Has the Dog Field Boom Gone Bust?

Has the Dog Field Boom Gone Bust?

Dog fields have been around for decades but their popularity as an alternative land-based income has seen a huge rise in the last 12 months with both a positive, and negative impact on established field owners. 

Some dog field owners are reporting less than 50% of previous quarterly earnings and are worried about what the future holds. 

There is no doubt that some field owners are suffering from a downturn in sales and that’s a particular problem for tenants and those that have financed their business based on optimistic numbers that were reported during covid.

However, this is not the full story and I’m here to sprinkle some positivity on what reports suggest is Dog Field Boom Gone Bust.

Should Dog Field Owners Be Worried About a Slump in Sales?

There is a lot more to the sales cycle of a dog field than many new owners have yet to experience – we urge you not to panic.

Those who have had several years in the business will know how their own field bookings fluctuate and those who favour a more interactive relationship with their customers will have even more insight into what to expect from seasonal variations.

Despite this, many dog field owners are drawing some conclusions about their downturn in sales, siting new fields around them and the ‘cost of living crisis’ as the main causes of their drop in income.

Whilst the appearance of a new field locally might have a temporary impact on your sales there is no reason why it cannot be a positive thing and benefit you both – this just takes a different approach to what many dog field owners have been used to in recent years – the good life!

The number of dog fields throughout the UK continues to grow.

There can be no argument that the cost of living crisis will be affecting some dog fields more than others but there are ways to reduce the overall impact through effective marketing and in many cases, field improvements.

Those who are opening dog fields now might be experiencing some despondency – sales have not taken off as fast as they’d hoped, and they have a long way to go before the fence has paid for itself – I understand that feeling. Three years ago, our fencing was bought and paid for after 3 months of operating. Now things are very different, with the cost of materials so much higher, dog field pricing more competitive, and more fields being available to users – paying off your set-up costs can take a lot longer and the potential for racking up interest on borrowed money can be worrying. Do not worry – most businesses take a while for word to spread and if you have a great field and put in the leg work when it comes to marketing, you will see your dog field prosper.

Who Is Loosing And Who Is Winning?

There are some fields that have felt an almost immediate impact of the cost of living crisis – those that are remote from their main market. The fuel costs have impacted everyone – including the bread-and-butter income dog fields get from professional dog walkers.

The winners here are the more easily accessible dog fields. Where people used to travel further to a better field, they are now making economic choices over preference. That means that some more local fields that haven’t been as popular are now benefitting from the pinch people are feeling at the pump.

The other people who are losing are those that opened in great locations in the depths and aftermath of the pandemic. They have lived a charmed existence up until now with weekends booked months in advance and solid weekday business, this downturn in revenue may have come as quite a surprise to some of these dog field owners but like with the new dog field owners, now the marketing work really begins.

By contrast there are people doing exceptionally well regardless of location and size of their fields and that is not just good luck, it’s also hard work. Other notable ‘winners’ are those that understand reactive dogs. Owners of reactive dogs are the most loyal to a good field – they will use it day in day out, come rain or shine, so being able to cater for their needs and speak their language is invaluable when it comes to running a dog field.

Things That Impact Your Field Sales In 2022

  • Location and proximity to a large dog owning market
  • The facility itself – how good is it?
  • The way you run your business – are you serving your customers well?
  • Price – where competition is very high, this has an impact
  • The marketing you do and how you do it
  • External Influences 
    • Fuel prices
    • Cost of living
    • Employment rates
    • Other fields opening

How Long Will This Downturn in Dog Field Bookings Last?

If you think you have been affected by any of the above impacts, this downturn may last as long as you let it.

There is no doubt in my mind that the sharp downward turn in sales that some dog fields are experiencing is temporary. But only if field owners do something about it. 

The entire economy is going to experience some challenges in coming years and how dog field businesses respond is going to determine the success of their enterprise, just like every other business.

Things that won’t work:

  • A defeatist attitude
  • An acceptance that sales will be what they will be
  • Not working hard to understand what affects sales for YOUR field 
  • Not learning new marketing skills
  • Not making improvements to your field

What Should You Be Doing to Boost Your Dog Field Sales? 

We have shared a few tips in this article – ‘Tips to increase mid-week bookings’ so if you haven’t been doing these basic things then this is a good place to start.

The next thing we would encourage you to do is view your field as an outsider – imagine this is your first visit (potentially one of many) and see what you like and don’t like about your field. There is always room for improvement.

Perhaps the most important thing to do is address your marketing. This isn’t just about reposting customer images on your Facebook and Instagram accounts. It’s about reaching dog owners who might not yet know dog fields exist or don’t know about yours – I hear from these people every single day – there are still MASSES of people not using dog fields who don’t know they exist.

Marketing is also about how you communicate with your existing customers, and it’s about presenting yourself in a way that inspires confidence in your field. That is critical.

Influencers have lulled social media users into a false sense of security – put a few posts up and watch the money come rolling in. The reality is that marketing a small business isn’t always obvious, it isn’t always free and it doesn’t happen overnight.

Should You Be Slashing Prices?

No. There is nothing I find more unnerving than a cheap dog field. Why? Because dog fields require thorough daily checks, year round maintenance, insurance, and waste collection to name a few of the essential costs. I expect dog fields to make money for their owners and I expect to have to pay them for their services and time. If this price is very low, I ask myself which corners are being cut?

Often new fields open and undercut their competition. This is a disastrous race to the bottom and when we are helping new dog field owners set pricing, we look at far more than ‘what the competition are charging’. 

Our advice is always to offer more value rather than cheaper pricing.

Reasons To Be Cheerful!

Dog ownership in the UK is at an all-time high and whilst it is extremely problematic that many young dogs are entering adolescence without the training they needed – dog fields will continue to benefit from this increase in demand in safe places to exercise a dog.

Availability of land is by far the greatest barrier to entry when setting up a dog field and prospective buyers and tenants are currently being priced out of the market – the dog field explosion is going to slow marginally at some point.

There aren’t many businesses with the positive risk to reward ratio of a dog field – if you have an established dog field, fix it, don’t abandon it.

If You Want Some Help Boosting Your Dog Field Sales

There are a huge number of actions you can take to boost sales for you dog field, regardless of the economic state, price of fuel or any other external factors you think are playing havoc with your once booming business.

This is just a stark reminder that running a successful dog field is not a passive income.

This is the first thing we say at any consultation – successful dog fields require effort – and this will never change.

If you want to tackle your downturn in bookings head on, we run a comprehensive Marketing Reboot Package. We give you the tools and knowhow that will reinvigorate your bookings and set you up for a more robust and prosperous future.

The purpose of the Marketing Reboot Package is to help you to increase the money you generate from your dog field in just 4 weeks.

Having launched a new dog field with 3 week advance sell out, survived intense local competition, economic pressures, and thrived by generating additional revenue streams, we can help reboot your dog field business. Here’s how it works:

Marketing Reboot Package:

  • 2 hour visit with you (field visit required)*
  • Comprehensive individual marketing plan for your field with step by step strategy (Project Plan Workbook)
  • Week 4 Zoom Review

*Additional travel charge for Scotland and Northern Ireland

I hope this encourages you to act – if you’re experiencing a slump in sales and you don’t know why, dig in and find out why so you can understand how to tackle it and continue to run a successful dog field business.

If you’d like to talk through the Marketing Reboot Package in a little more detail, please email Hannah@BritishDogFields.com to arrange a call.

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