Planning for the Presents, part one

Planning for the “Presents”

Groomer to Groomer

 

By:  Joe Zuccarello

 

We all do it.  You know who you are.  Yep, I’m speaking (writing) to you.  I did it this past weekend.  I know others have done it and will continue to do it year after year, and we act surprised when it happens.  It’s happening all around us.  We can’t avoid it.  We can’t help ourselves.

 

What am I talking about?!  At the first sign of the Holidays, we CRINGE!  Is it that time already?  It seems to come earlier and earlier every year.  At the time I am writing this, I was flipping through the radio stations on a “mild” 100-degree day in the Midwest and that’s when I heard it.  One of the local radio channels decided to have a 24 hour Christmas in July bonanza, playing all the favorites like Jingle Bells, Silent Night, and the ironic teaser on such a blazing day…Frosty the Snowman!  I started thinking about how soon I will see isles and isles of decorations in the stores, months of television commercials where the husband buys their wife a luxury car for Christmas (like that ever happens, sorry dear!), and the burden of shopping for presents that will most likely be returned soon after they are opened.

 

In the pet business, the Holidays can mean allot of things to allot of people, but overwhelmingly, we all remember this season of past years and how busy we were, how exhausted we were, and how glad we were when it’s over.  Now, I am not trying to sound like the Grinch, but while we all enjoy the income benefits of the Holiday season, we sure do work hard for every penny of it don’t we?!

 

Maybe there is something we can do to help ourselves through the season this year and help us enjoy the season a little more.  Hard work is hard work but maybe, just maybe, we can better prepare ourselves by laying some better plans, earlier this year rather than later.  I’m a planner.  I am not a fan of surprises, although our business seems to be riddled with them every day, those we can predict and prevent will make our lives and our focus on our business much better. There is no better lesson learned than not planning early enough for what is sure to be one of the largest opportunities we have in our year to boost our sales numbers.  After the Holidays, do you find yourself saying things like, “I should have” or “I could have” or “If I would have only…” or “I wish I would have thought of that first”?

 

While there is allot to be said for upselling grooming services that are most appropriate for this season such as oral care treatments so our pets won’t offend our visiting family members with their breath, to coat conditioning and medicated shampoos to offer our fuzzy family member a little relief from the torturous Winter elements, this issue is all about Retailing during the Holiday Season.

 

This is one of a two part series on Retailing for the Holidays.  To start, I thought it would be helpful to share some interesting statistics with you.

 

According to the American Pet Products Association (APPA),

 

“Seventy-Eight percent of dog owners buy gifts for their pets…the average price for a dog gift is $12”

 

Moreover, “greater than half of gifts are bought for Christmas (53%)”.

 

Plus, “the female shopper still buys more gifts than when the male is the primary shopper”.

 

To summarize, “Estimating that there are 46.3 million dog-owning households in the U.S. times 78% that buy a gift equals 36 million households that buy their dog a gift fives times a year, which nets to approximately 180 million dog gifts per year!”.

 

Interested in selling dog gifts yet?  Better yet, are you already thinking of ways to take full advantage of this industry friendly phenomenon?  I have detailed a list of helpful planning tools you can consider this Holiday season to make it easier and more profitable for you and give you a captive audience to introduce yourself and your business to.  Here’s the trick, though.  START MAKING THESE PLANS NOW before it’s too late.

 

1)    Plan to hold a special event to attract Holiday pet gift buyers.  I have seen Santa photo shoots, adoption days, breeder fairs, free self-washes, free “pet-a-cures” nail trimming/polishing, and a variety of other creative events geared to attract new customers and introduce you and your business to them.

2)    Leverage famous relationships.  Do you have a client that is a local celebrity?  There may be some surprisingly low or no cost ways to utilize this person’s stature in the community to call additional attention to events or promotions you are offering at your facility.

3)    Help the community.  A great idea I came across was a “Giving Tree” for needy pets.  Clients can pick an ornament from the tree, purchase that item at your facility, and you can deliver it to the organization of your choice.  This is a great idea for our less fortunate neighbors and people of our community that is a staple of gift giving every year.  Why not incorporate this idea in your facility to help needy pets at the local shelters or rescue organizations?

4)    Holiday Puppies.  There is much conversation we have heard whether it is a good idea to give puppies as gifts, but let’s face it…it happens.  Align yourself with a number of shelters, rescue groups, breeders, etc. so that you are on the top of their list of service/product suppliers when their puppies and dogs are placed in homes.

5)    Prepare your staff.  Your staff can enhance the mood of your clients more than you think.  Have you ever gone shopping when you started in a great mood, excited about finding the great deals and products, only to have your whole day ruined by a less than helpful, unenthusiastic, or grouchy store staff?  Don’t let your customers down by allowing this to happen in your store.

6)    Availability.  Look now at your calendar and prepare yourself, your staff, and your customers for longer hours this year.  It is better to make these plans now, so that there are no surprises later, especially with your staff and their schedules outside of the workplace.

 

Begin making these plans now as some depend on long-range relationship building and scheduling.  You will be thankful you did.

 

In next month’s continuation of this article, we will delve a bit deeper into each of these plans and have some additional ideas and tactics for you to use to have a record breaking Holiday season and for many months and years that follow.

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