We Are In the People Business (Not the Pet Business)
By Denise Rodriquez
If every pet could be completely in charge of their lives and be the ones to choose which facility they’d like to stay at; if they could be the ones paying the bills or expressing any complaints, then you’d definitely be in the pet business.
However, that’s not the case at all. These pets are under their owner’s care. They are banking off of their owner’s judgment to choose the best facility to care for them while their owner is at work or on vacation. These owners are the ones verbally expressing their appreciations or complaints.
Yes, in your facility, you need to provide the best quality care and attention to every pet that walks in. Yes, you need to be able to understand a dog or cat’s temperament. Yes, you will want the pets to fall in love with each staff member. And yes, those pets are the reason you have a business. However, if we deny that we are in the people business, we could potentially be walking slowly downhill to no business at all.
The two-footed humans that walk through that front door are the ones that decide if their pet should come into your facility—not the pet. They are the ones whole ultimately decide whether they want to give you business or not.
So, how should these two-footed humans be treated?
Providing the best customer care and service to each client is a huge asset for your business. With today’s culture, people need immediate response. When they are searching around in their area to find a good facility to board their pet, they are looking for a quick response. Are you answering that phone every single time it rings? Are you returning voicemails and replying to emails as soon as possible?
The phone should be answered every single time it rings, within the second ring if possible. If you don’t answer, there’s only a small chance your potential customers will leave a voicemail, because they need results right now and don’t have the time to wait for a returned phone call.
Any voicemails or emails should receive a quick response, not waiting until the next day (or even the next few hours) to respond. Most likely the pet owners will be very interested in the facility that responded back within minutes. They are not here to wait for you. So, you need to be there for them at the first sign of interest.
Addressing Issues That Arise
By nature, it’s easy to get offended when a customer complains publicly about your facility. Humans will be humans, and not every single person that walks through your doors will LOVE your facility. There are those that will find any angle possible to put the blame on you. It’s your job as the management of your facility to not show offense. The secret is to not defend yourself on social media or anywhere publicly.
So, how should you handle problematic customers? Simply repeat back their complaint and tell them you are very sorry they feel that way. And then in a calm, respectful tone of voice, express to them the reason behind their complaint and your perspective of why you or your team did what you did. Keep your cool and stay calm.
Heated arguments go nowhere. They will seriously hurt your business. With gossip and the social media world, the word will get out on how you responded to those clients, and I guarantee this will turn people away from your facility.
How Your Clients Feel
How do your clients feel the moment they walk into your facility? Does it smell good? Does it look clean? These are huge factors that affect the feelings of these pet owners. And they are instantly deciding in their minds if they will come back to your facility.
How is the atmosphere of the office? Is every staff member welcoming your clients with a “Hi” and a smile? When they come to pick up their pet, is your staff showing interest towards them personally? A simple, “How was your day?” or “How was your trip?” goes a thousand miles. The more you show incredible value and care for their pets when they drop off or pick up, the more you will have a lasting imprint on your customers, knowing you truly care about their pets.
Your facility can provide the best quality care for every animal that comes walking through your doors; however, if the customer care is lacking, there is a very slim chance they will be recommending you…let alone coming back. These clients ultimately are putting their trust and confidence into your business.
If your customers can feel, see and know that you care about them, plus provide the best pet care to their furry child, without a doubt they will be coming back to your facility, and recommending you to all their friends and family.
We are in the people business, not the pet business.
Denise Rodriquez is the owner of Golden Wood Kennels in Chambersburg, PA. She and her husband are successful entrepreneurs and real estate investors with multiple businesses. At Golden Wood Kennels, they were able to implement online systems for customers and the staff, add on extra services, remodel parts of the facility, and hire amazing staff right before COVID hit. With all the new things they implemented, last year they were able to maintain a steady income at their 60-run dog boarding facility. They are passionate about growth and seeing every business advancing! www.goldenwoodkennel.com