Leadership Checklist

The best storeowners and managers are those who can get the most from their staff.



Doug Poindexter



Retailers’ ability to be good leaders can make or break their businesses—poor leadership often leads to high employee turnover, an unhappy staff and, ultimately, customer dissatisfaction and loss of sales.

The best managers have good “soft skills”—they‘re sensitive to the needs of their employees and can inspire people to do their best. In turn, the staff will do great work and represent the business well. The following are some checkpoints to doing as much as possible to be an effective manager:

Hire Well
Choose wisely, and always be on the lookout for great employees. The pressure to fill a vacant position can lead to hasty and sometimes sub-par hiring decisions, so the best strategy is to be open to hiring anytime, if the right person comes along. Begin by clearly determining which characteristics and skills are desirable, and, if possible, involve others in the hiring process to reap the benefits of multiple perspectives.

Set Them Up for Success
Invest the time to properly train store staff. This will pay off in the future, because the more employees know about the animals, products and customers, the more effectively they can sell. Training shouldn’t be a one-time occurrence that only happens in the first days or weeks after hiring. On an ongoing basis, staff should be provided with opportunities to expand their skills and learn more about the business and the industry.

Retain Good Employees
Along with treating employees with respect and rewarding good work, an effective leader is also an effective communicator. It is important to be clear on expectations, set aside time for regular one-on-one meetings with each employee, and maintain an open-door policy so that their concerns are always heard. A retailer’s best employees can also be provided with professional development opportunities like trips to industry conventions, like SuperZoo. Not only does this give them training and a feeling of ownership, but employees come back feeling refreshed and motivated.

When storeowners or managers delegate some of their responsibilities, they are empowering their staff—unless they hover and micromanage. Remember that there’s usually more than one way to accomplish a goal, so focus on outcomes rather than the specific way in which a task is completed, and explain the company’s broader goals rather than just giving orders. When employees are given the opportunity to take on new roles, it can help make the job more interesting—as long as storeowners and managers are not just unloading tasks that they don’t want to do themselves.





The best pet store employees are not only animal lovers, they’re also enthusiastic about their


jobs, and they’re ambassadors for the business.





Inspiring leaders are enthusiastic about their work—they have a positive attitude and a strong work ethic, and they lead by example. A good manager will spread credit, take blame and practice humility. It is important to always be generous with praise when it’s due—it costs nothing, and it means a lot to the recipient when the praise is sincere. When employees feel appreciated, they’re much more likely to take pride in their work and be motivated to do their best—and customers will sense it too.

The best pet store employees are not only animal lovers, they’re also enthusiastic about their jobs, and they’re ambassadors for the business. An effective manager’s responsibility is to create a positive work environment, which will help attract and retain the best people. Retailers who follow good management practices on a regular basis, will succeed in building a strong, dedicated staff and a loyal customer base that keeps coming back for more.

Doug Poindexter is president of the World Pet Association, organizer of the SuperZoo tradeshow and educational conference in Las Vegas (July 22-24).

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