The Art of Matchmaking

Pairing potential owners with birds that complement their lifestyles will result in happy customers who will return to the store for years to come.


What is it that attracts potential pet owners to the bird section? Quite simply, it is the love of birds, since most pet owners have a preference for a certain animal. We’ve all heard of someone being called a dog or cat person, but I’ve even heard the term “parrot-head” for parrot owners, although this term is usually reserved for Jimmy Buffet fans. This intense love for pets gives people these titles, and it is this same group that keeps the pet industry running. Once someone has found their perfect pet, they will often own more than one and will take the best care of it. If a store takes great care of that customer, it’ll gain a wonderful and loyal customer for life. The hard part is matching the customer with a pet that complements his/her lifestyle.

If a pet shop is really lucky, the store will be filled with employees that are as ardent about at least one type of pet as some of its customers. There is no doubt that the best salespeople are the ones that are the most passionate about what they sell. They will learn more, work harder and, most importantly, share their love and enthusiasm of pets with the customers. But how can anyone working in a store, even an employee with lots of knowledge and experience, really know if a bird, for example, will be the right pet for a customer?

The Perfect Bird
What the employee should look for in a potential bird owner is a huge interest and willingness to learn how to care for a pet properly. The next step is for the employee to ask a ton of questions in order to be sure that a bird a customer is interested in will be the right one for them. Although all domestic cats are one species and all domestic dogs are another, pet birds include many species, each with different needs and behaviors. Birds can be grouped somewhat, but individual personalities must also be considered. Knowing birds by their general characteristics and how they act at the store will help an employee match owners with the right bird.

There’s a saying that when choosing a person to date, dog people should only go out with dog people and cat people with cat people. Whether that’s true or not, it is important for pet stores to try to match the right pet bird with what the customer is looking for and to discourage what appears to be a bad match. It doesn’t happen too often, but I’ve watched my father refuse to sell a pet to a customer who didn’t show any concern about how to care for it properly. He also takes back any animal from a customer, even years after it was bought, who cannot keep their pet any longer. Pet stores will never be able to make everyone happy, but they certainly help keep the odds in their favor by trying to help a customer find the best pet for their lifestyle.

Robyn Bright has a master’s degree in parrot biology and more than 25 years of pet retailing experience.

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