Altering Dog Training Appointments

June 26, 2023

When dog trainers first begin working in the field, we are so eager to sign clients that we will do anything they ask. Clients are busy people. Not only do they have a dog to train, they have errands and after-school activities. As a result, they often request that we alter dog-training appointments by fifteen to thirty minutes in order to accommodate their schedule. While this practice scores you an “A+” in customer service, it eventually hurts your business.  Our advice: Avoid altering dog training appointments.

Sure, altering dog training appointments don’t seem like a big deal when your schedule is light. Understand that clients get used a certain type of service and may be upset if you change the rules at some point down the line.

Most clients work from 9 to 5, which means your evening and weekend appointments fill up first.  If you are lucky, you can fit three evening appointments into your weeknight schedule and five or six on Saturday or Sunday.  Weekend dog training appointments are prime real estate, especially during the winter months when daylight is shorter.  You want to keep the work flowing on your work days. Altering dog training appointments you will affect that goal and your wallet.

Dog Training Schedule

In order to get the most out of your dog-training schedule and still have a personal life, we suggest you block times on your calendar for dog training appointments.  I plan my appointments times a month or two ahead of time. Doing so prevents me from accidentally scheduling an appointment during a time that affects my billable hours.

Here is an example:

4:30 – 5:30 (client)

6:00 – 7:00 (client)

7:30 – 8:30 (client)

If I changed the 4:30 appointment to 5:00 for an in-home training client, I could no longer fit all three appointments into that evening. Remember, in-home dog trainers need time for travel.

Here is what we mean:

4:30 – 5:30 (client appointment moved)

5:00 – 6:00 (new client appointment)

6:00 – 7:00 (cannot fit another client)

7:30 – 8:30 (client)

Loss for You

These tips are not limited to in-home dog trainers. Dog trainers who work in facilities have administrative work to handle. Time between clients allow us to return phone calls, answer emails and clean. If that time is used training clients, you’ll never leave the office on time

Every time you alter dog training appointments, you risk missing out on money. At some point in your career, you will have a waiting list of people seeking your services.  The more appointments you cancel due to altering appointments, the longer it takes to get through that waiting list.  You want to get through that list quickly, because owners will reach out to other dog trainers if you keep them waiting. 

Alternatively, you may need to work harder and longer to fit everyone who calls you.  This means working on your days off, working later in the evening and all weekend.  Working too long or without a break can lead to a serious condition that many dog trainers face.  That condition is burnout.  It can also lead to injury. When training dogs, we need to have a clear, alert mind if we want to avoid mistakes that cause injury.   Fatigue makes our mind a little hazy.

Accommodating your client needs and your own needs

Now let’s flip the coin. If we are too stringent with our appointment times, clients will complain that we’re not flexible.  How do we accommodate clients without breaking the bank?

Altering dog training appointments slightly throughout the week.

Tuesday Wednesday

4:30 – 5:30 4:00 – 5:00

6:00 – 7:00 5:30 – 6:30

7:30 – 8:30 7:00 – 8:00

By offering earlier appointments on Wednesday, I’ve allowed my clients more options. The client who cannot make the 4:30 appointment on Tuesday, may be happy with an appointment time slightly later the next day.    Staggering appointment times prevent you from sacrificing appointments and keeps the money flowing.

In our last blog we discussed the importance of having policies and procedures in place.  Dog training policies can include setting dog training hours and sticking to them. We want to accommodate our client needs. At the same time must ensure we are not being so accommodating that our business suffers. Set the tone from the beginning and you don’t have to worry about upsetting clients down the road.

Katie McKnight

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