In the 5 years of running Long Island Pet Professionals, we have had a wonderful turnout of pet professionals attend our networking events and seminars, but I have to say the pet pros we see least at events are pet store and pet boutique owners.
It has been something I could never understand, here you have a great pet boutique or store, and we have tremendous expert speakers here to teach you and help you grow your business.
Yet many of them still don’t attend. Not to mention the amount of new people you will meet and that will then know about your store and what services you offer, it’s a win-win. I get that as a storeowner it is hard to physically leave your store for every event, but if there were an opportunity very close to you, wouldn’t it behoove you to leave for a few hours to attend?
You never know who you might meet that could help your store, your bottom line, and you may actually learn about a new product, service or other pet professional that you want to partner with, have cross promotions with, feature in your store, etc.
I do encourage pet professionals to attend the big trade shows when they can, but to also get out there and network in your own chamber of commerce or business associations. Unless you’re completely happy with your salary, your store’s yearly income and just have no desire to grow, networking should be a big part of your marketing plan. Also, attending retailer expos, trade shows are a must if you want to stay alive and competitive and become that “go-to” community pet supply store.
Advertising, hiring a PR person and social media are all great ways to promote your pet boutique or supply store, but in my opinion if you don’t actually get out there and meet new peers, how will you grow your network?
For 2014, why not make it a goal of yours to attend at least two local networking events or retail expos, even if it takes you out of your comfort zone. Two events for a year are not that many, stop making excuses and get out there! You are bound to see many new pet products and you will meet pet professionals that want to meet you too.
As a pet retailer I am sure you have you noticed by now how many other stores that carry pet products that are not pet stores. Do you want to grow your business or close up shop?
With the pet industry booming across the board, it is important to stay competitive, offer items and services in your retail store that the other stores can’t compete with. Often a great new pet product made by a local person, that doesn’t necessarily have or want a manufacturers rep or distributor, will be at a networking event hoping to meet store owners like you. You may never meet that person or see their product if you don’t leave your store.
It is great to hear from retailers after they have attended one of our networking events that they are now carrying another members product that the met at the event. Or how they don’t know why they didn’t start coming to events sooner and that they learned so much. Just because you have been running your store for 10 or more years, doesn’t mean you won’t learn, or you know everything about the pet industry and products out there.
As the saying goes, “you can teach an old dog new tricks,” so get out there, network, attend a trade show you have been meaning to get to, see what is new, you may just be surprised what you find and learn, and your customers will appreciate it, too.