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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