Groomer to Groomer
Easy Money-December Issue
“Who are the people in your neighborhood?”
By: Joe Zuccarello
To many of us, the title of this article rings a bell. Yep, it’s a theme from the ever-popular children’s program, Sesame Street. As I was thinking of a topic for this article, my thought process was jilted when the doorbell rang and in came my twin, three-year-old nieces! Guess what?! Yep, they wanted Uncle Joe to turn on the TV because Sesame Street was on.
Can you remember the different Muppet characters? Some of my favorites include Grover, Cookie Monster, The Count, and who could forget the infamous Oscar the Grouch! Over the years, the program also included a number of human characters such as famous astronaut Buzz Aldrin, first Lady Laura Bush, comedian Bill Cosby, and many more. The program covered lighthearted topics like birthdays, school days, and vacations while at other times talked about less then attractive, but realistic topics like bullying, death, and divorce.
It has been a number of years since my sons were young enough to have interest in watching this program, but when they did, memories of my childhood came rushing back to me as I sat there with them for what seemed like an eternity for every 30-minute episode. Just like when I was a kid, I somehow turned on the cobweb filled, dark, abandoned area of my brain where my imagination once lived that most of us turn off as we reach a certain age. I used to think that all of my neighbors were forever going to be just like the neighbors on Sesame Street; caring, sympathetic, giving, humorous, welcoming, friendly (except Oscar!), cheerful, and there to lend a hand whenever I may need them. Ok, for all of you realists out there, I know I was NOT going to have Muppets for neighbors, but cut me some slack!
Much like the lessons taught to us by these fascinating, fuzzy, loud creatures called Muppets, business could have its ups and downs as well as twists and turns. It seemed, though, no matter what the topic lesson was for each episode, the characters relied on the strength of their neighbors and friends to pull them through the challenges they were facing. Yes, these lessons taught us how to be good neighbors ourselves, but it also taught us something even more important.
As I pursued my Master’s Degree in Business, I often studied respected businesses and well thought out strategies for the perfect combination to apply to the business I was in to ensure prosperity and success. Remembering the lessons taught on the sidewalks of Sesame Street, one lesson rang true time and time again; The Strength of the Neighborhood!
Think in a broader sense than the immediate neighbors and friends you may have. Think about those “neighbors” who can impact your business by the positive and negative things they may say about you, your business, or your customers. These “neighbors” are referred to as Key Influencers. Let’s name a few that come to mind: Veterinarians and their Staff, Breeders, Trainers, Chamber of Commerce, Local News Personalities, Friends, Family, Shelters, Employees, Politicians, etc. The list can get pretty extensive if you take some time to think about it.
Key Influencers can be real assets to your business. Since many people respect and act on their opinions, we need to make sure we are at the top of their list of pet care providers in our area! How?! It’s really not that difficult. You have a talent, and many of these people have pets. Instead of staying in your “house” and waiting for these neighbors to ring your doorbell, go out and visit them. Make yourself familiar to them. Use your imagination. Give them free or discounted services, special treats/desserts at the Holidays, information for them to supply their customers, and one of the best things you can do is to drop by from time to time, unannounced to simply say, “Thank You”.
BE NEIGHBORLY! It’s a two way Sesame Street. We must be ready to give more than we ever expect to receive. Employ this philosophy and you will be amazed by the results. Neighborly effort is not an exact science. It doesn’t always equal out. But what is ONE new customer worth to you? Over the course of the pet’s life, they are worth thousands of dollars to you. This neighborly thing takes a little bit of effort, but the effort must remain constant. Think of it this way. Don’t be “that” neighbor nobody ever sees, nobody ever talks to, and nobody feels comfortable approaching. This type of neighbor is often unjustly misunderstood and usually isn’t very popular. Sure, you will not be relied upon for anything, but you can bet you won’t get help from anyone if you ever need it. If you limit how many neighbors you visit and become familiar with, other neighbors may choose a friendlier, more familiar door to knock on.
Client databases change from time to time due to people relocating, pets or people aging and passing, new pets, competition, etc. Likewise, we may need new or additional employees. Just imagine how tapping into the wealth of knowledge provided by Key Influencers can help grow, or at least, maintain our business at a level we feel we can provide superior service to. Some really great employee candidates have come as referrals from our neighbors as well. All in all, getting to know your neighbors and what they can do for you and your business is a great way to minimize loss and maximize your business’ potential.
Want to make Easy Money?! Take a lesson from the Muppets, use your imagination and make sure your neighbors know who you are. Sunny Days…..