At the end of the exercise the result of your dog training service should be pretty obvious to you and the dog owner in term of how much change you have been able to produce in the dog. If you are a good dog trainer this will only help to reaffirm your dog training skills that they are indeed ripe for you to start making money with it. But what you also need it the feedback you get from the dog owners regarding your training skills, what they have learned from you and more. You probably want to present them with a questionnaire at the end of the exercise but you should also be gathering the feedback as you work with the dog owner.
Like I have already stated, this may appear like an expensive venture but it is a solid business approach that is known to work although in this case with a mild twist. A lot of us have ended up buying into a service or purchasing a product both offline and online because we were given a trial and we like the product or service. This is the reason you must not give out the farm but you must stick around until you produce enough result and if the dog owner want you to continue then he will have to pay for that.
There are some benefits that you could get from this approach:
- The first benefit is the reason for doing this in the first place and that is the valuable feedback.
- You could end up convert the dog owner to a paying customer if your service is deemed to be good enough.
- You could get referral through him if your service is deemed to be good enough.
- The benefit of not been under pressure because you are not been paid for it.
- This process may just naturally kick start your dog training business; what better way to learn how to start a dog training business on your own?
Identifying the best location for your dog training business
You do not want to waste your time trying to sell meat to cattle farmers but rather spend your time trying to sell water to desert dwellers. It only make sense for you to research if there is enough demand for dog trainers in your location i.e. are there lots of dog owners in your location? If there are not enough dog owners in your location then you should research for areas where there is sufficient number of dog owners and probably relocate.
The reason you have to consider relocation is because it is easier to provide service in an area where you are located rather than traveling long distance every now and then. However a well established dog trainer is an exception to this rule; people will traverse long distance just to meet with a well known name and if you are not one of such at the moment then you may be better off relocating to a populated area with a large number of dogs and dog owners.
Researching on the competition
Now that you have identified one or more locations where there are lots of dog owners, the next thing you want to do is check out on the competition. Just because there are lots of dog owners and dogs in a particular location does not mean the demand for dog trainers will be high. If there are lots of dog trainers in that location then the demand for dog trainers may be low.
You will need to gather intelligence on the competition in the areas of target. Visit their location and try to find out long it takes to join their group and private classes; if you have to book several weeks in advance then there is probably a shortage of dog trainers in that location and it should be easier for you to carve out your own niche.
However if multiple dog trainers and dog training school are struggling to get clients this may indicate an over saturation of dog trainers but you do not want to stop your research of the competition at this point.
Your next line of action to lay hold on your writing materials, your laptop or pen and paper and classify the dog trainers in that location into 3 groups:
- The very successful dog trainers.
- The mid range dog trainers.
- The struggling dog trainers.
Now try and find out what are the differences among these 3 different groups of dog trainers. You want to check out stuffs like:
- What sort of training do they offer?
- How much do they charge?
- What is their customer service like?
- What are their marketing methods?
- Do they market both offline and online?
- How do they get most of their client?
- What are training methods that they employ both for the dogs and their owners?
- Are the most successful dog trainers providing the services on their own location or do they provide the services at the client location or both?
- Is there any sort of correlation between the most successful dog trainer business and the time of establishment (age) i.e. the most successful ones are the ones who have been around the longest? If you can find a link, then you should find out why?
- Are there services that you can provide that are not current being provided or can you improve on the services that are currently available?
These are some of the questions you must seek and provide answers to; the result of these findings will help you in deciding if the location will be right for you or not.
Marketing and networking
Marketing and networking is the soul of all successful businesses and a dog training business is no exception. If you are ever going to be successful then you must put in a lot in order to market your dog training business, some great ideas of how to go about marketing are these:
The internet is a huge market and it will be completely stupid to leave this out in your marketing strategy, and the starting point to marketing your business online is to have your own website through which you will be able to brand and market your business. It also provides an easy way for your client to get all the information they need about your business.
Online marketing is one of best and easiest way to announce your dog training business to your prospective customers and you want to make sure that you build a good looking website that is loaded with high quality content. Your website is your major online selling point and the overall quality of your website will either get you new customers or deny you of new prospects.
You should also employ the services of other online platforms such as:
- Facebook: create a facebook fan page and start marketing your dog business to get as many followers as possible; you can start with as little as $5. The more people you have following you regardless of their location the better for your business. You may get referrals from people who do not share location with you and also don’t forget to join dog training facebook groups and make yourself visible.
- Open a pinterest account and start pinning to your board and you should also join other pinterest board as well. The dog niche is huge on pinterest and it is perhaps the only social media platform that behaves like the search engines: it will continually supply your site with daily visitor once you get enough of your pins repined.
- Search engine marketing is the biggest of all online marketing for the simple reason that searches that arrive at your site are searching for answers or solution to a specific problem and if your site provides answers to those needs then they are more likely to take action. To get quality search engine visibility you have to get involve in search engine optimization (SEO), which may be challenging for a new comer but can always employ the services of SEO consultant if you are financially up to it.
- You can also market through the search engine using Google and/or Yahoo/Bing advertising but you have to be careful as a new coming to these sort of marketing otherwise you could get badly burnt.
- There other online platform you should try such as twitter, Google+ and instagram.
For your offline marketing you want to check out these channels:
- Local shelter for dogs is a good place to start getting the word out about your dog training business; make friends.
- Your friends and family: get in touch with your friends and family and ask them to help your spread the word about your business. Also ask them to follow you on the online social platforms and request that they help you spread the word out in their own social circles as well.
If you have a vehicle for your dog training business, then have it branded as veritable means of marketing your business.
Get into the network of pet sitters, dog walkers and vet clinics in order to get the word out to you potential clients and in return you may offer to refer your clients that require their services.
Pricing your dog training business
Possessing high quality dog training skills and updating these skills is very vital to your dog training business; however you need to know how not to short change yourself by under pricing and under charging for the services that you offer.
A very common mistake made by new startup companies and small businesses is to under price their worth, because they think that the easiest way to compete is to offer their services or goods at a lower price.
While it is largely true that offering your services as a business owner at a lower price than your competition will increase your chances of getting your share of the market, equally true is that you can make more money without under pricing your worth and still be able to attract lots of client and quite frankly much more than you would have imagined.
So how can you price your dog training business so that your charges truly reflect the value that you are adding to your clients? These strategies that I am about to lay out are not only dead simple to implement but are battle tested and have consistently returned great dividend.
At the risk of my mouth beginning to give off bad smell I will still repeat the same proviso that I have already made earlier on in this article: your ability to train dogs and your clients must be top priority and you must be able to deliver on your promises.
When you are making your decision on how much to charge, don’t focus on trying to provide your services at a price that is lower than your competition but rather focus on value of the services that you intend to offer.
You should be aware of the rate that your competitors charge but the primarily intention is not for you to be able to charge less. This should be used as a guide to help you in fixing your prices by not charging too low or too high neither am I suggesting that you should stay somewhere in the middle; if you are not yet getting my drift then read on.
Do not fix your prices on hourly basis or per lesson because of the following reasons:
- Your clients will find it difficult to focus on a specific end goal because there is very little you can truly achieve per lesson or hour.
- The moment they achieve the minimum result they are more likely going to end the training since staying on means more money for them.
- Since this sort of pricing scheme does not provide clear certainty it tends to put your clients under pressure.
The best approach for fixing your charges is to design program that will cater for different customers at different level of needs. Your dog training program is a package of dog training lesson and you attach a price that you think its worth, this is way using your competitors pricing to give you an idea.
Once you can design a few programs that cater for potential customer, you can always make slight alterations along with the pricing to meet some specific customer needs. With a well designed program you can easily charge what you are worth without under pricing your services since your customers have the option of going for the least package or program.
First and foremost do not fall into the trap of trying to create too many packages to cater for every conceivable client; this is more likely going work against you. If your prospects have too many programs to choose from they are more likely going to get confuse and that increases the chances that you may lose them. About 3 or 4 packages will be ideal in most cases and your potential customers are not likely to be overwhelmed by it.
The best way to design your packages is to build a group profile of your potential customers and fix each of them into one of the 3 or 4 group profiles with each group representing a program to offer that group.
When you offer your client the list of your programs never make the mistake of deciding for them because you could easily end up short changing yourself by offering them a package that you think will be appropriate for them but if you had let them make their own decision they may have chosen a different package that may be more rewarding for you.
With a well designed program you can charge what you are worth but if you get yourself trapped the price game with your competitors by trying to fix low prices, you run the risk of:
- By offering the lowest prices, you earn your name by being the cheapest in the market.
- It is more difficult to get the cooperation of customers who make very little investment when your charges are low; the quality of the students you produce will ultimately rub off on your dog training business. Remember that a good name equals branding which equals more customers and more money for you. You don’t want the name: the-go-to-person for cheap services.
- When you have customers who pay more it is a lot easier to get their commitment because they of the greater investment they are making which makes your work easier and the quality of students that you will produce is likely to be higher.
- As ridiculous as it may sound but the truth is that if you are offering truly high quality services for cheap some of your clients will be wondering if you are not over promising and if indeed you are capable of delivering on your promise because they were not expecting it to be so cheap.
- If you prices are so cheap you increase your chances of getting burned out because you will be handling more clients at a cheap rate compared to handling fewer clients at higher rates; more clients but less money.
This article has provided you with a broad outline of how to start a dog training business with some in depth details but you will still need to read and research widely and make sure that there are no loose ends. This will increase your chances of building a successful dog training business.