In July, we were excited to launch of our Voice of the Associate Listening Tours. This initiative is an essential part of our strategy to ensure we hear the concerns and ideas of associates at all levels, explore associate career development goals and happiness at work, and raise associate awareness of benefits and company changes.
The Listening Tours also enable leadership teams to learn about the associate work experience and identify opportunities for improvements. These insights will help us continue to enrich Life At PetSmart.
We’ve completed 20 sessions to date, connecting with Store, Field, Distribution Centers and Phoenix Home Office associates. So far, more than 300 associates have participated and shared their feedback on how we can make PetSmart an even better place to work. Here’s a snapshot of what we heard and what we’re doing.
What We Heard
With 20 sessions under our belt, we’ve already received a lot of invaluable comments and ideas from associates. Reviewing this feedback, we’ve identified many root causes of challenges facing associates.
As we move forward, we are prioritizing these areas for improvement. That means investing in more effective routines, improving training protocols, and exploring new technology solutions — including communication technology that ensures associates are getting key messages from leadership.
Commitments to Action
We are committed to moving quickly to address concerns and seize opportunities. We’re only a few months into our tours, but we’ve already taken action on some of the feedback, and we’ve committed to making many more improvements going forward.
In our listening sessions, associates also shared frustrations related to our POS technology. We’re happy to report that the POS upgrade is underway, including work on touchscreens, a returns management system, and mobile enhancements. As we make this transition, we’re ensuring our associates have a say in the changes we’re implementing. Testing will begin in the first quarter of 2023, and we’re on track to complete the upgrades by the third quarter of 2023.
A quick win that came directly from listening to our associates was to stop accepting traveler’s checks. An associate in Atlanta alerted us that they regularly hit the button on the register by mistake, locking up the whole front-end and causing frustration to both associates and Pet Parents. We’re happy to report that the traveler’s check button is no longer an issue. We’ve also extended the timeout of logins for store devices, which will help associates using these systems save time.
Early next year, we’ll introduce a new mobile-first communication platform. This will allow associates to review schedules, stay up to date on company news, communicate with leadership, and more. We’re excited to transform the way we communicate and interact with each other.
We’re also working on streamlining inventory management. Earlier this year, we implemented automated inventory management to support our Omni strategy. We are currently testing different frequencies for the hardgoods pick process and are looking to bring all inventory management reporting to one spot. Store Operations and Supply Chain are partnering closely to test more narrow delivery windows for our carriers, as well as spread out days between delivery for stores that receive two deliveries a week.
We were already planning upgrades to PRISM for PetsHotels, but associate feedback has ensured we make this a high priority. We are working on a simplified experience for store and Service Reservation Center associates, and we will be supporting online booking for our pet parents. This is a phased approach tentatively beginning in the second quarter of 2023.
There are more initiatives in the works as well, and we’ll continue sharing regular updates with associates.
Commitments to Further Research
Along with the changes already in motion, we’re exploring other opportunities to address associate feedback. We have a long list of initiatives that require additional research in order to build a better understanding of potential solutions.
One key area is professional development. We’re actively working to improve store associate onboarding and training, as well as refining development for store leaders. We’re thinking through our career development strategy across all segments of the business.
We’re also looking at potential process and technology improvements, such as timeout of logins for store devices, adjustments to delivery days, customer solutions, and systems for pet care habitats.
As we learn more, we’ll be adding high-priority improvements to our longer-term roadmap.
While we can’t fix everything at once, we are committed to continuous improvement. Voice of the Associate isn’t an isolated project, and there is no finish line. This is a journey—something associates will see as an integral part of our culture going forward. We’ll continue to gather feedback, respond to what we hear, and make meaningful changes that contribute to our associates having an awesome work experience.
If you have feedback and ideas you’d like to share, we’d love to hear from you! Please email us to let us know your thoughts.