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August 6, 2014

Welcome to August.

The summer is flying by, and so I ask my pet professionals, are you planning for the holiday season yet?  Maybe you are stocking your shelves, planning on attending upcoming expos like Total Pet Expo in Chicago in September or NYC Retails & Sales in October.

But are you planning anything that is going to bring new customers into your store, grooming shop, training facility, etc?  What are you doing to stand out from the crowd during this holiday season?

With the amount of competition that retailers face, especially with online retail on the rise, store owners need to be diligent in their planning and promotion of their holiday events.

First you need to give yourself time for a proper promotion. If you are thinking of hosting a holiday in-store event, start now at mapping out exactly what you want to do.
Sit down with your employees and do a brainstorming session. You will be surprised at the creative ideas that come up.

Don’t have time for a brainstorming session?  Here are a few suggestions for you.

Host a special holiday night of shopping where a portion of the proceeds will go to your favorite local animal rescue.  Have the animal rescue on site with one or two adoptable, friendly pets.  Have seasonal refreshments for humans and their pets alike, give a gift with purchase, and offer pictures in a winter wonderland by a professional pet photographer.

Set up an “Ask the Vet” event geared toward holiday health hazards pets could get into.  The holidays are the busiest time of year for vet hospitals. Vets see pets who get into all kinds of things, have preventable accidents and so on.  This will help new and old customers learn, bring them in your store and creates great cross promotion opportunity.

Host a “Holiday Mutt Manners” class at your training facility teaching people and their dogs manners they should remember throughout the holiday season.

Or, host an “Ugly Sweater” contest for pets and humans alike wearing their ugly holiday sweater for a fun event within your store.  Post and share on social media.
Now that your wheels are spinning and you are thinking of all kinds of great events to have at your retail shop, start planning. Pick out a date – or dates if you are doing multiple events – and do your research to see if others nearby are doing similar events so you can plan accordingly.

And have fun with it.  I speak to many store owners who have been in the industry for a decade or more, and frankly, they are a bit burned out and just rely on the status quo of the holiday season to bring in more customers.

In this day and age, you cannot be so passé about it if you want to stay in business and have your business thrive.  The holiday season is the perfect opportunity to attract new customers to your store and keep them coming back by hosting fantastic events.

-Nancy E. Hassel

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