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Visualize a Stop Sign, Shift Your Shifts, and More Tips to Better Your Pet Business This Month

Get the latest and greatest advice from leading business minds in the pet industry and beyond.




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To be sure, there are bad ideas. But there are also those ideas whose time just hasn’t come. It’s this understanding that prompted author Oliver Burkeman to keep a running file of ideas from which virtually nothing gets deleted. “When I needed an idea, I’d peruse the list, and sure enough, most of the entries would still seem mediocre, stupid or derivative. But for mysterious reasons, one or two entries — entries that might have sat there looking lifeless for months or years — would suddenly feel ripe, full of life, ready to be used.” Create an “Ideas” file on your phone.

OPERATIONSShift Your Shifts

Busy times fluctuate throughout the year, which means you should regularly reassess and readjust your staffing schedules. “We always see a shift in our busy times during the spring. In winter, our mornings are much slower as customers don’t get out and shop as early, but March when the time change hits and warmer weather moves in, we see lots of customers out shopping in the mornings, so we change up staffing to make sure we’re ready for the earlier shoppers,” notes Joanna Shaw, owner of All Pet & Equine Supply in Mountain Home, AR.


STAFFGive Customers a Shot

Whether you hire customers as employees typically depends on whether you’ve had a positive or negative experience when doing so. Laurie Seaman of Dolittle’s in Charleston, SC, has had great success. She points out, “At least your customers have a base knowledge and agreement in the products you sell and what your store is about. Looking at Indeed, it’s like the applicants just went down a webpage and hit ‘Apply’ for so many places, with absolutely no pet experience. Those are also the people we set up interviews for, and they no show or cancel.”

SELF-IMPROVEMENTIt’s Never Too Late to Start

So it’s now March … Delay a task or new habit long enough, and you can fall into the trap of feeling like it’s simply too late to get started. Rather than berate yourself, reach for a can of forgiveness. That was the conclusion of a study by Carlton University’s Department of Psychology into the connection between forgiveness and task initiation among students. The study found those who were able to forgive themselves for putting off studying for an exam were better able to overcome procrastination and hit the books sooner for their second exam. “Remember that there’s no designated ‘right’ time to start,” noted the productivity gurus at “It’s never too late. You’re only human. So, know your weaknesses, forgive yourself and just get going.”

MINDSETStay Optimistic

The economy is slowing, and political polarization continues unabated. How to stay upbeat even in tumultuous times? “Flash a stop sign,” Nate Zinsser, director of the performance psychology program at West Point, told Bloomberg. “When your mind throws you fear or doubt or worry, visualize an actual stop sign. You want to deliberately cease those thoughts and replace them with optimistic — or at least vaguely constructive — thoughts. Talk back to the negativity the same way you would your obnoxious brother when he’s talking garbage.”


BUYINGPut New Products to a Vote

If you’re on the fence about any products you see at Global Pet Expo, bring back samples and ask your customers for input via social media and through in-store samples and demos. April Meier, owner of Pawsitively Scrumptious in Crestview, FL, loads up on samples of such items, then asks her customers to “vote” on which they’d like to see her carry. Bonus: She says, “Giving them a ‘voice’ helps to promote sales when the new items come in.”

OPERATIONSBuild a Staff Website

Need a spring project? How about building a dedicated website just for staff? Sal Salafia, owner of Exotic Pet Birds in Webster, NY, says such an online resource — which allows his staff to access FAQs, request time off, create weekly schedules and keep up-to-date on product information — has been “a game-changer” for his business. “Took months to build, but was so worth it.”

SELF-AWARENESSBetter Than Perfect

Perfection isn’t just impossible, it’s counterproductive, notes Adam Grant, an organizational psychologist and author of the bestseller Think Again. “Perfectionists are more likely to burn out and less likely to embrace new challenges. Success depends on high standards, not being flawless. The target is not perfection — it’s excellence.”



NASC Media Spotlight

At first it was just an idea: Animal supplements needed the same quality control that human-grade supplements receive. But that was enough to start a movement and an organization —the National Animal Supplement Council — that would be dedicated to establishing a comprehensive path forward for the animal supplements industry. In this Media Spotlight interview, NASC’s president, Bill Bookout, talks to PETS+ interviewer Chloe DiVita about the industry today: Where it’s headed, what’s the latest focus and why it’s vital to gain the involvement of independent pet product retailers.

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