We’re often frustrated by clients who don’t follow our recommendations, and for good reason! If your clients aren’t fulfilling their potential, this isn’t just hurting them and their dogs, it’s bad for your business. Successful clients are happy clients (and enthusiastic referral sources)!
The great news is you CAN take steps to help your clients be super compliant! Many of us are careful to set dogs up for success, but we neglect to do the same for our clients. Here are five ways you can help your clients be more successful.
1. Show, don’t just tell!
One of the most powerful ways to get buy-in from clients is to show them their dog being successful right there in front of them. Whenever possible, demonstrate the effectiveness of your training in-person, with their pup. Show them how their dog can follow a lure! Show them how quickly their dog can be weaned off of treats and onto a hand signal!
If you’re talking about puppy socialization, use a prop to demonstrate how to introduce their pup to a new object. Did they mention their puppy is afraid of the vacuum cleaner? Great, bring it out at a distance and help the owners build a little confidence right there!
Even an instruction as simple as, “Take him outside on a leash to his potty area and stay quiet until he goes.” can benefit from this. (You’ll be surprised at how many clients need help not interacting with their dog during potty breaks!)
- Get your client and their dog to be successful during your session. They’ll both feel great about your training!
It’s important to get your client successful at this time, too. They don’t need to be pros, but both you and they should be feeling confident about their abilities before the end of the session.
Sometimes our clients’ dogs aren’t able to be handled safely or we’re talking about something that can’t be conveniently demonstrated. A great second option is video of another client’s dog being successful. (Collect that footage and get permission to use it! I have a media permission opt-out in my contract form, easy peasy. )
2. Keep it simple
It’s tempting to pack as much training info as we can into our sessions! Even though we have good intentions, we can easily overload and overwhelm our clients.
Make your training plans simple and do-able.
Limit the number of new tasks to things they can reasonably get done before their next session. (Remember, while our lives revolve around dogs, our clients’ usually don’t. They’re people juggling jobs, kids, and other hobbies that *gasp* don’t involve their dogs!) Assigning fewer tasks is likely to help them be more successful.
3. Set great goals (and track them)
Your clients want a solution to their problems. Goals help you and your client see their success!
For private clients, set clear, achievable goals with them at the first session. (A great chance to discuss expectations!)
Write them down or e-mail them to the client and review them periodically. Just like in your training, goals should highlight a behavior the dog can DO, rather than something the dog should NOT do. Here are some example goals:
- “Sunny greets people at the front door with four feet on the floor.”
- “Pickles can lie on her mat for an entire dinner.”
- “Winston can offer focus to you and feel calmer when passing other dogs on walks.”
For group classes, be clear about what skills students will learn in your class. When people sign up for your class, what lets them know this? Having a conversation or written description can prevent clients from signing up for a class that won’t meet their needs or expectations.
4. Give incredible instruction
It’s easy to slip into the mindset that training dogs is simple! After all, we do it all the time. But, clients don’t. It’s up to you to convey all that wonderful stuff in your brain to your client in a way that is accessible and effective!
Incredible instruction has several key qualities:
- It’s simple.
- It’s easy to digest. (Every time you say “desensitization and counter-conditioning” to a client, that client cries…at least on the inside.)
- It includes the info the client needs, and not much else! (Think bullet points, not a book.)
- It highlights the end result (reward!) for the client.
- It holds the client’s attention. (If your clients are zoning out, you need to fix the way you’re presenting the info.)
Don’t leave clients hanging after a session or class! Have handouts, videos, or other resources to remind them of what you taught.
5. Schedule the next session
Clients are successful when they keep up their momentum! Whenever possible, schedule the next training session at the end of your session. (Or sell multiple sessions at a time and schedule them out all at once!)
Put juuust enough time between sessions to hit the sweet spot! You know, the one where they have enough time to practice, but not so much that they are
tempted to procrastinate.
That’s it! Do you have tips for client compliance that have really helped you? We’d love to hear them!