Apart from wanting to know how to get more clients, the next biggest question I get from trainers is figuring out what to charge.
A lot of new trainers overthink this. I remember when I started out and I wasn’t really sure what I “should,” be charging. I literally looked up trainers in similar sized towns, picked up the phone and called one and asked him. We are still friends to this day. But now I charge much more than he does ;p
The point is to start. This is something that can be changed. Just about anything in your business can be changed at any point you decide. That’s the beauty of it being your business! So if you’re overthinking a decision, start now. Today. If you feel it’s not working out, you can always change it later. Besides, it’s good to test out new things.
However, I get it if you don’t want to pick up the phone and ask other trainers what they charge! So here is a simple formula you can use to figure out your hourly rate:
Annual salary you would like = $_____
Annual expenses = $______
Total annual income required= $______
Profit margin of 20%=$_______
Total needed to earn per year = $______
Now figure out how many billable hours you’ll actually be working in a year.
Subtract how many weeks holiday you will take then calculate how many hours of actual work time you will do per week. Calculate the total billable hours for the year.
The use this formula:
$____ (total required annual income) / _____ billable hours = $____ per hour
Great! Now you know your minimum hourly rate. How did you go? Is it higher than what you’re charging now? Lower? The same?
Now, bear with me. While you need to know your minimum hourly rate, I don’t actually recommend charging by the hour for your services. In fact, I would call that another mistake in marketing.
Trading dollars for hours is a fast track way to feel trapped in your business and can lead to burnout, especially in the training industry.
If your business isn’t profiting to a level that you can have some time off, spend time with your own dogs and save money for your lifestyle, it’s not going to provide a sustainable way to live.
If you don’t want to grow your dog training business to be full time and sustainable, that’s fine, keep it as a hobby, as long as you know what you want.
But if you want to grow a profitable business and keep the passion alive, and you aren’t there yet, it’s time to make some changes.
Instead of selling training services by the hour, it’s time to bundle your offerings, sell programs and make more per client.
(And since you’re here reading this, it’s probably time to raise your rates in general too, just based on talking to a lot of struggling trainers in business.)
Before you jump in blindly or write it off as not for you, allow me to explain how the way I sell programs benefits not only you, but your clients and their dogs.
YOUR CLIENTS WILL BE MORE COMMITTED
If you’re getting flustered and frustrated with clients who can’t seem to be bothered training their dog, even after they’ve paid you for a lesson, then surely getting more committed clients who do their homework and have you back more than once is appealing to you.
Have a think about something you’ve received in your life for cheap or free. How much did you value it? If it required a time commitment to get results, did you follow through or put it off for later?
It’s a sad fact of human nature that what is free is not valued, and the same goes for things that are cheap.
On the flip side, have you ever invested a significant sum of money into something, and that investment caused you to be more committed to getting results?
See, even if someone spends around $100 or so on a dog training lesson and then decides to see how they go and have a think about it, there’s very little incentive to put in the work. It’s so easy to write off a small amount of money and not truly value the services received or commit to putting in the required effort. Especially if that effort requires putting in any amount of their precious time.
But when a person invests into training their dog, or any other desired outcome, they will put in more time and effort to make sure their investment pays off.
YOUR RESULT RATE WILL BE HIGHER
So if you have a more invested client putting in more time and effort, can you see how your results will be better? Of course you’ll get more results with a client who is putting in more training time and is more committed!
And this means a happier dog getting more attention and training.
A happier client who is going to rave about you to people they know and even people they meet in the street or at the dog park
And a happier you who isn’t burnt out chasing clients who have a token lesson and then say, “we’ll get back to you when we need more lessons,” aka, never.
YOU MAKE MORE MONEY PER CLIENT
Obviously if you’re selling more lessons per client, you’re making more money per client.
And if you’re charging higher rates you’ll be making more per client too.
Not rocket science, I know. Just simple maths.
The benefits of making more per client listed above go way beyond just making more money.
More job satisfaction, longer lasting passion and less risk of burnout are all benefits to grab and hold onto.
But it is also ok to make more money. You deserve it.
And when you’re making more money per client you can take a quality over quantity approach and deliver the most amazing service to your committed customers.
And even though the pressure is off to chase more and more clients who are one hit wonders, there’s a snowball effect that happens through the best form of marketing there is – word of mouth.
So the number of clients you get will still increase as well.
WHAT IS A PROGRAM?
Whether you call it a bundle, a program, a package, it doesn’t really matter. It’s how you offer it that counts.
The difference between a program and a bunch of lessons is usually that:
- The program is focused on an end goal which is specific and results oriented
- There are other inclusions such as different services or equipment. But you can include anything you offer
- The client commits to the whole program rather than playing it by ear from lesson to lesson, and usually pays up front
Programs can range in price from a few hundred to a few thousand dollars. It really depends on the inclusions and number of lessons, but ultimately is determined the most by your skills and the results you can provide.
An important note on your skill level: we have probably never met (as much as I’d love to meet you). And I just have no way of knowing right now what your skill level is and what the results are that you can achieve for people and their dogs. I definitely don’t advocate for trainers to charge thousands of dollars for training that doesn’t achieve the desired results. I want to be crystal clear on that.
In saying that, I have found that most the time, trainers are hard on themselves and charging too little, as opposed to thinking they are worth a mint and not delivering.
You know a lot more than the average dog owner and you can most likely provide them with results that make them very happy to pay you well. It’s easy to forget how much we know and that we are in fact experts. It’s called the curse of knowledge and lots of trainers have it. They believe that they aren’t experienced enough or good enough to charge more or charge any money at all.
This is written for trainers in business who can and do get their clients results.
And if you can? You’re probably worth more than you think. So don’t undercut yourself or be so hard on yourself about your skills.
Now you might be wondering how on earth you’ll be able to get people to commit higher prices or large sums of money for a program or package.
The key is not to ask for a large commitment right away – people need to get to know you first and get more of a feel for what they’re getting into.
For this reason, some trainers offer a free lesson to get people started. Personally, I don’t offer free lessons. When it comes to free stuff, I offer helpful blogs and videos that people can view on my website. But any one on one help that takes up my time is something I charge for.
This brings us to the next big question – how do you book in high priced programs and get people to happily pay higher prices for dog training?