Hosting a pet event in your local pet store is a great way to bring in people who may have never shopped with you before. Now is the time to host a “Photos with Santa” event as many pet parents love to see their beloved fur babies on Santa’s lap so they can send out Christmas cards with Santa and the pup.
How can you host a Photos with Santa event at your pet store that will help you stand out from the big box retailers and from other local competition? It’s all about the experience your customers have when they walk in the door and when they are standing in line.
Will you have a place for dogs who are anxious to get away from the crowd while still not losing their place in line? Let’s face it, many dogs aren’t accustomed to being surrounded by so many people and pets and they may panic. Have a “quiet room” to which the pet parent can retreat and calm her dog down. You will want to assure the pet parent that he or she will not lose a place in line – give tickets or numbered coupons to everyone who comes in then you can keep track of whose turn it is to sit with Santa.
What can you do to entertain pets and pet parents while they’re waiting. You’re hoping for a long line of pets and pet parents and you don’t want them getting frustrated because the dog in front of them is taking too long to get situated with Santa. Let’s face it, most people feel frazzled during the holidays and when you add a storeful of barking dogs to the mix you can see how anxious people will get.
How To Host A Successful "Pics With Santa" Event
- Have cookies and coffee available and offer them to the pet parents – aka potential long-term customers.
- Give the dogs treats (ask the pet parent first)
- Have some toys available for those dogs who simply can’t wait patiently in line. Let the dogs play tug of war or chew a toy until it’s their turn to see Santa
- Strike up a conversation with the pet parents in line. Tell them that you’re happy they are in your store. Ask if they’ve been there before. Ask for input on whether they’d come back again.
- Incentivize pet parents to tag your store while they are in line. Ask them to share their dog’s Santa photo on their Facebook page and tag you. Tell them, if they do that, and come back to the store to shop again they will get X off their next purchase.
Get a Santa who loves dogs.
Just as a store Santa should love children, you want to get a Santa who loves dogs. If he does, the dog will feel that emotion and just might relax even though they are sitting on the lap of a scary stranger who is dressed all in red!
Have a helper for the Santa. The helper can play with the dog before he gets to sit on Santa’s lap. This may calm the dog down and may make him more amenable to sitting with Santa and looking at the camera.
Speaking of photos. Urge pet parents to take their own photos BUT have a photographer on hand to take photos of all the pets. Once the event is over tell the pet parent they should stop back to pick up the framed photo you will have hanging around the store. You can also let them know that each framed photo will have a coupon code on the back that they can use for their next purchase.
Collect the names and addresses and email addresses of all the pet parents who attend. Ask for their dog’s name as well. Let them know you will add them to your newsletter list (you need their permission) and that you do occasional mailers and want to make sure they don’t miss out on your other instore events.
Pre-planning is key to a successful event. Share it on Facebook, hang flyers, send out a mailing or do an email newsletter to let everyone in the vicinity know you’re hosting this event. Ask customers to “bring a friend” and be entered into a drawing for a free gift for their fur baby.
Ask your staff to share information about the event with their friends and family. Take out an ad in a local paper. Having a successful event hinges on the pre-planning and on the care you take to nurture potential customers when they are on site.
What will you do t have a successful and fun Photos With Santa event? What have you done in the past that was a success?