Streamlining your pet supply shop’s operations will improve your business in just about every area. When everything is more efficient, that means you and your team can spend more time focused on the core business, which is providing fast, informative, friendly service to every pet parent that walks in the door. Customers leave happy, planning for a return visit the next time they need to stock up on kibble and litter.
As small business owners like yourself face rising expenses and competition from online resources (along with the ever-present race to keep up with cash flow), the goal of streamlining your retail operation just so happens to align with what customers want most when they shop for their pet needs. According to a recent report about customer experience published by PricewaterhouseCoopers, these are the top three things customers want most:
- 80% cite speed and efficiency
- 78% prize knowledgeable and helpful staff
- 77% are after convenience
Bottom line, if getting efficient makes you more focused on the core business, you’re better equipped to deliver the experience your customers want! Here are a few ways to reduce inefficiencies so you can spend more time on customer engagement.
Save time on administrative tasks with automation
Updating to a point-of-sale (POS) system is so much more than an ultra-modern cash register widget. These systems include plenty of intelligent time-saving tools that have far-reaching effects across the operations of retailers of any size. Here are some of the things a POS can do for your pet shop:
- Accept multiple forms of payment, including mobile and chip cards.
- Route funds to the business bank account.
- Manage your rewards program and customer information.
- Access real-time data and analytics around inventory and merchandise.
Yes, these systems come with monthly fees. But you’ll spend less time on administrative tasks, like tracking sales and taking inventory, which can offset these expenses. The speed and convenience that a POS system offers can even improve customer experience: for example, faster checkouts, an easier-to-use customer rewards program, and having the products customers want, when they want them.
Remove all guesswork with standard operating procedures
This seems basic, but if everyone carries out varying versions of your shop’s daily activities, your store isn’t operating at full efficiency. When people aren’t on the same page on how and when things are done, it can lead to duplication, neglect and miscommunication. These are things that can lead to ill will and resentment among team members. If you don’t have one, or if it’s been a few years since it was first crafted, now’s the time to assemble a team of employees and managers to create your store’s standard operating procedures.
- Customer service: This should include policies on how to handle returns and who needs to manage them, and when it’s appropriate to approve discounts and freebies.
- Cash management: Who balances and closes out the cash register at night, along with loss prevention procedures.
- Merchandising: Give direction on restocking items and keeping shelves well-filled and neat. This should also include a space for re-shelving “abandoned” merchandise that tends to get left throughout the store, and regular store walk-throughs.
- Cleaning: Throughout the day, each shift should have a to-do list on keeping the store tidy and attractive, and who’s responsible for what.
Invest in your employees
Investing in your employees’ development can be the best thing you can do to improve operational efficiency. 75% of customers want more human interaction when they shop, according to the PwC study mentioned earlier. Furthermore, 64% of customers believe companies have lost their human touch. Because your customers hold their animal companions near and dear to their hearts, you know that personal service from a well-informed employee is something that would resonate. That’s why it’s so critical to invest time in hiring and mentoring the right employees. When employees are interested, engaged and knowledgeable about the products, they’ll be motivated to provide stellar service to everyone who walks in the door. For more on this topic, read How to Help New Employees Become Pet Care Gurus.
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