Archive for April, 2010

Increase Sales, Decrease Your Footprint

Earth day is approaching, don’t miss out on an opportunity to increase sales this month with a focus on making your business and pooch more eco-friendly and reap the benefits long term. A poll recently conducted by the Global Strategy Group shows that 87% of consumers are more likely to buy products from an environmentally friendly retailer.  There is no better time for your store to go “green” than on April 22nd, Earth Day.  With more and more businesses emphasizing the importance of going green, doing so has never been easier.

Ways to make your business more eco-friendly:

  • Promote a special offer for Earth Day, if customers bike or walk to the store versus drive their cars they receive XX% off their entire purchase or off of a specific item.
  • Recycle boxes, packaging and receipt paper.
  • Use florescent and LED Bulbs, they last longer and use less electricity.
  • Consider using motion sensor lights.
  • When cleaning use cloth towels vs. paper towels.
  • Look for “Green” cleaning supplies (i.e. Seventh Generation, Simple Green)
  • Become paperless as much as possible, think twice before you print.
  • Switch off electrical equipment when not using.
  • Offer discounts to customers who bring in their own bag or do not use one.

Ways to make your pooch more eco-friendly

  • Help control the pet population by adopting pets from shelters and/or neutering your pet.
  • Always pick up your pet’s waste, reducing contamination in our lakes and rivers.
    • Even better, use biodegradable bags that are cornstarch based.  They decompose much quicker than regular plastic bags ( Kyjen)
    • Be your dog’s chef.  You will know exactly what goes into the food and you can purchase organic, pesticide free food for Fido.  If cooking is not your thing, consider visiting holistic dog food stores in your area.
    • Look at labels for eco-friendly products using recycled or all natural materials (i.e. Kyjen – Bottle Buddies, Kyjen – Eco Hemp)

Happy Early Earth Day! Hope it is a prosperous one for you!

Getting To Know A Customer

What do your customers mean to you? Besides the obvious answer of money, good question . For Indies, your customers should affect you on more than a monetary level. Most of these people tell you about their families, their pets, their problems. And your there to not only listen but get to know their needs that you can then fulfill with an object in your store. People want to be listened to, it makes them feel important.

For example, I went to a snowboard shop to fix a binding that was loose. They not only helped me fix the binding (free of charge), they asked me about my skill of riding, my preferences for terrain, and other personal things about my snowboarding lifestyle. I felt I was important enough to get to know, even if they don’t remember me next time. As they were listening, they suggested that I wear a helmet because I prefer to ride fast. They listened, they informed, they sold me a $90 helmet. I left a happy customer.

Next time a customer comes in, start asking questions. You might get a full 20 minute life story, but I guarantee people will like you more, and want to buy from you more often. Is this customer important enough to get to know? The answer every time should be, Yes.

Why the Indies will Survive and Thrive in the Pet Industry

Having been in the pet industry many years, I just want to mention why I think the independent retailers in the pet industry will survive and thrive.  In my mind it’s pretty simple actually:

1. It does not make sense to ship dog food online: it’s simply too heavy, the shipping can cost as much as the food.  The good news for the Indie is the consumers must go to stores to buy their dog food, and they usually buy additional products (and toys!).

2. There are many services that pet owners need: grooming, training, day-care and boarding that are primarily dominated by independent business owners. This brings people into brick-and-mortar stores where they spend money.

3.  The owners and personnel of the Indies are passionate and knowledgeable about the pet products they sell.  They provide a level of service, experience and education on a one-to-one basis that can’t be duplicated by the online experience.

I’m sure there are many other  reasons why the Indies will survive and thrive, but these are the top of mind reasons for me.

Please comment with your reasons.

Great Customer Service w/ a little Spice

I wanted to share a quick story about a small bike shop in the Highlands (Colorado) named Urbanistic Tea and Bike Shop.  That’s right, a combination of bicycles and tea.  It’s obvious that this company is run by people that are doing what they love.  You wouldn’t think that these two items would go together but this small business has learned to differentiate itself.

My story is this, they have great customers service and they care.  Have you ever gone into a shop and was turned down b/c you weren’t a paying customer?  It’s frustrating and defeats the purpose of brand loyalty, in this case the store is the brand.  We took our bikes out for the first time this spring and of course the tires were flat, the seats were at the wrong height, etc, etc.  We walked our bikes to the store, where it was busy w/ 3-4 customers in line.  Right away they noticed our tires were flat.   They brought our bikes (three in all) inside, past the customers in line and filled the tires and adjusted the seats.  We left and didn’t purchase a thing.

Do you think we’ll go back if we need something on our bikes?  Do you think I hesitate at all when someone asks me for a good bike shop (referred two already)?  Customer service goes a long way and it’s all about not keeping score.

Saddleback Leather dot com

I recently came across an exceptional product with exceptional marketing — it’s a great inspiration for all online stores.

Saddleback Leather was formed w/ one purpose, to be the best leather bag ever made.  The bags roots were imagined in Mexico where Dave, the founder, sketched a drawing for a leather maker, a few Spanish words were fired back and forth and the bag was born.  After coming back to the states and people shouting from across the street “Where did you get that bag”, Dave realized that more people will want and need this bag.  He since has stitched his way in history and his bag will live on far after he will.

I believe companies can truly learn from this business model.  When you visit you will instantly be drawn in by his candor words and real language.  It is refreshing to read a website written as someone speaks and I believe it shows passion and transparency, which in today’s business world matters.  He answers questions w/ blunt answers and tells you how it is.  He speaks to his customers.  How does your site stand out among the masses?  Do you write directly to your customers or just throw facts at them?

Dave has blogs and videos of real people in his travels explaining his bags (see the Rastafarian demonstrating the different sizes).  You’ll win a $500 credit on the site entering the photo contest where you are encouraged to have a famous person standing on the bag in the most remote places on earth.  Want to see the durability?  Watch the video where Dave is dangling the bag over a crocodile in Australia to see whether or not it will sustain a bite.  It’s small details like that that make you stay on the site and want to learn more.  Does your site have interaction?

I think retailers, websites and any company for that matter can learn from his honest way of doing business.  You are buying from a person and not a company, which to me seems almost euphoric in today’s push button response.