From A Handout Library to Low-Cost Client Management: What a Dog Trainer Can Do With Google Drive

by | Nov 9, 2020

Back in January, before the whole world went a little bit crazy, before Dog Trainer’s Umbrella was actually a thing — we were a team of individuals working to try and make dog trainer’s lives a little bit better. One of the ways we decided to do that was by hosting the Trainer’s Business Growth Weekend (which was such a smashing success we decided to go into business together, and thus was born DTU – but that’s a story for another day).

One of the (many, many) things we got geeky about during the weekend was ways to use technology to work smarter not harder… and that included looking at how to use Google Drive as a client handout library. Today, I want to show you what we shared with those in attendance that weekend — but before I get to that, I’m going to walk you through what Google Drive is and how it works, so you can see what it can do you for you and your business.

This is also the second article and promised follow up in my series on Gsuite, which started with The Dog Trainer’s Guide to Getting More Out of Gmail: Hacks to Help You Spend Less Time in Your Inbox.

What is Google Drive?

Google Drive is a file management product available from Google when you sign up for a Gmail email address or purchase a paid Gsuite account. But, because it’s made to integrate seamlessly with Google’s other products — sheets, docs, slides, and more, which will have their own articles (coming soon!) — and lives online, it makes file creation, sharing, and management simple.

It’s also designed to work easily from a variety of device types, so you can access files on your phone, tablet, or computer. It will convert existing documents (like Microsoft word docs or spreadsheets) into it’s own format with the click of a button, or you can download your Google-created documents in those formats, if you have to send someone else a file and that’s what they prefer to work in.

However, since it’s from Google, Drive also comes with a killer search functionality — plug in any phrase that might be included in the doc or the name of the document and Google will go find it for you, even if your not great about keeping things neatly filed in folders.

How Does Google Drive Work?

Other than being online, Google Drive’s basic functionality works much like your computer’s storage system — you create documents that you can then store in folders, to help you find them quickly and easily later on. However, it also offers a number of additional features, like options to copy, share, track changes in a document over time, and more.

I put together a quick little video to show you some of the basics, including how to upload, download, move, and organize your files. It also covers a few options you can play with in terms of how to view your files within your personal drive account.

 Searching Within Your Drive

One of the powerful features of Drive is its search functionality. Google makes it very, very easy to find any document you may be looking for, so long as you can recall a phrase or keyword that is included somewhere in the file or in the file’s title.

In addition to doing a basic search, Drive has options for doing advanced searches (such as searching within particular folders). That sad, I still recommend coming up with a naming convention for any files you’ll be saving related to your business.

Naming conventions make it easier to find and remember the names of the files you’re likely to be looking for later on.

For example,  if  you’re going to create write ups for each of your clients and include them in a folder that you will then share with the client, then you may want to use “dog name – date” as your naming convention (ex: Fluffy 10-24-2020 Writeup). That way when you want to find note on “Fluffy” you can just search their name. Or, if you have a lot of classes you teach, you might have each class syllabus and details on what you cover written up in your files and titled (Ex: Recalls Class Syllabus 2020) so that you can quickly find it using search.

Sharing and Copying Files and Folders

The final features I want to show you (the last ones you’d need to create a client write up library using Drive) are how to share and copy files and folders.

Google Drive has a powerful range of options for sharing folders and files — you can choose to share with just one person, to make a document “public” for anyone with the link, or not to share at all. Further, any document you create in drive can be easily copied into another folder, and documents copied into a shared folder automatically become visible for anyone who has access to the files in that folder. Can you see where I’m heading here?

First let me show you how it works.

Now, let’s talk about how you could use all of this to create an easy system for sharing information with your clients.

Creating a Low-Cost Handout Library Using Google Drive

How can we use all of this to create a low cost handout library?

While there are lots of ways you COULD create a handout library for your clients (including, but not limited to manually emailing them documents after each lesson), I think the option of using Google Drive is simple, fairly user-friendly, and can save you quite a bit of time after it’s all set up.

First, you’d want to create your handouts — these can either be completely finished handouts, or templates of handouts that you plan to add client-specific notes to. These should all go into a folder you have just for them… I’d name it something useful like “Client Handout Templates.” Then you’ll want to create a folder that you’ll title something like “Shared Client Handout Folders.” Inside THAT folder you’ll have a folder for each client that you’ll share with them.

Then, each time you work with that client you’ll go to your template folder and copy over each of the relevant handouts from that session to the relevant client’s handout folder, so they have access to the file. If desired, you can add notes for the client that are specific to their dog (or not). No more attaching files; you can just resend them a link to their folder, if desired, and they’ll have access to that week’s handouts plus any previous handouts you’ve made available for them.

The same concept can be applied for classes — in that case you’d likely create a Shared Class Folder instead, and have a folder for each class. Then you’d share the folder for that class with the clients who were taking that specific class, and add relevant handouts to that folder to help them with their homework.

Not clear on how all that works? No worries; I created another video for you showing how I’d set all of that up.

Do you use Google Drive to organize your handout Library? Have other tips? Leave them in the comments below!

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