Total Pet Expo’s Idea Wall Contributions
"Bag sample quantities of your best-selling $1 pet treats and feature them at checkout. Hook pets and their owners into those great-tasting treats. Don’t forget live foods for fish plus bird and small-animal treats. Use 4-x-10-in. plastic bags with an attractive, eye-catching bow or a deli container.”—Margie Seidewand, Pet World, Rochester, N.Y.
"Get small paper bags with your logo on them. Every time a dog comes into the store, they get a ‘treat bag.’ Give a sample of three to four treats for them to try before they buy.”—Pam Alerine, Style Mutt, Cleveland
"Put out a flier during each holiday (Valentine’s Day, St. Patrick’s Day, Easter, Cinco de Mayo, Independence Day, Halloween, etc.) that promotes gift ideas. This could be aimed at pet owners and non-pet owners. An idea to include is a subscription gift service that sends a gift regularly at the buyers’ chosen frequency.”—A lady with lots of ideas, Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada
"Have a weekly walking group for pet owners and their dogs. Give each dog a T-shirt or tank top with your company name and logo on it so that others will become familiar with your store name. New walkers will then join the group and before you know it your client base will grow, too.”—Gregor Robertson, The Pet Stoppe Shoppe, Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada
"Never judge a customer by the way they are dressed, questions they ask or how many times they stop by without a purchase. The positive comments they share about your store and the welcome they feel mean more than the cash register ringing. How your community feels about you is priceless. It will keep your doors open and sales will come and the circle will be complete.”—Jo Johnson, Posh Pets Boutique, Columbus, Ohio
"Make split bags with more than one flavor in it. This is a great option for customers with picky pets.”—Paul Lucius, Bellows Falls Pet Shoppe, Bellows Falls, Vt.
"Product Spotlight Station: Recipe: Vendor w/DVD + Product + Simple Bookshelf = Much increased sales! Fill in additional shelf space with add-on products or impulse buys or related products. Great for limited space; we have three in our 1,400-square-foot store. Our experience: Up to 4x increased sales of products in spotlight station over placement elsewhere! Great for quick closeouts, too!”—Todd Ruppenthal, Happy Husky Bakery, Evanston, Ill.
"Follow your area’s trend: We are located in a very tourism-oriented area. In the summer, lake activities and motorcycle tours are popular, while in winter, football takes center stage. We are on the Wisconsin-Minnesota border, so we carry pet accessories for both teams. Also, we encourage our customers to experience the animals by touching and holding them, and we even have some resident animals that are everyone’s favorites.”—The Pet Store, Siren, Wis.
"Teach employees selling dog and cat brushes to stop promoting the dual pin/bristle brush and instead sell slicker brushes and ‘coat king’ style rakes. Pin brushes can be ineffective for nonshedding dogs and owners become suspicious of recommendations.”—Robyn Michaels, Dog Groomer, Chicago
"We offer a ‘Toot and Scoot’ program where customers (senior citizens, handicapped, parents or just plain ‘lazy’) can ‘toot’ their car horn and we come out to their car to get their pets.”—Jan Grosskopf, Golrusk Pet Care Center, Green Bay, Wis.
"To inspire your clients to buy more, they must first understand ‘why’ you do what you do. Advertising: services, buy this, retail displays, colorful signs, ‘like’ us. I assure you nothing will appeal more to your clients than how you make them ‘feel.’ People follow shared ideas and dreams and will buy from leaders/companies they ‘believe’ in. Every part of your business should speak to why you do what you do. The $$ will follow.”—Maggy Saber, The Cats’ Inn, Belmont, Calif.
"Reduce Your Carbon Pawprint: Endcap display highlighting eco-friendly, biodegradable, sustainable pet products for Earth Day/April. Products can range from recycled collars to dog toys to pee pads and dog bowls. For signage use earth (green/blue) paw print.”—Alison Schwartz, All Pets Considered, Greensboro, N.C.
"Peace, love and happiness! Peace of mind to all customers! Love for all animals! And happiness from within for all to see and share.”—Nick Digger, Tails ‘N’ Whiskers, Wilmington, Ill.
"Give employees who work at other pet stores a discount. They appreciate it and it encourages them to shop at your store. Then when they are out of something or don’t sell it, the competition is sending customers to your store.”—Kelly Parsons, Denny’s Pet World, Kirkland, Wash.
"Pick a month (or 12). Pick a toy (or 12). Pick a cause (or 12; shelter, rescue, charity, etc.) where 100 percent of each toy sold that month gets donated to your cause. This involves your cause for 30 days and helps spread the word for you, for them, for all.”—Craig Weindling, Smiley Dog, Bothell, Wash.
"Develop voluntary best practices to guide companies toward more environmentally sustainable and socially responsible practices. Intuitive, business-oriented, affordable and clear so that customers have reliable info and companies have guidance.”—Caitlyn Bolton, Pet Industry Sustainability Coalition, Longmont, Colo.
"As an add-on grooming service, we offer pawdicures that include paw/foot soak, grape seed oil treatment and polish of their choice. It’s been a big hit that not only increases grooming service, it increases awareness of foot and pad care.”—Linda Hofmann, Mt. Tabor Boarding & Grooming, Winston Salem, N.C.
"Create a colorful brochure featuring your products and services. Offer a first-time customer discount coupon and feature special promotions (e.g., loyal customer program, senior days, pet shelter benefit days, etc.). Distribute to area real estate agents, visitors bureaus, welcome wagons, vets and shelters. Attract and keep new customers who bring in the coupon and get a discount plus promotional items featuring your company name and logo.”—Tracy Regole, Bunker Hill Dog Training, Grooming & Specialty Store, German Valley, Ill.
"In order for your clients to come back for future services you must build a trusting relationship with them first. Listening to all your customers’ feedback in person and through monthly surveys will allow you to grow and thrive. Stay in touch with your customers to learn from their suggestions, figure out what’s working and what isn’t, and make the necessary changes. In our business listening matters, kindness matters, and caring and compassion matter most.”—Samantha Cisneros, The Barkery Inc., San Carlos, Calif.
"Know your products and ensure your staff does as well.”—Shannon Giust, Chew-That, Gloucester, Ontario, Canada
"During the holiday season, create a stocking stuffer area. The customer gets to buy a certain-sized sock at a fixed price as well as the treats, toys, etc., to fill the stocking. They can also donate a portion to an animal rescue.”—Lori Leduc, Canine Oasis Day Spa, Calgary, Alberta, Canada
"Our store loves and praises the benefits of feeding a raw diet to your pet, so we have a ‘raw gang’ on our wall to help us promote it. We asked our customers to give us their pets’ photos as well as basic info to illustrate the varieties of animals and health problems that can benefit from a raw diet.”—Treat Play Love, Grand Forks, N.D.
"During a slow day of the week, offer a discount on services and retail. Our boutique offers ‘Wash Day Wednesdays’ (20 percent off bath comb-out service) and ‘Thrifty Thursdays’ (discount on retail items). What used to be our slow days are now some of our busiest days.”—Laura Szalva, Laura’s Classy Canines, Davie, Fla.
"Offer a pet payback card with punches given for dollars spent. This keeps the customer coming back to fill their cards for a final dollar off discount.”—Jan Guin, All Pet Supplies & Equine, Springfield, Mo.
"Put an Idea Wall in your store.”—Smart Guy, Chicago
"Allow your sales associates 15 minutes a shift to learn/read up on pet health, industry trends or products you carry in general. Within 30 days, you’ll have a store full of extremely knowledgeable associates eager to share what they’ve learned.”—Sara Rupp, On Corp US/Nipper & Chipper Pet Products, San Diego
"Invite customers and their pets to be ‘stars’ in your advertising. Promote a weekend to come in any time for possible inclusion in your next ad campaign. Photograph all the dogs, put them in your ad; then give copies with postage for them to mail to their friends and family.”—George Richter, Dog.Dog.Cat., South Lake Tahoe, Calif.
"Choose Dog Groom of the Month Post winner online. Give printed T-shirt for owner with your logo saying ‘My Dog was Dog of the Month.’ Same for the dog: ‘Winner of Dog of the Month.’”—Romaine Michelle, Master Grooming, Chicago
"Always have a relationship with your local humane society or animal shelter. Whether it is simply having a donation canister on your register or donating recently expired goods, etc., the goodwill and appreciation you earn will be well worth the effort.”—Brent Jensen, Wisconsin Humane Society, Milwaukee
"Introduce a frequent buyer card. Each time a customer makes a purchase over $X, they get their card stamped. After collecting 10 stamps, they’ll receive a gift card for $Y.”—Terry, Eco-Pup, Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada
"Keep a small area of a wall reserved for those special pets who have gone on to the ‘Rainbow Bridge.’ Allow space for photos, poems, songs and stories to be displayed. This is a place where you could display cards, CDs, photo frames and other special remembrances you sell in the store. You might even consider hosting a pet blessing on the Feast of St. Francis (Oct. 4) or pet memory workshops.”—Mary Simpson, E&M Pets, Countryside, Ill.
"Get with the future! Develop a website, a Facebook page, a Twitter page and use any other social media to expose your company to the world. Your future is in your control; grab the reins and take a chance. That is what makes this world beautiful.”—Randy Rees, The Red Zone, Spring Grove, Ill.
"It would be sweet if retailers (small and independent) could buy pieces of items at the end of this show.”—Melanie LaRocca, Ciao! Bow Wow, North Andover, Mass.
"Social media marketing tip: Ask each customer to ‘like’ you on Facebook at check-out to receive a free gift. Give away a dog treat bag or trial-size dog shampoo or other inexpensive prize. This is a great way to show ‘check-ins,’ and allows customers to sample something you sell.”—Lauralee Hites, Bark Raving Mad, Centerville, Ind.
"Make all your size bags (small, medium, large) the same width so they will display vertically and uniformly without wasted space! It will show and display 100 percent better.”—Bob Hames, Animal Jungle, Virginia Beach, Va.
"Know your customers by name. My husband, Paul, has a great memory and folks are always impressed when he said ‘Hi, Carol! How are Rusty and Tanner doing?’ He even remembers what they feed their dogs, so when I call from our other store asking a question for a customer, he knows exactly what they need.”— Doreen Lucius, Muddy Paws Canine Center, Westminster, Vt.