How to Hire the Best Receptionist for Your Pet Supplies Store

Samir Sampat

In the business of retail, having someone on the front lines is always essential. Today, you might not have a brick-and-mortar pet store, per se, or even if you do, you might need a little more help with the solutions that you have in place for it. That includes having a receptionist on hand to be the one that greets your visitors and delivers the level of service that they demand. 

And today’s audience is more demanding than ever. People have been given the Internet and have quickly become accustomed to its ways. They now have instant access to a wealth of information, and they can get answers at the drop of a hat—if your business can’t provide that same level of service, it’s only a matter of time before people go elsewhere.


Must love animals


Even if your receptionists aren’t cuddling with kittens on a daily basis, you don’t want to hire people to represent your pet business who aren’t animal lovers. After all, they will not have the same passion for the industry and knowledge to assist your audience. Even if they don’t have experience, per se, in the pet industry, their love of animals or desire to work in an industry with them is going to make a big difference. 

You wouldn’t hire someone who hates children to field phone calls for your daycare business because they would not provide the right image. The same concept applies to your pet supply business. People who enjoy animals are more likely to be passionate about helping your callers and your business in general. 


Why a receptionist? 


Put simply, it’s an essential. Today’s business needs more than just the people who are working in the business. Your staff already has tasks that require their attention. They have duties throughout the day and may not be able to get to customers as quickly as the customer would like. With a receptionist, you’ll have a friendly face to greet people in any format, from calls to website chats and even social media, if you want. 

A receptionist can increase your leads and lead quality. They can also help you by offering:

  • Dedicated attention to all calls, messages, social media inquiries, and more
  • More time for you to spend with customers or working on other parts of your business
  • More organized, streamlined front desk operations and administrative duties
  • A professional face for your business that’s always available when customers need 
  • Increased communications and improved engagement with customers and visitors
  • More reliable processes and fewer tasks on your plate to get them in place 
  • Reduced business expenses because you have a person dedicated to the front lines
  • Increased reliability and dependability for visitor and consumer communications 

Receptionists are dedicated to communications and admin tasks. Why wouldn’t you hire one to help your pet store business, no matter how you operate? You can search for days and find endless lists of benefits to hiring a receptionist. 

How much more appreciative will your callers be, though, when they get a live person to answer the phone rather than going through some automated maze of options? Sometimes, pet owners just have a quick question or concern and don’t have time to play the phone tree game. Others might just feel more appreciated when a real person is there to help them. When you hire a receptionist, that person doesn’t have to be you. 


How much will a receptionist cost?


Depending on how you hire, you’ll probably spend between $11 and $14 per hour for a receptionist. Of course, if you hire a third-party service or contractor, you likely won’t pay hourly rates. This is more for those who hire an in-house employee. Do you need one? We’ll talk about that in a minute. First, though, let’s talk about the numbers. If you hire an hourly employee, the rate above is what you can expect. However, you will also have to consider onboarding costs, training, overhead, and other expenses. 

Did you know it costs about $4,000 to hire a single employee in the U.S.? For some pet stores, that’s just another day at the office. For others, it might be far too much of an investment to make. That’s where contracting or hiring a freelance receptionist can come in handy. Usually, these professionals are available at a fraction of the cost of what you’d spend on an hourly employee. 

Not only that, but they often offer more dynamic solutions for a lower price. You can even create custom receptionist strategies with an outsourced company that are designed for your budgetary concerns as much as for your communications and admin needs. If you choose to hire in-house and get someone with more experience, expect the hourly rate to go up. 

And of course, you can’t forget to consider whether you’re going to need to pay for benefits and other expenses—this is often where most people realize contracting could be the better and more affordable option at the present moment. 


Freelance vs. full-time help


The next decision on your list (because we already know that you need a receptionist) is to choose whether you’re going to hire a freelance receptionist or actually hire an employee that is part of your payroll. The latter isn’t always necessary, nor feasible, for every business. Here’s what you need to consider. 

  • How much time do you have to hire, train, and manage an employee? If you don’t have much, it might be better to outsource to a solution that’s self-managed and that delivers everything that you need. Third-party services can be a great way to get more for your money and get a more hands-off approach if you are limited on time and resources in your business.
  • Do you need a full-time employee? Some newer companies or smaller brands might not even need to have a receptionist on hand at all times. In some cases, you might have a regular staff to handle things during business hours, and you just want a receptionist for additional support or after-hours needs. These are all things to think about. 
  • Can you afford to hire someone? In addition to salary, there’s overhead and all the other costs of having an employee. For some pet supply businesses, it might not be in the budget. That’s where outsourcing can come in handy because you can get all the solutions that you need for a fraction of what you’d spend on an employee. 
  • Do you want better talent for your money? In many cases, you can get better talent when you outsource as opposed to hiring an in-house receptionist. Dynamic solutions are a better choice for the modern business, so make sure that outsourcing is on your list. 

These are just a few things to consider when you’re trying to determine where to source your receptionist. Feel free to add any other concerns you might have so that you cover everything and get the ideal solution. 


The benefits of having a receptionist 


The value of a receptionist far exceeds any cost that you pay for hiring or outsourcing this position. There are endless ways that this role could benefit your business. For starters, you will be able to distribute the workload easily and ensure that everyone is getting the right calls and messages. You’ll also know that your admin tasks and front desk are taken care of, no matter what you might be tending to. Having a receptionist affords you the chance to:

  • Give customers a professional impression first and always
  • Deliver a higher level of service that is more befitting of your brand
  • Free up your time for projects and clients
  • Streamline and improve productivity on the front end
  • Increase efficiency and reduce waste
  • Improve communications and administrative duties in your pet supply business

These are just a few ways that a receptionist can make a big impact on your pet store. Ultimately, it’s going to give you the right people for the right tasks and give you the chance to grow because you can focus more on your business and less on the daily to-do’s that eat up so much valuable time. 


Qualities to look for in your receptionist 


When it comes to getting a good receptionist, the qualities and assets that they offer should be the first thing that you consider. Experience is good and hard skills like technical competency and software competency are valuable, but those can also be taught over time so they may not be as pressing. If you want to ensure that you hire the right receptionist, no matter how you source them, look for things like:

  • Friendly, personable demeanor
  • Problem solving and critical thinking skills
  • The ability to multitask and switch gears easily
  • Communication skills 
  • Active listening skills
  • Adaptable and flexible attitudes
  • Someone who is teachable 
  • Detail-oriented and organized
  • Emotional intelligence
  • Motivated and independent

As you’ll notice, there’s not a lot of hard skills in here that receptionists will generally need for the job. That’s because those are often inherent, and if not, they can be taught. Things like the qualities on this list are not easy to teach. If you find receptionists that offer all of this and the hard skills like phone and software competency, you’ll be winning in more ways than one. 


FAQs: Hiring a receptionist for your pet supplies business 


In order to wrap things up, let’s look at some of the common questions and answers people have about hiring a receptionist, both in the retail industry and in general. This should help you finalize your decisions and figure out how to move forward with your hiring needs. 


Does my receptionist need animal or pet experience?

Although it could be helpful, industry expertise is not required for your receptionist. This is the kind of stuff that they can learn as they go. The hard skills and personality, such as communications skills and a professional demeanor, go a long way for someone in this position. You can educate people on the pet industry and your company specifically, but you can’t teach someone how to be a good listener or a friendly face. 


What kind of budget should I expect for a receptionist?

This isn’t something that you can really quote, per se. As mentioned above, you’ll spend $11-$14 per hour for an employee, but that could vary based on things like location and experience. Typically, contract services or freelance receptionists will cost a fraction of what hiring an employee would, but you’ll have to investigate, get quotes for services, and find out what works best for you. 


Do I really need to hire a receptionist?

If you’re asking this question, the answer is probably yes. There is rarely a case where someone goes looking into hiring help only to realize that they don’t need it. Even if you have someone acting as the physical face of your pet store, you might also need someone to handle the virtual communications and tasks on a daily basis. In any case, yes, a receptionist is a role that every business really needs. 


What’s a virtual receptionist? Is it better?

A virtual receptionist is someone who can deliver all the same services as an in-house receptionist, but from a remote location. They typically work through the cloud and can integrate with your software to deliver powerful solutions for a fraction of the cost of an employee. They are skilled in receptionist and admin duties and know how to make the best of communications on the Internet today, which is often what makes them a great choice. 


Speaking of virtual receptionists, get the best solutions for your pet supplies store when you partner with Smith.ai


You’re in the business of pets, not managing the front office. That’s why you need to find the right people to support your business along the way. When your pet store wants more from its receptionist solutions, consider partnering with the dedicated agents at Smith.ai. Our 24/7 receptionists can handle all kinds of communications and admin needs and we’re available around the clock so that your pet store never misses a thing.

Smith.ai can help you create a custom solution for your receptionist needs and then deliver on every single aspect of it, from after-hours answering and live chat to payment collection, scheduling and intake, and so much more. We’ll even help you put together a strategy to manage it all with ease. 

To learn more, schedule a consultation to discuss how the 24/7 virtual receptionists at Smith.ai can revolutionize your interior pet supplies store’s admin and communications. You can also find us at hello@smith.ai or (650) 727-6484. 


Samir Sampat

Samir Sampat is a Marketing and Events Associate with Smith.ai. He has experience working with businesses of all sizes focusing on marketing, communications, and business development.

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