a Customer

Plus: A new perspective on vacations.

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RECUPERATION

Short and Intense Wins

There seems to be a belief that a “proper” vacation requires at least a week off. But as psychologist Thomas Gilovich told the Boston Globe recently, “If you have to sacrifice how long your vacation is versus how intense it is, you want shorter and more intense.” That’s because we remember and judge our experiences not in their entirety but according to how they felt at their emotional peak. Yes, time feels scarce. But you have no excuse for not having a memorable vacation this year. Start planning!

MANAGEMENT

Does and Donuts

Want to add some fun to your store? Take a tip from Sherrie’s Jewelry Box in Tigard, OR, where “you’re never late to work if you bring donuts,” owner Sherrie Devaney says.

HIRING

Add Value to Interviews

Anand Sanwal, the co-founder of tech company CB Insights, has an interesting take on the best question to ask a job candidate: “Tell me how you prepared for this interview.” Not only will the reply reveal the person’s commitment to the position — does she care? — but it hints at her work ethic and analytical capabilities, he told The Twenty Minute VC podcast.

TRADE SHOWS

Good Expo Days

Headed to Global Pet Expo or one of the other expos or fairs this month? Follow the advice of marketing consultant Andrea Hill and take along a collapsible instant hot water carafe “because coffee is the beginning of a good day,” and those Starbucks lines can be brutal.

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MANAGEMENT

Ask This Question

According to the management guru Peter Drucker, the one question that will trigger more improvement than any other in your staff: “What do I do that wastes your time without contributing to your effectiveness?” Ask it without coyness.

MARKETING

Insider View

Want to give customers the feeling of being inside your store? Do as Blue Collar Working Dogs in Los Angeles, CA, does (bluecollarworkingdog.com/location) and use Google Maps extension of Street View, called Business View. Look for a local photographer who specializes in the 360-degree imagery needed here: google.com/streetview/hire.

CUSTOMERS

Passing the Buck

A neat — and cheeky — way of dealing with overly demanding customers from a fellow independent retailer in the vision business: BJ Chambers of Carrera Optical in McQueeney, TX, keeps business cards of other optical shops on hand and gives them to problem patients and suggests they “go visit.”

MANAGEMENT

Remove Emotion from Meetings

Stride into a meeting, dominate the dialogue and just repeat your point insistently, and you’ve a good chance of winning the day, thanks to a human weakness for interpreting confidence as expertise or competence. But it doesn’t mean you’ll arrive at the best solution for whatever challenges are facing your business. To prevent this happening at your meetings, reframe them as fact-finding exercises, says Bryan Bonner of the University of Utah. Keep a running list of conclusions on a whiteboard, or do anything else to switch the focus from who is being convincing to what they’re saying.

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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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