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May 28, 2015

When it comes to building customer loyalty and generating revenue, independent pet store owners have discovered the importance of offering services as diverse as dog training, vaccination clinics and grooming. There are various ways to market such services; social media platforms and two-step promotional ideas, such as canine problem-solving clinics to promote obedience classes, come immediately to mind. However, one useful method is often overlooked: cross-promotion.

Hosting monthly or bimonthly vaccination clinics in conjunction with a local veterinarian or a mobile pet vaccination service is a good example of cross-promotion that can benefit both businesses. Although attendance numbers will vary depending on location, times and season, retailers can expect to draw 25 to 50 pet owners, usually bringing puppies less than six months of age. These clinics provide a great opportunity to showcase all of the services and many of the products a store has to offer.

Don’t forget to ask the local veterinarian or mobile vaccination service to provide literature for your store and ask that they reciprocate with yours. In addition, the store’s staff can hand out discount coupons for other services to shot clinic attendees.
Dog trainers can be particularly effective at these types of events. Many of the people attending shot clinics arrive with untrained dogs, and it can often involve a bit of work keeping these unruly pets under control while waiting in line for vaccinations. A dog trainer assisting such people by giving training tips will likely find a great many of them receptive to signing up for dog obedience clinics offered at the store.

Groomers can also cross-promote services during dog training classes given at your shop. They can—and should—be invited to address at least one session during which they can introduce themselves, explain the services they offer and give simple bathing and brushing tips. Depending on the time of year, they can also show owners the best way to locate fleas and ticks—surprisingly, many dog owners don’t know how and where to look for them. Those who express interest are taking the first step toward becoming grooming customers. In addition, host retailers can offer attendees discounts on grooming supplies, flea-and-tick products, training tools and any other items they’d like to promote.

If your store doesn’t offer the aforementioned events or services, you can still create reciprocal promotions with independent trainers or groomers. For example, if you provide dog training classes but not grooming services, you can connect with a local grooming salon. Check its reputation to ensure you can comfortably recommend it to your hard-earned customers. Remember that any referral you make will reflect back on you. Once you find a good salon, invite its groomers to be guest speakers at one of the training classes. They can offer the same kinds of tips and discounts mentioned above. In return, the salon agrees to promote your store to its grooming clients. Ideally, you would create a specific promotion for that salon, such as 10-percent product discounts or training class discounts—or anything you want. It’s essentially free advertising directed at a precisely targeted demographic.

Likewise, stores that offer grooming but not training can work with independent dog trainers in a similar fashion. As with selecting a salon, you will first need to locate a good, reputable trainer. Ask the trainer if he or she will allow one of your groomers to offer tips along with informational brochures to class participants. In exchange, you will promote the trainer (e.g., through brochures, fliers, verbal recommendations, etc.) to your store’s customers. And don’t forget to request reciprocal mentions on each other’s social media pages and websites. By doing this, a great, mutually beneficial relationship might really blossom.

While these strategies won’t bring in customers by the thousands, if properly executed they will bring new customers and educate current ones on the variety of services and products you offer at your store. Over time, this can really add up and positively affect client satisfaction and your bottom line.

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