Luke Kindall got into the dog-training business after struggling to get his own pooch to behave. He now runs two franchises for Sit Means Sit, one of the largest dog-training companies in the U.S., in Denver and Fort Worth.
Kindall started his mobile business in Texas in 2007 and, after growing the business and hiring two employees, he expanded to Colorado, where he had always wanted to live. Today, he manages two additional employees. He travels to customer’s homes to train their dogs how to sit, obey verbal commands, and play properly.
The GoPayment Blog recently talked with Kindall about how he got into the dog-training business — and how he taught his bulldog to perch on a fire hydrant.
GoPayment: How did you get into dog training?
Kindall: I have an American bulldog, and she ate everything, bit us for fun, and my wife was about to kill me. The dog was a weapon of mass destruction and wouldn’t listen. I learned how to train her and then trained a couple of other dogs, which I really enjoyed.
I learned about Sit Means Sit, and took some time off to go through their training school, thinking it would be a good part-time business. But within three months, I saw it had the potential to grow significantly, so I decided to go full-time.
Fort Worth and South Denver are nearly 770 miles apart. Tell us about your expansion.
Texas is just an oven. Dogs are miserable and hot, and many don’t want to do anything. I always wanted to live in Colorado, and when I finished my training, South Denver was one of the last areas available in the state for Sit Means Sit.
How do you market your business?
Mostly word of mouth. I have a van with a vehicle wrap, and I simply go to high-traffic areas like a mall or a busy park and get my dogs out and work with them. The dogs really do all the selling.
We also network with vets and other dog-grooming, dog-walking, and dog-boarding businesses. A lot of times, we end up teaching them how to work with their dogs, and those visits then help us get referrals.
We also attend trade shows like home and garden, RV, or boat shows simply to show off the dogs.
What’s the biggest problem most owners have with their dogs?
They are too busy with life, inconsistent, or just have no idea what to do. A lot of times they are just frustrated and don’t know how to handle it. They may not be using an effective technique, or they may not spend enough time working with the dog. Or the technique they learned on the internet just isn’t working.
How has GoPayment helped your business?
Before, I carried around this big, heavy credit-card machine that spit out receipts. I had to put paper in. I always ran out of paper, so I had to carry extra paper, and it doubled the weight in my briefcase. If I didn’t have the machine, I couldn’t do sales.
Now, when people are ready to spend a fair sum of money and I tell them it will just take a swipe of my phone, they get really interested in how the technology works rather than worrying about the transaction. I show them the neat technology, how to sign with their finger, and how easy it is.
Tell us about your dog and how you got her to balance on a fire hydrant.
I have two dogs, Abby, the American bulldog, and Axel. Abby was formerly the weapon of mass destruction, but now she is a well-trained dog. She is 95 pounds of muscle, determination, and delicate flower. And she is the one who jumps onto the fire hydrant.
I saw other trainers who had dogs that could jump onto a hydrant — it is a signature trick of the company. I started out training her to jump onto a low object not far from the ground and worked up to something higher like a wide cooler. The trick is that the dog really has to figure out how to use its hind legs, and in this process, becomes more aware of its body. What’s really funny is that when Abby gets up on the hydrant, she knows that she is showing off.
As a bonus, check out Sit Means Sit (and Abby) in action in this video.