Winter activities, part 2: Barn Hunt

barn-hunt

By Erin Schneider, CPDT-KA

In part one of my Winter Activities series, I talked about agility and the great exercise it is for your dog. In part two, I am going to talk about the sport of Barn Hunt.

As I mentioned in my previous post, I was not a big fan of being out in the cold for long periods of time, trying to give my dog some exercise. So I was always trying to come up with new ways to exercise my dog without freezing to death. Barn hunt is another great way to stay indoors and out of the cold.

Barn hunt, to put it simply, is a maze made out of straw bales. Within that maze are plastic tubes containing live rats and mice and the goal is for the dog to tunnel through the maze to find the live rats all in a specific amount of time.

I know what you are thinking. “Poor rats! I can’t believe they allow dogs to run after rats.” Let me specify, no rats or mice are hurt during this course. They are safely protected within the plastic containers. Barn hunt allows dogs, specifically terriers, to practice what they were bred to do, which is to find rats.

“Terrier” means “earth” in Latin. Terriers were bred to hunt vermin and even though many don’t have a need to hunt vermin these days, they still have that instinct, so a sport such as barn hunt is great for them. But terriers aren’t the only dogs that can participate. Any dog over six months in age and able to crawl through an 18-inch bale-height tall tunnel made of straw, can participate.

The reason I love barn hunt is because it gives dogs plenty of exercise. They have to run through a maze. They are using their nose, which is great for burning energy, and they are doing something that they were bred for.

There are plenty of associations around the country to join, so you can participate in classes with your dog. If you decide to compete, there are competitions all around the country as well as “fun trials.” If you are interested in competing take a look at the Barn Hunt Rule Book and website.

No matter what you decide to do, barn hunt is a great way to bond with your dog and get some exercise.

Have you tried barn hunt? What was your experience?

********

Erin Schneider 250x300Erin Schneider, CPDT-KA and owner of Touch Dog Training, is a certified professional dog trainer who employs positive reinforcement behavior modification techniques intended to deliver results while building stronger bonds between dogs and their owners. Erin practiced her craft in Chicago for many years as a Senior Trainer for AnimalSense Canine Training & Behavior. There she taught dog training classes and also conducted private, in-home lessons with pets and their owners. In March 2015, Erin relocated to Colorado and is excited to share her knowledge and expertise with dog owners in the Denver/Boulder metro area.

5 things successful dog pros do

border-collie-672633_1920

What makes the difference between dog businesses that thrive and those that only survive? Here are the top 5 things we teach our clients to do:

Actively market

If you’re not willing to market your business, you’re running the race with your shoelaces tied together. These days people have lots of dog businesses to choose from; if they don’t know you’re there, they can’t choose you.

Put together a simple marketing plan, outlining one new project per quarter if you’re in growth mode, and at least one new effort per year once you’re where you want to be. Keep track of how people heard about you and what made them decide to call so you know which projects to maintain.

Value yourself and your services

People respond to confidence and quality. They will value what you have to offer only if you do. The first step to valuing your services is pricing them well. Low rates undermine a message of value. They attract bargain hunters who will likely jump ship as soon as they see an even lower price. To attract serious clients who choose you for who you are and what you have to offer, pick a price point that shows them you’re worth it. These are the clients who will reward you with years of loyalty.

Act like you’ve already made it

Be clear with yourself and your clients about your services: What exactly do you do, and how? If you’re a dog walker, decide what that looks like: How long will the walks be? When and where will they take place? What equipment will you use? What are your policies for weekly minimums, payment, and cancellations? Make these decisions clearly and communicate them clearly, then implement and enforce them consistently. Not doing so leads to decisions on the fly, ethical dilemmas, and a business that runs you instead of the other way around. Don’t mistake good customer service for letting clients dictate your business.

It’s tempting when things aren’t going well to make compromises—lower a price here, bend a rule there, accommodate a client with a half day of daycare when your service model is full day, or pet sit a dog 20 minutes outside your service area when you promised yourself you wouldn’t. But letting fear dictate business decisions will leave you with a number of problems that will require fixing down the road. The way to build the business you want is to behave as though you already have it.

 Keep and work with a schedule

You have a lot to do for your business—marketing, taking care of dogs and clients, paperwork, the list goes on. And a lot you’d like to do for yourself—time with family and friends, for hobbies, for your own dogs. There are a few superheroes out there who calmly, easily balance work and life, but most small business owners are either workaholics or given to procrastination. Both create problems and stress.

Finding balance requires structure, and that’s hard to come by when you work for yourself. You can create discipline with a master schedule, in which your work week is broken into discrete chunks of time for each category of items on your to-do list. Assign specific blocks for marketing, appointment slots to offer clients, desk time for administrative tasks, desk time for returning phone calls and emails. Equally as important, set aside the time to walk and train your own dogs, visit friends, run personal errands and tidy the house, and to take that yoga class.

Work ON your businesses as well as IN it

Marketing, systems development for smooth daily operations, and service creation and improvement are just as important as time on the daycare floor or training the dogs and their people. If you don’t tend to behind-the-scenes tasks, you’ll likely have fewer daycare dogs to monitor or private training consults to head to.

Your master schedule will help make the time to work on the business, but success also requires a perspective shift—an understanding that taking care of the business is part of taking care of clients and their dogs. It’s part of taking care of yourself, too—by creating a successful business you reduce your stress and ensure a long career doing what you love.

********

This post was originally published on the dog*tec blog. 

Graduation means the real work starts now

bill-and-mo

By Bill Mayeroff

It’s over.

It’s hard to believe, but it’s true. On Dec. 1, 2016, I took my last FetchFind Academy exam. It was a three-hour marathon that included essay, multiple choice, true/false and short answer questions, as well as a 30-minute oral exam to demonstrate some of the training skills we’ve learned. When it was over, I was exhausted, my brain felt like a puddle of goo and I could have slept for days. But I felt good about it. I was confident and happy. I’m still both of those things.

The band Semisonic probably said it best in their 1998 hit “Closing Time”: “Every new beginning comes from some other beginning’s end.” My shame at using Semisonic lyrics aside, they were right. My final exam last week marks the end of an experience that began when I walked into the first Behavior Fundamentals class in October 2015. But as it marks the end of one thing, it marks the beginning of another – my life as a dog trainer.

What it means is that now is when I really have to kick my career up to 11 (any This is Spinal Tap fans here reading this?). Without classes, I have to refocus all the energy and time I spent studying (and believe me when I say I studied harder for my FetchFind classes than I ever did in high school or college) on getting my career off the ground. 

It’s not going to be easy. In fact, it’s probably going to be the hardest thing I’ve ever done. I’m going to have to bust my ample butt like I have never done before. But I am confident as I have never been confident before that it’s going to be worth it. 

This is what I’m supposed to be doing. And I’m ready to start doing it full-time. 

********

Look at these two handsome gents.

After five years as a newspaper reporter in western Illinois and two more as a freelancer in Chicago, Bill Mayeroff‘s life has gone to the dogs in the best way possible. These days, Bill lives in Chicago with his terrier mix, Chester, and works at a small, no-kill animal shelter. He recently graduated from FetchFind Academy and is a part-time professional dog trainer. Bill also blogs about his two favorite things – dogs and beer – at Pints and Pups. 

********

Want to start YOUR career as a dog trainer (or just learn more about dogs)? Behavior Fundamentals is available for the entire month of December for only $49! Bonus: half of your purchase price goes to support Best Friends Animal Society. 

Winter activities, part 1: Agility

 

agility

By Erin Schneider, CPDT-KA

Winter is going to be upon us before we know it. I don’t know about you, but I did not enjoy walking my dog, Bailey, in the freezing cold. Of course I did it, but I liked to keep it short.

She, on the other hand, could stay out in the cold all day. She loved the cold weather. Since I am not covered in fur, I had to find ways to exercise my dog without freezing to death. That is when I came across indoor sports.

In this multi-part series, I am going to discuss the magical world of indoor dog sports, which are especially great during the cold months.

I’ll begin by talking about agility. Agility is one of my favorite sports. It has really picked up enthusiasm over the years, so it is pretty easy to find a facility that offers classes in your area.

For those of you that aren’t familiar with agility, Wikipedia defines it as “a dog sport in which a handler directs a dog through an obstacle course in a race for both time and accuracy.” Some of the obstacles consist of the following: A-frame, weave poles, tire jump, jumps, tunnel, dog walk, seesaw, pause table, etc.

Agility is a great way to tire your dog out. It requires a lot of running and mental stimulation. You, the handler, also do some running, so it is best if you are physically able. You can either take agility classes for fun or if you get serious about it, for competition. I only participated with Bailey for fun. She wasn’t the best at it (she got distracted very easily), but she loved the treats and extra attention at the end of each course.

For those of you that decide to compete, you will have to work at it. There are rules to follow and time to keep perfecting. But competitions are a lot of fun. There is a great atmosphere and a lot of camaraderie. If you are interested in competing, take a look at the Agility Rule Book and website from the AKC.

No matter what you decide to do, agility is a great way to bond with your dog and get some exercise for both you and your four-legged companion. And it will keep you out of the cold for an evening, which is reason enough for me.

Have you tried agility? What was your experience?

********

Erin with baileyErin Schneider, CPDT-KA and owner of Touch Dog Training, is a certified professional dog trainer who employs positive reinforcement behavior modification techniques intended to deliver results while building stronger bonds between dogs and their owners. Erin practiced her craft in Chicago for many years as a Senior Trainer for AnimalSense Canine Training & Behavior. There she taught dog training classes and also conducted private, in-home lessons with pets and their owners. In March 2015, Erin relocated to Colorado and is excited to share her knowledge and expertise with dog owners in the Denver/Boulder metro area.

 

 

 

Right now vs big picture

buddha-hand

By Jamie Migdal, CEO of FetchFind

I spent last week at a boot camp for the Pet Care Innovation Prize winners, held at the Purina campus in St. Louis. (It was fantastic, and there were dogs everywhere! but more on that later.)

But because I knew I was going to be away from my “normal” life for the week, I took a few minutes over the weekend to write down my immediate challenges and what I could do about them. Mind you, this isn’t a to-do list (which I have mostly sworn off creating anyway because nothing makes me more nutso than three pages of things I haven’t done yet). Rather, this was a “right now vs big picture” list, which is a good mindfulness technique and a chance to take stock of what was really going on with me and around me.

This was how the “right now” list looked:

  • I am getting ready to go to a 4-day intensive pitch boot camp.
  • I am digesting the election results.
  • I am getting my daughter ready for her first hockey practice.
  • I am in the midst of due diligence with several investors.
  • I lost my credit card and favorite ear buds. (grrrrrrr!)

And this is how the “big picture” list looked:

  • I get to have a business and career-changing experience next week at Purina, the results of which will have ripples for years to come.
  • The election is over and I will work to be a good and decent person no matter what anyone says or does.
  • My daughter will be introduced to and eventually learn the finer points of teamwork, while being a total badass in hockey gear.
  • I have a business worthy of investment.
  • I will find or replace the lost items and hopefully be more mindful in the future.

This exercise never fails to clear my mind and help me regain my focus, because it lets me quickly zoom in to what’s causing roadblocks or agitation, and then zoom right back out again to put things into a better perspective.

I urge you to take three minutes to write down your “right now vs big picture” matrix. If you do it, I’d love to read your results, if you’re up for sharing. Email me! 

Go pro!

swmtdog

Do you want to work with dogs full time, but can’t see how? Do you struggle part time, telling yourself you’ll keep the other job just until the training really takes off? It’s a common refrain. Coaching and supporting dog businesses for a living, I’ve seen every kind of business model and every type of owner, from wildly successful full-timers to weekend hobbyists. Mostly, though, dog pros work part or full time at other jobs, and run a dog business on the side, hoping it will one day support them.

Years of experience have taught me the key differences between pros that make it as full-time entrepreneurs and those that don’t. Read on to see if you have the temperament, skill set, and drive necessary to pull it off. If so, you absolutely can bring a new or part-time business into the full-time realm and make a living doing what you love.

The magic of niches

Most successful dog businesses have one simple concept in common: specialization. This is particularly important if a lot of competitors operate in your geographical area. When a potential client opens the phone book or scans the bulletin board at the local vet office, what will make you stand out? A walker who emphasizes a particular breed will draw owners of that breed. A day care specializing in small dogs will no doubt be more attractive to a Yorkie guardian. Trainers who focus on one type of training or behavioral issue set themselves apart and give clients a reason to call them. If, for example, an owner has a dog with separation anxiety and he sees that a particular trainer specializes in that problem, he is much more likely to call that trainer than the fifteen who advertise generic obedience training. This doesn’t mean, however, that the trainer in question will do nothing but home alone training for the rest of her career. On the contrary. Satisfied clients refer their friends, who again refer their friends, and only a few of those new clients are likely to be sep anx cases. The trick is to get those initial calls so you can begin building the all-important word of mouth.

Tip: Find a niche

Think about what you are particularly good at. Working with small dogs? Unruly adolescents? Dog-baby intros? Family training? Look at what other professionals in your area offer. Is there a gap in the market you can fill? Whatever you decide, make sure it is something you enjoy.

Know where you’re going

Most of us are dog professionals because we love dogs, not business development. When we decide to set up shop, we do the bare minimum necessary: think up a name, file for a business license and other paperwork, have stationery and maybe a brochure printed, and post a few fliers around town. And then we wait eagerly for the phone to ring. Which would work well in an ideal world with endless demand for our product and next-to-zero competition. But the reality is that setting up and marketing a new business, let alone building a profitable one, requires sustained focus, attention, and action. Simply hanging out a shingle rarely does the job, especially if there are other trainers and services available in your area. It is critical to develop a business plan and actively build relationships with other dog service providers (vets, supply stores, groomers, etc.).

Tip: Hatch a plan

Trainers often plan to work part time until the business takes off. Sound familiar? The problem with this strategy is that it doesn’t provide a framework for making anything happen. For that, you need a comprehensive business plan. It doesn’t have to be fancy or formal as long as it helps you assess viability and provides guidance as you move forward. Your plan should include goals for the business, a numbers assessment, a marketing plan—your niche and message, image, services, materials, and how you will get the word out—and an overall checklist of tasks and due dates. If you’re moving from part to full time, decide on a clear set of success indicators (number of clients per month, amount of income, etc.) to help you determine when it’s time to leave your other job.

Tip: Get organized

Scribbling notes on the backs of envelopes doesn’t often inspire confidence. Worse, it hinders the organization that distinguishes a professional business. As soon as you have more than a few clients you need to keep solid records, notes, and training plans. Consider purchasing a ready-made set of tools (diagnostic flowcharts, interview forms, etc.) to save start-up time and effort.

Tip: Establish a schedule and routine

One pitfall of self-employment is the lack of a routine. If a flexible schedule without a boss and specific deadlines makes you feel rudderless, working for yourself can be a challenge. It’s easy to do little or nothing when you have unlimited time. I’ve seen trainers struggle for months to do what could have been done in weeks or even days. To keep yourself working toward your goals without losing focus, make a realistic schedule and commit to deadlines. Avoid wasting time by structuring your workdays carefully. What days will you see clients? When will you work on training plans? When will you take care of administrative tasks? When will you spend time growing your business?

Professional image

A person hunting for a dog pro might look at the cards pinned up on her vet’s bulletin board or at the local dog park. She might do a web search. But how does she choose? As mentioned, a business that specializes in filling a particular need or speaking to a preference is an obvious route. Another vital decision-making factor, however, is the professionalism, or not, of your business materials. Given a choice, any client is going to pick the business card or web site that looks professional and established rather than printed at home on the old ink-jet. The adage ‘it takes money to make money’ applies here. Putting money and time into the development of a professional business image—logo, message, and materials—goes a long way toward building a broader client base.

Tip: Dazzle them

Spend some start-up capital on a professional look. This includes your name and logo design, marketing materials such as business cards and brochures, and any materials you leave with clients—contracts, homework sheets, client instructions.

Relationships

A hallmark of the successful trainer is to prioritize working relationships, and carefully cultivate and maintain them. Letting one client after another fade into the woodwork is a mistake. Smart dog pros follow up with clients, even if they aren’t currently using services, because staying on your clients’ radar screen means you’re at hand when a need arises—for them or for a friend’s dog. Collegial relationships are equally important. They allow you to keep up with industry standards, exchange best practices, and support each other by brainstorming difficult situations, acting as each other’s support systems and, most importantly, through mutual referrals. A separation anxiety trainer, for example, is likely to receive referrals from other trainers not interested in or willing to take sep anx cases if she fosters strong collegial relationships. And she can return the favor when she gets calls outside of her own comfort or skill zone. I’ve seen many niche-based dog pros form strong networks and build prosperous businesses with very little marketing expense.

Tip: Invest time in people

Follow up with former clients. Take an interest in the progress of their pooch beyond your own involvement. And cultivate relationships with pros in the area—how might you be mutually supportive? What do you each do differently and might you trade referrals?

Temperament

How comfortable are you with risks? Starting most dog businesses takes less capital than most enterprises, but you still run the risk of losing money and possibly failing. It takes tenacity and perspective to face such prospects and still work hard and enthusiastically. I’ve seen many trainers quit or go back to part-time work long before their businesses could reasonably be expected to succeed.

Tip: Know thyself

Are you comfortable dipping into your savings or borrowing money? Do you enjoy solving problems? Do you stick with your plans over time? Could you see yourself doing this in five years? Do you enjoy a variety of tasks? If you’ve answered yes to most of these, self-employment could be perfect for you.

Skills

When you run a small business you have to oversee everything. You may be an excellent dog trainer or pet sitter but are you ready to be a bookkeeper, accountant, marketing manager, secretary, and office manager? A key to successful full-time business ownership is to recognize your weaknesses and subcontract tasks that confound you or that require expertise you don’t possess.

Tip: Assess your skills

List the skills required to run your business. Then ask yourself: What are you good at? Where do your interests lie? Which tasks can you readily do? Which will stress you, weaken the business, or possibly be left undone? For those, get help. Trade skills with a friend or hire a contractor.

The must-knows: taxes & insurance

Self-employment unfortunately comes with the 15% so-called ‘Self Employment Tax,’ but this is off-set by a deduction of almost half that. Still, take it into account before you decide to make the jump to full time. Also consider becoming a Limited Liability Company. There are many advantages to operating this way, one of which is that LLCs can choose to be taxed as a sole proprietorship or as a corporation. To be sure what tax implications apply to you and what options you have, consult a qualified tax accountant. But don’t let these issues throw you. Deal with them up front so you can relax and enjoy your work with the pooches.

As for professional liability insurance, it’s easy and inexpensive for dog pros to acquire through professional associations or independent brokers. Health insurance is another matter altogether. Many part-timers stay in non-training jobs solely to retain insurance benefits. If that’s you, contact an insurance broker to discuss your insurability and consider your options. Then look into becoming an LLC. Some trainers hire employees to qualify for group insurance plans, but this is seldom cost-effective when you factor in other employee expenses, such as time spent on paperwork. A two-person LLC, however, can access the same group insurance plans. So if there’s someone you’d like to partner with or you can incorporate a spouse as a silent partner, you can usually form an LLC and get health insurance that way.

Tip: Consult the pros

Consulting a tax accountant before starting a business or going full time is always a good idea, because you will know the financial implications ahead of time. Additionally, having a professional prepare your taxes in your first year has major advantages, like avoiding mistakes and relieving stress. But it also provides a model for doing them yourself in subsequent years, and often saves you money because the professionals know of deductions and other details that can benefit you at tax time. And if you think you might have difficulty procuring private health insurance, talk to an insurance broker before you launch your business.

Will it work?

Finally, if you’re poised to take the plunge, but worry about whether you’ll be able to afford electricity, try this simple assessment: Figure out how much you need to live on each year. Be detailed and realistic and don’t forget the annual or occasional expenses like taxes, insurance, car repair, etc. Then assess your competition—what are others in the area charging, and what services do they provide? Use this information to determine your own rates. Now estimate a reasonable, conservative number of clients per month and year, being careful to consider seasonal variables. Then do the math—does it add up? If it doesn’t, don’t give up—go back to the drawing board to see what kind of creative solutions are waiting. Other people are doing it. You can too.

********

This post was originally published on the dog*tec blog. 

Thanksgiving safety tips

safety-tips

By Erin Schneider, CPDT-KA

Thanksgiving is by far my favorite holiday. I love being surrounded by family and good food. I love the simplicity of it. There are no presents to stress over and no pressure. It is just a day to give thanks. I love the day to spend with family, friends and four-legged companions.

But like any holiday, there can be a lot of chaos. Family and friends are coming in and out, food is all over the kitchen, and kids are running around. For our dogs, it can be a breeding ground of anxiety. It is our responsibility to take extra care to ensure that everyone is having a good time, and that includes our dogs.

Whether you are visiting family or hosting, it is important that you make safety a priority. Below are some tips to help your dog survive this festive holiday.

Give your dog a safe space: It is so important that your dog have a place to go to get away from it all. If you are visiting, make sure you bring your dog’s crate with you. If you are staying home, make sure your dog’s crate is away from all the foot traffic. In either scenario, make sure you set it up in a room that is quiet and away from all of the commotion. Give your dog a Kong filled with his favorite treat, maybe some relaxing music or white noise, and give him a nice break.

Keep a leash on your dog: When your dog is out of his crate, keep a light leash on him. A leash will allow you to grab your dog if they are about to go for the snacks laid out on the coffee table, if they are about to jet out the open front door or if they are acting inappropriately.

Don’t give your dog turkey or turkey bone: If you are like me, you like to give your dog a little treat. Turkey can be great, but make sure you don’t give a piece with any of the skin. Also, no turkey bones. Cooked bones can splinter and cause great harm to dogs. If you really want to get a bone for your dog, purchase a few bully sticks to have on hand. They are safe and you won’t have to make any unexpected trips to the ER.

Watch your dog around kids: I don’t care how much your dog appears to love kids, limit their exposure to kids on a busy day such as Thanksgiving. Your dog might love your kids and put up with their signs of affection, but dogs are less likely to tolerate that same behavior from new people and kids are most likely to get bit. It is best that you teach all children in the house boundaries and to respect your dog’s boundaries. But you are better off just giving your dog a place to be on their own where they don’t have to stress. And the kids should be able to run around without having a dog jumping on them and/or nipping at them.

Thanksgiving is a day to relax and enjoy friends and family, but safety is key. This year my family will be home in Colorado enjoying some of our favorite dishes.

How will you be spending your Thanksgiving? How do you involve your dog in your traditions?

********

Erin Schneider 250x300Erin Schneider, CPDT-KA and owner of Touch Dog Training, is a certified professional dog trainer who employs positive reinforcement behavior modification techniques intended to deliver results while building stronger bonds between dogs and their owners. Erin practiced her craft in Chicago for many years as a Senior Trainer for AnimalSense Canine Training & Behavior. There she taught dog training classes and also conducted private, in-home lessons with pets and their owners. In March 2015, Erin relocated to Colorado and is excited to share her knowledge and expertise with dog owners in the Denver/Boulder metro area.

 

 

Big Box, who? Indies rule this holiday season!

sale

By Candace D’Agnolo, CEO of Dogaholics

Some big shopping holidays are coming up (Black Friday, Small Business Saturday and Cyber Monday) and if you aren’t a big box retail business it may feel like there’s no need to even participate.

Think again! Whether you sell via a storefront, online shop or through services, you should participate in them all.

Yes, shoppers are looking for really good deals, so this is a prime opportunity to explore discounting products and services. But even if you aren’t comfortable offering discounts there are lots of ways to still stand out from the competition.

This season can belong to you, the awesome independent business, and here’s how:

Black Friday – November 25

This big box shopping holiday is for the deal-driven, crowd-loving, gift-giving enthusiasts who get up early, wait in long lines, and love traffic. Here are some ideas how you can best grab their attention:

APPROACH #1 – SALES & PROMOTIONS

Start Early & Save Big Sale :With this sales model, the biggest deals start early. For the first two hours, run a huge discount, then the discount decreases every two hours until you close. For example: 20% off 10a-12p, 15% off 12p-2p, 10% off 2p-4p and 5% off 4p-6p.

Incentivize Increased Spending: Offer an increase in discount based on how much they spend. You can do a percentage off: spend $50, get 10% off. Spend $100, get 15% off. Spend $150, get 20% off. Or you can come up with your own business “Monopoly” money and give fake store dollars (i.e., gift certificates) of a $ amount to use with a future purchase, like your own “Doggy Dollars” in increments of $10s and $20s. So when people spend $50, you can give them $10 in Doggy Dollars to use at a later date.

The perk of doing a discount on your whole shop is that you’ll get a good idea for what the hot holiday sellers will be in December. You’ll have a pulse on the items to not only reorder and stock up on, but also the items that people didn’t react to that should maybe be re-merchandised or have their price-points changed.

APPROACH #2 – BECOME A DESTINATION

Be their “Relax & Restore Pit Stop”: Create a relaxing environment in comparison to what they are experiencing out in the Black Friday jungle by offering complimentary water, cold drinks, and snacks. Get a gift certificate to a local spa for a massage and use it as a raffle that all purchases in your store can enter. You can even give each person a bounce back coupon to the salon.

black-dogHave a Pop up Shop: If you don’t sell any merchandise or want to feature a particular vendor, host a pop up table or a pop up shop in your space! Partner with a local vendor to sample out or sell unique merchandise.

Host “Black Dog Friday”: Black dogs are statistically the last to be adopted out from animal shelters, so use the name of the day to honor and raise awareness of black dogs. Collect donations for a local animal shelter, maybe even have them bring a few adoptable black dogs or pick a dog from their shelter to feature/sponsor. As a company, you can even match your client’s donations. This will also be a great PR and photo opportunity post event to share.

Small Business Saturday – November 26

Started by American Express in 2010, this shopping holiday is all about celebrating local merchants and has increased consumer recognition of shopping small to kick off the holiday shopping season.

It’s not necessary to give discounts; instead, use the day to share your unique story and to say thank you to your customers.

CELEBRATE YOU & THEM

Give everyone a small gift with purchase: It can be a plant, a dog toy or treat, a bag of sweets, or a coupon for future shopping. It doesn’t have to cost you a lot of money; it’s the gesture that counts.

Include a personal letter from you in their shopping bags: Use it to tell your story, what makes your business unique, thank them for supporting you and encourage them to continue supporting their local independent retailers the rest of the holiday season.

Promote your community: Share a list of your favorite local businesses to shop.

Thanksgiving Register Spotlight 13.jpeg

Cyber Monday – November 28

Since 2005, the Monday after Thanksgiving is known as Cyber Monday, and is an online-only shopping day. There are a few ways that independent businesses can still take part in Cyber Monday, even if you don’t have an online store.

No online store? No problem! Use Facebook: The majority of Americans have a Facebook account, so if you’re not using your business’s Facebook page to sell, you’re missing out on an easy way to grab audience! Log into your Facebook page, and find the “Shop” tab. Set up a Stripe or Paypal account, and start uploading products! It’s really easy to get started. Just pick just a few items that you want to feature, items that are unique to your business, or your best sellers. Then, put a little extra budget behind boosting these items.

Do a Facebook Live video from your business: Talk about and show all the amazing things you have in store or on offer. Make sure to tell them to call in now and you’ll be happy to take their order over the phone. Offer free shipping! No online store or website even needed.

Don’t sell any items? Do a gift card promotion: Create a gift card item on your website or on Facebook, and offer to apply credit to your customers’ accounts. For example, on Cyber Monday only you could offer everyone an extra $20 for every $100 they spend. This is easy to apply for existing clients and easy for you to mail out cards to them the next day, if they choose that option.

There are so many ways to get involved in what are traditionally big box holidays – with just a little creativity, the right plan and a strong marketing effort to get the word out, you can compete with the big boxes this season!

For a full run down on a great gift card promotion and for other sales tips on to make the most of the holiday season – download your free guide here!

 

********

1candaceIn addition to being the CEO of Dogaholics, Candace D’Agnolo is a successful business coach, author, and speaker.  She started Dogaholics as a retail store, and took her initial concept of a brick and mortar location and turned it into multiple revenue streams – retail, services, online informational products, books, merchandise, and now business consulting. Candace is also a board member of Chicago Canine Rescue and loves giving back to her local community. She has helped raise over $200,000 for shelter dogs and find many forever homes. Having a way to give back through her business has been one of the most rewarding experiences of her life.

FetchFind acquires PawedIn

CHICAGO, IL (PRWEB) NOVEMBER 15, 2016

FetchFind Acquires PawedIn to Create a Full-Service Marketplace that Gives Consumers a Better Way of Selecting Pet Care Providers

FetchFind, the leading provider of e-learning for the pet care services industry, announced that they have acquired PawedIn, a innovative platform that allows pet parents, pet service providers, and brands to connect.
ff-pi-croppedFetchFind, the leading provider of e-learning and career advancement for the pet care services industry, announced today that they have acquired PawedIn, LLC, an innovative platform that provides pet parents the resources needed to make informed decisions for their pets, offers connections to service providers and products, and helps pet professionals connect to potential clients in a cost-efficient manner.

The purchase of PawedIn further increases FetchFind’s share of the pet care services market. “The acquisition of PawedIn allows us to provide our pet care business clients with greatly expanded opportunities to engage with pet owners. It also gives them a place to showcase unique elements about their companies, such as how they hire and train staff or whether they help animal rescue organizations by offering discounts or volunteering,” said Jamie Migdal, CEO of FetchFind.

“Most importantly, the acquisition will give pet owners the ability to select pet care providers based on more than just a Yelp review or a passing recommendation,” added Migdal. “The combination of our two platforms will allow FetchFind to provide a greater portfolio of services to providers, including veterinarians, boarding and daycare facilities, dog walkers and pet-sitters, while deepening our relationship with pet parents and pet-centric brands.”

“PawedIn and FetchFind nicely complement each other, as both companies are focused on delivering outstanding service and opportunities to pet care providers, professionals, and pet parents,” commented Keith Johnson, CEO of PawedIn, LLC. “As Midwest-based pet startups and members of 1871 (Chicago’s center for technology and entrepreneurship) we have been collaborating for a while. The idea of combining the two companies was a natural progression.”

FetchFind will leverage PawedIn’s two-sided marketplace (businesses and pet owners) to provide their current business client base greater visibility to pet owners. “The integration of FetchFind’s job board and e-learning system will take place over the next several months. Our clients will continue to receive the same high quality employee education and career training they have come to expect from FetchFind,” stated Migdal.

See the full press release here.

********

About FetchFind: Founded in 2014, FetchFind is the world’s only career and education site dedicated exclusively to the pet industry. FetchFind assists businesses of all sizes with hiring and training employees, offers access to business solutions, and provides e-learning and content to individuals interested in becoming a part of the $62 billion pet industry. Educational content focuses on topics and tools relating to pet behavior, pet health, customer service, general business and other professional skills needed for working with animals.

In September of 2016, FetchFind was accepted into the prestigious WiSTEM business accelerator program at 1871. In October 2016, FetchFind was awarded the Pet Care Innovation Prize by Purina, in recognition of being one of the top five most innovative pet care companies in the U.S.

About PawedIn: PawedIn is a media property anchored by a revolutionary platform that allows pet parents, service providers, and brands to connect. PawedIn provides pet parents expertise to make informed decisions for their pets and better connections to service providers and products, help pet professionals get connected to potential clients in a cost efficient manner, and provide pet brands cost efficient, targeted marketing.