By Veronica Boutelle
Q: I’m at a turning point with my dog training business and just don’t know how to move forward. During lockdown I had to shift my services online and while it was daunting to begin with, I ended up really enjoying it.
It allowed me to spend more time at home and less time driving for hours in the car, and the results with clients were extremely positive.
I’ve started returning to ‘real life’ training and am already feeling exhausted.
Virtual vs. In-Person Training
A big part of me would love to run my business entirely online, but I’m worried people won’t want these services and I’ll lose clients and income.
I feel like I can provide a great online service, and my work during lockdown provided evidence of that, but it still feels like a scary leap to start saying no to those wanting in-person training options. Am I being unreasonable in wanting to maintain this new way of working?
We hear you – starting a new service or letting go of a way of working can definitely be unnerving! The good news is that you’ve already been able to test a version of the business you want to create, and experienced success.
If you think of your efforts during lockdown as a pilot, this is a great opportunity to start rolling out the full transition.
It sounds like you’re worried that running a dog training business without doing in-person training is ‘having your cake and eating it too.’
How to Retain Clients
In reality, you can absolutely attract and retain clients while running a business that suits your needs and preferences. In fact, our experience is that embracing a new approach (rather than trying to repurpose an old one) can enable a sense of freedom when it comes to designing services.
Rather than viewing your online training services as a less desirable alternative to in-person training, think of all the ways that it can be advantageous for your clients.
In fact, this could be a good opportunity to speak with some of the clients you have already worked with online.
What worked for them? What did they love? Are there areas of development or improvement they could steer you towards?
Hearing directly from those you’ve helped may also provide some reassurance and insight about forging ahead.
Some of our dog business clients had reservations about moving online over the past two years, and this has definitely been a key area of discussion for our THRIVE! members as well.
Some of our members couldn’t wait to get back to in-person training, and this continues to be the main focus of their business.
Others have been pleasantly surprised by how much can be achieved during online sessions, as well as the possibilities it opens up. Like you, they’ve also identified a lot of upsides.
Advantages of Online Dog Training
Running shorter but more frequent sessions can help keep training plans on track. Being able to demonstrate training techniques with your own dogs, either live or recorded, can help illustrate approaches more clearly.
For some dogs not having the distraction of a stranger in the home can improve focus, or reduce their overall stress levels. Online training can also mean you are able to reach and help a far greater number of dogs and humans. It’s all about finding what works for you and your clients.
From a dog owner perspective, online training has become normalized over the past few years. So not only do many people expect it, some in fact prefer it.
Making the Switch to Online Training
It may be helpful to write out the strengths you’ve witnessed while running your own business online. This will provide a great starting point as you take the plunge and start promoting your amazing online services.
Another way to approach this kind of transition involves creating a clear plan of attack, including some deadlines for when you’ll make the switch. It may be useful to assess your current services, including what percentage you currently run online and in person, as well as how much income each provides.
We always cheer on changes that allow you to keep loving what you do, and those transitions are usually easier when you can plan for potential shortfalls and know how long things may take. You’ve got this!
All our best,
The dogbiz team
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