Maywood, New Jersey
Eric and his wife Dagmar, greeted us at their home in Maywood, New Jersey and in a matter of minutes Dagmar was pouring us fresh coffee and sliding pieces of fruit pie onto plates set out in front of us.
Eric Goebelbecker’s business is Dog Spelled Forward, an irreverent and memorable business name, but one that started out as a joke. Before he launched his independent business, he was active in the online dog training community, and found the saying "Dog is God spelled backwards" not to be cute, but irritating. When he started his own blog, he called it Dog Spelled Forward, and eventually decided to make it the name of his business.
Eric spent the better part of a decade in the Army, which he sees as being the polar opposite of being an entrepreneur. After the Army, Eric worked in computer programming, survived the ‘dot bombs’ of the mid nineties and eventually became fairly settled on Wall Street. However the allure of working with dogs pulled him into the entrepreneur mindset. While Eric still has a foot in his day job, he is well advanced in his exploration of the world of dog training and business ownership (he was particularly enthusiastically about his copy of Escape from Cubicle Nation by Pam Slim).
Last year he looked over his client base, and realized that over 80% were women. He described his first Website as macho with dark colors. Although he was converting 100% of the leads that came in through referral sites, he knew he needed to make his own Website more attractive to his target market. Now he is having his site overhauled by a female Web designer and he is rethinking his marketing and reassessing his branding.
Dog Spelled Forward is unique in Bergen County, New Jersey, too. Big chain pet stores dominate the region, and the in-store dog training can be seen as en extension of the box store mentality. The chains don’t offer personalized, affordable and in-home training. Dog Spelled Forward does.
Eric Goebelbecker, owner of Dog Spelled Forward, in his yard with one of his three rescued dogs.
Eric and two of his dogs pose by one of the training runs in the Goebelbecker's back yard.
Eric is a member of the Board of Directors of the International Association of Animal Behavior Consultants, and is also certified as a Pet Dog Trainer from the Certification Council of Pet Dog Trainers. He credits his own training at the St. Hubert’s Dog Training School, and in particular his first instructor Liz Catalano, for building his foundation in dog training and the behavior science behind it.
Eric adjusts training for each pairing of his canine and human clients and puts the emphasis on helping people and dogs communicate using safe, humane and scientifically sound methods. Many of his clients are busy and their dogs are home or in daycare during workdays so Dog Spelled Forward will do sessions during the day to build a relationship with the dog before the owner begins their training. Yes, Eric acknowledges that pet training also entails training the owners.
The softer and smarter side of marketing and branding: Eric, showing off his new targeted logo and color scheme.
A blissful and obedient dog, after training with Dog Spelled Forward.
During the afternoon, the Goebelbecker's son popped in and out of the living room, where we sat with Eric and his wife. Eric talked a little about his hopes for his son, as he prepares to go off for college in the fall.
“I hope he can get as much satisfaction out of his career as I have. I do believe if you pursue what you want with your eyes open you will find something.”
Thanks Eric, for the wise word to the entrepreneur in all of us.
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