SuperZoo is upon us, and with that another coming together of thousands of independent retailers who represent a huge percentage of the $55-plus billion pet business. While most pet industry people, be they pet store owners, groomers or even veterinarians don’t get in this business to become wealthy, pretty much all for-profit business owners are looking for ways to stay competitive, and either grow or maintain their businesses at healthy levels.
Toward that end, there is a dizzying proliferation of ideas, ranging from carrying the latest products, to figuring out the best search engine optimization and pay-per-click Internet marketing strategies that you can employ. While these are important, one thing that can get overlooked is the benefit of working and/or partnering with other pet professionals. By working together toward the common goal of improving pet owners’ lives, you can help each other out in the process.
The first group all pet pros should consider working with are dog trainers. Simply put, dog trainers work with involved pet owners with discretionary income. These pet owners come to dog trainers looking for advice on common behavioral challenges and obedience.
Dog obedience students all require training equipment, such as leashes, collars, bags to clean waste, etc. Solving problem behaviors often requires products as well. Everything from crates and exercise pens to chew toys, interactive toys, proper diets, odor neutralizers, chewing deterrents and much, much more are promoted by trainers, most of whom have little interest in stocking and selling their own products. Pet store owners who actively reach out to work with trainers can be rewarded with new customers and/or increased sales.
Pet retailers, there are a number of ways in which you can work with a dog trainer. One is to have the trainer conduct his or her first class in your store.
Before you reject this based on size considerations and/or fear of having four to 10 untrained dogs running around your location, many trainers offer an orientation lesson that is conducted without dogs. Orientation lets owners learn about class equipment needs and provides them with a question-and-answer session on common behavior problems.
Imagine having all these potential shoppers at your store. To do this correctly, you’ll need to coordinate with the trainer and make sure the products he/she recommends are ones you carry. In addition, you might consider a dog-training-participant discount to further incentivize owners to purchase products after the lecture.
You can also reach out to trainers and ask to visit the classes they teach. Come armed with discount coupons and even some samples of the various products students will need.
Groomers and establishments that offer grooming services should consider working with dog trainers. I know dozens of trainers who have groomers come to their classes to teach owners how to properly brush their dogs, as well as offer suggestions on shampoo, skin care, etc .
Many of these groomers also distribute their cards to the dog obedience students, which helps stimulate business. Dog trainers are often receptive to this arrangement because it allows them to offer an additional service.
This strategy works for independent salons or groomers working with a pet store. In return for this offer, allow the trainer to leave brochures and/or business cards at your salon, and try to refer the trainer to those clients who might need it.