Sunday, April 26, 2009

Too Many Rules

Business Rule #1: The customer comes first.

Business Rule #2: If the customer is ever wrong, go back and read Rule #1.

After my last post about setting boundaries with clients, I wasn’t happy with what I’d written. I went back in and added phrases like “after all is said and done, rules are made to be broken,” and “there is an exception to every rule.” In other words, I don’t like to set up a bunch or rules and procedures for my business.

Often on the various discussions forums I participate in, I read a post that says “I added this or that to my contract and had them sign it.” Or “You should put it in writing and make sure your customers know you won’t do that…” Whatever it is, I wonder if some of us don’t make so many rules we chase the customers off rather than make their experience with us a happy one.

Some pet sitters have a long list of charges. $15 per visit, plus $2 per visit for each additional animal; $2 per animal for administering medication; $5 extra for brushing the dog; 50 cents per mile extra outside of a 5 mile radius; $5 extra for holidays; $5 extra for visits after 9 pm. And on and on.

I’m not saying some of these charges aren’t reasonable. I am pointing out that you can nickel and dime your customers to death. Is that really customer service?

My charges include everything, with the understanding that I will stay 30 minutes. I charge extra if I have several horses that I have to clean up after, and it will take more than 30 minutes to care for them. Other than that, my rate is all-inclusive. I do have two price points- extra for visits outside of my city. I don’t take assignments that are more than 10 miles away from home.

I strongly believe in giving added value for the dollar. I wash the bowls or brush the dog – whatever I can. I found a kitty litter scoop I really liked, and bought a bunch to give each kitty client’s family. I brought a bucket with a flat back that hooks to a fence for a dog that was constantly dumping his water.

A local one-hour photo processing store was sold to new owners. Every time I went in, there was another little piece of paper posted near the register. “We no longer accept business checks.” “Please allow five days for enlargements.” No this… no that… They closed within three months.

I have wonderful clients that don’t take advantage of me and I don’t consider it an imposition to care for their pets. Take a good look at your contracts and policies and procedures and forms…etc. If they run more than a page or two, maybe you have too many rules. 

Photo above: Kallie will fetch all day long. © 2008

1 comment:

barrie said...

Excellent post! I'm like you that I don't do a lot of what most pet sitters on email lists do with adding stuff to contracts, etc. I also don't charge extra for things like medication or extra animals. I do a really good job and expect my clients to pay for it. Period :-)