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BusinessPaws: Technology for Dog Training Business

by
Megan Stanley

Megan Stanley discusses the use of technology in today's modern Dog Training and Pet Care businesses. Can a focused technology suite assist pet care businesses with increasing revenue and customer experience/retention? What if you're not technology adept?

Technology is your friend. Finding the right tech solutions can have a dramatic positive impact and help grow your business. By not embracing technology, it’s likely costing your business money, adding unnecessary hours to your schedule, and causing a negative customer experience. Too often, I hear from trainers that they are overwhelmed and struggling to keep up with their day-to-day demands. Often, these same trainers have invested little time in utilizing technology to solve some of their concerns. When asked why, they will say they do not have the time or that they are not tech-savvy.

It is important to remember that there is a learning curve when implementing new technology. We can confuse this phase with the perception that it is adding time instead of saving us time. Keep the learning curve stage in mind when trialing a new program/app. Be open to learning the new processes and commit some time up front for testing and implementation. The time saved in the long run is well worth it. With the right program, a small investment of your time upfront, will result in large time savings long term. This month I am going to share some ways technology can grow your business and some great programs for dog trainers, including why I think BusyPaws is a must-have.

Return on Investment

The first concern I always hear with trainers when they are exploring solutions is the cost. As software development is evolving, it is costing less to create and host programs, and we are seeing many more robust solutions available at affordable pricing. However, I try to not think of it in cost savings but rather how I can invest $1 to make $2. When reviewing various technology solutions, often the time saved on labour alone results in more money saved than spent. For example, I spend over $500/month on my core programs and apps. This may seem high, however, I easily save the cost of a full-time position that would be required to do this work; a savings of$4-5K/month! And it’s not just about the lower cost of labour. It then allows me to invest that money in revenue-generating roles such as having the funds to hire another dog trainer. It’s also better for my team. By automating workflows, they can spend more time doing what they love, along with their time increasing from about 65% of their time spent on revenue-generating activities, to well over 80%. A win-win for everyone.

It is important that you look at automation options that will help save you time and money, while also growing your business and allowing you to spend your time on what you do well. Not only that, a product like BusyPaws, brings multiple programs under one umbrella, so if you are already using programs such as Acuity, 17Hats, and an online learning platform, you can eliminate all of those costs within one reasonably priced solution. Consider not only the cost for the program, but also the ability to grow your business and see a return on this investment.

Increased Productivity

Automating workflows through technology improves productivity by streamlining processes and saves you time. The added benefit is that it frees up space in your mind, along with your schedule. This enables you to have more time to yourself and the ability to focus on revenue-generating and growth projects. Many trainers hate being consumed with admin work, so the right solution combines a CRM (Customer Relationship Management), dog training and behaviour tracking, program management and scheduling, and financial reporting, all in one place. This helps to keep us organized, and in turn, more productive. As you can focus more on your strengths and doing what you love, you will spend less time procrastinating and putting off important projects due to overwhelm. Take it a step further by embracing solutions such as Asana or Trello, which help you collaborate with team, track projects and create checklists/procedures for your business.

Enhanced Customer Experience

The general public is becoming more tech savvy and looking for easy ways to book and manage their dog’s training. The right solution willbe user-friendly and improve communication among your team and your clients. My favourite part about a solution like BusyPaws is that it enables us to integrate multiple products under one solution to further improve the customer journey. BusyPaws acts as a CRM and scheduler that is designed for dog training. It allows us to schedule and manage all programs, enables us to track the training/behaviour of the dog, keeps a history of the services the clients use and is an excellent way to communicate with our clients. By being focused specifically on dog training, the terminology is familiar to clients and the flows make sense. Being an integrated solution drastically improves the client experience and minimizes miscommunication concerns. This is a win-win for dog trainers and owners.

               Don’t underestimate the power of social media for improving the client experience and strengthening your relationship with them. You can provide training tips, trends, behind the scenes video/pictures of the training and so much more. Feature their dogs and engage regularly with them online. You don’t need to do it all, but find a solution that you are comfortable with and commit the time to it. I’ll cover social media in more detail on an upcoming post.

Better Business Practices

Still tracking things manually through an Excel spreadsheet? Or are you guilty of piling receipts in a box until year end? Technology provides us with improved business practices and are acritical part of our success. Dog trainers are notorious for ignoring important parts of the business, such as bookkeeping, client tracking and more. This can cause data integrity issues and create unnecessary time and strain on you and your business. On top of ensuring you have good supports through contractors or professional services, be sure you are including technical solutions to keep your business running smoothly. Some great options are:

  • QuickBooks Time (previously TSheets) or When I Work for team scheduling
  • QBO or Xero for accounting
  • Dext for receipt tracking
  • MileIQ for tracking vehicle mileage

Not sure what solution you need? Think of areas that you avoid, take up huge amounts of your time or processes that are confusing for you and/or your clients. Reach out to other trainers and ask them what has worked for them and what they like and dislike about these options. There are some great resources online and wonderful communities of support in various Facebook groups and dog training organizations such as CAPDT (Canadian Association of Professional Dog Trainers), APDT (Association of Professional Dog Trainers) or IAABC (International Association of Animal Behavior Consultants).

I would recommend scheduling some time soon to assess your needs. Whether you are introducing technology or are looking for a more integrated solution, consider an option like BusyPaws, which is designed specifically for dog trainers. Trust me, your future self will thank you for the extra time, reduced stress, and business growth. Not only that, but your clients will also be grateful for the streamlined processes, improved communication and increased success in training their dogs.

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