One of our favorite things about our THRIVE! program is the inventive flow of ideas that members generate for their businesses. Whether it’s services, ways of working, products or packages, we love witnessing these innovations.
The best new endeavors usually have a clear purpose and help to enhance the client experience, as well as making your life easier and more enjoyable. Rather than change for change’s sake, think about the ideas that really excite you or solve a problem. Even if you’re currently content with what you have going on, it can be useful (and fun!) to keep a list of ‘maybe one day’ ideas as your business evolves.
Here are a few that we’re loving right now:
1. Training in the ‘real world’
As we dog pros know, behavior doesn’t occur in a vacuum. The environment plays a massive role in how dogs and humans respond, as well as their ability to take in information and learn. Navigating triggers, unpredictable settings and novelty can be tough, especially for dog lovers with anxious or reactive dogs. Being able to support and teach dogs in low distraction environments is vital, but at some point the training wheels need to be eased off.
Offering service options in real world settings can help set these dogs up for success. It can also instill their humans with confidence to tackle new situations. There are loads of compelling opportunities for this, such as socialization excursions for puppies, hiking expeditions in the woods and busy city walks. Running these sessions in small groups can help foster a sense of community among your clients. You can also incorporate useful life skills, such as hanging out calmly at a cafe or waiting in line at a market.
2. Launch a membership program
Membership models are a fast growing area across multiple industries, and the dog industry is no exception. A membership model is where individuals pay a recurring fee (which could be weekly, monthly or annually) to access a product or service, often referred to as a subscription. Some models are ongoing, such as a reactive dogs support program, while others may be limited to a set period of time, such as a puppy raising program.
Membership models can be attractive to clients as they are usually parting with smaller amounts of money over time, which can be less intimidating financially. It’s also advantageous for you – recurring payments create more predictability, and allow you to retain clients over a longer period. Retaining clients enables you to help them for longer and avoid that sense of pressure to find fast solutions to complex problems. There’s also loads of room for creativity, from weekly tutorials and video libraries to set tasks and challenges and in-person events. Getting started with a membership model can require a fair amount of planning, but once it’s up and running things tend to become more automated over time.
3. Add enrichment to your dog walking service
One trend in the dog world that continues to have a positive impact on the lives of dogs is enrichment. These days many dog lovers have become aware of the positive impact appropriate enrichment can have, and brain games and scent work are more commonly understood concepts. If you provide services while the humans aren’t there, such as dog walking and day training, why not add an enrichment element? This could involve scent games during or following a walk, as well as leaving the dog with a safe activity such as a stuffed Kong to help them relax post-session. This is a great add-on for puppies and senior dogs who may not be able to go out for long periods, too.
4. Mix your medias
Packages were a big focus for those in THRIVE! last month. Packages allow you to tailor experiences for clients and get more buy in from the get go. When designing packages, don’t feel limited to one type of service. Learning can be cemented in a multitude of ways, including online, in person, classes and by providing the right tools and products. Perhaps your puppy clients would benefit from a self-paced online course which they can engage with between sessions. Or maybe your reactive dog package would be enhanced via a book or webinar on body language prior to the first in-person consultation. An adolescent dog package could include a monthly troubleshooting session, bringing together clients who are dealing with teenage hooligans at the same time.
5. Create a premium offering through collaboration
We love hearing about collaborations at dogbiz – in our experience the best way to spread R+ approaches is together. Teaming up with colleagues in your area can provide new opportunities for services. It also allows you to connect with like-minded individuals and feel less isolated in your work. Perhaps you’re a dog walker who runs trail walks, and you have a client who would love their dog to attend but is worried their off lead skills aren’t up to par. Teaming up with a trainer who can get them ‘trail ready’ ensures the safety and enjoyment of the dogs, as well as providing a great service pathway for clients.
Do you have a service idea you’re working towards or can’t wait to try? We’d love to hear about it!