Blog By Coral Dawn Drake
Board and train is one of the best ways to quickly modify a dog's behavior, even serious behavioral problems. However, customers need to put a lot of trust in your business to put their beloved dogs in your hands. Here's what you need to know about how to attract clients and keep them happy while keeping dogs safe and making sure training is as effective as possible.
Offer Realistic Promises
One of the fastest ways to earn a less-than-stellar reputation for your board and train facility is to offer results that you aren't sure you can deliver on. Telling potential customers that you can totally solve behavior problems within a set time is setting yourself up for failure.
Customers will be just as likely to sign with you if you make realistic promises, and they are much less likely to be disappointed with you if you fail to deliver. Every dog is an individual and no two dogs respond to training in precisely the same ways.
Take time speaking to potential customers in-depth about their dog’s problems, how you will train, and what results they may expect to see. It's a good idea to offer a minimum amount of progress that you expect to see as well as the best that you believe you could accomplish.
It's also a great idea to offer the next course of action in case training is not accomplished by the end of the designated board and train period. That way, your customer will have a range of possibilities to consider and is much less likely to be disappointed with the results that you do achieve.
Unfortunately for legitimate, high-quality board and train facilities, less than reputable facilities have made it difficult for many pet owners to trust board and train. Dog owners and dog training forums often warn against using any kind of board and train facility.
This is truly a shame, since board and train facilities are frequently the most effective way to quickly solve behavior problems, including serious behavior issues that may otherwise cause a dog to be surrendered to a shelter.
The best way for you to convince potential customers that you are a quality board and train facility is to be highly transparent. There are a few excellent ways for you to do this:
Letting customers know exactly what is going on with their dogs on a day-to-day basis can make customers feel secure that their dogs are being handled well. It also prevents customers from feeling blindsided if you need to ask for more time or if training goals have not been met by the time the dog goes home. Updates should include a brief written or spoken report about the dog’s progress and pictures and videos from the day of training.
One of the best ways to show customers that you are doing a superb job of taking care of their animals is to literally show them whenever they want to peek in. Cameras in your kennel room, in training spaces, and in other areas of your facility allows people to see that you are treating their dog well.
Unlike daily pictures and videos which you could alter or use to show only the best, constant video surveillance gives customers peace of mind that they are seeing what really is going on in your facility. A video live feed also enables potential customers to see how current dogs are being treated, which makes it more likely that they'll want to sign up with you.
One of the best ways to convince a potential customer that you are a high-quality facility is to let them see what other customers have to say. By being open about posting reviews, you dramatically increase the chances that a potential customer who is on the fence will take you seriously. Don't fall into the all-too-common mistake of posting only the most positive reviews. Being honest and posting every review, even if it has less than stellar things to say about your business, provides credibility and true transparency. After all, not every customer will be happy, and potential customers know that. If all of your reviews are positive, potential customers are likely to suspect that you are filtering them.
Use High-Quality Kennels
When you are working with dogs that have behavioral concerns and often unknown behavior, it is extremely important that you use very high-quality kennels. Even if you advertise an open play-style boarding facility, kennels may be necessary sometimes for some dogs.
Dogs that are not getting along with other dogs or are able to escape your standard facilities need somewhere safe and secure. The last thing that you want is to have to tell a customer that their dog escaped your boarding facility or injured themselves breaking out of a crate or a poorly constructed kennel. Here are a few things to look for in an ideal kennel for your board and train facility:
Covered Outside Portion and Doggy Door
Dogs in your training facility may spend most of their time actively in training, but during the times when they need to be in their kennel, you want it to be as comfortable as possible. A covered outside portion allows dogs to enjoy fresh air and sunshine even when the weather may not be good. Since these are the times when dogs are most likely to be kenneled because the weather prevents training, it is very important that your board and train kennels accommodate poor weather conditions.
Doggie doors are important because they keep hot or cold weather out and allow dogs to be comfortable on the inside of the kennel. Without a doggy door, the inside portion can become drafty and uncomfortable.
Dogs in board and train may suffer from separation anxiety or other serious behavioral issues that may cause them to do everything they can to escape a kennel. Unfortunately, you may not know whether a dog will try to escape its kennel ahead of time. Here are some things to look for in a kennel that dogs won't be able to escape and which will prevent them from hurting themselves if they try:
- Scratch resistance. Dogs may try to dig their way out through the floor or walls. If they can see that their nails are having an impact, they are more likely to keep trying. Polyurethane flooring and tough wall coating will prevent dogs from even being able to make a scratch, which is likely to eliminate the scratching behavior.
- Welded wire. A determined dog can break through chain link, often hurting themselves in the process. Choose welded wire that can hold up to any amount of pressure, biting, and scratching without breaking.
- Vinyl wrapping. Every kennel has connection points that may be a weak spot for a dog's destructive impulses. Vinyl wrapping around connection points keeps dogs from being able to chew on those points, preventing damage to the facility and to the dog's teeth.
Easy to Clean
The easier your kennel is to clean, the less time you will have to spend cleaning it and the less likely disease will be to be transmitted from dog to dog. Even if you require vet records, updated vaccinations, and a clean fecal test, there is always the possibility that disease will find its way into your facility. Kennels that are easy to clean without having mess get into other kennels prevents any disease that one dog has from spreading to the rest of the dogs at your facility.
Enjoy a Thriving Board and Train Business
Board and train is a lucrative option for dog trainers and highly effective for accomplishing training goals in the shortest amount of time, particularly for owners who do not have much time to do the training themselves. By being transparent, realistic, and choosing high-quality kennels, you make it much more likely that customers will choose you for their dog training needs and that your training business will be successful.