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#71 – The Key to Capturing Buyers When They’re Looking to Buy

by | Aug 31, 2023 | Business Management, Dog & Puppy Management

You know what is super frustrating? Having a buyer call, looking for a puppy, and you don’t have one. You know what’s also frustrating? Having no one calling you when you do have puppies. Do you feel that pain? I know it was a pain for me for a long time.

It’s a really goofy part of the process of dog breeding, how do you market puppies when you don’t have them and what do you do with the buyers who call and then disappear when you don’t have puppies?

If only there was a way to catch buyers and sell them on your program when their interest is there.

Let me know when you have puppies

In the beginning I used to have a lot of people say, “let me know when you have puppies.” I think they literally wanted me to save their phone number on a list in a notebook and then go down the list and call everyone when a litter was born. I mean, you could do that, but back then I was not organized enough to have a notebook that didn’t get destroyed by toddlers, puppies, or coffee. I also found that so many of those people were flakey that I just didn’t get many wanting a dog the few times I did call.

I started to notice a few trends with buyers. If they were ready for a dog, that generally meant they wanted one now, they were impulsive, not willing to wait. Other times I met buyers who were very much willing to wait, they would say, “I’m looking for the best dog, so I’m starting my search now, I’m thinking in a few months would be an ideal time to get a dog.”

Those buyers were always nice to work with because they were really looking at the quality of my dogs, seeing if they were a good fit. They were willing to wait, but also willing to place a deposit.

I started to sort through what made the impulsive buyers different from the patient buyers. I realized that the patient buyers saw a difference in the dogs, they knew not every dog would be a good fit for them and they knew it was worth the time to look at a bunch of breeders and find the right one. They were looking for the right dog, and as such the timing became less relevant.

The impulsive buyers on the other hand did not see that all dogs were different, they might see that different breeds were different, knowing they preferred a German Shorthair instead of a Yorkie for example, but they often didn’t think there would be a difference in breeders, and certainly not with puppies in the same litter…besides color of course, they always seem to notice that.

How can I convert the impulsive buyers to patient buyers?

Anyways, I thought to myself how could I get the impulsive buyers to be more like the patient buyers, especially when I didn’t have any available puppies on the ground?

If I could get the impulsive buyers to see what the patient buyers knew, then maybe I could get them to wait or place a deposit on my waitlist.

This conversation often happens after the initial dance of a new potential buyer phone call, they’ll sort of start to end the conversation after finding out they like what you offer, but you don’t have puppies. It usually goes like this, “okay, well sounds great, let me know when you have puppies born.”

Ugh, don’t you hate that sentence? I do. I know that nearly all of those turn into buyers for another breeder. So how do you take that sentence and turn it around? How do you get them exclusively sold on one of your dogs?

I tried a lot of things. Sometimes I would say, “Most of our puppies are sold by the time they’re born, but if you’d like, I can get you on our waitlist.” Which is when you have to have the conversation about the deposit, and well, now you’re asking for money when you don’t have puppies.

For the longest time, this was the best I could do, I didn’t have a great way to manage buyers not on a waitlist with money.

I know, some of you are shaking your head, rolling your eyes, thinking, “Seriously Julie, why couldn’t you just put waitlist together on a spreadsheet with their name and phone number? How hard is it to open Notes on your phone and keep a running list?”

And you’re right. Sometimes I suck. My life was in such chaos back then that I didn’t have a great system that helped me manage things, I wasn’t really capable of sticking to a system that required me to think. Remembering to add that number to a note in my phone after talking with the person wasn’t something I would remember to do. I was doing more juggling than I should’ve been, and I was also going through a lot emotionally that I didn’t learn and understand until later, but hey, that’s life, right?

Anyways, after some time I realized I would lose their number or forget it, so I tried a lot of ways to let them know that essentially if they didn’t jump on the waitlist, then I would probably lose their number.

After a while, a new idea came to me, this was that, if they weren’t willing to wait to get a dog from me, then they weren’t sold on my kennel. So I began to use the phrase, “I don’t want you to give me a deposit until you’re sold on my kennel, but once you’re sold on one of my dogs, then I highly recommend you place a deposit and lock in your spot on the waitlist, so we can get you a better pick and the best puppy for you.”

This works pretty well for people who can see the differences and know that they are the kind of person I’m breeding my dogs for, but still, not everyone is in that boat, not everyone understands.

The In-Between Buyer

The buyer that’s not yet ready to commit, but that has the ability to see the difference. They are your ideal puppy buyer, but they aren’t ready yet, they need a bit more information, they need a few more dates before they’re willing to call this a thing. What do we do with them?

After a long time, embarrassing, I know, I finally figured out a solution. The idea is fairly simple, we need to collect their email address and use an email service provider to keep them in the loop on our kennel with an email newsletter.

I know some of you just felt your blood pressure rise, you are looking around the room for things to throw your phone at wishing you were throwing it at me. “NOT ONE MORE THING I HAVE TO DO AS A DOG BREEDER!! I’M ALREADY DOING A MILLION THINGS!!”

If you still have your phone and haven’t yet thrown it, thank you. I promise it’s not too bad. In fact, I’ve done my best to make this a simple process.

I just want to run through a few things to give you a background so you can make an educated decision on this process and determine if it’s something you want to entertain.

Get the MasterClass on Using ConvertKit for Your Dog Breeding Business

The Benefits

Let’s start with the benefits, it’s important to know why you should entertain something before you learn how it works.

A few years ago, my kids were begging me to make tacos, now I live pretty far away from the grocery store, so it’s not like a quick 15-minute trip to get something like taco seasoning if you’re out. My kids decided they would essentially prefer to starve if they couldn’t eat tacos. Okay, so maybe I’m exaggerating a bit, but the point is I was trying to be the cool mom and make tacos.

Well I decided I could probably find a spice mix recipe online if I looked. I browsed through a few and landed on this woman’s site. She had an incredible taco seasoning recipe, she had some good tips in the blog article, but nothing that made me want to crazy scroll past it and just get to the recipe…that happens a lot doesn’t it? People write a novel before they give you the recipe? I heard this joke once that some of the foodie bloggers could confess to a murder in the blog article of every recipe and no one would ever know because no one ever reads that stuff.

Okay, so anyways, the point is, the taco recipe was great, I really enjoyed it, and she recommended to use it on eggs and I love it. I jumped on her email list hoping to get other great recipes. She sends great recipes each week, but not just that, she has a weekly email where she shares a picture of her backyard each week, so I can enjoy the changing seasons with her, she tells me what she’s reading, what foods she’s craving, and she often has a little insight on life in those emails. I feel like I know her.

The kicker is, I’ve been getting her emails now for years and I will check her site first when looking for a new recipe because I know it’ll be good.

Wouldn’t it be great if potential buyers felt the same way about you? They think, gosh, I know I want a puppy, so they get puppy fever, find your kennel, sign up on your email list, but it wouldn’t make sense for them to place a deposit because they are still in college or maybe they’re still living in an apartment, planning to buy a house, but they aren’t exactly sure when. These buyers, if they’re on your email list, will decide they already know where they’re getting a puppy from, you!, but they’re just waiting on a few things in their lives to fall into place.

In the meantime, they can become endeared to you and your breeding program because they’ve been there for the ride. They feel like they know you.

Not to mention other great benefits, like having a direct way to speak with people who may be interested, but weren’t on Instagram when you posted. It’s also a great way to keep in contact with previous buyers who have an easy way to be reminded about you, and will often just hit reply to tell you something if they’re prompted. Also, it’s a great way to reach out for testimonials and ask people to send you photos of all the cool things your puppies are doing or to learn their struggles so you can help them.

Oh, and did I mention it’s a great help with returned dogs. When you get a puppy returned, your list is a great place to advertise your dogs, since those people are often willing to take on a second pup at a reduced rate.

Okay, so we have the benefits…they’re looking pretty good, huh?

Time Investment and Email Topics

I know some of you will feel overwhelmed adding this to your place, not only is it ONE MORE THING to do, but it’s also a new thing to learn and implement, which can be frustrating.

First off, if you read about email marketing, you’ll hear all sorts of people telling you how many emails to send, how long, and blah blah. I don’t want you to feel this has to be super intense, it’s more just a way to touch base with your buyers and potentials, so they know you’re still around, still doing your thing. You don’t even need to send weekly emails, you could, but you probably don’t need to, I think writing an email each month to keep them in the loop would be adequate.

It doesn’t need to be long, it doesn’t need any pictures or anything fancy, it can literally be text.

You’re merely writing a quick update.

Here are a few things you could put in the email:

  • Upcoming litters, tell them about a breeding you have planned and why you’re excited about it and the puppies that’ll be produced.
  • Updates on breeders, whether you’re retiring a breeder or adding a new one, or maybe that one had great health testing scores.
  • Available puppies, letting them know puppies were born and that you have availability, or even specific pups.
  • Available additional services, like boarding, training, or grooming.
  • Helpful youTube videos they might like, they could be funny or educational
  • Testimonials from previous buyers, you could always highlight the success of a pup you bred.

You can see how with a list like this, it would be pretty easy to kick out a few paragraphs to keep people up to date.

How Do You Do This?

I know we have so many hats to wear with dog breeding, so it’s a pain in the butt to figure all this stuff out and which software to use.

I’ll tell you that I use two software services, but for this particular task I recommend you’ll use the software ConvertKit. ConvertKit is an email service provider. What that means is they will send the emails out for you, one-by-one, such that your emails aren’t getting sent to a ton of people in the To line, nor are you copying and pasting everything into the BCC line. Both of those are a little hokey and can upset some people. They often go to spam, too.

The email service provider will allow you to add their name in the email so it can be personalized. Not to mention, you can tag people as having bought a dog, and also as part of a litter.

There are lots of options and it feels very professional.

I HAVE A MASTERCLASS TO TEACH YOU CONVERTKIT

The best part about ConvertKit is that it was designed for people who have giant audiences, like thousands and thousands of people, however, as dog breeders, we don’t need a giant list of emails, we could do amazing with a hundred people on our list.

The bonus of this is that you can use the free version of ConvertKit to do this.

What’s more? Well, I know the youTube videos on ConvertKit are definitely out there, but it can be hard to adapt things to a dog breeding program, since it isn’t exactly the standard example. This is why my team put together a MasterClass on how to set up and use the free version of ConvertKit.

You’ll get to meet Amelie Miller, a new member of our team.

If you aren’t yet a member of the Dog Breeder Society, you can join at here, or you can purchase the MasterClass individually here.

Don’t want to use ConvertKit?

If you don’t want to use ConvertKit that’s fine. You know me, I would never tell you that there is only one solution. I like ConvertKit because this is the only thing it does, it’s not trying to be great at a million things, it’s just really good at this one thing. I love it has a free version that is very useable for breeders. You can upgrade to the paid version, which would give you some automated features, which are helpful, but not necessary at the beginning, even if you did opt for the paid version, it’s only $15/month or $9/month if paid annually.

If you want to opt for some other programs, you can look into your web hosting provider, I know some of the drag-n-drop builders, like Wix, have this as a service they offer. There is also mailchimp and they have a free version as well, however they limit by the number of emails sent, as opposed to the number of people on the email list.

Regardless, I think there is a place in your program to have an email service provider. The key to selling our dogs, especially in the current market, is to get buyers to see why we are different and this is a great way. It also pulls you out of the chaos that social media can be. My hope is that you’ll be able to reduce the number of social media posts you put out each week when you implement an email service provider.

Well there you have it: a simple way to communicate the benefits of your dogs and the difference with you program. I hope the MasterClass makes it a little quicker and easier for you.

Show Notes

Referenced Links

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Hey! I’m Julie Swan! I’m here to help you build a breeding business that you love, one that produces amazing dogs, places them in wonderful homes, gives you the life you want, also pays the bills!