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February 1, 2016

Spring is coming, and what does that mean for pet specialty retailers? Rearranging your apparel displays and closeouts, perhaps? Is it time to get behind some of those bulky items or go up on the high shelves to see what may need to be dusted?

It may be all of those things—but may I make a suggestion?

Training and development.

Training is one way to keep employees energized and satisfied with their work. It also helps the employer as much, if not more than, the employee.

As the employer, you are making an investment in your employees. Employees usually realize that, so training can translate into their feeling valued at the workplace. Employees will consider it a benefit of working for you, which is good for employee retention and will have a big effect on your bottom line.

“…The tangible costs as well as intangible costs associated with replacing employees have increased exponentially over the years…” said Noah L. Pusey, President and CEO of Ripple Analytics Inc. and guest blogger for our sister company, Best Places To Work Group.

Having a staff of well-trained employees is marketable. As a pet product/service retailer, you can take pride in the fact that employees are trained and that can be used in conversations with customers, especially when offering advice about purchases and pet care.

There are plenty of training materials available for the store manager, but what’s available for the employee? How can we as an industry help employees understand how they play an integral part in the wonderful world of pets?

Some manufacturers and vendors offer in-store training on the use and sale of products. However, once the representative leaves the store, so does 80 percent of what was taught. Brochures and other POS materials offer some help, but what remains is a cursory understanding of the bigger picture. How does this product play a part in the overall success of the store? What role does this product and your store play in the lives of the customer and their companion animal? Understanding the big picture helps your employee feel confident and self-assured in their work.

How do you get started? Consider a training program including goals and benchmarks for the development of your staff.

One resource is Pet Store Pro, a free online training resource for pet retailers and their employees created by the Pet Industry Distributors Association (PIDA). Pet Store Pro features training courses on a wide variety of topics, all designed to improve customer service, encourage repeat business and much more.

Additionally, there are some free tools available from the American Society of Training and Development and even from the Society for Human Resource Management. And, look to Pet Age in the not-too distant future. I’ll be dusting off my training hat this spring in the hope of bringing you some of the tools to bridge that knowledge gap.

All the best,

Allen Basis

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