Pet Business is a fun business. As an owner, one gets to work with amazing pets every day. Many pet lovers tend to take their passion for pets and turn it into a business. Starting a pet business is certainly an achievement, but running the business could be challenging at times. There are many issues pet business owners need to deal with on a daily business.
Here is a list of top five day-to-day challenges pet business owners face and suggestions to solve them:
#5 Dealing with bad customer behavior
The majority of customers are an absolute pleasure to work with. These customers are called bloodline of our pet business. Providing quality services and keeping them happy is a joy. However, there are always few customers who are very difficult to work with. These customers do not respect business hours. Some of them will hide the truth about their pets. For example, they will say the female dog is spayed when it hasn’t or dog is super calm for grooming, but in reality the dog turns out very aggressive. Some customers will bring sick dogs for services putting other dogs and employees at health risk.
All customers behaving badly are not necessarily bad customers. As a business owner, you should be able to identify which bad customers can improve if you make some effort and which customers to completely avoid. Customers who are consistently rude and abusive or threaten to complain on social media and to their friends are toxic customers. You should try to avoid doing more business with these kinds of customers.
On the other hand, some customers with bad behavior might be just having a bad day. Try to understand their situation and give them another chance. One of the most important measures you can use to identify bad customers is your comfort level to deal with them. If you are not comfortable, politely refuse to the customer. These toxic customers tend to take lot of time away from you and put unnecessary stress on you.
#4 Uncertainty about future
Increasing competition and lack of resources make running a pet business very challenging. Many pet business owners feel overwhelmed with the amount of work required and managing resources on a daily basis. The lack of growth potential makes pet business owners discouraged. Many pet service providers give up after few months of trying and shutdown business. On the other hand, there are businesses that are very successful.
You can be one of the most successful pet business owners too. Self-confidence is extremely important for running business successfully. A business owner with positive attitude can motivate employees to drive moral high. Set realistic goals for getting new customers. Try to document and set procedures for employees to provide high quality services on a consistent basis. Look for ways to improve efficiency. If you are spending one hour to feed pets at your boarding facility, find ways to accomplish that in 30 minutes without sacrificing anything. Look out for way to add more unique services that no one in your area is providing. Read reviews online for other pet businesses outside of your area to see which unique services they provide that their customers like and try to implement them.
#3 Maintaining Reputation
Another challenge pet businesses face is maintaining reputation. The two main things you can do to make sure your business reputation is not compromised are: (1) Provide quality customer service (2) Check regularly your reputation online and take action.
Providing quality customer service is the most important thing to maintain your customers and bring more customers. As Warren Buffet, the Oracle of Omaha has recently said, “do not satisfy customers, delight customers”. Try to surprise your customers by offering something that makes them feel special. Offer unique services that no other similar pet businesses offer. For example, pet boarding facility can send couple of pictures of pets every day to their owners. This will make your customers feel at ease knowing that their beloved pets are doing well in their absence. Pet groomers can use pet perfumes after the grooming service. Most pet perfume smell stays for few days giving good feeling to pet owners.
There will be times when some customers will not be happy and write negative reviews online. Some of your competitors will also try to post fake negative reviews. You should be checking at least once a week to make sure no one has posted anything detrimental about your business. If you do find it, respond professionally.
#2 Getting more customers
Getting more customers is always something all small businesses like to do, but find it hard to accomplish. A membership to your local Chamber of Commerce can bring more customers to your business. It provides you an opportunity to connect with other local business owners who could also be pet owners. These business owners would feel comfortable going to you when they are in need of pet services.
Many pet business owners ignore the need of marketing on a regular basis. Marketing is extremely essential to survive and stay ahead in the business. People in your community should always know about things happening at your pet business. You should not spend fortune to market your business. Online marketing is something every pet business owner should know and master. Online marketing can be the most cost effective way of reaching and updating your customers on a regular basis. A professional website, social media such as Facebook, Twitter, Google +, local online directories, and search engine optimization (SEO) techniques can help you find more customers on a regular basis. Pet Business Guru will be posting a lot of useful information on online marketing for pet business. The best way to make sure you do not miss useful information is to follow us on Twitter or Facebook.
Hiring and keeping right kinds of employees is by far the biggest challenge all pet businesses face. Ideal employees are dedicated, hardworking, trustworthy, and motivated. Many owners think there are not enough people interested in working at pet businesses such as pet boarding. Pet grooming business owners have difficult time finding employees as expert groomers like to work on their own. Pet business owners also find that employees do not respect business hours and feel entitled to many additional benefits such as extra breaks, holidays increased salary. Employee turnover or living the job is also a common issue.
So, what can you do to attract, motivate and keep employees longer at your business? Since small pet businesses cannot afford to pay high salary and benefits, reputation of business in the local area can help you attract people to work for you. There are many tools and resources available to help small businesses increase reputation in the local community. One such resource is, the local Chamber of commerce. There are many great benefits of joining the local Chamber of commerce. It provides opportunity to grow professionally and individually. You can get access to other members and experts for advice. The membership also improves your business’s authority and legitimacy in the local market. Most customers look member businesses favorably. The membership fees usually range around $30-$40 per month. Online reputation is another thing you can use to attract employees. Have a page on your website with quotes from existing or past employees explaining how great it is to work for you. Offer a small sign-on bonus with a condition of employee staying with you for at least one year. Use Social Media to advertise available jobs. Post flyers in local laundromats in and around your town.
There are many things main street pet businesses can do to retain and motivate employees. Become a leader. Set guidelines clearly for each employee and his/her duties. Always treat your employees equally and with respect. Although small pet businesses cannot offer huge benefits, there are many soft benefits that can keep employees motivated. Offer $10 a month gym membership in the local gym. Try to test flextime at your business. Many employees found flextime as one of the reasons for them to stay at their current employer. Show appreciation for your employees by looking after those that matter to them. Involve employees’ families in their work life and work related social activities. Do movie nights or brunch once in a while at a local restaurant. Offer small incentive programs for achieving goals. Get discounted one hour spa from a local spa center. You can find many local deals on Groupon at a very reasonable price. Offer your employees referral bonus if they bring more customers. Cross train your employees and change their duties to keep them engaged. Many pet businesses employ teenagers who tend to leave after their high school for further studies or other opportunities. Accept the fact and be open by encouraging them in their next phase of life. At the very least, they will be able to give you good feedback that you can post on your website for future employees to see.