July 12, 2018 - 30 Years of Reciprocity and Counting

Frequently we discuss how the link between dedication, loyalty, and success is genuinely reciprocal in thriving companies. The harder employees work, the more employers invest in them, and the more they improve. The better employees get, the happier they become, and the more success they achieve. And when employees succeed, companies succeed, and then find themselves in a position to invest even more back into employees.

And so it goes. Reciprocity at its core.

But it doesn't stop there. Reciprocity includes customers. In fact, it can’t work without customers -- especially loyal customers. Successful companies don’t worry about the short-sighted quick sale. They take time to improve customers’ lives long term and, in return, customers support them. Our company focuses on improving our customers’ lives by improving the lives of their children and their pets. To support our mission, our customers keep their business local. That investment extends to our community outreach which makes a positive difference in Lawrence. This strong, Kansas, community supports us so we can then invest in our employees who then invest in our customers who are the very community that supports us.

Everyone wins.

Today is Pet World's 30 year anniversary. It's been 30 YEARS already! Hard to believe. In the year before the 2015 fire, after realizing Tim and I were answering more questions than asking, we had considered that perhaps it was time to step back a little and accept our roles as mentors in the spirit of reciprocity. Our small business thrives in the face of corporate and online competition and maybe other small businesses could use our help. We had a great staff in place and had just started branching out, expanding our online presence, publicly blogging, etc. when that God forsaken fire destroyed everything -- or so it seemed at the time. We had been repeatedly asked to mass market our staff training program, sell our store, expand Pet World, franchise, hit the public speaking circuit, offer seminars…you name it. Tim spent years coaching sports, he mentors other store owners and runs a successful multi-store buying cooperative, I teach and write, we've both been in management our entire lives, so it seemed logical to take it to the next level. But we weren't ready for retirement back then. Pet World was as successful as it had ever been and experiencing growth every year. Even now, we are reopened, thriving, and continuing to grow. It's been 30 years, after all, so it would make sense to retire, sell the store, and cash in, right? But here’s the thing -- for us, it’s not about money or popularity or rapid, financial gain. It never was. It’s about responsible stewardship. “From he whom much is given, much is expected.” Luke 12:48. We have even more to share now than before the fire so, while retirement is tempting, the right thing to do is share what we know while we're still here on top. Perhaps it’s financially unsound to offer up three decades of free entrepreneurial wisdom to anyone with an internet connection. Maybe the info is safer in a book we can sell than a website someone can easily copy. But, frankly, we’re not too concerned about the risk. Since 1988 we’ve been trying to do what is right regardless of cost and this philosophy hasn’t failed us yet. I don’t think it will now.

We’ve learned that life isn’t just about money and getting ahead at all cost. It’s about slow and steady growth, hard work, and active participation. It’s about being part of a team, something bigger than yourself. I'm not sure our society is consistently reinforcing the importance of good work ethic and I'm as concerned as the next guy about young adults subscribing to the fallacy that life is fair and easy. A false sense of entitlement concerns me as much as it concerns you and I'm aware of all the bad influence surrounding us. Our young employees see some of their friends under achieving, taking shortcuts to get ahead, trading principles and life skills for short sighted advancement. Plenty of businesses lack ethics and fail to understand the essence and importance of hard work and reciprocity. Shortcuts and scams seem to be the norm now. I get all that. And after our decision to share freely to help others, our store burned down. So much for karma, one might say. We could have walked away and no one would have blamed us. All the negativity and loss can really turn people off to perseverence and helping others. But that's exactly why we’ve decided to choose the high road of reciprocity again, finish what we started, and add mentorship into the mix at an all time high. Our hope is for young people to shape their life paths with big picture focus, understanding that life is as much about the process as it is the end goal. If we help others win, others help someone else win, and they help more people win, and in the end, all who participated win.

Reciprocity is about the trust, loyalty, hard work, and dedication of each person involved. It's about truly caring enough to improve each other's lives and our existence as a unit. Improve the parts; improve the whole. That’s how life works. It’s reciprocal. So maybe to some people the return of our owners blog seems like us giving away the farm. That’s okay. We know reading our free advice and actually implementing our philosophies are two very different things. Maybe some people think we should have cashed that insurance check, cut our losses, and hung it up after the fire instead of straining our marriage to the last possible fiber, stressing out our family, going into debt to rebuild bigger and better in record time, draining our savings to keep our staff employed, and bringing Pet World back to the community who loves and needs it. Yet others who really know us might be thinking it's about dang time we got back on track. As for us, we’re just being responsible stewards because that's really all we know how to be.

Our web site is outdated, we know. It took a big ol' back seat to real life. It's been three very long, incredibly difficult years of rebuilding our business and recovering our lives but, once again, we're ready to keep this train moving and pick up where we left off. Retirement is coming soon enough, but not just yet. There's still too much to do and so much more to come. We have to finish our transition to Rehoming Center and set the newest standard for the pet industry, yet again. We've got a dog wash to finally open. We've got aquarium maintenance to launch, canine training to offer, kids programs to expand...AGAIN... And wait 'til you see what Tim is working on with our Eco Tourism division coming soon. Who has time to retire? Our customer family has carried us this far so we're not stopping now. We will continue to grow and foster our reciprocal relationships for as long as you will let us and we'll offer nothing but support in return. That’s been the Pet World way since day one. And, 30 years or not, fire or no fire, we’re not about to change now.