If you’re like many dog trainers, dog walkers, dog daycares, and the like, you’re in near-constant search for clients.
It may seem an obvious statement on the surface, but one way to get more clients is to provide what potential clients need. This goes beyond “dog training” or “dog walking” or “dog daycare.” It goes beyond taking good care of their dogs (though of course you should!). Providing clients what they need is about understanding what drives someone, whether a dog lover, a car owner, a home owner, etc., to hire a service provider.
Usually people turn to professional service providers to solve a problem. We also seek convenience. I could probably figure out how to fix that leaky faucet, or I could read my auto manual and do my own oil change. But what I want isn’t just a solution. I also desire convenience. And then there’s the peace of mind of knowing that my problem—say filing my taxes—is being handled by a professional; that I don’t have to worry about things being done wrong. In short, services providers are supposed to make our lives easier.
Straightforward enough, but too often dog pros miss opportunities to better align their services with potential clients’ needs, making themselves less likely to be approached and hired.
Here are three ways to make yourself a more attractive option and get more clients:
1. Do it for them
Remember, busy people spending money to hire service providers are looking for a solution and for convenience. How can you offer more of both?
If you’re a dog trainer offering coaching services, or training people how to train their own dogs, you know how challenging it can be to sell training services. People want a well trained dog, but learning how to make that happen themselves does not fit the definition of a convenient solution. No one would hire a CPA to teach them to do their own taxes, or a lawyer to teach them how to represent themselves in court, or a plumber to teach them how to fix their own leaks. Day training, a service in which the trainer does the training and then transfers the results, is a far easier sell, making it easier to get clients. (It has many other benefits as well, including increased client compliance, better training outcomes, and improved and more consistent income to name just a few.)
Services like dog walking and dog daycare provide solutions and peace of mind for busy dog lovers struggling with long schedules and longer to-do lists. These are clients for whom convenience is paramount. Are you doing all you can to provide it? Pick-up and drop-off is a key place to look for daycares (and for boarders, too). Offering to do it yourself is one way to increase convenience. If that’s not feasible, make sure your pick-up and drop-off hours make it possible for clients to reach you in time with a minimum of stress.
Walkers and daycares can also add convenience service features, like monthly supply pick-ups or drop-offs coordinated with a local pet supply store, or settling dogs in with a stuffed Kong or safe puzzle toy post-walk to add additional mental stimulation for a truly relaxed dog in the evening. Walkers can also pop a Kong into the freezer for mom or dad to give to Fido in the morning to reduce the guilt of the morning routine and keep Fido gainfully occupied until her walk.
2. Make it inclusive
Solution, convenience, peace of mind. Make this your mantra. Everything you do should contribute to providing these for your clients. At its core, whether you train clients’ dogs, exercise them, or care for them, your job is to make clients’ lives easier while make dogs’ lives better. And that shouldn’t cost extra.
A la carte services are a common mistake in our industry. While they may seem like a good idea on paper in a business plan, they run contrary to the mantra of care for clients and their dogs. What message does a daycare or boarding facility send when they charge extra for exercise or play or treats or providing medication? Not one of solution, convenience, and peace of mind. A daycare’s job is to care for dogs during the day, and a boarding facility’s is to do so around the clock; everything that goes into doing so should be included. Rather than nickel-and-diming clients, and undermining your mantra message by telling people you’ll only provide comprehensive care if someone pays extra, raise your rates and set yourself apart with an all-inclusive message.
Dog trainers tend to include support services in their fees, features like written instructions, video lessons, and phone support. This is great, but do make sure you’ve set your rates to cover the work and time you put into these activities.
3. Focus on the client
Take a good look at the messaging on your website and other marketing materials. Your messaging should talk about what you do for dogs, and the benefit of those services for them, but not at the exclusion of your paying clients—the human ones. The core of your marketing message should be built around the mantra of solution, convenience, and peace of mind. Make sure your website and materials highlight the ways your service is designed to make human clients’ lives easier.
Here’s some more reading on crafting your marketing message, 5 Ways Dog Pros Get Their Marketing Message Wrong
These sorts of service adjustments and touches, plus a marketing message that displays your understanding of and empathy for clients’ needs, make you a better match for those needs. The result? You’ll stand out from the field, making attracting and getting clients easier.
For more ideas on how to add value to your services:
Look at the dogbiz University course Mastering Day Training