Ep. 9 – Rachel Golub from San Diego Animal Training

Ep. 9 – Rachel Golub from San Diego Animal Training

Today we invited Rachel Golub, CDBC, CPDT-KA of San Diego Animal Training. Her and her husband juggle a flourishing animal training business with a boarding facility and two small children. We discuss how she does it, why she chose to open a facility, how she increases compliance with her clients, and more!

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Show Notes

Rachel Golub from San Diego Animal TrainingRachel was kind enough to share some tips for managing clients, children, and a business. It was incredibly helpful to learn about why she chose to pursue multiple certifications, refers clients out and receives clients from a powerful network of trainers in her area, and how she increases client compliance for her aggression cases.

The certifications that Rachel mentions are:

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10 Signs You’re Not Marketing Your Dog Training Business Wisely

10 Signs You’re Not Marketing Your Dog Training Business Wisely

marketing your dog training business wisely is key for longterm success

Mistakes You’re Making When Marketing Your Dog Training Business

1. You Pay for Yelp Ads

I’m pretty sure that every business owner in North America has received calls from Yelp to advertise. At first, its seems like a great option because potential customers often check Yelp reviews before calling you. For dog trainers, however, you’re better off spending your marketing budget on Google rather than Yelp.

From my experience, people visiting Yelp already have a trainer in mind and are looking at their reviews for confirmation. On Yelp, your ads may cost more and may not be as targeted as they could be on Google Adwords. Additionally, as Google has introduced their own review systems, Yelp has seen a decline in search rankings within Google.

Yelp is not to be neglected, however. Ensuring you have consistent, positive reviews will encourage potential customers who are doing their research to decide on your business to satisfy their needs. Always remind current and past clients to leave their reviews there or on your Google business page.

Recommended Reading: Why You Should Do Some Market Research Before Starting Your Dog Training Business

2. You Have a Website, But Don’t Know How It Performs in Google

This is common among dog trainers. We all know a website is important, but many don’t quite realize why they’re important. Your website isn’t just a place for potential customers to learn about you before hiring you. Your website is critical to your business’s success. A dog trainer’s website should have a professional feel and should work to get you new clients by getting indexed by Google, showing potential clients your expertise, demonstrating to clients how you can help them in their situation, and making it easy to reach out to you.

If your website is not connected to Google Analytics, you’re missing out on a lot of intelligence about how people navigate to and through your website. If you think you’re all set because you have a website, you’re missing the point of having one in the first place.

An established website should provide you with a wealth of information about your potential clients and is critical to long-term, consistent success as a dog trainer. Your website is one of the best ways prospective clients can find out about you.

3. You’re Considering Paying for Facebook Ads

There’s a right way and a wrong way to advertise on Facebook. If you’re looking to build awareness of your brand or an upcoming event, Facebook is a great way to promote those. However, if you’re trying to fill up a group class by the end of the month, you’re better off advertising on Google which is where people intend to make purchasing decisions.

4. You’re Hoping that Business Cards at a Local Shop Will Generate Interest

If you leave anything at a store in hopes to generate interest in your services, think about what the customer might be interested in reading about. Based on the visitor’s reason for visiting the store and the services you offer, make a flyer, brochure, or hand out that mixes the two together.

Let’s use a pet store for an example. Customers visiting the pet store are most likely there to purchase dog food or dog toys. In this instance, I’d recommend a handout on dog nutrition, best toys to keep dogs busy, or even the benefits of food puzzle toys for dogs. With a catchy title and engaging images, your handout will attract readers. The information you share will demonstrate your knowledge and you’ll have provided value to the reader. The goal is that the reader will think of you the next time they have a training related question. A simple business card just doesn’t cut it anymore.

5. Avoiding Google Adwords Because You’re Scared to Spend Too Much Money

importance of getting indexed by google for your dog training businessDon’t get me wrong, that is a legitimate concern. Google Adwords can easily take your money and run with it, but being scared of Adwords is not a good excuse. Many successful dog trainers, if not most, use Google Adwords to consistently fill their classes and schedule with new clients. Learning how to target audiences strategically can save you money and bring you new clients on a regular basis. It is definitely worth the time investment to learn how to use Google Adwords if you want to have a successful dog training business.

6. Your Website Doesn’t Have a Purpose or Goal

You know your website is where potential customers go to learn about you. However, have you thought about:

  • Is your website easy to navigate?
  • Can visitors easily contact you from every page?
  • Does your website load quickly on all devices?
  • Does your site acknowledge your visitor’s concerns, situation, or objections?

If you’ve forgotten to ask these questions, your website isn’t doing as well as it could be.

7. You’re Forgetting About Your Current or Past Customers

Current or past customers are your greatest resources. It is easier to market to current or past customers than finding new customers. If you don’t have an option for recurring services for your clients, you’re missing out on a huge opportunity and you’re leaving your clients hanging without continued support. Chances are you have several customers who would love an opportunity to continue working with you if you gave them the option.

Ideally, you’ll want to start an email newsletter to keep customers engaged and share new services. Additionally, you want to be top of their mind when their friends mention dog behavior struggles, right?

8. You’re Advertising, Not Marketing

Raise your hand if you like ads online, on TV, or on the radio.

Don’t interrupt people’s lives with pushy advertising. Enough said.

(Check out this eBook on Facebook Marketing Strategies to get the most out of that platform.)

9. You’re Not Demonstrating Your Expertise

A key component to marketing your dog training business is demonstrating your ability to satisfy customers. Testimonials and case studies with images and videos can be impactful. Watching a video testimonial can help someone who’s on the fence about calling you make the decision to reach out.

You can spend a great deal in marketing, but testimonials and case studies can truly seal the deal and help you get new clients. Detailed and structured case studies can be distributed along with other marketing materials to local veterinarians to demonstrate your professionalism and expertise.

10. You Don’t Realize Why People Hire Dog Trainers

What truly drives people to contact a dog trainer? Their dog’s behavior? Nope.

People reach out to dog trainers because their quality of life is suffering. They don’t want to give up on their dog, but they also know they don’t want to continue living the way they are now. Your messaging should address how you’re planning on relieving them of stress, anxiety, and improving their quality of life. It isn’t enough to spout out a message about positive dog training, you must make them confident in your ability to improve their current situation.

Digital Marketing Solutions for Dog Trainers

Digital marketing isn’t a gimmick. I work with professional and amateur dog trainers to bring their businesses up to speed with the goal of generating consistent income. As a dog trainer myself, I’ve experienced the ups and downs of seasonal clientele. I’ve learned digital marketing solutions the hard way and now I’m helping other dog trainers grow their businesses, too.

Let’s see how we can grow your dog training business to the next level. Whether you’re going from part-time to full-time or simply want to get new clients more consistently each month, you can benefit from a course I’m working on.

Check out the courses I’m producing to help dog trainers start and grow their businesses. 

New Year’s Resolutions For Dog Trainers

New Year’s Resolutions For Dog Trainers

Welcome 2016! Traditionally people begin thinking of their New Year’s Resolutions shortly after the start of the new year, maybe a week or two before. While there are the common, personal  New Year’s Resolutions – eat healthy, exercise more – what about your resolutions as a dog trainer? What have you resolved to do? How are you going to better yourself and your business this year? We are already half way through January and if you haven’t come up with any resolutions we’ve got you covered.

Image via Erin Bessey - Bessey's Positive Paws

Image via Erin Bessey – Bessey’s Positive Paws

10 New Year’s Resolutions

Increase Clientele

Review your clientele numbers for the last year or two. Then figure out how much you would like to grow this year and set a goal to increase those numbers for 2016.

Network More

Maybe you are just starting out in your business, perhaps you are well established, whichever you are make a point to reach out to others. We can fall into patterns easily and get comfortable there. You won’t be able to grow if you don’t push those comfort levels. Reach out to other trainers, veterinarians, groomers, boarding and daycare facilities. Those are the traditional places to network. What about thinking outside the box? Look to speaking with schools or children’s daycare. While this may seem odd, these places have great, continuous interactions with families. Families who like to share stories about their kids and the family pet. Maybe the daycare is run in a home and has a dog that is present. Putting your name out there and talking to some office people is all it would take. Your name could spread like wildfire because who else would think to make themselves known at a non dog-related business?

Earn Certifications

This is the year to get certified or get more memberships! Sign up for the test (if required) to commit yourself to becoming certified and then start studying. There’s no better way to set yourself apart from others than to have obtained a few certifications. Certification of Professional Dog Trainers, Karen Pryor Academy, International Association of Behavior Consultants are just a few to look into.

Raise The Rates

If it has been a number of years and you are still maintaining the initial starting rate it might be time to increase. The business is growing and it is important to stay competitive with the surrounding areas while being paid your worth.

Train Your Own Dog

As a trainer we get very fixated on our work. Why wouldn’t we? We love what we do, but because we are busy helping others train their dogs our personal pets often fall to the way side. Make one of your new year’s resolutions to teach your dog a new trick or activity.

Teach A New Class

If you haven’t given your classes a face lift in a while make it happen this year. Have you just updated the current class curriculum? Why not look into offering a new class.

Learn A New Skill

The dog training world is exploding with all kinds of training. If you are used to teaching basic behavior classes take the time, reach outside of your comfort zone and learn something new. If you have never done agility, find a class and try it out with your own dog or better yet, build your own equipment. Interested in doing a trick class? Teach your dog the trick first before offering it to others. You would accomplish two resolutions on your list doing it this way! Try any one of the following: Treiball, heel work, Rally-o, agility, dog sports, trick training, nose work, and the list goes on!

Read More Books

In order to learn a new skill it may require you to read a new book to accomplish that. Challenge yourself and read a book that you don’t necessarily agree with as far as training techniques. Exercise your mind and form opinions and arguments and be sure to be able to back up your position. How many dog training books did you read last year? Can you do better?

Set A Schedule

It can be tough setting a schedule and sticking to it. Dog trainers want to help owners and their dogs as much as they can and go to great lengths to do this. Making time when we wouldn’t otherwise be scheduling due to fear of losing a potential client isn’t always best. Being too flexible could indicate to clients business is slow. Avoid answering e-mails and phone calls at all hours. Instead have a shut off time where you are done work for the day. Set a schedule if you don’t have one and stick to it.

Make Time To Play

Make time for yourself! To avoid burn out you need to be sure to leave time for yourself to play. This is where setting a schedule as one of the new year’s resolutions will be helpful. Play might be considered learning a new skill or working with your own dog but be sure to leave time to do something for you. It’s okay to do that!

What new year’s resolutions have you made? Comment below and let us know.

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Three Ways To Build Your Client and Networking Base

Three Ways To Build Your Client and Networking Base

Three Ways To Build Your-min

Whether you are starting out or are well-established, keeping your business going is not always a walk in the park. There is so much to consider but perhaps the most central concern is that of getting your name out to the general public. There are several ways to do this, each with their own particular pros and cons. Your dog training business’s success will depend on your ability to be recognized. There is no better way to do this than by NETWORKING and ‘oh my gosh’ it can be daunting task. However, once you get past the initial shock of the concept, you’ll find that it’s actually quite easy.

Recommended Reading: Why You Should Do Some Market Research Before Starting Your Dog Training Business

Reaching Out To Fellow Dog Trainers

The way I started networking is what I have termed ‘going in cold’. I directly emailed nearby trainers (to the North, South and West of me) whose philosophies and training styles most resonated with me. I still remember the first email I sent asking to meet up for coffee or lunch. I regretted hitting the send button almost immediately! But my fears were quickly put to rest. I had failed to realize how warm and willing to help out a well-qualified and experienced dog trainer could be. Thank you John, Linda and Pat for replying to my random invite for coffee! That one little reply email was the stepping-stone for me to connect with other trainers and learn the ropes. It was free and best of all has led to the development of awesome friendships and professional contacts. Even more, the relationships I went out on a limb and created allowed me to learn about how I wanted certain aspects of my own business to be. They even led to my first referrals and clients.

Now the ‘going in cold’ networking method isn’t the only way to gain recognition. You can accomplish the same by going through a paid organization, specifically ones like your local Chamber of Commerce or private associations like Business Network International. They both will cost you up front but they do have the potential to drum up solid business leads and turn you into a permanent fixture in your local community.

Related: Check out our “Mastermind Meetups for Modern Dog Trainers” and request one in your area! 

Join Your Chamber Of Commerce

The most familiar of the two is the local Chamber of Commerce. They typically work to increase your business’s visibility by listing your company on their exclusive business directory. Basically a digital Rolodex accessible via the chamber’s website to help customers find relevant services. They also publish monthly, quarterly, and or annual newsletters that feature local business and community activities. Typically you pay a fee to advertise in them. This cost is independent of the membership price, which can either be a flat rate (typically $400 plus) or a scaled fee. The scaled rate is dependent on the size or type of business, e.g. professionals and large corporations being charged the highest. Most all Chamber of Commerce advertise that they will increase your business’s exposure and recognition. For the most part they do deliver on that promise as is documented by a 2012 research study conducted by the Schaprio Group. They determined that membership is seen as “an effective business strategy” by 59% of consumers. More important for dog trainers is how the study indicates that people will see your business as one that both employs “good business practices” and is “reputable” within the community.

The benefits of being a member are not just limited to customer’s perception or being listed in a directory. The hidden value extends from the meaningful face-to-face relationships you will create with local professionals. Through sponsored business mixers and social events (business conferences or luncheons) you will get to know the businesses in your area in person. It is at these events you can make contact with service providers that you, as a business owner, might be in need of–like a quality accountant, photographer, or pet friendly real estate agent. Before you take the leap, keep in mind that programs and service are not all the same. So check with your town’s local Chamber of Commerce for specifics at the US Chamber of Commerce Directory.

Become A Member Of BNI

Another well-known organization focused on improving business success by way of networking is Business Network International. BNI is based on the idea that “givers gain” and founded by Dr. Ivan R. Misner in 1985. Each chapter creates a concentrated environment for professionals and local business owners to interact and direct potential customers between them through word-of-mouth marketing. It is quite effective when utilized.

BNI will let you attend a local chapter before joining in order to get a better feel for what they offer. In my case, I attended a meeting that averaged about an hour in length. My sponsor (who invited me) asked that I have ready a 60 second bio about myself, my business, and what goals I have. While a 60 second introduction may feel like a trial by fire, it actually was a great icebreaker as chapter members have had the same experience at one point in their careers. There are some particular rules to be aware of when attending. For instance, each local chapter is limited to only one member of a particular profession/business. This means that there will be only one lawyer, one mechanic, or one dog trainer within the group; however there can be multiple chapters within a city. You can visit a group for FREE twice before deciding whether or not you want to join! Much like the Chamber of Commerce, you will get the chance to gain inside access to professional services that are needed by business owners. In the chapter I belong to I connected with a CPA and a professional photographer that will be a phenomenal help to my business. The carpet cleaning company is also in my sights 😉

In the end the possibilities are boundless when it comes to successful networking. Networking is about getting to know your neighbors and building relationships so you can both succeed. So however you get it done – it will certainly help you out in the long run. Where and how have you had the best experiences networking? Are you a member of any business organizations?

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5 Things To Consider Before Renting Space For Dog Training Classes

5 Things To Consider Before Renting Space For Dog Training Classes

Renting Space for Dog Training Classes

Should you make the leap to a permanent facility?

Whether you’re a veteran or just starting out, there’s no doubt you’ve dreamed of having your own dog training facility. You’ve imagined the space, the flooring, and the equipment surrounded by happy, smiling dogs and clients, but should you make the leap? Here’s 5 things to consider before you sign the lease.

Can you afford it?

Your name is on the lease, so you are responsible for the entire amount of the rental costs. If you’re planning on bringing in outside help, rent out a portion, or hold large events, all of that is in the future. Can you afford the rent if those things don’t pan out? Also note, a lot of leases include additional maintenance costs on top of the rent. These can be one annual payment at the end of the year or included in the monthly payments. Ask about additional costs, not just the amount of the rent.

Consider The Equipment

Sure, you can hold basic dog obedience classes on concrete in a barn, but that’s not why you’re getting your own space. The minute you decide to hold any type of sports training classes that include jumping you have to consider anti-fatigue flooring. Sporting equipment, tables and chairs, mats, barriers, and cleaning supplies will be needed before a client ever sets foot in the space. Don’t forget a sign. You’ll need a nice sign out front to let everyone know you’re there! Make a list and add it all up using an average cost from one Google search. Yes, you’ll find discounts and sales on some things, but you don’t want to count on being able to do that for every item.

Insure The Facility

Now that you’ve got the building and all your stuff, you need to insure it all. The building owner will have some requirements for the minimum coverage needed for you to get in the door. If you’re bringing in help or subcontractors you’re going to need liability for those people as well. You’re probably going to purchase your equipment in stages, but what if it all suddenly goes away in a fire? You’re going to need the coverage to get back up and running. The time to find out who pays for fixes from building breakage is before you sign the lease, not after. If a pipe bursts and ruins all your stuff who pays for it? Even if the building owner pays, how long will you be out of business while the repairs are being done? Take a look at insurance that covers loss of income should the unthinkable occur.

Will your city allow you to open?

Cities have zoning regulations so residential areas aren’t built right next to factories. Regulations say where certain businesses can and cannot open. Training businesses often fall between the cracks of zoning codes. You’re not exactly dog boarding and you’re definitely not a groomer, but sometimes cities put you in those zones because there isn’t a place for you. This means buildings you can consider are in a certain district and not necessarily where you want to be. One of your first phone calls should be to the City Planning department to find out where you can go. While you may be able get a conditional use permit for your perfect space, CUP’s require a lot of paperwork, time, and money to get. Plus, you also may be required to do some building upgrades as part of the conditions.

Will clients travel to you?

Sometimes what we can afford and where the city puts us isn’t exactly on Main Street. If you’ve found an old warehouse on the outskirts of town, will people drive to meet you? Sure, existing clients love you and may drive the extra 15 minutes to get to you, but what about people who don’t love you yet? When someone does a map search for your location will they think, “Oh heck no?” Will they drive it in evening traffic? Rain? You need a location people are willing to go to.

Consider these five places to hold group dog training classes before you decide to run your own facility.

Did we miss something? What else should be considered before signing a lease? Tell us in the comments!

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Should You Start Your Own Company Or Join Someone Else’s?

Should You Start Your Own Company Or Join Someone Else’s?

becoming a dog trainer

How To Choose Between Starting Your Own Business Or Becoming Someone’s Employee

When you are first starting out, it can be difficult to choose between starting your own dog training business or joining someone else’s. Ultimately, there are benefits to both.

Start Your Own Business

Many dog trainers choose to start their own business. Having your own business increases your revenue and lets you run the business how you see fit. However, having your own business also comes with more responsibility. You’ll need to purchase insurance, get the appropriate business licences, and maybe even start an LLC. The income isn’t always steady and you don’t have anyone to share the work load with. Fortunately, the job security is great because you are your own boss.

Starting your own business is the best way to make a decent wage as a trainer. It is more of a career path than an hourly or commission based job. However, there are some advantages to starting out with a regular job under someone else’s direction.

Get a Job

If you don’t know how to run a business, but are eager to get started training, getting a job is a great option. While working for someone else, you’ll be able to learn about how the administrative end of running a business looks like and you’ll be able to learn from the other trainers in the company. The down side is that you have less freedoms when it comes to working and you will have to survive off of commissions or hourly based pay. Many of the jobs that you will find are entry-level positions such as dog caretaker, kennel tech, or dog walker. Management level positions are quite rare. Getting a job is a great way to get a lot of experience under your belt. We’d like to encourage you to research companies that are willing to reimburse or fund continuing education or certifications.

If you are considering getting started as a dog trainer, check out DogTec’s free download, “Going to the Dogs?” There is some great information about what it takes to become a dog trainer.

Would you prefer to start your own business or join someone else’s company? 

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