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5 Smart Strategies to Boost Employee Retention at Your Pet Shop

October 03, 2019

If boosting sales is your goal, you won’t get there without a happy, motivated team working on the front lines of your independent pet shop. That’s why any good manager focuses their efforts on cultivating an engaged workplace. What’s the ROI? Happier employees are more productive, they’re less likely to call in sick, and spend more time at your organization. When you consider that replacing an employee costs 20% of their salary, emphasizing employee retention is a no-brainer when it comes to bottom-line improvements. To boost employee retention at your pet shop, try some of these smart suggestions.

Recognize strong performers

To keep everyone on track and moving in the same direction, the best starting point is your core mission. What is your brand, and what does it stand for? Knowing this will make it a lot easier to identify how strong performers exemplify those values. Once you’ve identified those strong performers and how they add value to the team, it’s recognition time. Take time to write a few sentences, providing specific feedback, and post it in the break room, where everyone can see. Even better, post these where customers can see them, so they know how your excellent team makes all the difference. Finally, throw in a gift card to a local eatery to show your appreciation for a job well done.

It’s more than a job

In retail, the difference between a workplace with high morale and one with low morale comes down to how employees see themselves. Take an honest look at the situation. Does your retail environment cultivate a sense of purpose of being trusted helpers to pet parents? Or is it just a job? Rather than hiring employees to fill shifts, think in terms of roles. How can you help them get something worthwhile from their time at your shop? Sure, there’s always a list of tasks that need doing. But also keep your eyes open for opportunities to play to their strengths and talents. You may even want to delegate some of your managerial tasks, such as scheduling, marketing and mentoring. “Stretch assignments,” acquiring new skills and a clear track to advancement opportunities are three things that help people feel like they’re making meaningful contributions to the team.

Lead by example

You’re familiar with this bit of management wisdom: People don’t leave jobs; they leave bad managers. Be mindful of the fact that as a leader, you’re always in the spotlight! Be aware of your words and actions. If, for example, you emphasize punctuality before shifts begin, make sure you’re also showing up when you say you will. Some believe that when a boss apologizes and admits wrongdoing, it undermines their authority, but the opposite is true. Managers are human. They make mistakes! That means if you mess up, own up to it. State what you did wrong, apologize and say what you’ll do to avoid this situation in the future. Chances are, your gaffe is no secret. Being straightforward about it is a way to take control of the narrative and help everyone move on from the situation.

Be open and transparent

When in doubt, communicate! One of the top challenges to managing in retail means unexpected things always come up, whether you find yourself scrambling to search for a new waste management vendor or a complex customer issue derails your to-do list. Be transparent and communicative about your availability. That means if a busier-than-expected morning shift derails the performance review, be sure and communicate that early, and schedule a makeup time as soon as possible.

Give employees the tools to succeed

Time spent on training and mentoring is well worth it. When employees feel knowledgeable and confident, it will come across to the customers, which will make them feel confident about taking their advice and making a purchase. Make trainings and brown bag lunch sessions a regular thing at your site. Ask knowledgeable employees to lead these sessions to pass along their expertise. Consider inviting local experts into your store, adoption and rescue organizations, as well as product reps from your top brands.

Once you’ve put these strategies in place, be sure and evaluate your progress. Start by noting the average number of sick days taken along with your store’s average length of tenure. From there, set a goal on how much you’d like to see those numbers improve. Having a measurable goal will give evidence on whether your efforts are paying off. Eventually, your successful employee retention program will start proving its worth in higher sales!

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