We often hear: “It’s all about the animals,” but really, it’s not all about the animals. As CEO of a Humane Society, I’m immediately suspicious during any job interview when an interviewee states that they, “love animals more than people.”
It hasn’t always been that way for me. When I started working in this field, our ideal shelter worker was someone who LOVED animals so much that nothing else mattered. Over the years, however, as our competition becomes greater for adoptions and donations, we’ve learned that we need people to make the world a better place for the animals.
Animals can’t feed themselves, drive to the vet, spay or neuter each other – they need people. A recent PetSmart Charities study shows that less than 20 percent of people who obtained a pet did so from a shelter. We can gain a larger market share by simply recognizing the public (not animals) as our customer base and by providing memorable experiences with our agencies, so our customers spread the word about our organization.
Great pet parents are not born – they’re created. And we’re in the perfect place to help make that happen. Howard Behar, former president of Starbucks, mastered the art of the customer experience by taking a $.50 product and providing a $5.00 experience. He knew it wasn’t about the coffee. When we start to recognize that our work is about the people, we’ll raise more money, adopt more animals, spay and neuter more pets, and ultimately, save more animals’ lives. That’s why we got into this business in the first place, right?
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