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2010-2011 Retailer of the Year Runner-Up: Outstanding Boutique and Specialty Store Award

Posted: July 27, 2011, 7:15 p.m., EDT 2010-2011 Retailer of the Year Runner-Up: Outstanding Boutique and Specialty Store Award

Knowledgeable Staff Equals Happy Customers

Two Bostons pet boutique creates a welcoming environment by focusing on employee education.

By Devon McPhee

Pet boutique Two Bostons, which has two locations in Naperville, Ill., an affluent Chicago suburb, has a very simple

At a Glance

Two Bostons

Locations: 103 W. Jefferson Ave. and 2523 W. 75th St., Naperville, Ill.
Owners: AdreAnne and Andy Tesene
Size: 2,000 square feet per store
Employees: 11 full time, seven part time
Years in Business: 7
Products and Services Offered: Designer dog collars and harnesses, toys for cats and dogs, grain-free dog and cat food, treats and gift items. Hosts regular adoption days, and stores boast about 20 feet of bakery space.
Website: www.twobostons.com

store philosophy.

“We say that we sell fun,” said Andy Tesene, who co-owns the store with his wife AdreAnne. “Bottom line, that’s what we do.”

Recipients of Pet Product News International’s 2010-2011 Retailer of the Year Runner Up award in the Outstanding Boutique and Specialty Store category, the owners of Two Bostons take the idea of fun seriously, putting a lot of effort into ensuring their customers have a good time.

“We want our customers to have a brilliant time, to make their perfect purchase,” AdreAnne said. “We make that happen with a lot of education for our team members.”

To that end, the Tesenes hold individual meetings with each employee every other week. These meetings provide an opportunity for personal coaching and allow the owners and the employee to set goals to focus on during the next couple of weeks, from increasing average sales to learning a new skill to creating a new display. The Tesenes also recently implemented brief, daily meetings with each employee as a check-in and motivational measure.

In addition to individual meetings, AdreAnne and Andy hold mandatory monthly group meetings. At these meetings, dinner is provided and all team birthdays for the month are celebrated. Agenda items include new products, procedures and programs, and the meetings often include a seminar by a company’s rep.

The Tesenes have also held their monthly meetings at local animal shelters to educate team members about the organization (Two Bostons often hosts adoption days in conjunction with these groups), and they often play games at the meetings to help team members brush up on skills related to customer service, add-on sales and even merchandise prices.

New team members go through about 40 hours of basic training, working their way through a manual that covers everything from floor and sales expectations to time-off requests to the store’s yearly calendar of meetings and events. New employees also are encouraged to read two books, one that covers pet nutrition and another that focuses on customer service.

A final, fun educational opportunity for team members is a book club, which the Tesenes started this year. Though not mandatory, 17 of their 18 employees have joined. The books they read focus on customer service, small businesses and pets.

An essential component of Two Bostons owners Andy and AdreAnne Tesene’s “selling fun” philosophy is offering a range of colorful, engaging products.
An essential component of Two Bostons owners Andy and AdreAnne Tesene’s “selling fun” philosophy is offering a range of colorful, engaging products.
Creating a Pet-Friendly Shopping District

AdreAnne and Andy Tesene, owners of two Two Bostons pet boutiques in Naperville, Ill., wanted to enhance the fun and inviting atmosphere of their downtown district, so they developed the Pet Friendly Naperville program.

Through the program, the pair distributed more than 45 window decals, which denote businesses that are pet-friendly. They also handed out more than 60 two-quart, stainless-steel bowls for businesses to provide fresh water to the many dogs customers bring to the area.

During the summer, they host 45-minute community walks twice weekly as well as show at least one outdoor movie in a local park for people and their pets. Their Dog Days of Summer event encourages all downtown retailers to participate in a marketing promotion with a pet theme.

All of these efforts tie into the Tesenes’ business philosophy, which is to create a warm, welcoming experience for their customers. —DM

“We have gotten some of our best ideas out of the book club,” AdreAnne said. “Many of those ideas have come from our employees. They take an active role in creating the culture of Two Bostons.”

Another way the Tesenes keep customers engaged is by creating opportunities to reach out personally to individuals. For instance, every full-time team member must write 10 thank you notes to customers each week. Or when a new customer signs up for the store’s loyalty program, AdreAnne and Andy reach out to that individual to make sure the information he or she has logged is correct.

“Being able to make that contact with a customer is really meaningful,” Andy said.

Got treats? Customer interaction (for both two- and four-legged visitors) includes providing free samples of the merchandise.
Got treats? Customer interaction (for both two- and four-legged visitors) includes providing free samples of the merchandise.
They also make sure they operate the store so that it’s convenient for their customers, not necessarily for themselves. For example, most stores in their area close at 5 p.m., while Two Bostons stays open until 7 p.m., giving customers the opportunity to swing by after work. The same holds true for events. AdreAnne and Andy always schedule them for days and times that work well for their customers.

Developing this solid customer focus and building a smooth-running operation did not happen overnight. The pair admitted to being rather green when they opened their business seven years ago. Neither had retail experience and most of their decisions were made based on gut instinct.
“Not having retail experience hurt us in some ways, but it also helped us,” AdreAnne said. “It helped because we based

Click to enlarge.
Two Bostons provides gift certificates to new pet adopters, which can be applied to anything purchased in store, including tempting, freshly baked delectables.
everything on what we would want if we were a customer.”

“We learned a lot by trial and error,” Andy added. “I don’t know if we’d recommend learning that way, but it does make the lessons stick.”

Enjoying their work really helped them persevere through the ups and downs of opening a business. It’s something that all small business owners should think about before taking the plunge, Andy said.

“You really need to assess how much you love doing what you do,” he said. “There are a lot easier things you could do than run your own store. Ask yourself if there’s anything else you’d want to do. For us, we eat, sleep and breathe Two Bostons.”

Another important lesson is to adopt a winning attitude, AdreAnne noted.

“Be prepared to succeed,” she said. “So many people prepare to fail, but we never thought that way. We always thought that we would succeed.”

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