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  • Writer's pictureJagger Brocious

The Pros and Cons of Large and Small Scale Training Businesses

Updated: May 31, 2023

Alright folks I'm back again. I wanted to keep the theme on these posts about options when looking for a trainer as I have experience working for a large organization, know several people with horror stories of franchises, and in general want to try to be as unbiased as possible go over the options out there! However, as noted in the past, most of my professional experience has been working for a large scale Boarding / Training Facility and I am just now stepping into my small business.


Large Scale Facilities,


Now as mentioned previously I worked for five years for a facility with over 200 runs, a full kennel staff, trainer staff, and so much more. So a lot of my time in the industry I got to see the good and bad of large scale operations. I'm going to do my best to break down general information rather than blasting or praising my former employer even though most of my knowledge of larger operations comes from them.


Pros of a Large Facility

  • Larger scale often means larger staff! Meaning more people to look after your dog, return your calls, basically in theory every part of the process should be smoother!

  • Oftentimes a kennel staff and front desk take the workload of said trainer so they can just train the dogs in front of them!

  • Access to more amenities / equipment comes with a larger operation as more runs, more clients, more money to spend on it all!

  • Larger facilities normally have been around a while so knowledgeable staff and credible reviews normally come with the territory. Good or bad their history is out there for anyone to see!

  • For training it normally means more space to train, more dogs to use for those training sessions, and several staff members who are in the know on how to greet, meet, and interact with a behavioral case as the trainer is rehabilitating them!

  • Larger training staff means more eyes on the dogs in training even if one trainer is assigned a dog they all can become a "brain trust" of sorts helping one another figure out the issues at hand. (Sometimes as a trainer self reflection is key and a staff of peers helps that!)

  • Oftentimes higher capacity means lower rates. More space means less importance for individuals keeping the business afloat.

  • Less waitlists and more room for your last minute trips! Often times large means exactly that and that means room when you need it (in most cases).

Cons of a Large Facility

  • Larger staff isn't always the best. The more you spread the workload the more communication becomes important. The more compartmentalized tasks can be an asset but if the staff is out of sync problems occur in those miscommunications.

  • Normally, with training the trainer is the face you trust with your dog. But in larger facilities they aren't the only one interacting with the dog and you can't vent every employee feel comfortable with them.

  • More options normally means more charges. Large facilities will charge for everything from a potty break, medication, and sometimes even just for keeping the dog clean!

  • The large company I worked for assigned trainers each their own clients, but in some facilities dogs aren't assigned to individuals. All the trainers work all the dogs. Too many cooks in the kitchen can overcomplicate things and it's hard to build individual bonds with multiple trainers. Not to mention even if trained the same way each person has their own "flair" or "style" in training so consistency can be impacted.

  • Larger facilities do mean more things happening and more people to train around but from my experience they lack the time to fully utilize these things and in a lot of cases dogs never really get out of the facility. When a trainer has several dogs to train in a day the math doesn't always add up to each dog getting the most out of training. Field trips for 4 dogs is a challenge but these facilities normally go way beyond that number of dogs per person!

  • Higher capacity can mean lower rates but the quality goes down with the quantity required to keep the business profitable. No business is immune to a bottom line. Staff to pay, rent/mortgage, utilities, etc. all of it means either higher rates or higher quantity and as mentioned above sometimes hitting that bottom line means lowering the individual dogs expectations or number of training sessions.

  • The bigger the place the less monitoring they have. When you have 50+ dogs staying at the same place keeping track of them can be difficult.

  • Oftentimes due to time restraints and the number of dogs in their care. Packages are normally inflexible. Wanting a certain behavior pays for X amount of weeks. Even if you don't care for the sit in package B you need it to get the training from package C.


All and all Large Facilities can be a great way to train / board dogs. I helped hundreds of people working for one and honestly the only bad review I received was when I was no longer training for them! Someone was mad I wasn't available for a follow-up due to my career changes which I empathize with. It was outside my control. Just know like with a mom and pop shop vs any corporation there is good and bad. When you have a large staff that "family business" eventually loses its charm because at the end of the day the bottom line has to be met.


Franchises


Alright, this one I have a hard time being biased as I've never heard a good thing from anyone I know who signed onto a franchised business or used them as a client. Large Facilities have their issues but at least they are under one roof and one management. Once you franchise you lose so much quality control! Franchises have a structure in place but like with McDonalds or any other franchise corners can be cut, quality can go down, so many moving parts means so many opportunities for things to go bad!


Pros of a Franchise (sorry this one is hard for me)

  • Easy to find and prices are (normally) consistent no matter where you are looking. Marketing support is often given so things like SEO are on point!

  • A lot of content exists of how they (should) be training dogs.

  • They have a wide reach meaning training options exist almost anywhere thanks to them!

  • The training (should be) consistent as they often require staff to take a course no matter their background in training.

Cons of a Franchise

  • These franchises spend so much on marketing, SEO, and selling themselves and focus little on ensuring quality of the product they are putting out under their name.

  • Paying a Franchise fee means a lot more overhead for any company. That means like in larger facilities quality vs quantity becomes an issue. Quick fixes instead of solid methods can be used. Honestly, this is where most of my horror stories come from, trainers who want to reach the results and don't think of the dog or the owners just that bottom line!

  • Because they are often widespread they cannot oversee every client from every franchisee. Meaning, even the best of intentions and great training methodologies can be butchered and clients dogs suffer.


Sorry again, I am really biased about certain organizations. I would never utilize a franchise and I tell friends and family the same thing. Too many bad stories and not enough quality control. Again, my bias is showing and hopefully someone reading this had good results from a franchise and I am not saying everyone who works for one is the devil. Just note that accomplishing goals is more than just sitting when told. The relationship, the dogs mental well being, and their physical wellbeing is important in training. Causing trauma to get a better sit is not the way to train and a lot of these facilities try to justify heavy handed tactics because they get results.


Okay, let's move past that touchy subject and onto the next!


Small Scale Facilities


It's funny as over the years I was on the Larger Facility side of things. Convincing clients to choose the big business over the little guy and now here I am. the little guy. I promise to be straight with the pro's I see and the con's I mentioned when I was on the other "team". But small times means small scale in every way. From staff, facility size, resources, it all at least starts small!


Pros of Small Scale Facilities

  • Small scale normally has a more ground level perspective. The owner is normally involved with the day-to-day and has oversight to all aspects of the business. If they even have anyone on staff besides them!

  • Communication is streamlined. The person you talk to is often the person doing the job. Feeding, cleaning, medication, training, even potty breaks they often do it themselves and can speak to it all!

  • Quality is (hopefully) prioritized over quantity. Setting their own hours and schedule rather than having someone else disconnected from the situation speaks to what they should be doing.

  • Oftentimes these are run right out of their homes! As such things like boarding feel a lot more natural to the dogs in their care. Not to mention supervision is much easier this way.

  • Smaller space means less clients, which means less dogs. More focus is given to the dogs in their care!

  • They are usually more flexible on policies and training packages as they can determine what is needed rather than just fitting a dog into a pre-selected package.

  • In general they are just more personable, clients are more than just a number and genuine connections come easier.

Cons of Small Scale Facilities

  • Small means less room. Oftentimes a good small business is booked up well in advance. Last minute training or boarding can be hard as that small scale means less room and less hands on deck to take on more dogs.

  • Since they have small staff (if anyone else at all) they have to clean, feed, call clients, etc. That can mean less time for the dog in their care or the communication with their clients. Only so many hours in the day after all!

  • Like any business a small scale doesn't get rid of a bottom line. Heck if anything it makes the bottom line more important as one canceled appointment can mean not having the money to pay the bills! As such prices are normally higher and they have to safeguard their time as again one missed client could make or break them!

  • Working from home means always being around the dogs however depending on the setup training in a living room only gets you so far. Getting out into the world to train is a must! Which means travel time. travel time can eat up training time and like any business training multiple dogs can mean multiple trips out and about. Cutting down time even more!

  • Whereas a small business sure can have a bleeding heart, they do have to safeguard themselves in a number of ways. Where they can be flexible and "break the rules" they still have to make sure at the end of the day they can meet that bottom line. No Show policies are strict! Deposits may be required. Everything has its purpose but it's not always best for the client.


I hope I did justice to some pro's and con's without being biased. I don't really know if these posts are doing anything in helping bring clients to me or scare them away. But at the end of the day Small, Large, ... even Franchise there are good people in the industry and bad people. One thing I've learned is you can never please everyone. I do what I do because I want people to live a better life with their dogs, but I'm not immune to a bottom line. I have bills like anyone else.


As always if anyone has any questions on hiring a trainer or wants to hire our services you can always reach me at (512) 898-9950 or email us at Info@LuckyPawsDogTraining. Our website also has a built in email contact form.


Thanks as always,

Jagger


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