About This Episode
Debbie Tringale's on today's coaching call. She owns a dog training facility and boarding home, and now she wants to expand online. How does she do that, if her business is so locally-based? Well, Debbie also has a niche—she's an expert in training really aggressive dogs. You know, the ones who look like they want to eat you. Make sure you stick around through the call, because Debbie's superpower has a big part to play in all of this. You can check Debbie's website out at MeandMyDogs.biz.
We start the coaching session by talking through Debbie's current business, and what her main objectives are. We identify Debbie's superpower, her “unfair advantage,” and how she can use it to drive her business. In our conversation, we evaluate how Debbie is marketing her business and how she can use new techniques to gather an audience, validate her ideas, and build monetizable products and services. As we wrap up the call, Debbie lays out a strategy for validating her business ideas and creating a profitable and effective path for the future.
What You'll Learn:
Learn how to move a location-based business online, gather a following, validate your action plan, and create income streams through new products and services.
AskPat 1030 Episode Transcript
Pat Flynn: Yo. What's up everybody? Pat Flynn here, and welcome to AskPat 2.0, Episode 1030. I appreciate you being here. For those of you who don't know what AskPat 2.0 is, this is a show where entrepreneurs like you call in from all different skill levels, all different kinds of pains and problems and issues. And, I'm here to help coach these people through that process. And, by you listening in right now, you also get coached at the same time. That's the beauty of this.
So, big thanks to all the previous guests here on AskPat 2.0, because they offer so much, just kind of being vulnerable, putting themselves out there. And it is no different today, because we have Debbie on the show with us, who actually owns a dog training facility and a dog boarding home. And, she wants to expand online. Like, how do you do that as somebody who takes care of dogs and are just kind of known in your local area? Is that even possible?
Well, guess what? That's what we're gonna talk about today. And, actually her niche in the space, which plays a really important role in this particular conversation as you'll hear, is she helps train uber-aggressive dogs. Like, you know, really aggressive dogs. You look at them and then their eyes turn red and they start drooling, and they want to eat you for dinner. Those kinds of dogs. That's her specialty, and that plays a big role in where this conversation goes today.
So, make sure you stick around and listen in because your superpowers are really where it's at, and that's Debbie's superpower. So Debbie, you rock, thank you.
And, before we get to Debbie's coaching call here, I do want to to thank today's sponsor, which is FreshBooks.com. I love it. I've been using it for years. 3 million other small business owners have been using it. Why? Because it's essentially like Tylenol: It gets rid of your headaches because it helps you keep track of your business finances. It's a bookkeeping software, but not only that, it's just a better experience with running you business, especially come tax season when you need all the forms. Plus, just understanding the health of your business financially. The invoicing: You can create a professional looking invoice in less than thirty seconds. It's just so easy to use. It's built for people like us: small businesses, solo entrepreneurs, entrepreneurs with teams, it doesn't matter. If you want to get a thirty-day free trial and check it out, full access, all you have to do is go to FreshBooks.com/askpat and just enter “Ask Pat” in the “How did you hear about us?” section. That's all you gotta do.
All right, here we go: The conversation today with Debbie. Let's do this.
Hey, Debbie, thank you so much for coming on AskPat 2.0 today. How are you?
Debbie Tringale: I'm good. How about you, Pat?
Pat Flynn: I'm doing excellent and I'm excited to chat with you today. Why don't you just spend a couple of minutes telling everybody what it is you do?
Debbie Tringale: Well, I have a dog training and dog boarding business, and I specialize mostly in fearful and anxious dogs. And so I kind of work with the dogs that most people don't deal with. And, my boarding business, that's how my boarding business grew, was because many of the dogs that I was training couldn't go to any boarding facilities because of their behavior.
I reluctantly got into the boarding business, because my dogs couldn't go anywhere else. And so I've kind of got myself into this thing where I was actually reluctant to start dog training, but it was almost as if the universe was like, “this is what you need to do.” And people just kept coming to me and my business grew to a point where I was doing the dog—well, I am doing the dog training and the dog boarding, but I've kind of hit a wall, you know? And, I want to have a wider audience than I have right now. Most of my, well, all of my clients are local and I'd kind of like to stretch my wings and go wide.
Pat Flynn: I love that. What's the name of the business?
Debbie Tringale: It's called Me and My Dogs.
Pat Flynn: Me and My Dogs? And is that MeandMyDogs.biz, is where people can go find more information?
Debbie Tringale: Dot biz, yeah. Somebody already had MeandMyDogs.com. It's some angry person; I don't know what their deal is.
Pat Flynn: Well, you need to do that fear training with them . . . Anyway, so tell me what you want. What ideally . . . I get the wider audience, but ideally what does that look like to you?
Debbie Tringale: Well, I've been doing quite a bit of listening to podcasts and doing all kinds of things. And, you know, the thing that I really feel that I'm good at is the coaching part of it. I like when a friend of a friend calls me and says, “Oh. You know, so and so recommended you. I've got this problem.” And, I say, “Well, okay. Send me an email.” And they send me this big long, long email about all of the issues that their dogs are having. And then I can kind of cut and paste it in my head and try to figure out what's going on with the dog.
And then in five minutes, I tell them what's going on and what I recommend, and next thing I know, I get this email back: “Oh, my God. You solved this problem that's been going on for years and you fixed it in five minutes.” That's the part that I really enjoy.
But so far, the only . . . How do I say it? The only way that I'm reaching these people is through friends of friends, you know? And I'd like to be more direct at trying to reach that audience.
Pat Flynn: Okay. That's great. I understand now what you want. How would you want to work with it? Like, let's just say one-hundred people tomorrow email you and want your help. Is that how you want to continue to help? Or can you imagine a better way, or a more scalable way? Or do you want it to be one on one? I just want to know kind of what you would want.
Debbie Tringale: Well, that was actually part of the original question, which was . . . And, I went back and I looked at my, or re-listened to the podcast. It was Chris Ducker, and what he said was, is that you should spend more time working on your business than working at your business. And, my question was, is, well, you know, working on my business is not the part that I enjoy so much. It's working at my business. And, I know passive income and all this, it's almost impossible to do that, but I would still like to have a connection with my audience. I would like to find a way to be a little more passive at it. And so, I'm looking at maybe doing some online courses and some other things as well.
Pat Flynn: Okay. Great. I like that idea because then whether it's 5 people or 5000 people, they're gonna be able to get your help and see you. Now, one thing that I would think is related to your superpower, you said that you kind of have this unique ability to help especially fearful dogs, right? And, I think that that's a really important key that we have to discuss a little bit because there's likely a lot of dog trainers out there who have an audience already, but they don't necessarily have this specialty.
This is the number one way a person who is brand new to a space gets into that space. They take advantage of what they are really good at. It's their unfair advantage. And yes, maybe there's a few that know how to handle that, but if that's your thing, that's what you pitch to. For example, get on somebody's podcast because like, if I'm a dog trainer and I specialize in helping potty train dogs like, that's my thing, right? But my audience likely is going to want to know about especially fearful and aggressive dogs, and that's not an expertise I have. I could offer my own advice, but I don't have that expertise, necessarily.
So, I look for people who can fill in that gap for me, for my audience who I know needs that help. So me as a podcaster talking about dogs, I hear about you in some way. Maybe it's a direct connection, or maybe it is a referral from somebody who also listens to that podcast who says, “Hey, you should check out Debbie who specializes in fearful dogs.” So, you can utilize some of the network you have to potentially get on other people's shows. Or maybe it's a guest post, or maybe it's a Skype interview video that lives on that person's YouTube channel. But, you want to pitch it as not, “Hey, interview me or feature me.” It's, “Hey, I have this specialty that I want to offer for you and your audience.” And that's a great way to utilize an audience that already exists. And, that is the quickest way to grow, that's the quickest way to get notices by somebody else recommending you. Does that make sense?
Debbie Tringale: Yes, it does, and I like that you called it a superpower because I have a few friends that actually call it that as well.
Pat Flynn: Yeah. Okay, so great, we just validated that from many people. And, maybe it might take a little bit, a while, to be a guest on another show, but I would consider that you have this thing that people need and even people in the same space need, like I was talking about in that example.
Another place you can go would be to groups, and like Facebook groups and whatnot. And, you know, if you go and infiltrate those groups it's not, “Hey guys. Look at me, I'm . . . This is my specialty and this is what I do.” It's rather, “Hey, everybody. If you've got an aggressive dog, here's what I would recommend. I've trained aggressive dogs, I'm here in Georgia, and I know a lot of you might struggle with this. If not, don't worry. You don't have to watch this video, but if you are, here are some quick things you can do to just understand what's going on.”
Like, a really quick video. They get to know you and they go, “Debbie, wow. Thank you so much for the help,” instead of, “Oh, there's this person in my forum named Debbie. She's just obviously trying to grow her business.” No, you're helping me and as a result people will want to help you back.
So, groups of people where your target audience exists, that's where you want to go. And, they live under people and places like podcasts, and websites, and blogs. They live in social media and in groups. And you go there and you want to, again, share your superpower. And honestly, you could give all of it away for free, yet people will still want their particular situations helped by you, right?
I mean, anybody can go to YouTube to learn anything, right? And, you know, they could learn these techniques and whatnot. But, it's that personalization and seeing that there's a real person who is the expert on that who I could go to, who I can ask questions to, who has a specific course that relates to my particular situation. That's where I'd go to get my answers, and I would pay for that.
I mean, you know this, obviously: Having an aggressive dog is painful. Not because they bite you painful, but because it's just a struggle everyday. Especially if you have kids around the house and you imagined having this dog who just follows directions, and that's what you want. And, that's what people would happily pay for, as you know.
Debbie Tringale: Right. I think you really hit it on the head where I'm making my mistake, is that I keep trying to say, “Hey, look at me.” And, I think the reason for that is that within the dog training business . . . I've been to some seminars on how to grow your business. And, it's always, well, volunteer, you know? Give it away and then it will come back to you.
Well, I've fostered dogs. I've done all kinds of things for free. I've grown my business to this point, and now I think it's got to where either I haven't really experienced or gotten good at asking to get paid, or it's just that my audience is so used to Debbie just giving it away. And I think that I need to be able to figure out how to cross that line to get back to a point where I can say confidently that I deserve to get paid.
Pat Flynn: You do deserve to get paid. And, what it is that you're giving is a huge gift for people. And you're changing families, you're changing lives through your work, and in particular with dogs.
So, does the conversation about how you could potentially get more people to come your way make sense?
Debbie Tringale: Yes, it does.
Pat Flynn: Okay.
Debbie Tringale: It does, because those are some of the things that I've heard and that I've read about getting on podcasts and trying to join in on other audiences. And I think, again, part of my thing was I was doing what you said not to do, which is to just try to advertise.
Pat Flynn: Sure.
Debbie Tringale: And the funny thing is, is that I'm not good at advertising, and it's not one of the things that I like to do. But I like the idea that you said, just to get into these groups, to be an active participant and to give some good advice. But then, I guess my next question is, is how do I turn that around—
Pat Flynn: Right. That's Part Two.
Debbie Tringale: Okay.
Pat Flynn: Right. So now you have people who are coming your way, and they're coming to your website or they're finding you. On social media, it's actually easier. You can just basically say, “Hey, if any of you have any more questions, just send me a direct message.” And, that is like step . . . This is, again, on Facebook groups, or LinkedIn groups, or wherever. “Hey send me a message.”
And, maybe this is how you start, actually, with the podcast too. You go, “Hey, if any of you needs more help, just send me a message. Here's my email.” And that's maybe the way that you start. It's not the perfect way because, you know, now you've got people emailing you. But, that's a good sign. People emailing you means they're warm. Or they're direct messaging you. And then from there, likely you could potentially have conversations where you are essentially kind of looking to see what they need and what they would be interested in. So even before you build anything that would be monetizable, you're having these conversations already.
And, you can ask questions like, so . . . Obviously, you'd want to understand their situation a little bit, but then you can go, “Okay, well, if I had an online course that taught you specifically how to deal with this, would that be something you would be interested in?” And, you're not selling the online course, you're just asking if they're interested. And you're actually very honest about the fact that you don't have one yet. But you can pitch it as—and this is what I teach in my book, Will It Fly?, you're essentially validating that idea before you spend all that time and money to build something. Versus, most people in your particular situation would be like, “Oh, this is perfect. I need to build a course. And, I'm just gonna build a course. I'm gonna get all of the videos done. I'm gonna write the scripts and launch it. And then I'm gonna get people into it.”
And then, what usually happens is they spend all this time and money building this thing and then there's no connection to the people that they were having conversations with. There's no people who are interested in that. And, it's very deflating. And, you know, from there the right answer is to, okay, scrap that and go try something else. But, that's very hard to do when you've already dedicated that time and effort into it.
So, what I would recommend is essentially using these conversations to probe exactly what it is that you should be doing next. Maybe it starts with, “all right, well I offer a thirty-minute call for X dollars. Would that be something you'd be interested in?” And, that's a very clear, yes or no, that you can just see from the first couple of people if that's even of interest to them or not.
And, if you offer that and you find that that's not a thing that this particular audience needs, then that's not an option for them anymore. Now, you move on to the next thing. “Okay, what could we possibly do? Maybe it's, once a month I hold a virtual workshop and it's $49, and I teach for three hours. And this is specifically done every month for those people like you who are in that situation. And, here's where you go and sign up and register.” That way it becomes more like an event that people can put in their calendar. They set out that time in their calendar to go and sit and watch and learn from you. You essentially teach them what you would teach them in the online course, but you teach it in a three hour or two hour live event setting. And that's a very popular way to monetize a group of people who all essentially have very similar issues.
So, that's traditionally known as more of like, a virtual summit. Or, even a webinar training or a live online training, live online class. Maybe the class is a couple of days' worth, you know? So it's not necessarily live, but they get an email that goes into their inbox everyday for seven days, and that's how it helps. I mean, you could do it any which way you want. You just kind of have to go through these conversations.
You could likely go to a lot of your customers now and just be like, “hey, you know? I want to help more people, but I'm tied down to Georgia right now. But the internet is an interesting place. If somebody like me were to offer—if there was something like a virtual summit where you could come on for three hours and learn from me, tell me how you would react to that. Would that be weird to you?”
And, again, you're just kind of using your customers, who are your people, to guide you. You're taking the guess work out of that.
Debbie Tringale: Okay. Yeah. You actually made me think of something while you were talking. One of the things that I found with my customers is that in everybody . . . Well, they kind of fall into two categories. One category is that they think that they are alone. Like, they're the only one that has this problem, and, that their problem is unique to them and to their dog. The other category is people who are embarrassed. They say that when you get bit by a dog, the first reaction is embarrassment, and that's why a lot of the dog bites are not reported. And you made me think of something. Like, maybe even doing a small group like the summit, where I tell people that they're not alone, that they—maybe they can support each other.
Pat Flynn: That's cool too. I really love that. I mean, that's what you say to get people to sign up for it, is, “hey, you're not alone. You can come and join other people who are in the same place that you are.” And, those words are perfect, I mean, Debbie, you're hitting the nail on the head with the language. Whatever your people say, that's what you want to put on the landing page for this summit that you could potentially experiment with.
The nice thing about a group thing like this is you either get people to sign up or you don't. And then it either happens or it doesn't, right? You're not building anything before it happens. I mean, obviously you'd want to outline kind of what the day or the hours would be like. But, it's just like putting on an event. If I'm putting on an event and nobody registers, then I know that I have a messaging problem, right? I don't have a course problem, I have a disconnect between their problem and what they need. Now I know that's not what they need, so let's try another thing. And so, that . . . If that sounds exciting to you, I mean, that could potentially be the first trial run for you to see if you can get people to sign up for that.
And then, if that works, then you can optimize that. You can automate that. You can . . . There's different ways to go about it. Maybe some of those people will want to continue to work with you over time, in which case maybe it turns into a recurring monthly payment to just have a little bit of access to you, but also the other community members that you're building, because I would imagine that they would grow close with each other knowing that they were going through the same situations, like you were saying.
Debbie Tringale: Right. And, wasn't that one of the things that Chris Ducker talks about, is memberships?
Pat Flynn: Yup, Mm-hmm. So, if you picked up his book, Rise of the Youpreneur, that could be a good read for you to kind of understand all the different kinds of offerings that you could do. And, yes, he talks about that as one of the business models for sure.
Debbie Tringale: Right. Okay.
Pat Flynn: So how you feeling, Debbie?
Debbie Tringale: I'm feeling good. I mean, it's a funny thing that you've really picked up on kind of the vibe of my business just through listening to me talk. That's one of the things that my closest followers always say, is that I'm able to communicate my whole training technique and lifestyle that I teach people. And, you know, my voice is somewhat unique. And, I think that part of my problem is having to . . . Trying to figure out how to put it in a box.
But, I think what I'm hearing you say is that I don't need to put it in a box. I just need to continue reaching out to the people that are in other audiences and then kind of bringing them a little bit over on to my side.
Pat Flynn: Yeah.
Debbie Tringale: Like, I'm not stealing people, really. But, I'm trying to help other people.
Pat Flynn: Exactly. You're complimenting.
Debbie Tringale: Complimenting.
Pat Flynn: Yes. You're complementing what others are offering, and that's a great thing because those people would likely not be able to serve those particular members of their audience who need your help. And I think that's why a podcast would likely be a great solution or getting on other people's podcasts, because it's very easy . . . You're relatable and it's easy to get, like you said, revived really quickly. So that would be ideal if you could get on other shows like that. So yeah.
Debbie Tringale: And, I'd love to do a podcast back . . . Well, I'm gonna show my age here, but back when I was in college, I actually had a third-class radio operator's license, because radio was something that I wanted to get into. But my voice was just not good for radio. And so, now the technologies are a lot different, and I think that's something that I can actually do now.
Pat Flynn: I'm sure you could. I've really enjoyed this conversation. Okay, great, so Debbie, what are next steps from here?
Debbie Tringale: My next step is to start looking for . . . Start expanding my audience by looking at other people's audiences. As a matter of fact, one of the things that I did last week was to join some Facebook groups on dog training and dog behavior. And so I'm going to not only just join them, but now I'm going to become more active in them. Looking for discussions from people who are having problems with fear and anxiety, and try to contribute to those conversations.
And I'm going to talk to my people, the people who currently are my followers, to kind of see what they're interested in me doing next. Perhaps the online course, webinar—and maybe what I'll do is start . . . Once I start gathering some new people, some new blood, I'll go ahead and maybe put together a—not “maybe,” but, I will put together a virtual summit to see if that's something that people will participate in as well.
Pat Flynn: Woo-hoo! I'm excited, Debbie. Well, well done. Thank you so much for coming on today. Do you mind if we, in the future reach out to you and just kind of check in to see how things are going?
Debbie Tringale: No, please do, because I think that it would be fun to follow up. And like I said, I'm so grateful for you to reach out to me, because I think I've got something. And I hope that I can help your audience as well. I imagine that there's other people out there who are at a point where they don't know how to expand their business, and I think our conversation can help other people too.
Pat Flynn: It will, it will. It already has. So, thank you, Debbie. I appreciate you. Good luck, and we'll chat soon.
Debbie Tringale: All right. Thanks, Pat.
Pat Flynn: Debbie, thank you so much again for calling in and for sharing. And, we're definitely gonna follow up with you because this is such an interesting idea, you know, going local and very niche into online business. And, again, your superpowers, that's where it's at, Debbie. I mean, the whole aggressive dog thing, that's your jam, right? So, let it be known that that's your jam online. Best of luck to you, thank you so much.
And best of luck to all of you who are listening to AskPat right now. You're all entrepreneurs. A lot of you likely have something in your business that needs a little bit of help or tweaking. Or, perhaps you need a coach. Well, if you want to potentially get on the show just like Debbie did, all you have to do is go to AskPat.com, and there is a little button in the middle of that page. Kind of near and around you can see the other episodes there as well, you can see the Smart Podcast Player. Right around there, you'll see an application button. You can go and click on that button and you can apply, and I might select your business to get featured here, just like Debbie, and I can coach you. In exchange for doing that for free, essentially we're helping all the other listeners too.
So I hope you're all enjoying this, thank you so much. Make sure you subscribe because we got some good episodes coming up your way. And I just want to say, thank you. You guys are amazing. I appreciate you.
All right, guys. Cheers, and I'll see you next week. Bye.
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