Through my eyes….

As I have mentioned a number of times, my history in the pet industry goes back to when I was 13 years old, learning to bath and groom dogs in a small grooming shop in the St. Louis area.  If you would have asked me nearly 27 years ago if I would be writing about nearly 30 decades of experiences in this great business, I would have thought you were crazy.  After all, I actually had aspirations of being a detective or wall street “suit”.  Obviously neither have come to fruition, but that’s okay, especially considering the recent conditions in both of those previously attractive fields.

So, I am staring a new chapter in my blog writing.  The next number of posts will be a collection of short stories about some of the fun times and even some really low times I have experienced first hand in this business.  Of course, no names being mentioned, I can tell you that without some really cool bosses, co-workers, and eventually subordinate staff supporting me, many of these experiences couldn’t have happened the way they did.  Every situation, every up and down, I view like bricks.  Bricks build solid walls and eventually solid structures.  Thanks to these “bricks” of history, I have the ability to excel in this business and share my life in the pet industry with you….through my eyes.

Till Next Time…..

Never Settle!

Happy New Year!

Well, with the turn of calendar, many of us contemplate the notion of setting resolutions, some even think the whole process through and launch ourselves into this new endeavor believing we will be successful.  While some of us are, most are not.  Most fail due to the lack of planning, or setting smaller, more milestone based goals for ourselves.  Maybe you have heard the adage, “you cannot eat an elephant all in one bite”.  Simply put, this means you have to define the steps to success needed to reach your overall goal.  It’s like trying to get the top of a staircase without using the steps (no cheating and using the elevator).  Poor execution usually leads to disappointment and surrender.

I am a firm believer in a try, try again mentality.  Keep all opportunities on the table.  Seek out new opportunities.  Just because you are on this constant search for new things, doesn’t mean you are going to pursue them.  Sometimes discovering and learning of new opportunities helps us more than we think.  While sometimes we may think we will find something so attractive during our search process, we often times simply confirm the appeal of our current situation.  This just means we have made good decisions up to this point.  But just waiting for things to fall into your lap is not my recommendation.  In my opinion, to be satisfied or “settled” is to give up control.  Nobody is more in control of what eventually happens to us than we are.  If we cannot control what is dealt to us, at least we can control how we deal with it.  Without exploration for opportunities when you don’t necessarily need them, you will left short when you do.

Pick your passion, pursue it with all your heart, and never settle.  Vince Lombardi once said, “”Perfection is not attainable, but if we chase perfection we will catch excellence”.  

I believe this.

Till next time…….

Don’t forget about Fido at Christmas

According to the American Pet Products Association 2011-1012 Survey, 78% of dog owners will buy gifts for their pets.  53% of these gifts are bought for Christmas!

Knowing that pets are now more like family members than ever before, if you are retailer, remember to carry products that enhance the relationship and bonding time we spend with our fuzzy family members.  If you are a pet owner, look for these type of gifts so that you can continue to involve your pet in your everyday schedule.

Till next time…..

Cup of Joe?

I read this interesting article about coffee shops this morning (while at the coffee shop) and it confirmed everything I have always thought about the interesting work environment and the amount of work I get done while sipping a cup of coffee.  Ok, I drink a whole cup, but who’s counting.

I still have the same routine I have had for nearly 20 years.  I start most of my days at the coffee shop, spending some “Me Time” reading a business book, newspaper, organizing my calendar, and once a week meeting a buddy to talk about our businesses, family, and of course, football.

I have always been amazed by how focused I can be in such a noisy atmosphere.  As you will read in the study, however, there is a difference in productivity and noise levels and the threshold from one to the next is very thin.  That is, don’t plan on getting too much cognitive progress done surrounded by barking dogs, but people talking, ordering coffee, and the occasional Bible study table next to mine on Thursdays seem to be the perfect “blend” of productive ambiance.

I am saying all of this to suggest you take some “Me Time” and make a routine of starting your day under YOUR rules, planning your day or your week by stuffing your head with productive and meaningful intent.  The coffee will open your eyes.  The coffee shop locale will open your mind.  All you have to do is fill it with something useful.

http://www.theatlantic.com/health/archive/2012/06/study-of-the-day-why-crowded-coffee-shops-fire-up-your-creativity/258742/

Till next time…..

Want Loyal Customers?

As seen published in…

September 2011

Groomer to Groomer

Title:  Loyalty Royalty

By:  Joe Zuccarello

What is customer loyalty anyway?  What is so important about customer loyalty?  How can we master customer loyalty, putting loyalty first in our business?  In other words, how do we make loyalty, “King” in our business?

By definition, loyalty is defined as, “faithfulness or a devotion to a person, country, group, or cause.”  Some of us call these loyal customers “regulars”, “frequents”, “steadies”, or “guarantees”.  They fill our books with their pre-booked weekly or monthly appointments and we think they are the most loyal customers we can have.  When I ask groomers about their loyal customers, these are the customers that come to mind.  At first, I would have agreed with the groomers.  But after taking a step back and really looking at it, these are the most frequent customers, but we have many more customers that fit the definition of “loyal” than we may think.

Now that we are not confusing the words “loyal” and “frequent”, we need to understand what makes loyal customers so important and how can we get and keep more of them in our business.

Loyal customers are those customers who have made a decision to do business with you even though they have other choices, sometimes less expensive, or more elaborate choices to pick from.  Loyal customers feel good about doing business with you.  Loyal customers are your biggest fans, often speaking your praises and passing your business card to their friends and family members and even strangers on the street that ask them where they get their beautiful little dog groomed.  Loyal customers will bend their schedule for you on the days when you may be ill, you need a vacation, or simply need more time to complete their pet’s grooming because it is the holidays and you are slammed.  Loyal customers are not always the most frequent, but are the most faithful to you, even if they only visit you once every six months.  Loyal customers rely on YOU as much as you rely on THEM.  Don’t overlook the less frequent customers and mistake them for less loyal.

How do we get AND keep more loyal customers?  There are some basic principles you can employ to further solidify the relationships you have with your customers and foster new loyal relationships.

  1. Understand your role.  Your role is that of the Expert.  You know more about what the pet needs than just a haircut or nail trim. Be a partner with the pet parent in the pet’s health and well-being.  You may not be a Veterinarian, but you should have knowledge beyond the pet owner as to the needs of the pet’s skin and coat, the pet’s oral hygiene, and even the pet’s behavior.  Take care not to diagnose, but be a resource and refer the pet owner to the correct people or products that can help them with these issues.  Your customers look to you to be the Expert.  Learn as much helpful information as you can and be sure to pass it along to your customers at every opportunity.  Take every opportunity to pick up some additional knowledge you believe your customers would find helpful.  Purposely seeking out helpful information will also give you some variety in your daily routine.  Make a point every day to learn something and teach someone.
  2. Set Standards.  If you are the only person working in your business, then focus all of the following effort on yourself.  For the vast majority of businesses out there, you probably have others working for you.  A client is more apt to be loyal if they feel comfortable and confident in your abilities as a business, not just an individual.  For this reason, set strict standards for your staff to follow so they can deliver the same level of service and quality you would.  Their official name may be different than yours, but when it comes to business, all employees share the same name; the name of the business.
  3. Enhance EVERY experience.  Every customer visit should be just as exciting as the very first time they entered your facility.  Disney capitalizes on this concept better than most businesses.  For some avid Disney buffs, it doesn’t matter how many times they have been to the theme parks, they will gladly go back time and time again because of the feeling they get and the experience they have.  For these people, every other theme park pales in comparison.  For our businesses, we don’t have to change much, but we need to be careful we don’t take the customer’s visit for granted.  They need to feel important every time they visit or you may lose them to someone else who makes them feel important as you once did.  We do a great job of exciting new customers in an attempt to gain their business away from our competitor.  We forget, sometimes, our competitors would love the opportunity to make OUR “regulars” and “steadies” feel important.

Easy Money? Is there such a thing?  It takes work to build a business; Physical and Mental work.  I am not sure who first coined the phrase, but it is SO true.  “If it were easy, everyone would do it.”  As always, I wish you the best.

Treat your customers like Royalty and they will reward you with Loyalty.