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Newsletter #739: The “Take Care of the Pets” Issue

{Welcome back to the Damn, I Wish I Thought of That Email Newsletter. This is text of the great issue all of our email subscribers just received. Sign yourself up using the handy form on the left.}

We’re a nation of pet lovers: According to a 2005-2006 study by the American Pet Products Manufacturers Association, 63 percent of U.S. households own at least one pet. Here’s how to take care of them (and their owners):

1> On the menu
2> On loyalty
3> On the outside
4> Check it out:

1> On the menu

If you allow dogs in your store or restaurant, why not take it a step further by putting something for them on the menu? Chef Eric May of Charcuterie — located in Sierra Madre, CA — created a special menu for the town’s second largest species of inhabitants: Dogs. In addition to the restaurant’s traditional lineup of sandwiches and pasta, they also offer special dishes and portion sizes for any pets that may be looking for a meal.

The Lesson: If you’re opening your doors to pets, why not offer them a few special dishes or products?

2> On loyalty

If you’d like pets (and their owners) to keep coming back, try extending your loyalty programs to your four-legged customers. Red Lion Hotels recently launched a special loyalty program that awards pets 500 points for each stay that can be redeemed for pets-only gifts. And while their rewards program is fairly high-tech and involves a point system, yours could be as simple as a punch card or a series of coupons that frequent visitors and their pets can use toward future visits.

The Lesson: Keep pet lovers coming back with special incentives and rewards for regular visits.

Learn More: Red Lion Hotels

3> On the outside

For some businesses, allowing pets on the premises is understandably not an option or isn’t applicable — but that doesn’t mean you can’t offer something special with pet owners in mind. Chicago’s Shirts On Sheffield, a designer clothing retailer, leaves a couple bowls of water and dog biscuits outside the store. Even though pet owners can’t bring animals inside, locals often make an effort to swing by the store during their walks. If a storefront isn’t applicable, other options include sending treats with mail orders (because even if they don’t own a pet, they’ll know someone who does), or equipping your service reps with a few pet toys for house calls.

The Lesson: Don’t let a “no pets” policy get in the way of doing something remarkable for the roughly two-thirds of your customers who own animals.

4> Check it out:

If you’re a pet lover that likes to travel with your animal, try com to find pet-friendly lodging throughout the country. The site also offers insight into airline pet policies, as well as some tips on traveling with your animal.

Check it out:

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  1. Alexandra Gibson July 10, 2009 at 10:34 am #

    As someone who does not yet have children, I can really understand how treating a customer’s pets like VIPs can be one of the best ways to his or her heart. When I was at Vanderbilt, my mom usually stayed across the street at the Lowes Vanderbilt when she visited. I still remember how the hotel was not only pet friendly, but they made the pet experience a memorable one (gift bag for the pet upon entering the room, pet menu, nice Lowes dog bowls to take home, etc.).
    So, I suppose the lesson here is treat your customers pets (and children!) even better than you treat your customers; those customers will reward you for it.

  2. Amanda Butterworth July 10, 2009 at 11:05 am #

    I currently live in Arlington, VA and there are many great places to eat in this city. There are not, however, a great number of pet-friendly places. Whitlows on Wilson ( is incredibly friendly and the waitstaff always makes sure to come by with a water bowl for my dog. It made such an impression on me the first time I brought him there that I made sure to tell all of my dog-owning friends!

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