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.
PERSPECTIVES & OPINIONS FROM AROUND THE INDUSTRY
BY B.C. HENSCHEN
Many stores have incentive programs related to sales, but do you offer anything to reward excellent customer service from your employees?
Customer service is the key to the survival of micro
independent businesses. I’m pretty sure every micro independent pet business owner knows how to provide superior customer service, but do your employees? It is so easy
to go above and beyond with a customer who is generally
happy. True customer service skills come into play when
someone is furious with your store. Many stores have
policies in place to get an owner involved when someone
complains, but I think the first step is empowering all employees to do whatever needs to be done to try and make
the customer happy.
If a customer comes in and says they are not happy
with something, they should not feel as if they are getting bounced around. They should not have to continue to
voice their complaint to many different people. The core
of superior customer service is making the customer feel
like their problems are being heard, understood and resolved. Except in the case of a customer asking to speak
to a manager, your employee should be empowered to
take ownership of the complaint and resolve the situation.
Depending on the issue, the resolution might be getting an
owner involved, or it could be as simple as giving a free
bag of food.
Trying to put “superior customer service” into a new-
hire handbook or a policy statement is very difficult be-
cause there are so many different things that can happen
to make people unhappy. I had a customer come in and
express how unhappy she was with her last bag of pet
food. It seems the food was moldy, and she just pitched
the whole bag. In talking with her, I found out she did not
have a receipt, and she wasn’t 100 percent sure she even
bought it from my store. I talked with her further, and it
was pretty clear she did not want to go back to the previ-
ous brand, so I offered her a free bag of another brand. She
did not ask for a free bag, nor did she expect it since she
didn’t have receipts, so she left very happy.
I think most storeowners would’ve done exactly the
same thing after listening to this customer talking about
throwing away an $80 bag of food. Whenever something
like that happens, I always make it a point to discuss it
with all of my staff members. I want them to understand
what I did, and I expect them to do the exact same thing.
The absolutely best way of training is always leading by
Employees might fear doing harm to the business,
which could result in poor customer service. As owners,
it’s very easy for us to make decisions on how to handle a
customer, but your employee has the extra stress of possibly making the wrong decision in your eyes.
It’s not always the concern of costing the store mon-
ey that ends up causing poor customer service. Have you
ever walked into a store where the employees stay more
focused on getting their tasks done? Storeowners always
like to stress to employees the importance of getting in-
ventory put up in a timely manner, cleaning and all the
other little daily tasks it takes to keep a store operational.
There is a small chain store near me, and if I walk in 10
minutes before closing time, not one employee is going
to stop what he or she is doing to see if they can help me.
They are busy getting all their closing tasks completed so
they can leave on time. They do greet me when I walk in,
but then they immediately go back to their cleaning tasks.
In my store, we always stress that the customer walking in the door is the most important thing. Tasks and
chores can wait until the customer has been taken care of.
I feel the exact same way about the telephone. If you call
my store, chances are you will get our voicemail. That’s
because the customer standing in front of me is the most
important thing to me. I’m happy to return phone calls,
but the priority will always be the customer that has taken
the time to walk into my store. One of my mentors always
used to say, “Never put a person standing in front of you
with a wallet full of money on hold.”
I stress to my staff that they will never get in trouble
for trying to make a customer happy. Many store owners
are scared of being taken advantage of. I am not. I trust the
judgment of those I hire, and I trust my customers.
hired GUY ME-
DARIS as its vice
president of sales
and marketing. Medaris joins the
TropiClean team with 15 years of
experience in sales and marketing,
and he previously held the position
of vice president of sales and
marketing, residential solutions, at
Medaris graduated from the
University of Missouri in management and marketing and received
his MBA from Washington University in business strategy.
The Pet Food Institute (PFI) named
DANA L. BROOKS as its president
more than 30
years of experience across the
food and agricultural industries, including leadership
roles in federal and regulatory outreach. She most recently served as
the senior director of government
affairs for Land O’Lakes, where she
managed state affairs and industry
relations. Prior to joining Land
O’Lakes, Brooks held the positions
of corporate advisor of government
affairs for Elanco Animal Health
and senior vice president of government relations for the National
Milk Producers Federation.
Brooks assumed the position of
president and CEO on Feb. 26, suc-
ceeding Dr. Cathleen Enright, who
will serve as past president until
June 30 before retiring.
as its business
development manager. Since
2009, Saville has worked in several
client-facing and account-manag-ing roles, demonstrating a wealth
of experience and developing new
business relationships, according
to officials for the Lake Worth, Fla.-based company.
Saville will be responsible for
nurturing the company’s current
accounts, focusing on the U.K. and
Europe, as well as exploring new
routes to market.
The company also hired KIM
GOLDSWORTHY as sales director
for North America. Goldsworthy
brings a wealth of knowledge and
expertise to this
products on QVC
has a proven track
record of successfully launching
and building brands globally,
Most recently, Goldsworthy
served as general manager—sales
and marketing for Heyrex NZ
Limited, a technology company
that specializes in providing pet
products and services to global
Health Extension Pet Care in Deer
Park, N. Y., hired PETE PENNELL as
its sales director for the west/cen-
Pennell joins the company from
Precise Pet Products, where he
served as western
director. Prior to
Precise, he held
key sales management positions
in several leading pet food firms,
where he helped build a national
presence for each of the brands,
according to company officials.
Deliver Top-Notch Customer Service
Empower your employees to take ownership of customer complaints and resolve situations on their own.