Pet Housing: More Pets Means More Revenue for Retailers
In my management columns, I’ve tried to hammer home an essential concept for any retailer in the pet industry: the sale of a given animal is only the beginning of your relationship with a customer. This initial sale can lead to years of subsequent purchases, ranging from food and bedding, to new housing options, to buying additional pets and all the necessities those pets need. also.
However, the most important and visible side purchases for any pet owner will undoubtedly be related to housing, especially for reptiles, amphibians and aquatic livestock. Tanks, enclosures, substrate, and decorations make up a significant portion of the “upfront” costs associated with these animals, but we continually see stores failing to leverage this positioning in both their physical stores and retail structure. ‘purchase. If you can reverse this trend, the opportunity to attract loyal customers is within your reach.
First, consider the placement of tanks and enclosures in your store’s floor plan. If your store is divided into “sections” based on the type of animal, a section devoted to enclosures and other relevant items forms a natural transition from reptiles and amphibians to fish and aquatic creatures, as the two types of animals overlap considerably in what is needed for these. individual animals. Numerous statistics have shown that pet owners are more and more likely to have additional pets; that person who picks up their first bearded dragon is much more likely than someone without a pet to come back to you for a second (or next) pet. And, if that pet owner can visualize what their second or third tank might look like, they will become more likely to get both a new tenant and a pen for them.
Added to this is one of our biggest pet peeves when visiting retailers: so many stores only make a token effort to make their enclosures appealing, focusing only on the “bare bones” needed for care. of this animal. To us, this shows a lost opportunity on many levels. First of all, attractive and creative displays grab your customers’ attention and can easily attract those who would just like to check out what you’ve been able to create. This additional traffic leads directly to additional sales. Providing more comprehensive displays also demonstrates your staff’s expertise in understanding a given animal’s needs and understanding how various items fit into that animal’s cycle of care. Not only will your staff be able to show how much they know their animals, but they will also be able to provide clear and realistic recommendations to your customers. And, of course, a fuller, more complete enclosure leads to a healthier, happier animal that receives better care and can reduce veterinary costs.
You may even consider offering a competition among your staff to design each display. This way you can positively engage your staff, get a number of fantastic displays prepared for your store, ensure your staff are properly educated on a given species, and can share that information in a compelling and concise way. Something as simple as a bonus day off or even store credit for an enclosure of their own could be a great way to inspire your staff to do their best to keep your store looking its best.
Once your store has prepared quality displays, consider finding ways to get customers to recreate these displays in their own homes. With each display, consider including a card-sized list of all the items needed to replicate that display and where those items might be found in your store. A list with entries as simple as “XXXX Brand Substrate: Aisle 8” or “YYYY Castle Decoration: Aisle 7” makes it easy for your customers to find exactly what they might be looking for, as well as reasonable alternatives for those creatures. Similarly, you may want to create a sticker system, so that staff and customers can quickly identify what type of animal a given item might be best suited for. Printing coin-sized stickers – blue for fish, red for reptiles, green for amphibians, etc. – can provide an easily identifiable method for customers and staff to recognize what might be best for a given species.
Although it may take some extra effort, focusing on enclosures and decorations can have a major impact on your quarterly sales and make your store a destination for pet owners in your area. With a little creativity and some crafty work, your customers will keep coming back to your store for the best in animal husbandry.
In our next article, we’ll look at how to use healthcare guides as an education point for your staff and clients.
John Mack is the founder and CEO of Reptiles by Mack. He is also Chairman of the Pet Advocacy Network Board of Directors and sits on the Pet Advocacy Network Zoonoses Committee. His Ohio-based company is widely recognized as one of the largest breeders and suppliers of reptiles in the United States today.