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May 28, 2015

It’s the summer. It’s hot out there. People are cranky. That’s why it is more important than ever to remember that the customer experience is priority one.

Let’s start with employees. Education is key when it comes to customer service. Employees should know the ins and outs of the entire store, the policy and the answers to customer’s burning questions. “Because it is our policy” is not an appropriate answer when a customer asks “Why?” Take the time to teach your employees every single detail of your store, no matter how mundane you might think it is.

The difference between your independent store and the big chains should be the impeccable customer service. If employees are clamoring to help someone, that alone will create repeat customers. Don’t bury employees behind the counter. Have them walk the floor and greet every customer. This industry, much like the automobile industry, requires a lot of customer education. You can’t just sell a parakeet to a parent and expect them to come back. The customer needs to know how to feed it, water it, play with it and much more. The longer that parakeet stays alive, the longer you will have a repeat customer with a guaranteed once a month visit.
Get employees involved in your store. Make them love coming to work. Listen to them. Make an “Employee Favorite” shelf and have each employee pick a favorite item from your inventory. The Pet Age team has all worked retail and they all loved feeling like their opinions mattered.

Another way to improve the customer experience is events. Now that the weather is nice, it is a great time to have adoption events, sales events and summer themed parties at your store. Market these events on Facebook and Twitter. Offer special sales like a “buy one, get one” and use the crowds to display items you wouldn’t normally. Appeal to children by displaying licensed merchandise. Appeal to millennials by displaying pet technology items.

Using social media is important now as online traffic can increase in summertime. People are up later at night checking their smart phones and kids are online all day. Talk about summer events that your store is holding.  Talk about special flash sales you are having. It is the best way to get summertime customers into your store.

We have lots of great summer ideas in this issue. Be sure to check out our Management section for more tips on how to improve your store this month. Have a wonderful June!

-Craig Rexford

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