Pet Boarding & Daycare

Pricing a Day Training Program

Pricing a Day Training Program

By Eve Molzhon

If you’re looking to add a day-training program as an add-on to daycare for dogs that will receive training during their daycare day, how do you price that? 

To figure out the price of day training (as an add-on to your daycare price), you’ll need to examine all your costs and determine what profit you want to make on it. Don’t think of it as what the customer is necessarily willing to pay—they know they have a problem (a dog who needs some obedience training) and they need a solution—look at your costs and then figure out how much you want to make above and beyond that.

Why do you buy coffee from a coffee shop versus just making it at home? Because you’re short on time and you don’t have fancy caramel, whipped cream or an espresso machine at home. So, you go to someone that can fix the problem—which is giving you that nice sugary drink that you’re craving. You’re spending $8 for a cup of coffee when you could probably make it at home for less than $1. A day-training program add-on is the same concept! You’re offering a great service to somebody who is already using your daycare service, so this is a bonus for them. 

If you’re offering day training as a three- to four-week program, just like after your kids go to grandma’s house, sometimes their attitude is a little off. That is what can happen during day-training programs. The dog is going home every night and its humans might be allowing them to jump up or display some other behavior you are trying to eliminate during training, so when they come back in the morning to daycare you have to refresh the dog that the behavior is not acceptable. It just takes a little longer because you have that interruption of them going home every night. Keep that in mind if you want to do a three- or a four-week program. Longevity and consistency every day is really key to making this program work.

This style of day-training program is a higher-dollar value item. So, if you sell a day of daycare for $45, your day-training program should be that plus some extra, because you’re really spending a lot more time with this dog and working on a lot of skillsets. 

With day training, you may choose to allow dogs that aren’t daycare appropriate, so then you need to have a crate or an enclosure for them to stay in while they’re not being trained. Remember to consider the cost of that enclosure space as well, because that space could have been reserved for another dog to stay in (if you offer boarding or day stays), and that would be lost revenue. 

When you’re thinking about your costs, most day-training programs are priced over $1,000 for four weeks (depending on your local market), so you really need to look at your numbers. Consider the cost of having the dog in that crate or enclosure Monday through Friday for those three or four weeks, because that is a true cost. 

Next, what is the cost of your handler for labor? What is the cost of the treats and tools that you might need? You might need extra leashes, a waist belt if you’re going to go outside for urban training (which we suggest you do as part of a day-training program). So look at all of your costs and then figure out what you want to make for a profit margin. 

Let’s look at a simple example using simple numbers. (We’re not saying these are the numbers that you should use or even the ones that we use; they’re just used for this example.):

We’re going to divide our costs into daily expenses and one-time costs. Daily costs are going to be your labor costs and kibble; items that are constantly requiring capital outflow every day of training. One-time costs are things like a pack of high-value treats such as hot dogs or string cheese, a treat pouch, a leash or waist belt if needed, and a crate or enclosure space. Essentially, these are items that you buy (or account for) once for each dog and then don’t have to replenish for the rest of the program. The high-value treats will be used over the first couple of days. (You don’t want to feed a whole pack of hot dogs or string cheese to a dog in one sitting; you’d only use a small chunk at a time.) You can get more mileage out of these purchases than just a single session or even a single day. 

Start out with the hourly wage for the trainer. We’re going to use $10 per hour, although it may vary in your state or city, so make sure you pay attention to that detail. A day-training session usually runs 30 to 45 minutes, but we’re going to round it up to one hour since the trainer is going to grab treats, perform equipment checks and probably fill out some reports, so it’s not unreasonable to estimate an hour. There are three sessions per dog per day, which means our raw labor cost is $30 a day. 

Now, we have to account for FICA, Medicare and Medicaid, unemployment insurance and other miscellaneous costs that various government entities charge, so we’re going to multiply that raw figure by 1.17 (to add 17% for payroll taxes and other miscellaneous costs). This brings our actual daily cost to $35.10 per trainer per dog. 

The training schedule runs five days a week, so our $35.10 a day for five days means our weekly labor cost is $175.50. The training program spans four weeks, which means our total labor cost per dog is $702. 

Decent kibble is going to run about $1 a cup, and you’re going to need an average of a cup per session per dog, so $3 a day is a good number to estimate. Three cups a day is a program average; smaller dogs may take less, bigger dogs more. And on the days you’re using high-value treats, you may not use any kibble at all, but it’s important to have a fixed cost for this. 

A daily ration of kibble at $3 a day converts to $15 a week, and over the course of a four-week program, that is $60. At this point, we’re standing at $762 for the program costs with just daily expenses.

Now we need to figure the soft inventory. This is going to be the treats and rewards that you use that have to be replenished. Starting with high-value treats like hot dogs and cheese is expensive, but the dog will likely graduate from that quickly. An eight-count package of hot dogs runs about $1 and a 24-count of string cheese is around $5. Realistically, this should be enough to get you started with the dog, so our high-value treats are a fixed cost of $6 for the whole program. Throw in a couple of treat pouches—one for the handler and one for the client at $5.50 each—and you just added another $11, bringing total costs to $779. 

Next, add the cost of your crate or enclosure space where the dog rests between sessions and play time (or stays if it is not daycare appropriate). However, this is NOT the same as your typical boarding costs because boarding costs have labor for feeding and let-outs built into them, so you should use the cost of your crate space but not the labor. So let’s say that’s $15 per day, which adds $300 to your costs for the four-week program and bumps the total up to $1,079. 

With labor and soft inventory, we’ve got the base costs for the program figured out and came up with a total of $1,079 per dog per program. Rounding this figure up to $1,300 isn’t unreasonable in any way. Costs mount up quickly, and with some dogs you’ll exceed this figure in extra time and supplies, but with others you’ll make it back. So our cost based on this example would be $1,300 per dog.

The next question is, how much do you want to make? Consider the amount of time you’ll have to put in behind the scenes to administer this program, the risks that you run and what you think your measure of success is going to be. A good figure for profit with this type of program is $1,000, typical retail market. So this financial model based on our numbers should come close to netting you $1,000 per month (per dog), which means the price that you charge the customer is $2,300 for a four-week day-training program. 

This is just a guideline that can’t possibly take into account the cost of living or other expenses in your area. It’s also understandable if that price gives you pause. While we would encourage you to price this aggressively, we also don’t know the economic factors in your region. If you’re hesitant, then you may wish to price it at $500 for your profit rather than $1,000. You can always raise the price as you become busier, which is a nice problem to have. 

The other point that you need to consider is whether or not you need to charge tax for this program. Some states and municipalities would classify this as a service and it may not be subject to sales tax, but other jurisdictions will tax any monetary transaction at all. Check with your accountant before you set your final price. 

Eve Molzhon is the creator and owner of Dog Handler Academy. Dog Handler Academy is a 100% online, automated employee training program designed specifically for dog daycares and boarding facilities. Our real-life daycare videos and online quizzes fast-track your team members into understanding dog handling and care, saving you time and money. Courses cover basic and advanced dog handler skills, social cues and safety, client relations, and more. The mission of Dog Handler Academy is to provide employers with comprehensive training material in a cost-efficient, consistent, and effective program. Our end goal is to create better handlers within our industry to ensure the proper care of animals.