In this week’s edition of Real Salespeople Doing Real Well, I’m introducing you to Randy C. from Shreveport, LA. Randy is a certified Canine Trainer and Instructor—meaning he can train people to become trainers. If you’ve ever watched the TV show, Dog Whisperer, that’s what Randy does. And he does it very well. I’ve known Randy for several years and am honored to call him a friend. How he’s built his business is truly inspirational on several levels.
Randy’s business started just training animals and working with problem pets. Having been a very successful insurance agent, he had many years of sales experience but was taking the leap to do what he loved—work with animals. But, he soon found a very real need and a very unique way of filling it. I’ll let him tell you the story.
“I started this business in 2004 literally with $7.56 and bought an ad in the Thrifty Nickel to promote it. At the time I was just training dogs. Over the next couple of years (my wife) Patricia and I found several instances—especially with elderly people where they couldn’t transport their dogs to the vet or to the groom. Many of these people have larger dogs and they literally couldn’t get them in their car while others didn’t even have transportation.
A Veterinarian friend asked me to go to an Assisted Living Center one day to pick up a dog for someone and I was happy to do it, it was no big deal. Well, one trip turned into two and then three and before long the people’s children were calling asking if I could handle their pets while they were at work or on vacation or whatever.
So, we started our Transportation business full time in 2008—trips to the groom, to the vet and we even make Ambulance runs.
I had read an article about a man in New York who owned a restaurant that was going out of business—he was ready to close the doors, but he had about 30 days worth of food left over. So, instead of wasting it, he invited his patrons in to eat and told them to just pay what they felt like the meal was worth. He took all the prices off his menu. If I’m not mistaken, the man has five restaurants now doing very well.
Initially we were charging $10-$12 a trip to cover our gas, but when we decided to launch it as a business I went with the pricing model from the restaurant: pay what you think the service is worth.
I’m averaging over $25 a trip and have gotten more than $100 on several occasions. You have to understand, people’s pets are like their children—when I can help them get them to the groom or especially the vet, it’s a valuable service to them.”
The obvious question is (and I asked): What happens if someone can’t or doesn’t pay anything?
“I have people today that for whatever reason can’t afford to pay, but I still do it. I feel like it’s my way of giving back—and in the long run, I think those things come back around. You have to remember, I started this business with $7.56, so I know these people feel—and I would feel if it were my pet.”
Since opening his business Randy has grown every single year (even in this “down” economy) and his company has grown approximately 75% since he started the Transportation business.
This is truly an inspiring example of filling a need and finding a unique pricing model to be successful. And for my friends in the Northwest, LA area if you need someone to take care of a pet—I know a guy.
Question: How can you use Randy’s model and experience to help your business grow and prosper? I’d love to hear your feedback.