Profitable Partnerships
By Craig Rexford

There are two things I have learned from my many years in the publishing business. One is to always sleep on an idea for at least one night. The second is to bounce any concept off at least one, if not two or more, other people.

By doing both of these things, I have often avoided making the wrong decision on some very important matters. Being impulsive, especially in crunch time, may sound good, but when it comes right down to it, it can very often lead to making a wrong decision. Taking your time and asking for help will often prevent that from happening, both personally and professionally.

In this increasingly difficult retail environment, where business decisions can be the difference between profit and loss, retail pet operators should consider the same tactics. Fortunately, they have an abundance of people to bounce ideas off of.

Retailers have a network of distributors and suppliers to lean on in order to get as much information as possible about the retail pet world. Suppliers can help merchants determine the right plan of attack and educate them about what other retailers, perhaps from a completely different region of the country, have successfully implemented at their stores.

Distributors can do even more. As this month’s cover story shows, a strong partnership between retailers and distributors can help the merchant get the best prices and develop the best product plan-o-grams. Distributors can also help educate retailers about best practices in the pet world and new technology that can help them compete against bigger chains, including the national operations, without breaking the bank.

Of course, retailers need to find the right distributors to work with. As always, some are better than others and some work better with certain types of retail operations. Word-of-mouth is always the best place to start. The distributors who know the local demographics should have a leg up on those who don’t. Asking a trade association for recommendations on quality suppliers is the next step.

The important thing is to be candid and forthright with all of your partners to get the maximum return.