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January 4, 2016

Want to spiff up your bottom line and impress customers seeking avian assistance? Don’t overlook pet bird grooming services and products like baths, sprays and trimmers, which every bird owner needs but might not seek out without a little retailer encouragement.

Truth is, over time all feathers get dry and dirty, beaks and nails inevitably grow long, and molting can be uncomfortable. Without proper assistance from owners, birds can become sick, injured and stressed. Fortunately, a wider array of grooming products is available in 2016 than in years past, and retailers can capitalize on this merchandise variety while also offering valuable tips and suggestions to patrons.

Grooming 101

At Omar’s Exotic Birds in San Diego, educating the customer on proper grooming maintenance is a top priority.

“We hand out a pamphlet that recommends important grooming steps to every person who buys a bird from us, and we reinforce those tips by suggesting how and when to groom and which products to consider,” said Crystal Finn, co-owner of Omar’s Exotic Birds’ San Diego location.

The store stocks at least five different bird bath brands, as well as an assortment of cuttlebones and pedicure perches—including its biggest seller in the grooming subcategory, Polly’s Tooty Fruity Bee Pollen edible perch, with a rough calcium texture that aids in trimming nails and beaks.

Melanie K. Allen, avian product specialist with Rolf C. Hagen (USA) Corp. in Mansfield, Mass., agrees with Omar’s approach.

“When pet retailers sell a bird, they should include a list of items for the new caretaker, including a product for bathing,” Allen said. “Pet retailers that offer bird grooming services can actually utilize this as an opportunity to make product recommendations for things like baths, sprays and more to customers.”

Cut-Rate Choices

Finn and company have been providing in-house grooming services for nearly three years at low to no cost to consumers. A beak and nail trimming plus wing clipping rings up for as little as $8, and any bird purchased from the store is entitled to the same maintenance free of charge every two months for the lifespan of the animal.

“We even have a ‘Frequent Flyer’ loyalty program with a card that gets punched every time you purchase a grooming service,” Finn said. “After five punches, the next grooming visit is free.”
If you train your staff in proper trimming and handling techniques, in-house grooming services can be a decent profit builder that creates a steady base of satisfied repeat clientele.

“You need to convince customers that it can be more stressful and dangerous for them to trim the nails, beaks and wings themselves—it can lead to the bird being angry with them and, if they don’t clip carefully, can result in pain and bleeding to the bird,” Finn said.

Trim Whim

Whether you plan to offer these services in-store or not, it is still smart to stock up on a mix of essential pedicure products. A plentiful diversity of trimmers exist—including JW Pet’s GripSoft Nail Trimmer, featuring a non-slip ergonomically built handle tailored for greater hand comfort. For a more precise, safer trim, grinders like Oster’s Pet Nail Grinder or Dremel’s 7300-PT Pet Grooming Kit fit the bill.

Offering a range of calcium-fortified cuttlebones and mineral blocks, which help trim beaks, is also suggested. Zoo Med’s Bird Banquet Mineral Block with Fruit rewards tweetys with a tasty treat as they condition their beaks, and eCOTRITION’s Beak Conditioner is made from natural lava stone, lasting longer than other conditioner products.

Likewise, stocking pedicure perches that keep nails in check can get customers’ attention. Sweet Feet and Beak makes a Safety Pumice Perch that is advertised as safer than a sand perch and provides a comfort grip for tender feet pads. Polly’s provides an assortment of colorful conditioning perches with varying surface areas, including Desert Sands (red) and Beach Sands (yellow).

Bath Math Adds Up

Of course, no article on bird grooming would be complete without diving deeper into the bird bath segment.

“For many birds, bathing of some kind is instinctual and necessary to maintain healthy feathers,” Allen said. “However, many bird caretakers often exclaim that their bird doesn’t like to take a bath. Then it becomes a matter of finding the right method. Some birds like to walk in a shallow bath, some prefer spray bottles or even a full-on shower, and some, when the moment strikes them, just lunge into their water dishes.”

To discourage the latter practice, encourage shoppers to look more closely at today’s avian bath choices, which are worth carrying for their practical benefits and eye-catching marketability. Cases in point: Penn Plax’s Rocket Ship Bathtub, shaped like a fun purple spacecraft; Hagen’s Vision Bird Bath, with a strikingly rounded blue design; JW’s Insight Bird Bath, an inside-the-cage solution shaped like a mini clawfoot tub; and Lixit’s Quick Lock Bird Bath, fashioned as a clear round bowl that twists onto a hanging pedestal.

Spray Cache

Lastly, consider supplementing your grooming goods inventory with bath sprays, which can clean and beautify plumage, revitalize the skin underneath, open oil glands, resolve minor skin irritations and curb feather plucking.

Among the ample candidates in this space are Marshall Pet Products’ Avian Solution for Birds, Miracle Care Feather Glo Bird Bath Spray, Earth’s Balance Avian Solution, eCOTRITION Ultra Care Bird Bath Spray, and the recently introduced Rainforest Mist Bath Spray, available in Hawaiian hibiscus scent.

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