Increasing the profitability of your dog training business is important.

But no one wants to find themselves working harder and harder every day to increase that bottom line. Life needs some balance!

If you run your own business, you’re already spending hours connecting with new people, building courses, managing your business, and helping your clients and their dogs overcome their own unique challenges. You may love your career helping dogs and their people, but that doesn’t mean you want a schedule that’s packed so tight you begin to dread rather than love your job. So how do you keep your profit margin growing?

We’ve got six revenue-generating tips that can run on their own momentum once you have them in place. Why not pick just two tips from our list and see the difference they make in your business this year?

1. Develop your brand personality

Your brand is how people see your business, its mission and its services. Clients who agree with and value what your brand has to say are more likely to trust you, follow your recommendations, and have a great training experience. They often turn into loyal followers and may return to use your services again. They comment on social media about how your business changed their dog’s life, and recommend you to their friends and family.

So, your first tip is to take a look at your website and social channels. Do they accurately share your positive dog training philosophy? Can pet guardians who visit your website and social channels quickly learn who you are, what services you offer, and how you are different from other dog trainers? Do the images and graphics you are using help connect you with the specific people you are trying to reach? For example, if one of your most popular classes is your puppy kindergarten, you’ll want puppy parents to feel safe and welcome when they land on your site. If you’re focusing on fitness classes and dog sports, your website may need a more active, outdoorsy feel. Don’t spend extra time fielding questions from every person looking for a trainer, when you can save time by connecting with just the pet parents who are a good match for the services you offer. You want your brand to connect with your ideal client. Ideal clients make your work more enjoyable, and even increase your customer base through referrals…for free!

2. Take advantage of tech

Technology can reduce the time you spend running your business, leaving more hours for the revenue-generating dog training work you love. Some apps have a free option. But even those that require a monthly or yearly fee usually pay for themselves by saving you time and catching costly errors.

    • Scheduling apps designed specifically for pet businesses offer easy-to-use portals where clients can sign up for your training sessions. Some apps include automatic invoicing, client messaging, and more. There are a lot of options out there, so ask for a demo and check testimonials from other dog trainers before purchasing. If the app was designed specifically for pet groomers or another pet business type, it may not have all of the options you need as a dog trainer. Here’s one list of pet business apps.
    • Productivity apps like Trello, Pagico, Slack and others help tame projects and to-do lists. If you have a team of trainers, a social media marketer, a virtual assistant, etc., a productivity app can help you all collaborate virtually and keep your email inbox from turning into a time-sucking black hole. You can assign and track tasks, provide updates, share and store files, prioritize tasks, and set up chat windows organized by team or project. Many productivity apps are free, up to a certain service level, and can be synced between mobile and desktop devices.
    • Accounting software teaches that math monster to heel. It’s hard to believe that QuickBooks has been around since the 1980s, and some pet professionals are still wrestling with paper and a calculator! If you haven’t yet made the leap, check out some options here. Accounting programs can track expenses, scan receipts, prevent expensive errors, help file tax returns (we can all use some help there). Some programs even help track your mileage via GPS.

3. Join affiliate or referral programs

Some online shopping portals or businesses who sell pet products are happy to pay you money when you share information about their products with your audience. As an affiliate, you host links to the merchant’s product on your website, social media feed, or newsletter, and you are paid a commission when visitors click on a product link or make a verified purchase.

You don’t need to sell your website’s soul with distracting popups or blaring video. We’ve all encountered that before! Instead, choose products that you truly believe will help your clients and their pets. You can generate affiliate income with an attractive ad, a descriptive blog post, or a short blurb about the product in your newsletter.

Simply Google “affiliate programs for pet products,” then jump down below the sponsored ads You’ll find lots of articles featuring pet-related affiliate programs.

4. Add passive and recurring income opportunities

There are only so many hours available for live online or in-person dog training sessions, right? But all of your income doesn’t have to be constrained by time. You can add passive income products that provide continuing revenue or reduce your costs long after they’ve been built. Here are a couple of ideas:

  • You can build an online store of your preferred training and enrichment equipment, point new clients there when they register for dog training, and deliver their purchases to their first class.
  • Do you have a fun and creative side? Use a print-on-demand service to create dog-themed t-shirts and other products to include in your online store.
  • If you own or rent classroom space, consider renting or subletting it to another business when it’s not in use.
  • Create a library of video training courses, or write a training eBook packed with valuable information. By offering video or written guidance at an affordable fee for busy dog guardians, you’ll have a competitive advantage over other trainers who only offer live expertise. Pet parents who are impressed by one of your video training modules may also decide that face-to-face training with you will definitely be worth the investment.

Passive income products provide additional revenue you can count on, and you’ll have more free time to hang out with your own friends, family, and pets.

5. Focus on customer loyalty

Did you know that ninety-two percent of consumers say they trust word-of-mouth recommendations from friends and family more than any other form of advertising?  According to a Nielsen study, that’s an increase of 18% since 2007.

Here’s a pop quiz where you can score 100% on: What is one of your most valuable forms of marketing?

It’s the trusting and positive relationship you forge with your clients, to help ensure that they will tell others about the knowledgeable way you helped them and their dog. Here are a few ways to keep that relationship going strong:

  • Engage on social media. When a client chimes in with a comment on your social feed, be sure to respond positively and quickly answer any questions they have, so they know you really value them.
  • Do you wonder how your clients really feel about that new class they just took from you? Send them off a short, clear survey via email, and let them know how valuable their feedback is. If their responses result in changes to your business – let them know!
  • Create a bonus or discount for their return business. Find other meaningful ways to create regular connections that provide a personal VIP experience, like sending a note or card to acknowledge their dog’s birthday, or in sympathy on the passing of a pet.
  • Ask your most loyal clients to help infuse your website with trust by providing a featured testimonial.

6. Invest in your dog training expertise

When you are relaxed, knowledgeable, and confident in your dog training and behavior know-how, your clients and their dogs benefit from it, too. The Victoria Stilwell Academy’s flagship Dog Trainer Course will provide you with the knowledge and skill to ensure a successful career as a dog trainer. Whether you are just starting out or want to take your training and behavior expertise to business to your highest level, our Dog Trainer Course is an investment that will reap rewards throughout your career.