BusinessPaws: How to Employ Memberships in Dog Training

Megan Stanley

Membership models in dog training is becoming a more common model for predictable revenue and client retention. Megan explains several ways you can use this model within your business.

BusinessPaws: How to Employ Memberships in Dog Training

Membership models (also referred to as subscription services) are not new, but we are seeing a rise in this structure for dog training businesses since the pandemic began. They are ideal for dog trainers and have numerous benefits for both the business and its clients. I’ve operated various membership models over the years and continue to grow this structure for my business. I’m often asked about memberships, so am going to share what they are, why you should consider them, and how easy it is for any business to implement a membership into their business.

To start, what is a membership model? 

It’s a type of business structure or service offer where individuals pay a recurring fee to access some value or resource the business creates. I see many dog trainers refer to packages as memberships. Packaged solutions are wonderful options for clients but are not a membership. The key to a membership is that there is a recurring fee.

Why choose a membership model? 

  • Recurring revenue – creates predictable income for the business. This also tends to be a more profitable solution vs a series of one-time purchases.
  • Creates a long-term relationship with your clients – increases loyalty to your brand and allows you to continue to build value for your clients.
  • Attracts more customers – this model tends to lower the barrier to entry for access to your product or service which enables more potential clients to purchase from you.
  • Easier for clients to test your services – instead of a one-time high value purchase, a membership is a great way for clients to test run what you offer.
  • Contingency option – we’ve seen this model grow through the pandemic as it provides a great way to still deliver content and provide training services, even when you cannot do this in-person. An online option is ideal for this.
  • Expand market reach – an online membership/subscription program is ideal for expanding into different markets. You are no longer tied to in-person services so can acquire clients from all over the world.
  • Take the guess work out – clients love membership models with bundled options because it shortens the decision-making process down for them. 

What are some ideal membership types for dog trainers?

  • Content –give your clients access to training programs and/or dog training resources. This can be online programs, training videos, eBooks, infographics and more.
  • Group Training –provide access to group training that they can join as often or as little as they like. Perhaps a membership gives them access to the group training for a certain number of times in a given period.
  • Access to Services – exclusive access to members-only services. For our model, a membership gives our clients exclusive access to our in-person training programs. We also host numerous members-only events and training classes.
  • Community – access to a community of like-minded individuals and/or trainers.
  • Product Bundle – various bundles of products and/or services based on the membership level.
  • Path to Results – follow a program at your own pace to obtain an end result. This may be a membership to the perfect canine companion or overcoming reactivity. 
  • VIP Program – an exclusive program that provides additional services or content that no one else can access. This can be direct access to you, unique content or more. This is a great way to introduce a membership-model to your business. You can start an exclusive VIP membership that some clients can choose to take part in.
  • Hybrid – the recommended model that is a combination in some form of the above.

How to provide membership options:

  • Online Learning platforms like Thinkific or Kajabi.
  • A software application like BusyPaws – they make it really easy to add this option to your services.
  • Subscription based services such as Patreon or YouTube.
  • Simple membership cards.

Tips for a successful membership model:

  • Add Value: the key to a successful membership that clients rave about is one where they feel like they are getting far more value for the cost. Ensure you have priced it accordingly and continue to build value as the membership grows. 
  • Drip Content: don’t release everything to your membership at once. Continually add more programs, products and/or exclusive offerings. Drip content to your members over time so you give them reason to keep coming back.
  • Exclusive Membership Offerings: add value by offering regular select options for your membership. This may include membership pricing for your other programs/services, services or programs that are only available to members, or members-only events. Make sure your members feel special and that being a member gives them an advantage.
  • Make Cancelation Simple: don’t make them contact you to cancel. Ensure your cancelation policy is clear and easy for them to do on their own at anytime.
  • Offer Levels: be sure that there are various levels of membership to make it more attainable for clients. A lower cost enables them to trial the program and see if they like it. 3 levels of membership are ideal – a low entry level, a popular mid-range with all core services plus some perks and a premium level with exclusive offerings. 

I highly recommend that you consider adding a membership or subscription service. These are going to be the norm soon and clients understand the value that these models can provide for them. Do not worry about perfection but focus on progress. Find ways to slowly introduce this model and trial it with existing clients. It’s normal to feel resistant or unsure of this change, but when done properly, it provides incredible value to you and your business. 

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