By B.C. HeNsCHeN
Iran into a fellow retailer in the aisles of SuperZoo. We had a nice conversation, and he
wondered how long I would be
around. I informed him I was
there until the close of the show.
He seemed a little surprised and
said, “With your small focused
store, I figured you could be
done in a day or two.”
What? A day or two for
SuperZoo is an expensive
show for this Midwesterner.
There are all the related travel expenses, plus the hassle of
making sure my store is covered
in my absence. The knowledge
I gain from attending SuperZoo
easily outweighs those expenses and hassles. SuperZoo, or
any industry trade show, in my
opinion, is not about the “show
deals.” It is about the relationships and the education.
For example, at this year’s
show, I met the owners behind
a cat food that I have been interested in. I sat down in their
booth and asked about their
products, their motivation behind making the products, how
they source, what safety protocols are in place and so much
more. I even asked them some
questions that I have answered
over the years from my customers to see what their answers
would be. I happily wrote an order after my conversation, and
they even gave me a better deal
than the standard show deal because they felt I would represent
their brand well and help build
it. They felt that way because I
took the time to sit down and
really ask them questions.
At another booth, I was able to
sit down with Jean Dodds, DVM.
If you don’t know Dr. Dodds, she
is probably most famous for her
minimal vaccine protocols as she
proved that pets don’t need year-
ly vaccinations. She is the reason
there are now three- or five-year
vaccinations. She also is doing
groundbreaking research and
testing in pet food sensitivities. I
have met Dodds before and have
attended many of her lectures,
but talking with her face-to-face
in a booth was so much better.
Dodds did not have a booth; a pet
manufacturer brought her in for a
meet and greet. It was a brilliant
move, and I did write an order at
that booth because I wanted to
show my appreciation for bring-
ing in Dodds.
A few rows over, I was able
to chat with Facebook pet nutrition blogger Rodney Habib.
Habib has the largest Facebook
pet nutrition page in the world.
His posts routinely garner millions of engagements—as in 23. 5
million engagements. One of my
recent Facebook posts showed
3,094 people reached and 207 en-
gagements. I got advice on how to
build my Facebook presence, and
you just can’t put a price on that.
He, too, didn’t have a booth but
was a visitor in another manufacturer’s booth.
I also visited with the owners,
the nutritionists and the formulators that manufacture many
of the products I carry. I asked
them questions, and we had great
Want to really learn about a
product? Ask the inventor why
you should recommend their
product over another. You will
hear a passion come out with
that type of question that you
might not hear from their top
salesperson. Salespeople excel
at offering us the “how” and
“what” of a product. They will
tell you what their product does
and how it does that, but what is
missing is the “why.” The why
is usually the passion. Why was
this product developed? You talk
to the owner/inventor of a prod-
uct and you will hear things that
answer the why question: “I de-
veloped this line of supplements
because there was nothing on
the market I felt was as good or
as safe as what I could offer,”
or “I had a great dog that I just
couldn’t find the right food for,
and he was losing weight and
really struggling at life. That’s
why I developed this brand of
food with these ingredients, and
here is how it is different.”
All that was just a fraction
of what I did in the aisles. I also
took advantage of the educational
opportunities SuperZoo offered.
I sat in a few seminars on nutri-
tion and one on supplements.
I actively pursue educational
opportunities, so a lot of times
they are very similar to things I
already have heard, but I usually
pick out a nugget of information
I missed in prior presentations.
The supplement presentation
was completely new to me; and
not only did I learn a lot that will
help me sell supplements in my
store, but I met a new friend in the
presenter, and I’m sure I’ll talk to
him again soon.
I’ve said it before, and I’m sure
I’ll say it a million times more:
Industry shows are absolutely
worth the investment. SuperZoo
2016 was definitely a testament
Making Shows Worth the Investment
Industry shows provide more than just deals; it’s all about the relationships and the education.
B.C. HeNsCHeN, a certified pet care technician and an
accredited pet trainer, is a partner in PlatINum Paws,
a full-service pet salon and premium pet food store in
Carmel, Ind. His knowledge of the pet food industry
makes Platinum Paws the go-to store for pet owners
who want more for their pet than a bag off a shelf.