Sharp communication and efficient systems are key to running a successful dog training business. Luckily, dog trainers now have a host of options when it comes to automating their work, allowing for slicker scheduling, onboarding, marketing, and client support. While it can feel easier and more comfortable to stick to old systems, the pay off for automating parts of your business can be huge (yep, even for those who don’t consider themselves tech savvy).
Here are some reasons you may want to add ‘set and forget’ systems to your dog training business, and how to approach it.
Your time is your most valuable resource
The old adage ‘time is money’ rings particularly true when it comes to running your own business. Your time is one of the most important resources you have. It’s also finite – once it’s gone, it can’t be replaced. The more effectively you use your time, the more profitable your business and the more dogs and people you are able to help. Plus the more you have for yourself and your own dogs, too!
Running a dog training business, especially on your own, can be intense. You’d probably prefer to be out sharing your dog training and behavior expertise, rather than dealing with marketing, bookkeeping, and endless back-and-forth emails with prospective clients and sending homework reminders to existing ones.
In an industry with high rates of burnout, protecting your time is key to maintaining a healthy work-life balance. It allows you to get the down time you need to do your best work.
Automation makes for happy clients!
A common concern around automation is that it may feel a bit impersonal, especially when it comes to communicating with clients. It can also feel daunting to trust new systems and technologies with parts of your business you have lots of control over, such as scheduling and training plans. It can be helpful to step back and consider the overall client journey, including the ways automation may benefit them.
Automation often means clients can more easily access your business, such as booking appointments at any time of day rather than during your business hours (which also relieves you of the ‘24/7 availability’ pressure that can emerge when running a dog training business). It also tends to result in faster response times, meaning clients are more likely to book in with you rather than wait to hear from other trainers they have approached.
Once clients are on board, automation can help you become a better coach and cheerleader. So often we don’t check in, guide, and motivate clients the way we’d like because there just isn’t time. By automating homework reminders, training tips, and behavior plans, we’re able to offer a much better service without spending extra time at our desks.
Another big benefit of automation is lowering the risk of mistakes. When you’re rushing around between clients and tackling emails on the go, it’s so easy to accidentally confirm the wrong appointment time, or forget to send that follow up email. Automation can relieve you of some of that mental load, and keep your business looking professional.
I’m ready to automate! Now what?
Once you’ve decided you want to streamline areas of your business, what’s the best way to approach it? With so many systems and tools out there, how do you choose the right one for you?
Step one to adding automation into your business is identifying your pain points. What gives you the biggest headache? What do you tend to put off and avoid? What do you wish you had more time for? Spend a week jotting down how long tasks are actually taking you (we tend to underestimate this!) and use it to reflect on the areas that would really benefit from some streamlining.
Nowadays, there are automation software options for almost all areas of business. A big one for many dog trainers is scheduling and onboarding. A good scheduling system will allow you to easily outline your availability and create bespoke appointment types for your clients, including packages and online payment options. Many also provide automated reminder emails and texts, as well as contracts which can be signed online. They often include templates and areas which can be personalized, so it still feels like ‘you’. Training plans and client homework can also be automated, whether through scheduled email delivery, interactive documents or access to video libraries and resources.
Love manually reconciling your finances and doing your taxes? If not, you may want to consider automating some of these tasks! An online system which allows you to easily input your income and expenses, and provides great tracking data, is hugely valuable for small businesses. If you generally outsource some of this work (also a great idea if you can), it can also make sharing information with your accountant a lot simpler.
Another valuable area of automation is marketing. From email campaigns, social media scheduling, design, and newsletters, there are lots of ‘all in one’ options that remove the hassle of maintaining a marketing plan. Not only this, but they also provide valuable reporting so you can see what really works. There’s nothing worse than pouring all your time and energy into marketing efforts if they aren’t attracting new clients or keeping current ones coming back for more.
Ask for help
If you’re still unsure about which systems are perfect for you, ask your colleagues! Our THRIVE! members often request and recommend different options for automation, and many of these have free trials so you can check them out before you commit. Automation is becoming increasingly sophisticated, and while previously dog trainers had to bend general automation software to fit their needs, there are now systems designed specifically for those in the industry. At dogbiz we love Clicks!* for its ease of use, dog training specific automations, and comprehensive customer support.
*We love and believe in Clicks! so much that we are now an affiliate partner. Discover more and take advantage of their special offer for THRIVE! members.