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Gotcha Day 101: The Value of Supporting New Pet Parents

By Amy Castro//August 31, 2023//

Gotcha Day 101: The Value of Supporting New Pet Parents

By: Amy Castro//August 31, 2023//

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Getting a new pet is an exciting time in your customer’s lives, but it can also be overwhelming when the time comes to shop for the pet’s needs. New pet owners may feel intimidated by the variety of products and services available for their furry, feathered or scaly friends. How can you help them navigate the many products available, and at the same time, help your business sell the products you’re trying to move that will benefit both them and their pets?

New Pet Packages & Promotions

Help the new pet parent celebrate their new family member by offering them special, targeted packages for key species your business serves. Packages could include things like samples of pet food, treats, toys, grooming products and coupons for future purchases. Pet food marketers and retailers would do well to target new pet owners and secure their long-term loyalty from day one through cute and creative new pet welcome packages. A puppy or new dog package could include a discounted groom or free nail trim, free one-night’s boarding stay or a coupon for a free self-serve bath. These could be delivered to customers through a coupon book you have in the store or by emailing the information to them when they sign up for your new pet parent email list. These special offerings are not only a great way to increase sales, but also increase customer loyalty as you become part of the celebration of their new pet.

Provide Personalized Recommendations

Asking key questions about the pet’s age, gender, species, breed, activity level, size and personality can help you provide personalized recommendations that will meet the pets’ needs, preferences and lifestyle. It’s also a good idea to politely ask questions about the pet parents themselves, including their home, work schedules, etc., if you feel comfortable doing so or if it’s a customer you know. This can allow you to make further product recommendations that will help the pet adapt to his or her new home and the pet parents’ schedules and routines. With this information, you’ll be better armed to offer advice on everything from food and supplements, to toys, bedding, collars, leashes, harnesses, crates, carriers and more. You’ll also be able to provide tips on training, behavior, nutrition, grooming, health care and other aspects of pet parenting.

Provide Educational Workshops

Whether it’s offering a puppy kindergarten class or a workshop on kitten behavior, educating your customers on their pets and their needs is a great way to increase loyalty and sales. If teaching or training isn’t your thing and the thought of getting up in front of a group makes you feel ill, consider inviting product reps or local subject matter experts.

As a rescue president who has personally fostered more than 3,000 animals, I know a lot about bringing home a new pet and in fact, I co-facilitated a workshop with my veterinarian last month at a local pet retailer. We did a session on “success tips for the first 30 days,” for new pet parents. The benefit of inviting a local expert is you can double or triple your advertising efforts as each party is interested in getting the word out about the event. You can also meet up with the workshop facilitators beforehand and talk about products or services you offer in your store that relate to the workshop topic. In our case, we did the workshop from 5 p.m. to 6 p.m. on a Sunday evening and that left an hour before the store closed for people to shop for some of the toys and products we recommended in the workshop. It also gave me and the vet the chance to share information about our organizations and hand out goodies and business cards. It was a win-win for everyone.

Educate Customers on Premium Products

Beyond offering workshops, it’s critical that every employee in your business knows the ins-and-outs, benefits and differences between the products you carry. The average new pet owner who is feeling overwhelmed not only by the choices available, but by the expense of acquiring a new pet may be tempted to buy cheap or generic products, either because they’re trying to save money, or they think all products are the same.

Too many times I’ve seen a pet parent come into a retail store and ask where the dog collars are, only to have an employee say, “Aisle 4,” and that’s it; missing out on a prime opportunity to educate and upsell.

One of the biggest benefits of a brick-and-mortar business for both you and the customer is your ability to guide the customer to the best possible products, or at least help explain their options. Too many employees and even business owners struggle with this. One reason is lack of knowledge, and that must be remedied immediately. However, I think another reason is people are uncomfortable with selling and they’re afraid of being controlling, salesy or pushy. If that describes you or your employees, it’s time for a mindset change.

As a pet business owner or employee, it’s your responsibility to know your products inside and out and to educate customers on the benefits of premium products that offer higher quality, safety, durability, performance and value. For example, explaining how a premium food you carry can improve a pet’s health, appearance, energy level, digestion, immunity and longevity, isn’t selling, it’s providing a service. Demonstrating how premium toys can stimulate the pet’s mental and physical development, prevent boredom, reduce stress and strengthen the bond between the owner and the pet isn’t selling, it’s helping the pet parent build a relationship with their pet. Sharing the differences between a budget collar and a premium one, in terms of quality and materials, helps pet parents make a purchase that will last longer and provide better safety for their pet. Once you change your mind set about selling, you’ll become much more comfortable doing it and you’ll increase revenue for your business.

Showcase Customer Reviews

Buyers these days are heavily influenced by what they hear others saying about products on social media. Take advantage of this trend by showcasing customer reviews of your products and services on your websites, social media platforms, newsletters, flyers, posters, etc. However, most customers won’t do this unless you ask, so be sure to have a method for following up with customers when shop with you. Ask them about their level of satisfaction with their purchases and ask if you can share their feedback. You can also encourage customers to share their feedback online or in-store through incentives such as discounts, rewards points and freebies.

Animal Welfare & Rescue Organizations

New pet owners may be more likely to shop at pet retailers that participate in welfare and rescue causes that align with their values and beliefs. In fact, in a Packaged Facts 2020 Survey of Pet Owners, 48 percent of pet owners agree that pet retailers’ participation in welfare and rescue causes plays a role in where they shop for pet products.

There are many ways you can support animal welfare in your community. One way would be to host adoption days at your store and invite a local group or groups to bring adoptable pets for the day. That’s also a great day to have your new pet welcome offers ready to hand out if the group adopts animals on site. If the size or space within your business won’t allow an indoor event, consider using outside space and tents. If neither of these are options, you can also show your animal welfare support by donating money, products, or services to animal welfare organizations, or host a fundraiser or awareness campaign.

By following these tips, pet retailers can help new pet owners shop with confidence and satisfaction. They can also upsell them on products that will enhance their pets’ well-being and happiness. This will create a win-win situation for both the retailer and the customer.


Amy Castro is a business and leadership expert who speaks, trains and consults with pet businesses that want to build best-in-show teams that deliver a Five-Star Customer Experience. She’s also the host of the Starlight Pet Talk podcast, where she interviews pet industry experts and others to give advice and information for pet parents to help their pets live long, happy lives.