Part One of better display cards. Can you boost your adoptions simply by changing you display card? Yes! Mike Arms discusses four easy changes to make that can help your pets find forever families:
3. Marketing age
4. Turning negatives into positives
We will discuss more tips to display cards next week.
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I walk into so many facilities and I see the cards that are on the cages; the kennel cards, let’s say dogs specifically.
Too many times I walk facilities and the first thing on the cage card is an identification number. Do you really think the public needs to know what the pet’s identification number is? Do we really want the public to perceive that these are jailhouse areas for pets because, you know yourselves, that’s what a lot of them look like. They are rows of kennels and it’s similar to being in jail.
The way to change that perception is make sure that your cage cards are informative and have salient points that the public really want to know. And understand what the public is thinking. Understand what the lay person is thinking.
The first thing should be, probably, the name of the pet and that is so important. We have to make sure we don’t put silly things on and give them names like “Killer” and “Trouble” and things like that that are a turn off because they think that matches the personality. So give them really good pet names.
The second thing is, they want to know the breed. Not everyone knows the breeds. And, I believe I mentioned this before, we at Helen Woodward Animal Center, do not have mixed breeds. We have blends. We’re with the times. We have terrier blends, shepherd blends, we took the same thing off of Starbucks where they have blends. Well, our pets are not mixed breeds, they’re blends.
The next thing that you want to do is make sure on the age, and this is very important in those areas where we have a shortage of puppies. It helps the animals if you go by months – up to 24 months. 18 months sounds better than a year and a half because once you start getting into years it’s older.
And when people come in and they want to adopt a puppy, but you don’t have any young puppies, then you say, “I have a six month old puppy.” Six months sounds very young. So you bring them to the areas where you have six month old puppies.
That kennel card is a very important key. Did you ever go out and shop for a car? And the first thing you do is go over and look in the window and you want to know what mileage you get, you want to know how many cylinders, you want to know x-x-x.
Well, that’s the same thing as looking at a cage card. People want to know if it’s house broken, if it’s good with children, if it’s a good family pet, does it have any medical problems, etc. It’s very, very, very important that you do not – Do Not – put negatives on that cage card.
You need to take positives and list them as positives, you need to take negatives and turn them into positives.
Examples: if we put on the cage card “good with adults,” what does it mean? You’re right. It’s not good with children. But if you put on there right away that it’s not good with children, they’re going to think, “Well, this is an aggressive animal…”
Let’s not do that. Let’s not take his chances away up front.
Don’t misunderstand anything I say, before the adopter leaves with the pet, they should know all the true history of that pet. You don’t keep surprises from them so find out by themselves.
What’s the most salient point when people adopt animals? The most important key to them is that it’s housebroken. They don’t want to go through all the trouble of housebreaking a puppy, that’s why they’re going to get an adult dog.
There is no way, absolutely no way, that we can guarantee that any dog is housebroken. When people surrender the animal, or relinquish the animal to us, we know they all tell us, “Yep, they’re all housebroken!” But then the unsuspecting adopter takes it home, we’re the ones that said it’s housebroken, and when it’s not, then we’re in trouble.
So, what I always do is put down that the pet is housebroken, but when we talk to the potential adopters we say, “Look. The pet has been here in a run or a cage for X amount of time – it’s broken it’s training. So, you’re going to have to re-train it, get it on your cycle, when you get up, when you go to bed, when you eat, and you have to start re-training the pet.”
But if you put down, you know it yourself, you put down ‘Not Housebroken’ it’s not going to get adopted. And if you put down ‘Housebroken’ you have to be able to guarantee it. But if you put down ‘Housebroken’ and tell the potential adopter, at point of adoption, that it has broken training, and you’re going to have to re-train it all over again, that’s acceptable to them. You will not have a problem. But you have to be clear about that.
If the dog is a jumper and jumps over fences, if you put that down on the card, again, you’re hurting the pet’s chances of getting adopted. So, a code for your staff, if it’s checked – “Likes to run” – that means if it jumps that fence, it will get away.
You have to engage the potential adopter to have an interest in that pet. So, the salient points that they want should be on that card, but you have to explain the potential problems with the pet.
(Part Two will be next week! We will continue on the topic of Adoptions Display Cards.)