PetSmart Monticello awarded best in show

PetSmart Monticello employee Jesse Morrissette shows off a guinea pig from the store in front of an aquatic backdrop. Staff retention and training are two of many areas that make PetSmart Monticello stand out from the chain’s 1,600 other stores.  (Times staff photos by Clay Sawatzke)
PetSmart Monticello employee Jesse Morrissette shows off a guinea pig from the store in front of an aquatic backdrop. Staff retention and training are two of many areas that make PetSmart Monticello stand out from the chain’s 1,600 other stores. (Times staff photos by Clay Sawatzke)

Out of nearly 1,600 stores across the United States, Canada and Puerto Rico, only a select number of stores can make it to the coveted PetSmart Circle of Excellence.

A combination of multiple factors including sales, safety – of both animals and humans – and staff retention and training go into determining the top dogs of the company each year.

It is an honor Mike Olsen, store manager at the Monticello PetSmart, 1425 Seventh St. E, knows rather well.

For the third year in the store’s seven-year tenure in the community, the local pet supply retailer made it into the top 10 percent of all PetSmart stores in the company.

“It’s pretty exciting,” Olsen said. “Every week we are constantly going over the metrics and it’s nice to feel like one of the big dogs (in the company).”

The competition for this recognition was rather stiff.

“There are about 100 districts in the PetSmart company,” Olsen said. “We and the rest of Minnesota are in District 2 with roughly about 18 stores. And all of those stores perform really well. There were four stores in our district that received that honor: Fargo, North Dakota; Maplewood, Shakopee and us.”

Olsen said the Circle of Excellence awards are distributed at the end of the company’s fiscal year in February. The store found out about the honor in March.

As part of the award, the store is given funds from the corporate office in Phoenix, Arizona to host a staff recognition party.

“It’s a pretty big deal for our staff,” Olsen said.

Bearded dragons are one of just many varieties of pets available at the Monticello PetSmart, recently recognized as one of the top PetSmarts in the world for 2016.
Bearded dragons are one of just many varieties of pets available at the Monticello PetSmart, recently recognized as one of the top PetSmarts in the world for 2016.

Olsen said one of the keys to his store’s success is the balancing act his 31 employees do each and every shift.

“We have a lot of good people here,” he said. “Our focus is split between customer service and the basic tasks that have to be done. We use our time efficiently.”

Olsen and his staff pride themselves on becoming local experts in pet care. And with a growing list of new products – including breed specific food, gluten-free options and prescription food – it is his goal to make sure the Monticello PetSmart is a one-stop-shop for all things pet related.

“Pets have become like family for people,” he said.

And it is the Monticello PetSmart’s family of loyal customers that have helped contribute to the store’s success for nearly a decade.

“Our store has the hometown feel,” Olsen said. “They like having a local pet store. When we first opened people were so happy they didn’t have to travel to the cities or the Maple Grove, St. Cloud or Elk River to get their stuff.”

The Monticello PetSmart carries a vast array of products for birds, fish, reptiles, rabbits, cats and dogs. The company also specializes in pet training and grooming. The store partners with area organizations like Ruff Start Rescue to help animals find their forever home.

Vicki Ikeogu is a freelance reporter for the Monticello Times.