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2018 Global Pet Expo Academy Aims to Help Pet Retailers Improve Their Businesses


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The 2018 Global Pet Expo Academy will feature 27 seminars.

Global Pet Expo

Imagine a place where innovative minds meet, the business center of the brain is enriched and an ever-reaching network can expand. For pet industry professionals, this place becomes reality on an annual basis.  

This month, Global Pet Expo, the trade show produced by the American Pet Products Association (APPA) and Pet Industry Distributors Association (PIDA), will return to the Orange County Convention Center in Orlando, Fla., March 21-23. Professionals from every corner of the pet industry will be found somewhere on the expansive show floor—which now equates to 13 football fields’ worth of pet products. 

While Global Pet Expo offers attendees the opportunity to browse a comprehensive assortment of products and services presented by more than 1,000 exhibitors, its free educational component covers an immense variety of topics that aim to help pet specialty retailers grow and improve their businesses. 

The Global Pet Expo Academy educational seminars include, but are not limited to, the latest trends in everything pet related—from cats and dogs to birds and fish, plus all the reptiles and small animals in between, as well as business-building and growth, marketing, human resources, employment law, staff development and customer service. The carefully cultivated seminars are led by the industry’s most successful retail educators, ensuring the courses offer valuable resources, tips and expert advice that pet specialty retailers can immediately apply to their business practices and life, according to show organizers. 

The 2018 Global Pet Expo Academy will feature 27 seminars, the topics of which have been selected based on attendee feedback from years past. 

“The 1,600 retailers who attend our seminars are asked to rate each presentation and give us suggestions for sessions that they would like to see offered,” said Steve King, president of PIDA. “Based on that feedback, we ask our highly rated speakers to tailor future seminars around those topics, or we seek out new speakers with expertise in those areas. 

“Each year, we typically bring back about half of the speakers from the prior year based on how they were rated and the topics that we seek to present,” King added. “The other half are new presenters that we have identified or who have been recommended to us.”

The session lineup for the 2018 Global Pet Expo Academy covers a wide variety of topics, including myths about pet food, how to prevent online outlets from stealing your customers, getting the most out of social media advertising and more. Here’s an overview of just a few of the educational presentations from each day of the show:  

Day 1: March 21

Lynn Switanowski, founder and president of the Creative Business Consulting Group (CBCG) in Boston, will present two seminars at this year’s Global Pet Expo. Turning Reviews and Referrals into Real-Time Sales, which will be held from 1-2:15 p.m., will focus on how to deal with word-of-mouth marketing in the digital age. 

“[This session] is critical because many small businesses take their customers for granted, and with the emergence of social media today, using online reviews and testimonials and referrals goes a long way toward meeting new customers for the business,” Switanowski said. “No longer is a word-of-mouth referral given face to face. And it is no longer the only way to reach new customers. The pet retailers who attend the seminar can learn how to use these reviews and referrals effectively, and then go back and implement them in their businesses immediately.” 
 

Switanowski will also present the Your Time Is Worth Money session from 4-5:15 p.m., which aims to give attendees insight about the variety of tools they can use to improve marketing performance. 

“Independent retailers never have enough time to create content for their social media,” Switanowski said. “As more and more businesses of all sizes use social media effectively—especially Facebook and Instagram—the quality of the pictures and videos presented tells the story for the business. Independent pet retailers who do things half-heartedly, or put out pictures that are not crisp or interesting on their sites, are disadvantaged immediately as customers will rule their business out because of their lack of professional nature.” 

Day 2: March 22

The Female Economy: How and Why They Drive Your Business session, presented by Anne Obarski of Merchandise Concepts from 1-2:15 p.m., will examine how today’s women can impact business and why surveying a business through a woman’s eyes can only improve it. 

“Over 85 percent of all purchases—of any kind—are made by females. Seventy-five percent of women use social media and can positively or negatively affect a business ‘report card,’ and she is a detail-noticing machine,” Obarski said. “In this session, I’ll cover what affects her decisions to do business or not to do business and why a business should be committed to making their female customer be ‘astonished’ on the experience they have.” 

Obarski will also present the Make Your Customer Service Contagious! session from 4-5:15 p.m., which will focus on the extreme importance of a retailer’s customer service.

“Each touch point a customer has with a business has an ROI, or return on investment,” Obarski said. “We will take a strategic look at the most important touch points a customer has with a pet business and how much time and money is being invested and how effective the performance is in the eyes of your customer. Analyzing what the customer sees, thinks and does at the top three touch points of a store in the areas of marketing, staff development and customer experience is critical for the customer to ‘spread the good word’ about the business and be contagious about their experience.”

Day 3: March 23

Tom Shay, a fourth-generation business owner and principal at Profits Plus Solutions, will present Cash Flow Management Secrets Your Accountant Never Shared from 10:30-11:45 a.m. This session will show attendees how to use Excel templates to accurately project the cash needs of a business for up to 12 months as well as how much inventory they will have and need. 

“I have a group where I frequently give this same presentation,” Shay said. “I was walking out of the room [and] a couple came up to me and said they had attended the class the previous year and that I had scared them. They knew they had problems with paying the bills but did not know what to do. 

“They went home and used the free Excel chart I gave in the class,” Shay added. “They found they were nearly bankrupt. Then they shared that they were here a year later, and while not all resolved, they now knew what to do.”

Learning in Less than 60 Minutes 

The Global Pet Expo Academy also offers mini sessions, which typically run about 30 minutes compared to the 60 to 90 minute length of standard sessions. These sessions will cover relevant industry topics in condensed formats, including Rethinking Social Media to Achieve More Meaningful Results as well as Fun and Newsworthy Ideas to Get the Local Press into Your Store, to name a few. 

Shay will present a mini session called Tell the Customer, “Thanks for Complaining,” Not “I’m Sorry,” and Obarski will cover a mini session on gross margin. Both sessions will be held on March 22 from 12-12:30 p.m. 

“Attendees are always asking, ‘How can I make more gross margin dollars when there is so much competition on the internet for matching pricing? As a small business person, I just can’t price myself out of the market,’” Obarski said. “My laser focus in this session is to help attendees think of creative ways to improve their markup by shopping smarter, building better vendor relationships, looking for buying co-ops and, most of all, creating tremendous value in the customer’s eyes that they don’t question the price.”

New for the 2018 show, Global Pet Expo has teamed up with aquatic experts to offer four aquatic-specific sessions: Why Aquacultured Marine Fish Are Important for the Local Fish Store, Choosing the Right Aquarium Plants for My Store, Shipping Water Secrets: How to Improve Newly Arrived Fish Survival and Health, and Developing New Species for the Florida Ornamental Fish Industry. 

The full lineup of the Global Pet Expo Academy can be found at globalpetexpo.org

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