What Traits Pet Retailers Should Look for In Hiring New Employees

by Lisa Fimberg on November 16, 2020

Your store employees are typically the first person a customer meets when walking into your store.  With the Covid pandemic still looming, each walk-in customer is an even more important prospect.  These days, customers are no longer “window shopping” but are in store and ready to purchase.

Therefore, hiring the right employees can be especially important to your store, sales, and bottom line.  If your employees do not possess certain fundamental skills, it can be a disservice to your customers and your store.  Having trained and caring employees can win over customers and help increase sales.

Below are some fundamental traits and skills that you should look for in hiring a new employee:

Communication Skills:

Strong communication skills are the foundation to build any new customer relationship.  It is very important for your employees to have the ability to speak properly and professionally.   It is a reflection on both them and the store to not only communicate effectively, but to really listen to develop a rapport with a new or existing customer.

Active Listening:

A good sales employee should have the ability to focus and actively listen.  It is important that any new employee can be focused on the task at hand so they can help with your customer’s needs.  When you are interviewing any new hire, ask them questions and make sure they are answering your direct questions and are truly listening.  While they might be nervous, you can usually assess their attention span, how well they listen or if they seem distracted.


New employees in the pet retail industry may be part time or even looking to secure their first job out of school.  While they might not have a deep employment history, it can be helpful if your potential employee has shown loyalty or longevity in school or even a sport.

Belonging to a team or club shows not only loyalty, but the ability to stay with a sport, hobby, or club.  Loyalty can be a sign of someone who could potentially stay longer and grow with your store which can help reduce turnover.

Enthusiasm and passion:

Look for potential employees who are enthusiastic and passionate about what they do or what they might potentially do at your store.  If they are still in school, are they enthusiastic or passionate about their studies or even hobbies?  An enthusiastic, passionate, po-active employee not only helps with sales and customers but can help to improve the morale of the store.


When any customer walks into your store, they want to be met by an employee who is professional, yet empathetic.  A customer might arrive at your store, for example, to find the puppy they want has been sold and is extremely disappointed.  Where a defensive response (telling the customer that they could have put a deposit down to secure the puppy) could drive the customer elsewhere, an empathetic response (acknowledging the disappointment and trying to provide another option) could create a loyal customer.

Empathy is really listening to the customers questions or complaints, being understanding, and showing the initiative/attempt to make things better for the customer.  Empathy and kindness go a long way in winning over new or even existing customers.

Team player:

Whether you are a hiring a new inventory clerk, a salesperson or even middle management, the ability for the new hire to be a team player is crucial.  Does your potential hire have a track record of working with teams?  Or being part of any team or club?  Finding an employee that knows that their success is not just about them, but the entire team is important to any store or business.

Hiring the right employees can be crucial to any store or business.  Of course, you really do not know how any new employee will turn out until they start working at your store.  However, asking questions upfront to determine if the potential hire shows the fundamentals of the above-mentioned skills is a great start to hiring the best candidates.

If you are having a hard time finding the right employees, our Success Team (successteam@thirdpartypet.com) can help.  Our services can help your store get leads and offer support to take the burden off the in-store employees.

Lisa FimbergWhat Traits Pet Retailers Should Look for In Hiring New Employees