PET STORE PRO
BE USED BY
STEPHANIE A. KAPLAN
IS THE DIRECTOR OF
FOR THE PET
INDUSTRY DISTRIBUTORS ASSOCIATION.
Pet Store Pro helps small retailers use size to their advantage.
How Pet Retailers Can
Become Lean and Competitive
BY STEPHANIE A. KAPLAN
Small retailers have to do more with less, in terms of both buying power and people power. Pet stores need employees to provide customer service and sales support, keep merchandise stocked and attractive, and care for live pets so wners can focus on running the business. So
much responsibility leaves little time for training, especially for an independent retailer with a streamlined staff.
But because small retailers rely on people to set themselves apart from the competition, investing in your team
is a critical way to grow. Your size and specialized focus
give you a real advantage when it comes to capturing
the loyalty of pet owners—the industry’s most profitable
market. To do so, you need an expert, confident staff who
can connect with customers on a personal level, help them
select the right products and make sure your store is an
enjoyable place to shop.
Pet Store Pro was created specifically to help independents like you ensure that everyone who works for
you has the knowledge and skills that pet owners expect
from a specialty retailer. Developed by the Pet Industry
Distributors Association (PIDA), the free online training
program is a cost- and time-efficient way to build your
store’s reputation as the go-to place for people who truly
care about their pets.
TRAIN EFFICIENTLY AND EFFECTIVELY
Pet Store Pro helps busy pet store owners provide consistent, reliable training while minimizing the need for
hands-on observation, giving you more time to focus on
running your business. The online format is easy to navigate from a computer or tablet, letting students study
independently at the store during downtime, at home, or
whenever and wherever it works for them—and for you.
Training managers can customize curriculum by assigning only the chapters that apply to your business or to the
skills your people need to develop.
Launched in 2008 with a focus on business basics and
pet care for entry-level employees, the program now offers 29 associate- and management-level courses and remains 100 percent free, thanks to continued full funding
“I’d only been in business for three months when I
started using Pet Store Pro,” said Marcia Cram, who pur-
chased Just Fur Pets in Springfield, Va., in 2014. “I quickly
reviewed the course overviews and was able to assign
chapters based on what my people needed.”
Her employees study on a staff computer during paid
breaks so she can check in with them to see how they’re
doing and maximize her use of their time.
For retailers like Cram, much of the staffing pool con-
sists of young people starting their very first job. In addi-
tion to its full-length customer service and sales courses,
Pet Store Pro has developed several shorter-format “mi-
cro” chapters to make sure new hires are prepared for
and comfortable on the sales floor. These chapters are
designed for students to complete and begin practicing
in 10 to 15 minutes each.
“My new hires tend to be students with no employ-
ment experience,” Cram said. “Pet Store Pro drives home
the importance of basics that I take as a given but they
Her associates realize that the store runs more smooth-
ly when everyone has consistent knowledge, and they en-
courage their co-workers to take the training seriously.
“My employees are more comfortable talking to customers, and my shift managers are more confident in their
management skills,” she added.
BUILD SKILLS YOUR TEAM NEEDS THE MOST
Pet Store Pro can be used alone or as part of an existing
training program to prepare your team for new responsibilities or as an in-store reference to refresh knowledge.
Courses focus on essential skills for any pet retailer,
whether or not your store sells live pets. Content is fact
based, brand neutral and pet industry specific, so associates can quickly put what they’ve learned to use.
For instance, Pet Store Pro’s two merchandising chapters teach associates how to create attractive displays that
encourage impulse purchases. Nutrition and animal care
chapters provide essential knowledge to help customers
make the right choices about how to select and care for
pets. Manager training covers how to handle daily operations better, as well as building, coaching and motivating
an expert team.
When Maria Rosalbo and her husband opened Rosalbo Pets in Staten Island, N. Y., in 2012, neither had any
“Pet Store Pro really helped us set up the store, orga-
nize the shelves and learn about different types of pets,”
she said. “I gained worthwhile knowledge from every
chapter I read.”
In addition to the merchandising and cashier basics
micro course, Rosalbo assigns all nine of Pet Store Pro’s
pet care chapters to each of her employees, even for ani-
mals the store doesn’t carry.
“Even if you don’t sell certain pets, the more you know
about how to care for them, the better you can sell their
food, treats and toys,” she said.
MOTIVATE AND MONITOR PROGRESS
Pet Store Pro’s user-friendly administrative dashboard
makes it easy to monitor training, even from your smart-
phone. Color-coded progress bars show the courses as-
signed to each employee, which ones they have started
and/or finished and how they performed on chapter tests.
With just a few taps, training managers can review and as-
sign courses, set deadlines and print certificates of achieve-
ment when a student has successfully completed a course.
“Pet Store Pro has really helped me learn how to motivate my team,” said Fernando Alcala, manager of Jurassic
Pets in Salinas, Calif. He assigns his staff a minimum of
two chapters per month and has them spend the first 30
minutes of their shift studying.
“They can pick up something they can use on the job
that day, plus it makes the longer chapters more manageable,” he added.
Test results help Alcala evaluate employee strengths,
pinpoint areas where an associate might need extra help,
and determine raises and advancement. His team also
holds contests to rate their skills.
“Pet Store Pro gives associates new ideas for customer conversations,” he said. “The suggestive selling
chapter really had an impact on our sales. We can nearly
always add on an item that ties to the shopper’s needs—
and our customers appreciate that we’ve saved them a
TRY IT YOURSELF TODAY
In a specialty, service-driven business such as pet retail,
employees are assets that busy retail owners need to
maximize in order to attract and retain loyal customers. That’s why, since its launch nine years ago, almost
29,000 pet store owners, managers and sales associates
from more than 5,800 stores have taken advantage of
Pet Store Pro to grow their business. To test drive Pet
Store Pro, visit PIDA’s booth (2939) today or log on to
petstorepro.com any time to learn more about the program and specific courses.
Stephanie A. Kaplan is the director of online education for the
Pet Industry Distributors Association.