Editor’s note: After interacting with Jamie and Michael Badial for a while in their free Facebook group on marketing for R+ dog trainers, I recently had the opportunity to talk to them on a call about a great new group they’re forming — after hearing about it, I was excited enough to ask them to share their story here on the blog! I don’t do guest posts often, but I think this is a pretty awesome story!
I still remember the conversation so clearly more than 7 years later. I told a friend that I was going to pursue being a dog trainer full time and he said to me, “You can’t make enough money being a dog trainer.”
I’m pretty sure I just shrugged and smiled at him, but in my brain I thought “watch me!”
Getting Started: The Launch of Best Paw Forward
After 6 months of working together in another dog business, Michael and I officially teamed up and launched Best Paw Forward in June of 2012.
I wish I could say that we had all the answers from the beginning and were an overnight success but that isn’t our story. We didn’t have a clear roadmap to success, and we made many mistakes along the way.
When first starting out, we looked to those who had been doing this dog training thing long before us… and we did things as they had always been done.
We charged by the hour. We scheduled lessons whenever the client wanted. And we took whatever jobs we could get, often splitting our focus and devaluing our services.
Although our business was growing, we weren’t making enough money. By January of 2014 I was pregnant and we were facing foreclosure on our home — the only safe place we had for our dogs and soon-to-be child.
Facing Foreclosure with a Child on the Way
I knew we needed to do something drastic to grow our business more quickly and to create a more reliable income in the process. So, I turned back to my education in accounting and business and began to look to other resources to fill my business and marketing knowledge gaps.
It turns out there are so many things that make a business successful.
More than just having skill at your trade — things like effective communication, customer service, having excellent processes and procedures, and being able to market and advertise.
But as I look back on all the pieces of the puzzle, the single thing that made the biggest impact on growing our business was learning how to package and sell our services in a way that actually made sense to clients.
In a way that created confidence in us and built a community of supporters in the process.
We stopped doing what has always been done. Instead, we learned how to package and sell our services to the clients who need it the most. The ones who we worked best with — those who we could build a community around.
Getting Down to Business: Our First Six-Figure Year
By finding the right systems, processes, and pricing, we grew from just barely getting by to a six-figure business… in less than four years.
That was 2016 — and we have only continued to grow (and grow) in the last 2 years. We’ve added employees, paid off debt, and moved to our dream home with our two kids and four dogs.
As the years have gone by, we’ve talked to so many struggling dog trainers — people who have wonderful skills working with people and their dogs, but haven’t had success building a sustainable business.
They are doing it alone — and many have never taken a business course in their life.
Giving Back to Help R+ Training Thrive
Michael and I want to see positive training thrive, but we know it will take more than the two of us to make that happen. It’ll take helping those trainers who are still struggling to figure out the best practices that have allowed us to achieve our goals.
To meet that need, we’ve been sharing our business, marketing, and behavior skills with the Business & Marketing for R+ Dog Pros (a free facebook group) for the last year and half.
We’ve been humbled by the number of dog trainers who have reached out and said that our advice in that group has made a huge impact on their business.
But we didn’t want to stop there.
In order to continue to serve the positive dog trainer community, we’ve put together a small group to provide even more help growing your dog business: The Trainers Growth Group.
The Trainers Growth Group (TGG) was created to focus on growing your business through goal setting and skill development, with the added benefit of accountability from other like-minded and equally ambitious dog trainers.
TGG is hosted inside a private FB group. There are bi-weekly coaching calls for extra help on business topics and your training cases. Weekly webinars are in the works on goal setting, marketing, pricing, client communication, managing client expectations, conducting efficient lessons, reinforcement schedules and so much more.
The group includes daily access to Michel and Jamie Badial along with our admin team (made up of other successful trainers!) and your peers for help when you need it.
To learn more about the Trainers Growth Group, visit www.growmydogbiz.com to get special early-adopter access. Registration is only open until Sunday, April 14, 2019, and we don’t plan to reopen the group for new members for at least a few months. We kick off the support and learning on Monday, April 15th!