Stand (or sit, or stay) out in the crowd this holiday season

By Yvonne Ferguson, CPDT-KSA

With Thanksgiving over and the colder winter months upon us, it’s time to start thinking about the holiday season—and what you can do for your clients to show them your appreciation. It also places you in the forefront of their minds the next time they’re ‘talking dog’ with another dog owner or new puppy handler.

During this time of year, many have turkey, decorations, family and friends on their minds. You certainly don’t need a specific holiday to show your clients your appreciation, but what better time to let them know they are in your thoughts?

With the hustle and bustle of the season, it’s always nice to know that even a person you purchase services from is wishing you well. You will often see businesses sending out well wishes through email, cards or social media. Although we encourage this, there are so many other things you can do to stand out in the crowd.

Carefully measuring costs against financial implications can be as complex and individual a process as the trainer, but there are many different ideas to spread the joy this holiday season without making your accountant cry. From personalized gifts to emails, small to large budgets, the investment is often worth the return.

Some trainers with larger budgets send gifts to their regular clients, but this could be expensive, depending on the number that need to be sent out. If you want to give an individual item to clients, a small goodie bag with a personalized note and dog treats shows that you took the time to think of them. If you buy the bags and cookies in bulk, you can save a lot of money and still have an impact! Sending a personalized note to the client to thank them, compliment their hard work in training or the improvements you have seen in the dog shows the client that you set time aside to think of them during the holidays.

Another great option is a small token of appreciation, such as small branded items with your company logo. A dog bandana, clicker or even pens are for the recipient, but they are also for you, by making your logo visible to other potential clients. (Don’t forget, certificants receive a discount from Clicker Company and Doggone Good, so log in to our website to check it out)!

A cost-effect option with great return is to organize a gathering as a dog community! A holiday party for clients can be a great way to connect, reconnect, share some laughs and build a stronger dog community. If you have your own facility, the costs are limited to just the décor and items such as food, plates and utensils. If you rent a facility, the additional evening rental costs are often worth it. Holding raffles is a great way to offset costs associated with the event, but if you can build the event into a fundraiser for a local nonprofit animal organization such as a shelter or rescue group, you may be able to receive a discounted rental fee. By involving a local nonprofit or charity organization, you are not only helping to raise much-needed funds, you’re showing your clients that you are a socially-minded trainer who wants to bring the dog community together.

If you’ve chosen to host an event such as a potluck, or a casual get-together with snacks and hot chocolate, it’s important to help new clients feel welcome. At a gathering you can offer fun trivia and holiday games to get clients interacting and having fun.

Deciding to host clients with dogs is a choice mostly based on the size of your business. After many years, some trainers can gain hundreds, if not thousands of clients. Hosting 100+ people, most with dogs, could be a handful. If you offer other gathering events for clients with their dogs throughout the year, it may be a good idea to host a human-only event at the holiday season for people to relax and focus on connecting with other humans.

Gifts, notes, parties; whatever you choose to do this holiday season, we are sure it will be heartfelt and meaningful—and in the spirit of goodwill to others, two and four legged!

Happy Holidays from CCPDT!