The Editor’s Letter as it appears in the November issue of Pet Age.
Our parent company, Journal Multimedia, really believes in continuing education. Every other month they gather all our publications’ employees, and cover a topic that will not only help us, but also help us service our clients.
During our last session, we focused on the importance of customer service, and what it means. Customer service is something retailers, and manufacturers, are very familiar with. It’s also something our columnists have touched on numerous times, but is worth revisiting, because customer service can literally make, or break, a company.
But, customer service goes beyond the checkout counter at a store, or how fast a sales rep responds to an email from their customer. It translates into everything you are doing as a representative of your store or company, including at trade shows, distributor open houses and community events.
Having manned not only our Pet Age booth, but having working numerous other trade shows and community events prior to working here, I cannot stress the importance of how customer service plays a big part at these events.
Many times, a trade show or community event is the first impression a customer gets of your business. A rude, or less than positive, experience, at something like this would not be good public relations for your business.
This is why the people you select to work your booth at these events is critical. They need to be positive, smiling and happy. So many times, I see them with their head down on their phone, or unable to answer questions, or look like they are completely uninterested in being there.
Now, I know these shows are long, and many times span over several days. Repeating the same sales pitch what feels like 100 times in a day can get boring and tiring, but to the person who hasn’t heard it, it’s their first interaction with your brand, or store.
Speaking of your brand, or store, this month’s cover story focuses on family businesses. It’s something I know a little bit about, because my paternal great-grandparents owned a candy store in the town I grew up in.
Unlike many of the businesses in the pet industry, the next generation of my family didn’t want to continue with the store. Sometimes, I wish they had.
Learning the family business, you would think, would be fun and easy. But, after researching it for this article our assistant editor found out it’s not that simple.
What we also found is that many times, the next generation leaves the family business and then returns after they’ve worked somewhere else and have gotten other experience.
Outside experience, I think, is critical. It gives you perspective on how other companies run, what works and what doesn’t as well as opens your eyes to new business practices.
You can then take that experience back to your company, and truly make it better.