Hello everyone! I am an assistant manager at a pet store, and have been working in them for the last nine years. It’s something that I really love, and I try my hardest every day to educate pet parents and help their animals. While I recognize that I am not a vet, I try to stay abreast on animal care and nutrition to answer questions as best as I can.
That being said, I can’t tell you the amount of times I’ve heard on forums or even in the store about “that pet store employee” who told me the wrong thing, who wasn’t educated, who did not know what they were talking about. I don’t think I’ve ever been that person, but I can never be sure.
My questions are, what do you wish your local pet store knew? How do you wish they could better help you? Have you ever been impressed by the knowledge of a pet store employee? Have you ever been completely unimpressed by their lack of knowledge?
Completely depends on the store. PetSmart and PetCo have barely been able to answer simple questions I’ve had, and I don’t ask anything crazy (arrogantly, I assume I know more than most of their floor staff so I don’t ask anything about manufacturing or other more difficult details-not necessarily right of me to assume) but things like “Kibble Size” shouldn’t be too off the wall.
As far as smaller stores-I do expect them to be able to answer manufacturing questions and the like, I don’t need much help, but certain things like that, kibble size, consistency of wet foods (that one really bugs me, when they cant answer me about chunky, shredded, pate, etc for cat foods) so having that information is good for staff to be able to answer. My biggest pet peeve is when they have outdated information about something. Again, this is usually me overhearing them speak to others, but it is hard for me to not jump in when it comes to outdated manufacturing knowledge, people who talk about protein levels incorrectly, comments about what is and isn’t good for dentals…
So again, depends what kind of store you work in, but up to date knowledge, and being able to answer questions about ingredients and style of the food-that’s all id be looking for if I didn’t already know the answers to
For me too there is a distinction between big box stores like PetCo, PetSmart, PetSupermarket, and PetLand, and small, “boutique”-type stores. My expectations also differ between the 2 categories, similarly to aquariangt’s.
From big box stores I actually would like some knowledge on food rotation and not encouraging customers to stick with ONE food for the lifetime of their pet. Also, to piggy-back off of aquariangt, I feel like they have poor knowledge of different foods’ kibble sizes is because employees themselves stick with one food only so they don’t get to experience what other foods’ size or consistency is like. Knowledge on when their “natural” cow ears, etc. have been chemically treated (bleached) would also be helpful – Bruno got sick on a “natural, non-treated cow ear from PetCo that smelled so chemical and I should’ve trusted my gut than to give it to him… He had like 1/4-1/3 of the ear and vomited it up. Never again have I shopped for natural chews from big box stores. Antlers and healthier chews like bully sticks are severely overpriced also.
Boutique stores – I also hope for up-to-date, more detailed knowledge about manufacturers and ingredients/ingredient sourcing would be much appreciated (I have gotten conflicting info from 2 separate stores on where NVI sources their rabbit from), as well as good knowledge on adequate healthy supplements for whatever issue the client comes in with. Not vet-level knowledge, obviously, but good product knowledge on whatever the store carries, and what it can be used for.
I think that’s about it. Overall, I am pretty happy with the knowledge level of the boutique associates that I have encountered.
The store I get most of my dog food/supplies at what is kind of a local chain. They have stores all throughout California, but they do have much more knowledgeable staff than Petsmart or Petco, and are also selective about which foods they carry. All of the staff that I’ve interacted with there are extremely friendly, and they usually give good, honest, advice too. There are only two pieces of advice that they give that drive my crazy: “Stick with one food” and, for some of them, “choke chains are good.” The second one isn’t all the staff, just some of them, and I think an associate did once mention to me that she did rotational feeding, but those are the two things I’ve heard that I really have any problem with. They always seem to recommend meat-based, high-protien, foods and don’t carry most low-quality brands. So, the store is kind of a mix between a big box store and a boutique store.
One thing that I always like to see in pet store staff is inquiring about the person’s specific case, instead of giving the same advice in all situations. Not only will the advice be better, but the customer will feel more valued.
I have been at PetCo, overhearing employees talking about dog food. I have yet to find one who knows what they’re talking about. I did correct an employee who told someone tht Freshpet is raw. It’s not raw, its cooked then cooled’
We have a local pet store who has mostly teenagers to early 20’s employees. They don’t know much. I overheard someone saying ‘corn is fine for allergies” & I butted in.
I wish all employees were trained but who’s going to train them? I haven’t met many managers who really knew about dog food either.
I do frequent some boutique pet stores & they DO know.
This is all really excellent! I appreciate everyone’s input.
I think I have been lucky in that I have had managers and worked in stores that dedicated significant time to training their employees. One store I worked at had great relationships with food reps, so we got news and info about their foods as it was happening. For example, when I found out that Nature’s Variety was changing their frozen raw to distinct dog and cat formulas, I went immediately to a raw feeding Facebook group and told everyone. No one believed me cause it hadn’t come into stores yet! But I had a good chuckle when it did start integrating into stores.
Have there been other instances where you needed to correct store employees? Or when you spoke to the customers after the employees helped them and helped them instead?
I agree with all the very sensible statements made by the other members, I would only add that what i really can’t stand is when they try to give an answer to a question even if they don’t have a clue on what i ask! We all know that there are a lot of things to know about pets, and I would really prefer an answer like “I am sorry, I am not sure about it, i you want i’ll get back to you as soon as I find it out!”
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