Helping Pets Live Happy, Healthy Lives
Pet Product News’ 2017-2018 Employee Engagement & Training Retailer of the Year provides
a welcoming environment of education and hospitality that encircles pets and their people.
KRISER’S NATURAL PET AT A GLANCE
Number of stores: 53
Founders/partners: Brad Kriser and Ken Grouf
Employees: 325 full time, 90 part time
Years in business: 12
Average Square feet: 2,500
Products and services: “Kriser’s Approved” all-natural dry, freeze-dried, dehydrated and raw dog and cat
foods, treats, supplements, pet supplies, grooming, adoption days, Kriser’s University Learning Management System, Kriser’s Kares
BY LIZE TT BOND
“Please don’t be surprised if we learn your pet’s name first.”
For patrons of Kriser’s Natural Pet, it’s an endearing admonition.
“People in the pet world are not offended if you don’t remember their name, as long
as you know the name of their pet,” says Brad Kriser, founder and partner.
Indeed, while four-legged guests revel in a superstar reception, the possible lack
of two-legged name recognition is noted on signage throughout the 53 locations in
“Kriser’s is all about pets; we were born out of that,” he says. “For pet lovers, walking
into an establishment that shares their enthusiasm makes for a happy visit.”
Hospitality has been at the core of the company’s success since 2006, when the first
location opened in Chicago. Kriser had already established a successful pet care services
enterprise in the same city, offering boarding, day care, grooming and training, and a
limited retail selection of all-natural pet supplies and foods. The entrepreneur recog-
nized a market need for a trusted source of healthful products in an attractive, friendly
and knowledgeable setting. The formula worked, and more stores followed.
Soon, Kriser enlisted cousin Ken Grouf for his marketing and structuring expertise.
Grouf’s career background included positions in both for-profit and nonprofit ventures.
“Ken doesn’t do anything unless he knows it will have a positive impact on the
world,” Kriser says.
Grouf’s contributions meshed nicely with Kriser’s pet-industry acumen.
“In creating Kriser’s, we wanted to present an aesthetically pleasing experience in
a pet store,” Kriser says. “Our stores are open and easy to shop, without the look of a
Consistency in design creates companywide familiarity and a homelike character.
“We often receive comments from customers saying they have visited a Kriser’s in a
different city and felt immediately at home,” Kriser says.
JOINING THE PACK
Connecting with customers through education and outstanding service is fundamental
to the Kriser’s culture. In this way, capable, well-educated “pack members” stand at
the ready to assist pet owners in providing a happy, healthy life for their furry charges.
“We believe that the large part of an exceptional experience is education,” he says.
“In a new hire, we look first and foremost for a love and passion for pets and a desire
to do what’s best for them.”
The company’s dedication to training is central, and Kriser’s University offers ex-
tensive tutelage and ongoing education covering pet nutrition, products and customer
Training opportunities presented by vendors enhance this guidance.
“We hold vendor trainings throughout the year, in-store, on the phone, in meetings,
presentations—whatever it takes,” he says.
The course of study is ever evolving.
“We have recently introduced the newest incarnation of Kriser’s University: our
Learning Management System,” Kriser says.
The online curriculum provides robust, engaging instruction, encompassing topics,
products and categories specific to Kriser’s and the pet industry overall.
“It’s based on the learning style of our workforce, which is made up primarily of millennials,” he says. “We want to make sure our team is educated in the best possible way,
so we have really altered the way we train to make the process more effective and fun.”
Kriser’s annual pack leader retreats find store managers, or “pack leaders,” gathering
for several days of focused instruction encompassing everything from company operations and procedures to customer service and sales techniques. In addition, vendors are
on hand to impart product information.
“It’s a pretty big undertaking because we are in so many different states,” Kriser
says. “The destination changes. For instance, this year, we are meeting in San Francisco.”
Pack leaders return to their stores with an abundance of new insights to share with
their own pack members.
Staying abreast of new developments, a full-time training director and a supportive
training department continually update a syllabus that covers nutrition, product training and general health knowledge.
“Our people are trained to understand certain health conditions. A lot of these prob-
lems are not immediately evident, so it’s all about asking questions and listening to our
customers,” Kriser says. “However, we are not veterinarians and never go against the
advice of a vet.”
Promotion from within is another major component to the Kriser’s ideology.
“The possibility of upward mobility is motivating; why stay in a job if you don’t
see any kind of a future for yourself?” he says. “Our pack members already know the
product, they understand our operations and what we do. So while bringing people
in from the outside is necessary, promoting people from the inside just makes sense in
Consumer confidence is pivotal to the reputation of the Kriser’s brand, and the all-natural food inventory is corn, wheat, soy and byproduct free. Before something can join the
product mix, stringent nutrition and quality standards must be met. The path to being
elected a Kriser’s Approved product is noted on signage throughout the store. Factory
visits serve to verify manufacturer claims. Treats, supplements and supplies are also
1. Grooming rooms present a safe
environment for pets at Kriser’s.
2. Brad Kriser, founder and partner
3. The all-natural food inventory at Kriser’s
is corn, wheat, soy and byproduct free.
4. Treats and supplements must meet
stringent nutrition and quality standards.
5. An endcap that focuses on oral health
EMPLOYEE ENGAGEMENT & TRAINING
YEAR of the