This Inexpensive Service Could Help Retailers Boost Sales
An independent pet retailer explains why adding services to a brick-and-mortar store in order to boost foot traffic doesn’t need to be a costly undertaking.
Having a veterinary scale in a brick-and-mortar pet store could be a boon for business.
A simple $300 veterinary scale purchased from an online auction is one of the best buys I ever made for my store. When retailers visit my store, they ask, “Why do you have a scale?” But when pet owners walk in my store, they see the scale and ask, “Can I weigh my dog?”
When I talk about adding services to your micro independent brick-and-mortar store, it’s not about remodeling to add grooming tubs and training areas. If you can do that, great, but if you can’t do that, then look at your options. My veterinary scale is used almost daily. Pet owners really do want to keep track of their pet’s weight, but visiting a veterinarian can be scary for the dog. Also, some owners might not feel comfortable visiting the vet when they don’t have an appointment. Weighing a 60-pound German shepherd at home is also not realistic, even though I have very fond memories of watching my wife trying to do just that 20 years ago.
Many of my clients bring their dogs when they come in for a bag of food, and they weigh their dog at the same time. I’ve also had people come just because they heard about my pet scale from talking to another pet owner.
We don’t charge anything to use the scale, but it has made us more money than what we have invested in it. It is just another tool to keep pet owners walking in our front door and away from those “auto ship” websites.
It’s up to us to monetize the scale, which is pretty easy. If a pet owner weighs her pet and the pet is at a perfect weight, my questions will be about what she is doing to keep the pet in such good shape. If she responds that they are active, then I’m going to talk about supplements and things that can be added to the diet to help active dogs.
If a pet is over- or underweight, my conversation will be about diet and changes that could be made. I don’t limit the discussion to weight. While the pet is on the scale, I’m going to look at the coat, ears, teeth and eyes, and make some recommendations if needed. I’m always careful to try to balance what I see and what I think will help based on the pet owner’s reaction. One of the worst things we do as store owners is overwhelm owners who come to us for the first time for help.
If the pet on my scale is overweight, has a horrible coat, and is a little stiff getting up and down from the scale, there are about four different things I immediately want the pet owner to do. I always try to give information the same way my mechanic does—here is everything that is wrong, but this is the most important thing and you should do that now.
After I’m done weighing the pet, I will have a conversation about Fido’s weight and how extra weight is causing lasting damage to internal organs, bones and joints. I will tell the owner getting Fido to the right weight should be our first priority and that I can help with that, but I will also mention once we get Fido’s weight on the right track, we can also help with his coat and teeth and really make him feel his best.
When that owner comes back in 30 days to buy more food and weigh Fido, that is another conversation opportunity. If Fido has lost a little weight, the discussion will be about staying on course. The customer might be excited about this success and want to look at other products. If Fido hasn’t lost any weight, we can try to figure out what is going on and adjust the diet plan if needed.
It’s not just about weight or specific issues. When a pet owner walks in the door and says, “I’ve heard a lot about raw diets, and I think I would like to try it,” we have to be careful to not overwhelm that customer. There are so many ways to feed our pets, and there are so many items we can add to our pet’s diet, whether you’re feeding kibble or the best-formulated raw. There’s always something that can be done to make it a little better. The last thing we want to say is: “Here is a great raw food; now we should also add some goat’s milk and fish stock, and let’s not forget bone broth to really bring out the best.” For someone who has spent years scooping kibble out of the bag, it’s like you’re asking them to make beef bourguignon.
Pet owners need micro independents to help their pets’ live longer, healthier lives. Let’s make sure we continue to give them reasons to come chat with us—reasons like a simple veterinary scale.
B.C. Henschen, a certified pet care technician and an accredited pet trainer, is a partner in Platinum paws, a full-service pet salon and premium pet food store in Carmel, Ind. His knowledge of the pet food industry makes Platinum Paws the go-to store for pet owners who want more for their pet than a bag off a shelf.