July 27, 2021
2021 Dog Trainer Survey Insights: Make Money Like a Pro

dog walker holding lots of dogs on leashes, blog post on how to make money in the dog training industry

If you’re like most dog trainers, you didn’t get into the business as part of a get rich quick scheme… but wouldn’t it be nice if you could do what you love AND make money doing it?

Helping dog trainers do exactly that is our mission at both Click and Repeat and Dog Trainer’s Umbrella. That’s what led us to survey the industry — and this year’s report is even more comprehensive than the last one.

So, what makes the difference between trainers juggling multiple jobs to make ends meet, and those who are making six figures from dog training?

I mentioned in my early insights post that the number of marketing tactics correlates with the revenue a business makes

But let’s dive deeper into the data.

First: Is it Really Possible to Make a Good Living Training Dogs?

In short: Yes.

Two of DTU’s founders, Michael and Jamie Badial, are proof that it’s possible — but possible doesn’t mean easy.

Michael and Jamie had a long road to success. They started their business in 2012 and they looked to those around them for ideas on how to run things. They copied what they saw other dog trainers doing… charging by the hour, scheduling lessons whenever clients wanted them, and taking whatever jobs they could get.

By 2013, Jamie was pregnant and they were facing foreclosure on their home — the only safe place they had for their dogs and soon-to-be child.

It was time to make a change.

Over the next few years they took the business from just barely getting by to breaking 6-figures in 2016. Their story was part of the inspiration behind DTU.

How to Make Money As a Dog Trainer

Our survey data showed they aren’t alone in achieving that milestone… but they are still in the minority. Of the 260+ trainers surveyed, only 9% made $100K or more in revenue last year.

While this data is interesting on its own, it becomes even more interesting when we look for correlations between revenue and other information collected in the survey.

Because we also asked trainers which marketing tactics they had tried, we were able to compare the number of tactics tried with the revenue their business brought in, and saw a definite correlation: The more a business made, the more marketing tactics they had tried.

As a whole, the 262 survey respondents tried an average of 6.3 tactics; however, businesses that brought in 6 figures or more tried, on average, 8.9 tactics… and businesses that made $40K or less, on average tried only 5.8 tactics.

It’s not clear from the data we collected whether trying more marketing tactics led to an increase in revenue or whether an increase in revenue allowed the businesses to try more tactics.

However, because the correlation is so strong, I’d feel confident recommending businesses looking to grow in 2021 and beyond should try identifying new marketing tactics to implement for their business.

That does not mean businesses should try to do “all the things.”

Rather, it means that businesses should experiment to find the marketing mix that works best for them and their business, and brings in the highest return on both time and money invested.

What Marketing Tactics Help You Make Money?

The marketing tactic rated “most successful” was client referrals. 47.5% of those who tried client referrals rated them very successful.

This was followed by referrals from vet clients and other pet businesses. 34.9% rated referrals from vet clients and other pet businesses very successful.

The third most successful tactic? Paying for other marketing services — 19.23% said paying for marketing services was very successful.

So, if you’re a dog trainer looking for new marketing ideas, those 3 tactics are where I’d start.

Consider which you’ve done before and which you haven’t, and work those you haven’t into your marketing plan for the next few months.

I usually recommend small businesses include no more than 5 marketing tactics in their marketing plan each month, to avoid spreading themselves too thin.

Then, at the end of each month, evaluate what’s working and what’s not… double down on the thing that’s working best, eliminate the thing that’s working least, and, finally, add something new to the mix.

Want to Learn More?

There’s plenty more when it comes to making money in the dog training industry — and our survey is a great place to start!

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