Why Signage is a "Must Have" for Pet Retail Professionals

Most grooming salons tell their clients where to drop off, where to pick up, price points, length of service time etc., without ever opening their mouths through professionally printed signage or “menu boards.” Grooming salons often have information printed and displayed but what about your retail selection? When you walk into a corporate retail environment, look around and you’ll notice how much that store is “talking” to you without a single salesperson in front of you. Corporate stores will often have signage for branding, departments, sub departments, sales, sizing, pricing, and shelf talkers to let you know the benefits of certain items for sale. This is called the “power of retail signage.”

Retail signage is so important because the science of retail has proven humans are very lazy when we shop. In most cases if we have to wait to ask for a price, directions, or information; we’ll just walk away. Imagine how many sales you lose due to the lack of professionally printed signage that will work in your absence? Below are my “must haves” to make your pet retailing a success!

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How many times have you been in a restaurant or store that you’ve entered and look around to find the name of the business is nowhere to be found? This is a lost opportunity for store branding! Remember that you want your store logo/company name EVERYWHERE because you want your client to remember your store and tell their friends. For at least 130 years, there have been studies written on how many times it takes for a person to start remembering a company, slogan, or advertisement which is also known as “effective frequency.” The general consensus is that it takes somewhere between 6-20 times for effective frequency to kick in so that the client remembers the message you are trying to convey! Make sure your branding is on the outside of your store, the inside of your store, your website, your social media, your rug, your price tags, your uniforms, and anywhere else you can think to display!


There are many salons that have very bare front windows because they think they can’t “afford” the additional cost. Trust me you cannot afford NOT to have that store front signage! Your front store windows should very quickly convey what you do, what you sell, your store name, hours, and contact information. To ensure my marketing is working while I’m home at night… I leave my front chandelier lights on so people can see inside and want to return even when I’m not there!

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As you build your retail clientele, you will attract shoppers that are unfamiliar with your store. If they pop in looking for a collar or leash, make sure you have signage for that department. Although it’s important to greet your clients in a professional retail environment, department signage can save you and your client time. Additional departments that are common in the pet retail sector may be toys, grooming supplies, clothing, food, treats, harnesses, supplements, travel, birthday, and more. Remember to keep your signs professional, simple, and uniformed. You don’t have to buy them all at once but remember to keep them uniformed for future department expansion.


Having a well thought out clearance department in the back of your store is great to get rid of seasonal left overs or the 1-2 items that are left over from a recent purchase. Make your signage clear as to what the new prices are so you don’t have to tell them over and over again. Example: “Clearance: Everything 50% off original price.” This lets them know how much off of “what” price.


Yes, there are many stores that do not have prices on their retail merchandise. Invest in a point of sale system or (POS) along with a bar code reader and printer. This will make your life so much easier! A POS also makes you look more professional. If you are grouping a large selection of items together in the same department with the same exact price, then a larger sign or “price point” will help move that selection as well because it calls attention to the “opportunity” you are giving the client to own that item.


When a client walks into your business, do they know where to drop off, pick up, get their purchases calculated? Sometimes a simple “Start Here” or “Purchase Here” sign hanging from the ceiling will save you and your staff a lot of time. If you have a treat bar, do they know where to get bags to fill up with treats? Is it calculated by piece or weight? Walk into your store from outside as a new customer and see if the flow of your space is immediately recognizable. If you cannot change the flow then add a sign and you’ll be amazed at how much easier it will be for you, your staff, and your clients!

Many salons miss out on retail opportunities all together because they don’t want to “deal” with the extra time and attention retail clients require. If your retail selection is well merchandised with professional retail signage, your signage will act as a professional, unpaid employee! You can add a revenue stream while still grooming with little effort every day. I hope this helps you increase your retail success!

Happy pet retailing, until next time
-Leel Michelle

Pro Lighting Tips for Pet Boutique Retailers and Grooming Salons

How often have you walked into a corporate retail store and noticed their lighting? If they’ve done their job correctly, you shouldn’t have noticed their lighting at all. In order to create a professional and shoppable retail experience for your clients, good lighting is a MUST! Good lighting is even more important for the empty nested, aging Baby Boomer population that loves to dote on their fur-babies.

I will explain the why, what, and how to increase your retail sales with lighting techniques employed by the most successful retail businesses. We now know the “why” we must install good lighting, but now we need to know the “what.” There are several lighting techniques that have very specific jobs in a professional retail environment.

Ambient Lighting: Ambient lighting is used to enhance the overall mood for a better shopping experience. Ambient lighting can be used to convey a happy, bright, and clean environment or when dimmed can create a cozy atmosphere. Generally bright and happy ambient lighting is best used for successful pet retailing.

Task Lighting: Task lighting is utilized to cover something specific where lighting is NEEDED. Locations that NEED task lighting may be directly over your grooming tables, register, front desk, bathroom, and front entrance.

Accent Lighting: Accent lighting is used to highlight your merchandise to bring awareness to certain products which increase your overall sales. Track lights can accomplish this task and give flexibility to move and change the lighting when you have seasonal or major store merchandise revamp. In addition to spotlights you can add to track lighting to highlight your merchandise as there are a multitude of designer, drop pendant lights that click into track lights to fit your overall décor.

Decorative Lighting: Decorative lighting is often used to assist in your overall store design and theme. A store with an upscale clientele will often use chandeliers to convey an exclusive and upscale atmosphere while an industrial themed store may use an old fashioned looking light fixture with Edison bulbs.

Now that we know the “why” and “what,” let's look at the “how” to improve your pet retail shopping experience with pro lighting tips. If you are opening a new store, invest and choose your light fixtures carefully as they can save you thousands of dollars over the years. When choosing your lighting, spend a few extra dollars now by choosing light fixtures and light bulbs with light emitting diode (LED) and compact fluorescent lights or (CFL.) CFL’s are simply miniature versions of full sized fluorescent bulbs.

For those of you that want to upgrade and improve your existing lighting, this next section is for you! What if I told you there was a service to help small business owners decrease monthly utility bills by fixing, replacing, and minimizing usage of energy in your business and this service is absolutely FREE! Your local utility company (depending on your city/state) will outsource a contractor whose job it is to check your utility fixtures and appliances to make recommendations on how you can save energy and thus save money every month and then replace them for you.

Yes, that’s right… this service is FREE! In many cases, the contractor will clean and replace filters, upgrade light fixtures, and replace light bulbs with the most energy efficient ones on the market. In my case, I had no less than 50 light bulbs replaced from incandescent bulbs to LED and a CFLs. I had 3 air conditioner filters cleaned, and 4 light fixtures completely replaced. My monthly energy bill plummeted from an average of $550 per month down to $300! I bet you can think of a lot of things to do with that extra monthly savings? Why thank you for asking…I absolutely adore musicals, concerts, fancy hotels, and date nights with my Husband!

You can send me a gift card any time you’re feeling generous! Just kidding! Although lighting is not the “sexiest” part of retailing, when done well, it can increase your sales, and save you quite a bit of cash. You can use this cash to further add or refine your pet retailing experience for your clients and your profit margins. Happy Retailing...until me meet again!

How to Build a Treat Bar

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Nearly every client loves to reward their pet after a visit to their favorite groomer. That’s YOU!

What if I told you that adding well merchandised pet retail can help you to lower your payroll, increase your profit margins and keep your clients coming back for more? Why not keep your retail clients “in-house” instead of sending them to another business?

Through my upscale, retro pet salon and boutique I help groomers all over the United States and abroad by teaching them how to add small sections of profitable, well-merchandised pet retail to their salons. I break down small segments of retailing and merchandising through live Facebook videos in a group called, “Pet Boutiques.”

My aim is to inspire and educate small business groomers and pet retailers wanting to add or improve their pet retailing. Right now I’m going to teach YOU how to start retailing with a dog treat bar!

A dog treat bar can be as large or small as you like! I started years ago with three penny candy jars on my front counter! Now one-third of my retail business comes from my pet treats!


Find a reputable treat vendor that sells chicken strips, bully sticks, pig ears, bacon twists or whatever you would like to sell in your salon. Pro Tip: Start with 3-5 different meats or treats and add or change accordingly until you get a feel for what your clients require.


Buy glass jars, buckets, vases or other types of containers that look good when merchandised together depending on your salon decor. Keep in mind that you will most likely be adding to these so make sure you can get more.

Although not required, I recommend getting jars with lids to keep them fresher longer. Pro Tip: You can buy multiple containers and jars online from restaurant stores offering wholesale pricing on larger quantities.


Now that you have your jars and treats, you need to effectively merchandise them. The placement of your treat section is very important! Buy shelving for your treat collection or add them to the counter near your checkout or reception area for last minute spontaneous purchases! Pro Tip: You can create the feel of a “dressed-up boutique” by buying used dressers, buffets or armoires. Paint them with chalk paint to match your salon and then house all your treats in a collection! Try to find ones in good condition. Lighting is a bonus!


Now that you have your treats, containers and location, it’s time to label and price your treats! Until you get comfortable with pricing your treats, I suggest adding temporary labels like chalkboard stickers to your jars. Pro Tip: Sell treats in multiples to sell your inventory more quickly which keeps them fresh. Example: 4 Chicken Nibbles for $1.


If you want to merchandise and sell retail professionally, invest in signage like the pros! How many corporate retail stores do you go to that have ZERO signage? Exactly! Hire a local sign company to make a “treat bar” sign. Hang it above your treat bar section. Pro Tip: Think carefully about the design and layout of your sign. You should use the same font, colors and themes for your future retail signage!


Now that you have all the important elements for your treat bar, create an “instruction station” for your clients. This area should include tongs, bags for product and simple instructions. Pro Tip: Type and laminate a “how-to” sign for your clients to increase your sales. These are known as “shelf talkers.” They act as unpaid assistants while you’re busy grooming and making those retail sales! Happy pet retailing!