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Editor's Note

What Are You Doing to Surprise People?




PETS+ Editor-in-Chief Ralf Kircher

SURPRISE, SURPRISE, IT’S the newest issue of PETS+. Not surprised? Well, that’s good and bad. Good that we’re becoming a fixture in your day-to-day business, and you’ve come to expect us in your mailbox. Bad that we haven’t yet surprised you with this issue. (Read on, you’re only on page 6!)

We’ve been spending quite a lot of time here looking for surprises over the past weeks as we’ve been reviewing America’s Coolest Stores contest entries, readying them for our external panel of  judges.

People often ask what makes a business “cool.” After reviewing entries in two years of PETS+ contests — and in more than 10 years’ of  similar contests in our company’s other magazines — I believe the two fundamental aspects of a cool business are these: surprise and delight.

All of us as consumers love to be surprised and delighted when in retail or service settings. We never forget it.

Just this week, I was in my local supermarket when there was a tornado warning. My cart was already at the register. The warning came across cellphones and over the PA system. Everyone was to gatherin the deli section and wait for the all-clear. Bad surprise.

But here’s where the store transformed it into a good surprise: The store manager had employees open trays of bite-sized brownies, passing them around with napkins as if to guests at a cocktail party. We had a wonderful, memorable time. Would you ever forget that?


I’m happy to say we’ve come across a wealth of surprise and delight in our America’s Coolest Stores contest entries, and we’ll begin sharing examples with you in our July/August issue. Meantime, in this issue, we have a fantastic Big Story on how to achieve surprise and delight at events in your own business. Keep on surprising; we’ll do our best, too.

Wishing you the best in business,


ralf signature

Ralf Kircher
Editor-in-Chief, Pets+


Five Great Tips From This Issue You Can Try Today
  1. Combine forces with a salon to offer a Mother’s Day (May 13) combo grooming package. (Calendar, Page 10)
  2. Start an employee suggestion box. Pay $100 for any idea implemented. (To-Do List, Page 11)
  3. Before making a big decision, take a shower. It gives you a “cooling off” period, literally and figuratively. (Tip Sheet, Page 36)
  4. Stand outside, 20 feet from your entrance. What’s your first impression? Your customers will form that impression in 10 seconds or less. (Columns, Page 37)
  5. Download the My Talking Pet app and get your pets talking on your social media feeds today. (Ask Pets+, Page 42


Ralf Kircher is former Editor-in-Chief of PETS+. He has worked with SmartWork Media since 2006, and is the busy father of a son and three Jack Russells.






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