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How to Hire and Retain Pet Store Employees

We don't need to tell you that hiring the right pet store employees is difficult. In fact, retaining those employees once they are hired is even harder still.

Raise your hand if this sounds familiar:

You're short on staff, so you start getting the word out to friends, family, and neighbors that you're looking for a new employee. You might post on social media, pay for a job posting online, and put a sign in your window that says "Now Hiring."

After sifting through a seemingly endless supply of applications and interviewing potential new hires, you finally find someone who may be a good fit.

Everything's going well for the first month or two, but then things change. They start getting lazy and hang out behind the store counter until their shift is over. They're unmotivated, forgetful, and even disrespectful at times. After some time (if you haven't let them go by now) they end up quitting, and costing you more money than it was worth.

Why does this happen so often in retail, which employs more people than any other industry?

The answer is simple in statement: in order to retain employees in your pet store, better hiring and management practices must be put in place in your company. There's a reason why the adage, "you join a company, but you quit a manager" has become so popular: it's true.

Let's go over some of the basics for hiring and retaining pet store employees for your company.

The Hiring Process

As a pet specialty retail manager, you know this process well. At least, you know your version of the process well. But are you really doing all you can to capture just the right candidates for your store? When approaching the hiring process, it's a good idea to keep the following in mind:

Hire employees Who work hard

You can find this out by examining their past experiences (job, school, volunteering, etc.), asking behavioral questions, and even possibly putting them to the test during the interview.

Attract the right people

As hiring manager, it's your job to cast a wide net and attract people who are passionate about customer service, retail, and pets. This means you may have to go beyond the traditional method of displaying a "Now Hiring" sign in the window and asking people for referrals.

Be honest about your work culture

Do you like people to stay late after closing to clean up the store? Are you expecting every employee to go the extra mile and up-sell customers at the register? Being honest up front eliminates those who won't fit in with your company well, and narrows it down to those who will stick it out, even during the more challenging moments.

According to Joshua Spears, COO for Traitify, "Spend some time thinking about your culture and about the qualities needed to succeed in your workplace."


Don't hire immediately

We've seen it done before; hiring managers interview someone who seems great during the interview. They had all the right answers and it seems like it couldn't get any better, so they offer them the job on the spot.

While this does work out sometimes, in most situations it's best to have a cooling off period. Sleep on it for a day or two, and then ask yourself, "do I still think this candidate is a good fit?" If the answer is yes, then proceed to finish the hiring process.

The Training Process

Once you've hired the right candidate, it's time to train both their hard and soft skills to mold them to just the right fit for your company. Employee training is crucial because 40% of employees who are not properly trained are very likely to quit their jobs. This results in high turnover and even higher costs for your store.

So what does it mean to properly train pet store employees?

In a previous article, we talked about how proper education has been found to boost employee confidence, therefore increasing profits and decreasing turnover in your store. A few training tips include:

  • Taking advantage of your manufacturer or distributor sales reps by requesting supplemental information that your employees can refer to in store
  • Asking your rep to come in and hold a fun and interactive learning session (we know, many of these can get boring and monotonous, but I'm sure if you request it then maybe they'll do something more fun for you!)
    • Hint: To make sure the training is worth-while, consider requesting an agenda and a draft of the presentation they plan to give. This way you can make any suggestions to create a more interactive training session.
  • Enrolling your employees in online training sessions through programs like Pet Store Pro
  • Seeing if your rep has any webinars and other more interactive education materials
  • Turing it into a game! Participating in the events and competitions mentioned above will naturally and easily train your store associates, and once implemented, will already be built into your daily routines.


The art of customer service is also one of the most important elements to consider during the training process. According to Sabrina Son at TinyPulse, "the best retail training classes only release new employees to work with customers after they’re certain they’ve mastered the art of customer service."

Related Article: Why Employee Training is Crucial for Pet Stores

Keeping Them for the Long Haul

Once hiring and initial training has been completed, the care you put into this employee's education and happiness doesn't end. In fact, there are many factors to consider throughout the duration of their employment if you are looking to boost employee retention.

According to a study conducted by Career Builder, employees base their longevity on the following factors:

  • Career growth opportunities (including learning & development)
  • Exciting and challenging work
  • Work that is meaningful and makes a difference
  • Meeting great new people and being a part of a team
  • Having a boss to respect
  • Receiving recognition for work well done
  • Having autonomy or a sense of control over one's work

Your management style will also play a lot into the happiness of your employees. Your employees' happiness will play a great deal into your ability to retain them. Career Builder lists some of the attributes that successful managers portray, including:

  • Honest
  • Providing consistent feedback (positive and negative)
  • Respectful of others
  • Respectful of differences
  • Value diversity among employees

Does this sound like you? If not, you may want to re-evaluate your management style and decide how important it is for you to keep your employees around for an extended length of time.

Finally, you'll want to sit down with them at some point early on to create a road map of advancement. Many retail employees are found more likely to leave a job for a better opportunity, even if it doesn't necessarily mean better pay. If they know they have a better opportunity coming up at their current position, then they may be more willing to stick it out until that promotion happens for them. 


Hiring and retaining the right employees is one of the hardest parts of managing a pet store. Not only do they need to mesh well with your store's company culture, but they also need the passion for customer service and knowledge about the ins and outs of the pet industry.

Luckily, we're able to help with a part of that education. If you want to learn more about how our team of pet industry experts can educate yours, click below to request a free training session. 



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Ashley Hoffman is a freelance content marketer in the pet and design industries. Growing up in the pet industry, she has keen insight on market trends and a passion for helping small businesses grow. Her portfolio includes various topics from pet food trends to using technology and marketing strategies to boost pet business sales. When she's not writing articles or working her day job, she's playing with her two cats (Kitty and Chewbacca), reading a book, or hiking one of Washington's many trails.

Visit her: Website | LinkedIn | Instagram

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