January 10, 2017

Selling during the holidays is a relatively easy thing. However, maintaining that momentum into the coming year can really start your 2017 off with a bang.

The most critical element to taking advantage of the winter months is to go in having a plan. As the saying goes, “prior planning prevents poor performance,” and few can deny that this goes double in sales. Consider keeping an annual calendar of events, complete with times set aside to meet with your staff, your reptile supplier and even your local veterinarian. Following this sort of schedule can get your year off to a strong start.

One important thing to remember as the winter months deepen is that reptiles will often move toward hibernation. While many reptile owners are able to keep their pets on a regular feeding regimen and can expect typical active hours, both feeding and sleep cycles can change drastically in colder months, even for captive-bred animals who have never known life out in the wilderness. While hibernating reptiles may not eat during their hibernation cycle, water dishes should be kept filled and clean, as even hibernating reptiles may wake briefly to drink or soak.

After the holidays, people often have a little extra cash on hand, as well as gift certificates or gift cards. If you don’t already offer gift cards in your store, consider these as an additional way to foster relationships with your ongoing customers. Perhaps offer a discount for the purchaser if they buy a gift card or gift certificate for a friend. In this way, you keep your current customers pleased while bringing fresh faces into your store.

You may wish to consider coupling this focus on gift cards and the like with discounts on dry goods. Many wholesalers of enclosures, food, lighting and more offer significant price breaks after the holiday season, which can make offering such discounts increasingly feasible. Consider again offering bundled deals, which appeal greatly to new reptile owners.

An additional promotion to consider is to take advantage of the academic semester. With many schools ending their semesters in January, consider offering a “Pets for A’s” discount program, based on students’ academic progress. You can tier discounts based on a student’s success and stay close with your own community. With any luck, you’ll be able to advertise this promotion in local schools, giving you an inroad to a whole populace of potential customers.

As winter deepens, people tend to spend more time indoors, which means additional time spent building enclosures or considering additional indoor pets. Consider offering discounts on enclosures, substrates, heat lighting and creative elements reptile owners can add to their already-existing displays.

However, that same cold weather makes shipping reptiles from breeders and wholesalers particularly difficult. When the temperature dips below the freezing point, many breeders simply cannot ship out reptiles for fear of the animals’ health. Keep an open line of communication with your reptile supplier and ensure that you’re able to keep open reptile displays full and moving.

Weather can provide difficulties for pet store owners in transferring reptiles to their new owners. Be sure to transfer reptiles in travel boxes with adequate ventilation. However, our scaly friends should be kept away from direct sunlight during their trip as well as kept from heater vents. Direct sunlight, even in winter months, can turn a clear plastic tub into a mini greenhouse while a heater vent may make a reptile’s travel box intolerably warm. Ensure that both your staff and your customers know how to keep reptiles safe during the winter months and, in doing so, give these pets a long and happy life.

Winter poses logistical and strategic challenges. However, with careful seasonal planning, sales initiatives poised to take advantage of post-holiday gift certificates and proper education for both staff and customers, the long dark of post-holiday sales could become your personal winter wonderland.

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