If I had a dollar for every time I heard, “my area is different,” or some version of that, well, I’d have a lot of extra dollars!
Unfortunately, this phrase comes out of the mouths and minds of dog trainers all over the world. No matter where they live, every trainer thinks that their area really is different. In fact, this way of thinking isn’t unique to dog trainers, it’s one of the most common objections of many small business owners.
I hear it a lot in my town too, from all sorts of business owners or people that are thinking of starting a business, but putting it off because, “people here won’t pay for that. You know what it’s like in this town!”
I find this really sad because these people believe this to be true to the point they don’t bother trying. Why try building a business if you know in your mind that no one around you will pay for your services?
A belief that for whatever reason, “it probably won’t work out,” is the biggest roadblock that stops people from doing and getting what they truly want in life. They often think that they aren’t good enough, or why should they be the one to do it, someone else is already doing it, or it just won’t work because of what people are like in their area.
I think when it comes down to it, all of this comes from a place of fear of failure and fear of what others will think of us if we do fail. It’s something I have experienced and still do with certain things. It’s a very normal human trait that draws the line between those who are successful and those who aren’t.
Successful people still feel fear, but they push through it and do it anyway. Unsuccessful people let fear stop them from taking the leap. Either the leap to start in the first place, or the leap to take things to greater heights.
If you’ve read any of my other posts or attended my online workshop, you know that I too believed that people wouldn’t pay much for dog training in my area. There’s a strong belief in people throughout my town that locals are stingy, always looking for the cheapest deal and don’t like to spend money on anything. The biggest mistake I initially made was believing it too.
Sure, people don’t like to spend more money than they have to. People in general look for cheaper deals when shopping for a product or service. And there’ll always be those who simply aren’t willing to fork out any significant amount of money on their dogs. This isn’t an area issue. This is just what humans are like everywhere. Everywhere you go you will find people that don’t believe there is any value in spending money on dog training.
And in every location there is also the opposite: people that would do anything to make sure their dogs are happy, healthy and safe. People that recognise the value to hiring a dog trainer and see how much better it can make their life.
It’s not about finding who has more money that they can afford to spend and who has less. It’s not about finding the wealthier areas. In fact, you may find, like I have, that rich people hesitate the most before spending money. That’s likely one reason why they’re rich, they don’t spend willy-nilly!
No, it’s not about how much money people have or if they live in a wealthy area. It’s all about the value they perceive in the service.
If someone truly realises how much value there is in having their dog trained by you, the price is near irrelevant.
It’s all about the changes you can make to their lives through training their dogs and solving their dog problems. If you focus on that transformation in your marketing messages, prospects will be sold on your services before the price is ever revealed.
The problem is, negativity is contagious. Instead of focusing on the great things they can achieve with their business, dog trainers are looking at what other dog trainers are doing and thinking they have to do it the same way. And when they do it the same way they get the same result – low rates, competing on price, struggling to get enough clients and ultimately burnout.
The side effects are clients that don’t listen or do their homework, and a constant struggle to get results. Just like those other dog trainers have.
This is how it becomes the norm and dog trainers truly believe throughout the industry that they just can’t be in it for money. Dog training is just a low paying job working with difficult people that just don’t listen, right?
All these flow on effects that ultimately come from the trainer not truly valuing what they can provide and not having enough self belief! Like many things in business, it all comes down to MINDSET.
Do you think the other dog trainers in your area are all better trainers than you? I doubt it. I certainly hope not!
Surely you have the confidence to know you’ve got a lot of really good stuff to offer. You can be the best trainer in your area. And if you’re the best? Why wouldn’t you be the most expensive?
For customers to appreciate that the service you offer is high quality (because it IS), it should come with a high quality price tag. And as you know, “you get what you pay for,” is a mantra ingrained into many people’s beliefs. Why would they value your services if you’re charging peanuts?
But What About Tiny Towns?
Really, really tiny towns might have less customers to go around, sure. But all you need to do is think outside the box and be willing to put in the work. Start with your town – forget the notion that people there are any different to anywhere else in the world as to what they will or won’t pay for, or how much. Establish yourself as the go to dog expert and build that stellar reputation.
Unless you live on another planet with an alien race, the psychology of what makes people buy or not buy is the same everywhere.
So your main issue could be literally running out of people with dogs. Even then, how long will that take?
The next thing I would do is either/or
- Do visits to the next nearest town
- Add a secondary service
- Train over the phone or internet to the next closest town
Whatever you do, don’t give up before you try.
“But Tenille, the competition is so cheap!”
Well, sucks to be them! You’re not a Kmart, don’t compete on price. Compete on quality.
Do you know what my main competition was for the first few years I ran my business? A FREE dog trainer. She was completely free, even for one on one lessons. At first, I admit, I was worried. My stomach actually sank when I found out she existed. It held me back from charging what I really wanted to charge. I stalled every time and thought of her every time I was going to raise my rates. On top of that, the paid group dog training classes in the area were half the cost or less compared to mine.
But you know what? They all actually helped me gain business. Even when I raised my rates. Why? Because I didn’t worry about competing on price. I only worried about the quality of the service I provided. The free trainer saw many of my clients before they came to me instead. She unknowingly sent me work. People were getting what they paid for whether they paid $0 to her or $200 to me. Put it this way, the quality was comparative to the price.
Another example – Mel is one of the members in my Dog Matters Pro Masterclass where I teach everything about how I run my training business. She had run her business in her small town area for 7 years and the entire time, she had found it a struggle. And the trainers she was competing against? They were charging peanuts. She felt she couldn’t compete with that but she also couldn’t afford to drop her rates any further, she had to make a living!
I remember her emailing me full of doubt before she took the course – she really didn’t think it was going to work for her, because of the area she lived in and the fact she had already struggled for 7 years. She told me she’d rather close up shop than drop her rates any lower to a point she couldn’t survive. Joining the course was her last attempt to make her business work.
Within 11 days Mel had made the changes to her business and made thousands of dollars. Within a couple of months I got an email from her telling her she couldn’t believe she almost didn’t join and make these changes, and that in the past month, she’d made $8000 from private training clients! All this in an area with several cheap dog trainers and a belief that people won’t pay more, “in this area.”
So my friend, if you are willing to have some more belief in yourself, I can help you do the rest. I suggest you start by attending this free training so I can explain in more detail how I grew my dog training business into a lucrative career (and how we can work together even further if you want to take the next step into the Dog Matters Pro Masterclass, like Mel did), even in a small area where people apparently, “won’t pay.”