While the $5Bn+ pet services industry continues to grow, more competitors are entering the pet industry than ever before.
A pet services company’s business strategy often relies upon having a great location and a great reputation. Unfortunately, we all know that a competitor can open up across the street or a customer can leave a bad review, hurting your business. It is no longer enough to hope your customers continue to return – you must continuously improve. You need to take advantage of new technologies and focus on training your staff, as this is what your competitors are doing. The most important thing though is to build trust.
Unlike a hotel, where consumers often look for the cheapest rate on hotel aggregator websites, pet boarding facilities and doggy daycares are not selected by price alone. Many customers drive across town for the best (and a more expensive) pet boarding facility. While consumers may give price and location consideration, trust is the dominating factor in selecting a place to care for a pet. If you as a pet parent did not trust the business to care for your pet, would you leave your pet in their care? Would you pay a little more to know your pet is receiving the best care possible?
Great facilities have great staffs. Before you can earn and keep your customers’ trust, you need to build your relationship with your team. Customers will quickly become comfortable with your facility once they see that you, as a facility owner or manager, can trust your staff and that your staff can trust you to always do the right thing in caring for pets. This is where the synergies of your team keep existing customers returning and opens the door for new customers through word-of-mouth advertising.
As you prepare for the upcoming holiday season here are a few things to consider as you grow your business:
1. Continuously train your staff. Even your most tenured employees “who know everything” should be striving to improve on handling pets, reading pet body language, learning customer service skills, etc.
a. TIP: Consider going to a pet industry conference to learn industry best practices. Here are a few to consider: IBPSA’s Conference (www.petcareconference.com) in October or the Pet Boarding & Daycare Expo (www.petboardingexpo.com) in November and May.
b. TIP: If you do not have the time to make it to a conference this year, review the plethora of online video content aimed at staff training for the pet services industry (ask us for more info).
2. Inform your customers about how their pets are doing, even if that means you have to give a customer bad news. Keeping staff and pet parents informed of a pet’s health and behavior is critical to building trust.
a. TIP: Document any abnormality, as you may not realize something is wrong until a pattern has been recognized and observed.
b. TIP: Praise your staff for finding any pet abnormality.
c. TIP: Share photos, videos or text message updates about your customers’ pet while the pet is in your care. Nothing builds trust or gives peace of mind to a customer like going above and beyond with a photo update of the pet.
The competitive forces of the market continue to grow stronger by the day. Those who continue to build trust through educating staff and communicating effectively with customers will continue to see their businesses soar. If you are looking for ways to continue educating your staff or are in need of additional staff, please reach out to Sean (firstname.lastname@example.org) for help.