Dog Business. How To Be
Successful in Your Pet Shop Business - Puppy Selling
The Puppy Man says,
"Nobody would buy this puppy. He is unsaleable."
Be Kind To Pets Community Education:
Written by Dr Kong Y Sing.
are definitely a good puppy salesman as you sold 7 Miniature Schnauzers
out of 8 puppies in
7 days, " I said to Puppy
Man, a new pet shop operator in Singapore's greenest and richest leafy
residential Cluny Park Estate.
Parents usually bring their children to buy puppies during the mid-year
school break. The government announced that Singapore was in an
economic recovery stage. But several pet shops including retailers
of other trades complained of zero or poor sales in June 2004. "Where are all the customers?"
many pet shop operators asked me when I visited them to vaccinate their
I guessed, "The parents could have gone
overseas for holidays. The low cost budget airlines made travel very
cheap. As low as S$40.00 from Singapore to Bangkok."
Yet, Puppy Man
was doing a roaring business just selling a sole product - the Miniature
Schnauzer puppies. He was selling them like hot cakes. He did not sell any other canine breed, rabbits, hamsters or pets.
A Schnauzer specialist.
"Any pet shop operator would have sold those seven Schnauzers with
one eye closed. They
were of high quality and had the standard colours of black and silver or salt and pepper," I challenged him as I
looked at the eighth Miniature Schnauzer. He was
sleeping in the new stainless steel cage.
I said, "This brown and silver Schnauzer helps you to sell your 7 puppies
Puppy Man rolled his eyes skywards. He looked at the strip of "Doggy Man pet-food" paper advert
flyer hanging from a string attached to the ceiling air conditioner
cassette swaying side to side.
He must have thought: "What does a veterinarian know about pet shop operations
and puppy sales?"
I should curry his
favour by telling him how wonderful and great a salesman he was. No.
1 in Singapore. The best salesman in the world!
Flattery usually make people feel good. Flattery will bring in more referral
cases from Puppy Man. But would it be the right thing to do? Just to make
him happy so as to get more puppy vaccinations and treatment from him?
Puppy Man appeared moody as he fingered the white collar of his "Puppy
Man" T-shirt and looked at his toes. He wore brown slippers to work. He
told me he used to wear business suits and pants when he was in sales in
But now in Singapore, he wore slippers, collared T-shirt and brown pants
to work. I guessed he did not need to impress anybody. No more polished
shoes and ties for him nowadays. No need to give good first impressions
I sat beside the sulky Puppy Man on the 2-seater sofa he put near the
front of his shop. I said, "When a prospective buyer sees this unusual coloured Schnauzer amongst
the standard colours, they know instinctively what they want."
Puppy Man fingered the sole white 2-cm whisker lingering from the skin of his upper lip, left
He did not understand what I was talking about.
I elaborated, "The buyers have
had seen what they don't want when they see this brown and silver Miniature
Schnauzer. They think this brown and silver Schnauzer
is a cross. They compare him to the 7 standard coloured ones. No problem
deciding who to buy."
Puppy Man clicked his lighter for another cigarette. I said, "In
short, this brown and
silver Schnauzer helped you
sell the other 7 puppies much faster!"
First day at the pet
shop. The brown ears and legs of the Schnauzer distinguished him from his
salt and pepper coloured sibling.
Did my explanation sound logical? Puppy Man could understand
and speak English. He was fluent in Mandarin and many buyers
appreciated him speaking to them in Mandarin.
He folded his arms and exhaled the bluish smoke. I guessed he expected compliments on his successful sales of 7
puppies in such a short time.
How could I not congratulate him on his excellent
track record of sales and cast
doubt on his salesmanship?
It was extremely difficult
for new shop operators to sell one puppy a month in May & June
2004. I knew the economic situation as I did my rounds of a few
pet shops and breeders doing puppy vaccination.
Puppy Man was really good at puppy sales because nobody could have
sold 7 puppies so fast at that time.
But his performance was not good enough for me.
As long as this brown and silver Schnauzer was not sold, he was not a top
salesman to me.
I presumed Puppy Man had been to
night clubs in his younger days as a successful business man. He would have needed to
entertain clients at night clubs.
"If you see a wall
flower amongst 8 dance hostesses, who would you choose to dance
with?" I asked. "Would you dance with the plain-looking
Puppy Man smiled. A stupid question did not merit his reply.
"Looks are everything, even in puppy buying,"
I elaborated. "If you are really good at sales, sell the brown
and silver Schnauzer before it grows up to be not so cute. If you
can sell him, you can sell ice to Eskimos!"
Puppy Man frowned. He puffed on the Marlboro cigarette and blew
two blue smoke rings curling up towards the ceiling. He said, "This brown and silver Schnauzer is not
He knew he had a flair for
sales. His friend had quietly told me he was mentioned in a
magazine as "No. 1 salesman in Asia Pacific" when I asked why he would
start a one-breed puppy pet shop in Singapore, against all conventional
thinking and business advices. All doggy people think he is a whacko
foreigner and bound to close down shop soon.
Puppy Man would not lose money as he
had sold the other 7 puppies at higher prices. All he needed to do
was to sell this last pup below cost. He said to me, "I have no
buyers even when I give steep
Miniature Schnauzers sell at a higher price than the non-whites
as they are relatively uncommon..
There was not even a ridiculously low offer for
this last Schnauzer.
I worried that his negative mental attitude would not help the
puppy find a new home soon. I feel responsible for this little
He was amongst 8 puppies from 2 professional dog breeders sold
to Puppy Man at the same time, based on my recommendations.
Puppy Man came from Taiwan. He had just started a pet shop. He was a
foreigner. I called him "Puppy Man" because he could "talk" to the
He looked at them when they misbehaved. He winked his eyes,
clicked his right thumb and fore finger 3 times. The puppy would
stop barking or misbehaving and looked at him.
That power was
acquired from an old master of puppies living in Taiwan's tallest
mountains before he came to Singapore. This would be another story.
Now he had started a pet shop in Singapore As he was a
foreigner, he did not have contacts with breeders.
He needed help to buy Miniature Schnauzers for sale. Such breeds
were not in great supply in Singapore. So, I introduced breeders to
supply puppies to him. I transported the puppies to his shop.
I felt responsible for this
discriminated puppy in the cage. I did not know that colours are
so important when selling Miniature
Puppy Man would take him out of the cage to let prospective
buyers see him. He always bounced up
to the prospective buyers. He rushed to them, looked at them. Bit their shoe
laces or toes. As if he was saying, "Give me a home."
Not all puppies are that pro-active in marketing themselves. Yet,
nobody wanted to buy him.
He had big round eyes. He was not toyish (small toy sized). He
was not rangy (long-limbed and
long-bodied). He was not coarse (hair type rough and thick).
He did not have big erect ears. These are the breed specifications
of a Miniature Schnauzer. Because of his brown coloured coat,
he was not sold.
Now, he had been in the pet shop for 7 days. The new school term
had started, so there were fewer parents bringing their children to
Singaporeans love to buy very young puppies. Less than 12 weeks old.
These puppies sell for a higher price. Puppies over than 3 months
old seldom find buyers.
The veterinary regulators prohibit puppies older than 6 months from
being displayed for sale at pet shops.
Puppy Man would re-stocking soon. The younger puppies would be
sold. He would grow bigger and not so cute. So, he would be left on
This salt and
pepper Miniature Schnauzer was one of the
8 that was sold out
I kept asking Puppy Man about this puppy almost every day.
Sometimes by phone. Sometimes I drove to his pet shop to check him
"Can't you sell him at low prices? Below cost?"
Schnauzer is not saleable," Puppy Man declared. "Nobody is interested in him.
Nobody even counter offer a price."
I was surprised when he said that. I did not expect him to develop a negative mental attitude.
He was featured in a magazine survey as one of the top
salesman in Taiwan.
Another 3 days passed. I actually hoped that Puppy Man
had no new stock of puppies. I stopped telling him who had puppies
for sale. I did not bring breeder's puppies for him. This was
to give the brown and silver Schnauzer a better chance of finding a
Believe it or not, two prospective
buyers sauntered into the pet shop on a quiet Sunday. They wanted to buy
this naughty puppy. Was the Puppy Man using his magical power to
ask this puppy to behave and tug the heart strings of the two
buyers? I do not know.
Now that there were two buyers.
Would Puppy Man initiate a bidding war?
Would he auction for a higher price? There was a risk of losing 2 prospects
although there was a chance of getting a higher selling price? Would
Puppy Man do that?
No. The Schnauzer
was sold within 30 minutes. The first buyer wanted Puppy Man to
keep the puppy for him for 30 days. Puppy Man was not
agreeable. Therefore he sold to the other buyer who could take the puppy
Was it beginner's luck for Puppy Man? Now, he had sold all 8
puppies within 14 days.
I was happy. Yet I had another worry for this Schnauzer.
Would this puppy be taken for a veterinary health check?
Would the veterinary surgeon then comment
that this puppy was a "cross-breed"? The buyer would be
most angry at being sold a cross-bred and return the puppy.
There was no DNA test in Singapore to confirm he was a pedigree. Even if
there was such a blood test to determine the genetic origin of this
puppy, it would cost a bomb (expensive).
Maybe, this Schnauzer would not be sent for a veterinary check up. I
kept my fingers crossed. 3 days passed. No news is good news.
I asked Puppy Man whether the new owners were happy with the puppy.
He said that they were happy with such an intelligent puppy.
However a school teacher told the buyer's
children that their Schnauzer was a mongrel.
The buyer was
upset and confronted him for misrepresentation.
"Did they return the puppy?" I asked Puppy Man.
"Did the buyer complain to the pet shop
licensing body - the Agri-Food
and Veterinary Authority?" I asked Puppy Man before he could reply.
"Did the buyer complain to the Consumer Association of Singapore?"
Many Singaporeans are asserting their rights and the authorities do
attend to all public complaints.
"No," Puppy Man laughed at me as another 3 rings of
cigarette smoke from his lips twirl into the air. "The buyer
accepted my explanation that the puppy was from a litter of four
As a veterinary
surgeon, I did not think that this brown and silver Miniature Schnauzer would be considered a
cross breed by prospective buyers when I asked Puppy Man to accept him.
He was from a batch of 4 miniature
Schnauzers from the same dam.
Later on, I saw this brown and silver Miniature Schnauzer when
Puppy Man brought him and a sibling to my
surgery for the booster vaccination. His coat was more orange
or red, as you can see from the pictures. He had large round eyes, sandy brown eye lashes.
He wore a shiny orange reddish brown coat. Look at his
eyes and his handsome face
No doubt, he was a heart breaker. If he was human, he would be a
heart breaker of ladies. Just like Puppy Man.
The brown and silver
Schnauzer (right) with his sibling at the veterinary
for the third vaccination.
He had all the characteristics of a Miniature Schnauzer including his body
conformation, ear shape, ear position, neck and eyes. He was a photogenic puppy if he could
As for Puppy Man, he always smiled and felt very
high spirited whenever I asked him about the fate of this puppy in the
family who doted on him.
I had said that if he could sell the brown and silver
Schnauzer, he could sell ice to Eskimos. I think he would be able
to do that.
seemed that the Lady Luck smiled on him as he continued to
sell as many as 5 Schnauzer puppies in a day in September. At least 50
puppies were sold in the following month. His problem was the
insufficient supply of high quality Miniature Schnauzers to meet the
the 200 Singapore pet shop operators had great difficulty
selling 5 puppies in a month.
It was hard
to believe that a theme pet shop selling just Schnauzers and no
other animal could be that successful, but it was true in 2004.
Did the God of
Fortune favour the brave? Puppy Man was bold enough to start up
the sole Schnauzer selling pet shop in Singapore. His
associates in the pet business predicted he would
close down in one year. Many pet shops were closing down within a
year at that time. Yet he was prospering.
However, you can bet your last dollar that Puppy Man
would never accept any odd-coloured Schnauzer puppies from me.
The brown and silver Miniature Schnauzer had caused him before-sales de-motivation and after-sales
aggravations! His marketing prowess on the puppy sales
area was never in doubt.