Patrick Donston of Absolutely Fish at Aquatic Experience


The Aquatic Experience is excited to bring back popular speaker Patrick Donston, of Absolutely Fish, to the November 2014 show in Chicago.  Patrick will be presenting on “Hiring & Training Strategies Proven to Work“. Patrick will be sharing input on being a successful fish retailer and important strategies for retailers in the aquarium industry.  Per Donston,“Plenty of retailers are feeling the competitive squeeze these days.  Whether it is competition from internet sites, big box/grocery, fellow independents, or different industries, you have to fight tobe successful.” Patrick will provide tips to running a successful shop including:


~  Making training an integral part of managing staff.  Dedicatetime for training the staff each day and week, and make it a number one priority. The ultimate training program will show results, including an increase in customer counts and returns per engagement.Donston says; “one of the most underestimated best-business practices in relation to success is employee training and motivation”.


~  Employee hiring and on-boarding:

~  How to get the right people on the bus, and the wrong ones off.

 ~  Finding the right candidate to interview.

 ~  Good interviewing techniques.

 ~  Hiring and orientation.

 ~  Education on ornamental fish.

 ~  Motivation strategies.


~  Advanced training ideas.


~  Establishing a ‘C.W.O.C.E. Specialist’.  A ‘C.W.O.C.E. specialist’ is a staff member or members dedicated to ‘Connect with the Client Effectively’.  This person provides the store with a go-to resource for social media management; answering emails or forwarding them on to the appropriate person; returning phone calls and messages.  This person is key to a successfully run store.


~  Giving back and being a part of the community.  As a reference, Patrick will discuss last year’s contribution made to the Coral Reef Foundation and this year’s donation and work with the Great Bay Terrapin Project. A project to re-establishing fencing that was lost due to hurricanes for nesting Terrapins along coastal salt marshes and estuaries along the Atlantic Coast and Delaware Bay.


Patrick says his goal is to show how retailers should connect people to the aquatic ecosystems through inspiration and education, passing down knowledge from the fishroom to the consumer.A store’s best practice is to impart empathy and humility, and to help people connect with animals.   Patrick has worked within the Aquatics industry for the past 25 years as a retailer, in wholesale, and at an AZA accredited public aquarium. He presently owns and operates Absolutely Fish, a MAC certified facility.  He holds an MS degree in Zoology, specializing in Ichthyology. Noted for writing and publishing numerous articles on aquarium keeping and business best practices, he is a frequent speaker at industry events and aquarium societies around the US.