Bonnies Dog Obedience and Puppy School learns new tricks

Ask yourself, what have you always wanted to do in your business before, but didn’t want to risk it? Maybe the time to change is now.” 

With 46 years and three generations invested in their business, Val and Bruce Bonney temporarily closed their award-winning dog obedience and puppy school and pivoted to an online offering, with new training courses and public locations that catered to the challenges of isolation.

As they adapted, the Bonneys worked closely with Council to get the public park permits needed to operate differently.

Tell us about your business

We train families and their dogs to work seamlessly together. Our business was completely closed down instantly and is still not operating from the school we have trained at for 30 years.

What’s the business innovation you’re proudest of? 

All of them. We had to build our new website from scratch, build an online booking system, create COVID-safe information and banners, create new webinars, design new programs and keep our clients informed.

What is the biggest challenge in running this type of business, especially since coronavirus?

Since COVID our business completely shut down. We had to review and rebuild from scratch. We have been very fortunate that our solid and valued reputation has seen our clients stay with us until the end of COVID restrictions.

We are blessed with caring and wonderful staff who really are family to us. Our current challenges are many and varied but with our love of dogs and their families we will get through it.

Have you noticed a change in what your customers want? If so, how have you adapted to meet demand?

What we have seen is a real change in the dogs through lack of socialisation and so have now produced new courses.

What’s your advice to other Brisbane businesses who may be struggling?

Be honest with yourself. Review what is the case currently and speak with your accountant to determine financial opportunities if there are any.

Ask yourself, what have you always wanted to do in your business before, but didn’t want to risk it? Maybe the time to change is now.

Bonnies Dog Obedience and Puppy School

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Video transcript

Hi, I’m Peter Bonney from Bonnies dog and obedience puppy school, and I’m a second-generation trainer with Bonnies, it was a company started by my mum and dad Bruce and Val Bonney 46 years ago.

Well when coronavirus hit, we knew about it in the middle of February really, and we sat down and had a family meeting and realised that this wasn’t going to be an easy fix.

Well then March came, and overnight the business went from about a hundred dogs on the field on a Saturday morning, overnight to zero. So, we got together with the trainers, our team, our family and then we completely built a new website, we went completely technology, we had online booking systems, we have automated email messaging systems, SMS technology.

So, we’ve changes everything, remodelled and then started back to work, of course that wasn’t easy, we had then five people, ten people, what can we do, how do we go, where do we work, and we also got in contact with Brisbane City Council, they were brilliant. In real terms they turned around to us and said, Peter, use our parks.

So, here we are now, we’re running three classes a day, we’re training 40 dogs on a Saturday, we’ve got our trainers back to work, we’re using the Brisbane City Council parks. So, I would say to everybody, spend your time, raising, getting your business up to the next level, spend your time researching, spend your time communicating, spend your time linking with other people, other businesses, it’s a community.

Last updated: 31 July 2020

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