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Behind the review host and small business expert from Yelp, Emily Washcovick, she shares a look at this week’s podcast episode.
Our pets are becoming more familiar every year. Nearly 70 million people have dogs in the United States. And for some, what they feed their pet is as important, if not more so, than what they feed themselves. Paws on Chicon owner Keith Zeiler had a beloved dog who was not feeling well and, while researching ways to improve his pet’s life, delved into dog nutrition. He later took an extensive course in pet nutrition and then decided to share his knowledge through his boutique pet store in East Austin.
For Keith, this is the pet. “I’m very well educated when it comes to nutrition. I just wanted to convey that. And as you can see through so many of my reviews, it’s all about nutrition,” he said. “I look at it this way: every person who walks through that door and all my employees I train, it’s about helping this dog. It’s not about earning him that dollar because if we can help his pet, that increases “loyalty, and that makes me and my staff feel like we’ve done an amazing job. There’s nothing better than customers coming and talking about how much we’ve helped their dogs, without costing them thousands of dollars.”
The myriad of options in pet products are both a blessing and a curse at times. Having so many choices just when it comes to dog food can be downright intimidating. When critic Nicole B. first entered the pet store, she felt overwhelmed, but only for a moment.
“I have to be very honest. The first time I walked into the store, the staff had a big button attached to the apron and they were saying, ‘Ask me why the X dog mark is bad.’ And that was the mark. of dog food that I fed my dog, ”he said. “And I was so scared and nervous that they were going to be judged or say it was like killing my puppy or giving him the McDonald’s equivalent of dog food. But at the end of the day, they weren’t under pressure. I said, ‘ Listen, this food that our vet recommended when he was a puppy. I won’t change, but what else can I do? Are there any supplements? And then, when we wean him on adult food, what do you recommend? ‘
“And it was so nice that they took it easy. They weren’t judged. They said, ‘Okay.’ Do what you have to do. Listen to your vet. We are here to give you other information that you may not have considered. ‘ It was a relief that they were really a trusted partner and not just getting away from a food and putting me on theirs. ”
Keith works hard to educate his staff so that they have the latest knowledge about nutrition on hand, but he also wants to make sure they have the same compassion for dog owners.
“My focus is not on money. It’s about healing and giving the best for dogs. But people who come into my store and give me food I don’t bring, I’ll look it up online and compare it. I can’t say “I tell you how many people, keep up with this food. It’s a good food. There’s no reason to change it. The price is good. The quality of the food is good. You don’t change it.”
“Because, again, it’s not about that for me. I want their dogs to live longer, and if they give good food, I’ll tell them. All my staff is trained in a lot of topics. We’re not vets. No. we say we are veterinarians, but we know a lot about pet feeding and how we can help with these problems. “
The trust created between customers and staff is crucial to building a lasting relationship, and when it comes to caring for a pet over many years, the buying cycle could be quite long for customers like Nicole.
“I think having someone local you can trust is like having the equivalent of an older brother or sister to ask for life advice. You really know they know what they’re doing because they care and that’s their job. That’s a great relief as I surf different seasons with my pet, whether it’s his age or health issues, or even maybe having a second dog, as it would be.They know and have been there while as a first time “Dog owner, I don’t have it. So I trust them a lot,” he said.
Most small business owners know that employees are at the forefront as the face of the business. They represent your brand and culture when you can’t be there in person. With two stores, Keith can’t be in two places at once, so he’s created training for his staff to make sure they all send the same message to their customers.
“We spent an extensive four-week training with our staff, which, as far as I understand, is the most there is in the pet industry, in pet stores. We try to be very careful because we don’t want to make pets. parents feel like they are doing something wrong, ”he said.
“We try to give them the tools to educate themselves if they don’t have time to talk to us in the store. They know we’re not here to put anything down their throats. When I opened the business, I wanted to find the best quality product. for the price. I want them to have a good experience when they come in and know that we are literally here to help their pet because we love pets. “
Sometimes, the added features of your business can also help you stand out from the crowd. When Keith expanded his first store, he added dog washing stations. Anyone who has cleaned their own bathroom after bathing a dog knows that as long as the dog walks clean, you and your bathtub will get a real beating.
“There are a couple of things that make us a little different in Austin. One of them is dog washers and how we set them up. We have an easy system. It’s like a car wash. So the shampoo, the We have tried to make it as easy as possible.We have hooded sweatshirts for dogs, so when they dry, it doesn’t hurt their ears.We have an improvement where there is a mat for They can be licked while they are washing and then the owners receive a free drink while they are also washing their dog.
Keith says dog washing is a big hit, so he has increased amenities to include frozen dog yogurt with a cover bar. On weekends, you have a waiting list of places available.
This feature was so important to Nicole (she mentioned it in her review), because when she reviews a company, she wants to make sure others have a complete picture of the company.
“When it comes to the content of my reviews, I try to think about what I would like to know if I was reading a review. If it’s a store that only has pet food and maybe it’s more science-based or prescription help, that’s more than a medical thing, that wouldn’t really be what I was looking for, ”he said.
“I wanted to make sure it was clear that I was saying, these are all options … a kind of general snapshot. And then, if there’s something that stood out, whether it’s the customer experience or the selection or something which surprised me, this usually always makes its way to revision “.
Responding to reviews can be a great way to expand your customer experience beyond the existence of your store. Keith says making responses to reviews a priority, though negatives can sometimes be hard to come by.
“I take criticism very seriously, and sometimes a little too personally, from which I had to learn to retire because it ruined me the week before. I think the business owner should always be attentive to reviews.they should always do it.answer.There is never one of my reviews where I have not responded personally.Good reviews, bad reviews: I can respond immediately and take care of it if I have to -immediately.
“And sometimes things happen, you know? No, one is perfect. I strive to get five stars in everything. Every now and then I get bad reviews, but if you look at these reviews, you’ll say, okay, I can. See why this review was like this.I think as a business owner and just thinking about it on the other side, if someone takes the time of their day to write a review for you, the least you can to do is to acknowledge it. The least you can do is say thank you. “
Reviewers like Nicole appreciate small businesses and review them on purpose. What may seem like a small thing (a simple thank you for a positive review) can go a long way, and customers like Nicole are the people who keep small businesses running. They are some of the best advocates for your business.
“If there’s anything local or great, like Paws, it’s when I want people to know. I’ll write a really good review. And I also feel like I’m helping the business because of my elite status. I know people he will see it. And so it is very important to me if I care much to receive this good review from them, so that other people can also find this hidden gem. “
Check out some of these other Paws on Chicon tips:
- Respond to criticism, good and bad. Carefully consider how you respond and, most importantly, what action you take next.
- Find what makes your business stand out and take advantage of it. It could be as simple as an added feature, such as Paws at Chicon dog wash stations.
- Keep things consistent across multiple storefronts. Opening another location is a great way to grow your business. Just make sure you keep the level of customer service consistent across locations.
- Your employees are the front line between you and your customers. Well-trained and educated staff can build loyalty and trust between your company and your customers, as they are an extension of your company’s personality.
Listen to the episode below to listen directly to Keith and Nicole and subscribe Behind the Review for more information from new business owners and reviewers every Thursday.
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