The Solution to Staffing


What’s keeping pet retailers up at night?

It is a question we keep asking retailers on a regular basis simply because it is a great barometer to determine the overall health and wellness of the pet industry.

Not surprisingly, the answers could fill up an entire issue of this magazine and then some. But when we pushed retailers to share the one thing that makes them most concerned for their business, many of the people contacted for this informal survey over the last few weeks said that it was simply finding good, hard-working and trustworthy people to help work their stores. 

It seems that retailers are becoming more and more concerned that they can no longer attract enough quality employees to their operations, and that fact is not only impacting their day-to-day operations, it also affects short and long-term planning. 

Store operators are saying that without enough quality employees, they cannot satisfy the needs of their shoppers on a regular basis, including answering their questions and helping them find the right product for their pets. Right now, many note, there are simply not enough good workers out there to give the owner/operator the peace of mind needed to leave the store in the capable hands of another person. 

Perhaps more importantly, retailers say that the dearth of quality workers is playing a larger role in their long-term decisions. Without these employees, retailers say they are a bit more cautious as they plan to expand, whether that is something as simple as extending store hours during peak selling seasons or seeking to open more stores. 

But are retailers partially responsible for this? Some are. It is extremely important that the merchant make it clear that they are giving employees an opportunity for long-term and rewarding employment. Of course, that means a fair wage, especially for their most valuable workers who they may want to stick around for a while. And, it means other things as well, including showing these good workers that their hard work is noticed and can lead to more important and challenging positions. 

Workers are not immune from doing their part either. Raises and promotions are not given; they must be earned and that only comes with hard work that goes above and beyond what is expected of them. 

In the end, it must be a partnership, one designed to give workers an opportunity to make a fair wage in a category they care deeply about and to give the owner/operator a change to get a better night’s rest. 


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