Sunday, February 6, 2011

Holiday surcharges for pet sitting and boarding

Dear Labby,
I had a question for you.  I own a non-traditional boarding kennel in my home and I had been thinking that I needed to charge more for holidays.  I noticed that you also have a surcharge for holidays:

$5 surcharge for major holiday weekends, per dog per day, on New Year’s Eve and New Year's Day, Easter weekend, Memorial Day weekend, 4th of July, Labor Day weekend, Thanksgiving weekend, Christmas Eve and Christmas Day.

How do you explain this to clients?  That is the part I have trouble with.  Any advice you could offer would be greatly appreciated.

Heather
Orissarun - The Crate Escape

Dear Heather:
Well, you are giving up your holidays for them, so it's much like making time and a half if you work at a store or restaurant on a holiday. It's not much more in comparison.

I just instituted this, and haven't enforced it at all yet. I'm shy about charging what I'm worth–a problem many of us have. I would just remind them when they book.

Sincerely,
Labby

Dear readers:
This exchange tells me something about myself. Yes, I added the surcharge last summer, and when the holidays rolled around I didn’t charge one single person. What the heck is wrong with me?

I need my own pep talk. I love my customers, and HATE to raise rates or add on extra charges. And I especially don’t want to ambush anyone by charging more at the end of visits without telling them.

But seriously folks, you are giving up your holidays and working your butt off while everyone else is enjoying their families and celebrating. This is a business, not a hobby, and so many women (myself included) hate to bring up anything unpleasant (like money) or have someone get mad at them (heaven forbid).

Why are we afraid to tell our customers what we charge? Will the client get mad? No one likes to pay more, but price increases are a fact of life. As costs go up, so do prices. I haven’t raised any prices since 2004. And then I added a discount for longer visits. And I charge less for boarding than anyone else in this area…probably less than anyone in San Diego County. A $5 surcharge on holidays is starting to look reasonable.

That being said, there is always going to be some client turnover. Few clients are with your forever and ever, and even the best clients may move away or get a neighbor to help them, and you may never know why they disappeared. The good news is that if you lose a few, you ultimately replace them with new customers who are equally as nice.

So, sit down and practice your spiel. Anticipate questions and objections, formulate your answers, and realize that charging a certain price or adding a surcharge for holidays is perfectly reasonable. Don’t devalue your own business by thinking you are not worth it.

Let’s go make a living,

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6 comments:

Linda Ward said...

So true! Sometimes I'm scared to tell people what I charge when I add the days up!

I only put prices up xmas day, boxing day, New Year's Eve and New Year's day, and I do put them up a lot, it's not just a surcharge, it's a whole other fee.

I explain it to my customers this way:

What will *you* be doing while I'm staying home with your pet?

I'll be out walking no matter what the weather, dealing with muddy paws, burrs in fur, and cold wet dogs. I can't share the holidays with my family as I am working. I can't have a tipple with my Christmas Dinner because I may need to drive in an emergency, or to take the dogs out somewhere nice, or visit other dogs or cats at home. I can't see the new year in with my friends, in fact I doubt I'll see it in at all as I'll be tired from looking after your dog and will need to go to bed at the same time as always. If your dog is afraid of the fireworks and I have to sit up with him until 1am I can't sleep in late to recover as your dog will still want his walk in the mornings.

But no-one has ever asked. They've just said they'll pay whatever as they don't want their dog or cat left to anyone else.

Charge what you're worth!

Anonymous said...

Hello there,
I am reading this in disbelief, well it may be believable as us woman tend to be care givers first, business woman second. Now I have to slap you with a wet noodle.......LOL....
Here is what I did: I already send out letters in anticipation of looming $4+ gas prices to the clients I raise once every year or two and the ones at a distance away that barely make my time worth it anyways, Guess what, I just got a booking from
one of the ones I thought for sure would drop me due to the increases.
I also recently added a weekend surcharge of $10 for one night, overnights as it hogs the entire weekend, and my girl cannot take on any other jobs because of it. (Note these are for regular clients); we won't take on a one time, one nighter. Holiday surcharges were on my website from day ONE. Charge what you are worth, we too must survive and pay our bills and your too low rates make us all look bad.........let us value what we do and charge what our time is worth!

Terry Albert said...

Okay, I feel guilty now! Someone I talked to just the other day thought I had a two-night minimum- I don't, and you are the first that I've ever heard of. Good job-- you're right, we have to run it like a business, not like we're doing a favor for our best friend.

Atopica said...

Hi,

Thanks for sharing a lot of information about pet sitting and boarding. This post is really very useful.

Anonymous said...

I've found it helpful to create a policy sheet and post it on my website. In the beginning, I would e-mail to or hand it to the client in person when they signed up for service. It prevented me from actually having to say the words in the beginning and I could just say, "These are our policies, please let me know if you have any questions." Also, it's helpful to remind yourself that people who are going to quibble about paying you an extra $5 or $10 per day to care for their pet on a holiday might not be worth having as clients.

Jercy John said...

Nice site..