Customer Care

It’s The Little Things That Count

Puppy prices are a growing concern for breeders and puppy customers alike! Customers call and offer a fraction of the puppy’s listing price, and some breeders admit they are barely breaking even on the last puppies in the litter. Many breeders hope to set their puppies apart from competition by offering incentives like complementary puppy starter kits, prepaid registration, microchipping, and a free bag of puppy food.

Written By: Hannah Day

In theory a litter of $700 Labradoodles with a microchip and puppy starter kit would be more appealing than the $700 Labradoodles without. While in reality, the last of both litters may sell for $250 and it doesn’t matter that one comes with a goodie bag and the other doesn’t. What matters is that you still have puppies left, and your cost per puppy is increasing as the listing price is dropping. Your job is to make sure your puppy has a loving home before those two numbers meet. The little expenses can be the determining factor between a puppy costing you money, breaking even, or making a profit you can reinvest in your program. Analyze if your incentives are serving their purpose! Ask your puppy customer, “What made you choose Bella over the other puppies online?” If they say they were impressed with the generous supply of bonuses… Keep it up! If they tell you they selected Bella because she had the cutest photo, or that they wanted to be sure they got a healthy puppy and were impressed by your genetic testing, that’s great! But that means your incentives are doing nothing more than munching into your profits like a Frenchie devouring an unsupervised bag of treats! 

Instead of sending a kit with a free leash, collar, toy, etc, tell your customer they can purchase everything they need at your location for competitive prices. Do you pay for litter registration applications… How many customers actually register their puppy? Advertise the puppy as registerable, explain the benefits of registration, and give the customer the option to purchase the puppy’s registration for an additional fee. Instead of microchipping your puppies, advertise that the puppy can be microchipped for an extra charge. Not everyone cares if the puppy is chipped, and those who do will be happy to pay you for this service. Does your dog food company give you free samples for customers, do you make a commission if your customers buy a bag of food, or do send a few dollars of kibble along with each puppy at your expense? You know what to do! 

Between dewomer, booster shots, advertising, vet bills, dog food, and bedding you cannot afford to be sending freebees with your puppies unless they are somehow helping you make the sale. I realize there are other benefits that make it worth it for a breeder to purchase some of these items I named above. For example, you may register your AKC litter to take advantage of listing on AKC Marketplace, or maybe you decide to microchip your puppies to tell them apart. If you found a product that is making your kennel a success, it’s worth the money! I am not suggesting you stop investing in products that are helping you better market your puppies, instead I am advising you assess the reasons behind your expenses and determine if they are working in your favor. As breeders, we are one of the customers best resources, continue to offer the same helpful items at the customers expense not your own! You might find that these little things can make all the difference!

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