Education Drives Innovation at SuperZoo
Doug Poindexter, president of the World Pet Association, discusses the wide range of educational opportunities that retailers will find at this year’s edition of SuperZoo in Las Vegas.
Why does SuperZoo make education sessions a cornerstone of the event?
Doug Poindexter: Quite simply, education helps our attendees learn, grow and prosper. We provide numerous sessions for retail storeowners and groomers covering a wide swath of subjects that matter to our attendees, and we bring in speakers that carry fish, reptiles and birds. This year, our School of Animal Wellness sessions will be 30 minutes and will have veterinarians speaking to small animal health. The biggest key we hear is attendees can’t wait to get back to their store and put what they’ve learned into action.
Why did SuperZoo add Retail Monday in 2015?
Poindexter: This is a dedicated day added to the schedule the day before the show floor opens. It was in direct response to comments we were seeing in post-show surveys; it was becoming more and more difficult for attendees to participate in education and also get business done on the show floor. This way, people can come a day earlier and attend the education sessions they may have otherwise missed.
What types of training do pet retailers seem most hungry for?
Poindexter: We’ve found—through surveys and anecdotally talking to people on-site—that they’re interested in everything from utilizing social media to staff training to marketing to growing their business. We always try to bring someone in to speak on hard data that gives attendees the nuts and bolts of the business side; for example, the Pet Retail Survey session was new last year and very well-received. This year, we have a WPA board member approaching customer trends and how they affect business; this will include hard research data that helps retailers understand where the market is going and where customers are spending money.
What primary retailer sessions will be offered?
Poindexter: We started doing a bootcamp when we launched Retail Monday. This year, there will be more sessions about staff training and social media. We’re bringing in new speakers to talk about human resources issues, leadership and communications. Bob Phibbs, the Retail Doctor, will talk about customer service, coaching and marketing.
Beyond retail education, what other types of sessions are offered?
Poindexter: On the grooming side, there’s a selection of actual demonstrations in the room, and there’s also sessions geared on how to build your business, specifically for groomers. There will also be a session on building the service side of a grooming business and adding daycare, boarding and dog training, which are areas of rapid growth.
We’ll also have animal wellness sessions that focus on small animal care in stores and best practices geared toward bird, reptile and fish.
What are a few notable, new things you’re excited about this year for SuperZoo education?
Poindexter: We have 80 sessions this year, which is up from 2015. We’ve never before had someone speaking directly to human resources beyond staffing, so I’m excited about that. And also about the speakers talking about leadership and communication. We’re always curious to get feedback during and after the show and see how attendees react to both topics and the speakers.
For more information about education at SuperZoo, held at the Mandalay Bay Convention Center in Las Vegas this summer, visit superzoo.org. Education sessions run August 1-3, and the trade show is open August 2-4.