Episode 394: Setting Boundaries in Pet Sitting Businesses

Boundaries in Pet Care Business
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Feeling overwhelmed by clients who disregard your pet care policies? Struggling to assert boundaries in you pet sitting business without risking client relationships?

Tune in for a crucial episode tackling boundaries in pet sitting businesses.

In this episode of Bella In Your Business, Bella unveils powerful strategies to regain control and respect in your business interactions. Learn how to confidently enforce policies on cancellations and last-minute changes, ensuring your time is valued and your business thrives. Discover practical tips to prevent burnout and maintain a healthy work-life balance.

Whether you're a pet care veteran or just starting, this episode equips you with the tools to establish boundaries that command respect and elevate client satisfaction.

Don't let issues with boundaries undermine your success—tune in now and transform the way you manage client expectations!


[0:00] Introduction about boundaries and the context of a pet sitting business

[5:40] Signs that boundaries are being blurred and the impact on business/personal life

[7:37] Reframing mindset to see boundary issues as business matters, not personal

[11:24] Sample response scripts for clients pushing boundaries

[13:19] Tips for maintaining boundaries like training clients and consistency

[19:09] Advice to a client who posted about schedule changes

Notable Quotes

“Boundaries are like the framework of a house, they hold everything together and they keep it standing.”

“These small boundary breaches can add up leading to burnout and resentment, which ultimately affects the quality of the service you provide.”

“Boundary issues often are not personal attacks. They usually stem from unclear communication.”

“We teach people how to treat us. If you’re answering the phone late at night or sending emails outside of office hours or bending the rules frequently, you’re setting a precedent with clients.”

“Being motivated does nothing. It’s like toilet paper that you throw down the toilet.”

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Welcome back to another episode of Bella in your business. Oh my gosh, you guys, we are so close to 400 episodes. Oh my goodness, more to come on that in a little bit. But I hope you guys are having a fabulous summer. Olivia and I just got back from Disneyland, we went out there for a couple days had so much fun. I’m sure you have seen my Instagram stories. I hope you guys are taking some time, or at least planning a little bit of time out during the vacation or during summer break, or just, you know, time to recharge, whether you have kids or whether you’re single, or whatever it is that you’re doing. I just hope that you’re taking some time for yourself and scheduling, because I want to remind you that the majority of us have started our own company because we wanted time and financial freedom, and so in honor of that, I just wanted to remind you to take a little time for yourself.

Okay, so along with that, in a very good segue is today I wanted to talk about boundaries. Oh yes, boundaries. And it was actually sprouted from a question that I saw happen online, and I was just really intrigued by it, because I read a lot of the stuff that you guys post, and then I think to myself, like, Well, why is that a problem? What is what is that? And so I’m just going to kind of read this to you. I’m going to keep it anonymous here, but this person says that she’s been having several issues, some issues with several, several clients not respecting her policy. So the first thing that it tells me as if it’s happening several times with different people, then the common denominator is you and I say that respectfully, okay, but I’m using this as an example, because I know that so many can relate to it. She says I need to take control of my business, and I want to do it without losing clientele, and because she can’t afford to do it right. So she’s a little bit fearful to assert her boundaries, because she doesn’t want that risk of potentially losing people. So she asks everybody, can you share a link to your policies for your business, which, you know, it’s a little like tricky, because most people copy from someone else, or they put in their own stuff. They don’t have a lawyer look through it someone. If policies are done correctly, then they should be done according to you, right? And here’s an example. When I was a solo sitter, my cancelation policy was two weeks for day visits, four weeks for overnights. If you cancel within that time frame, you are responsible for half the invoice. It was that simple. I was able to say it that succinctly, that like 15 years later, 20 years later, I’m able to still remember that I made it so specific and so clear. But then, when I got employees, I considered changing it, and I never did, because I said that my time is worth the same thing as their time. And so I basically, I was a lot of pet sitting like vacation clients, and I didn’t want, I wanted our schedule to be set. I didn’t want to deal with all that. And so if someone had a cancelation, we’ll talk about this a little bit later. I had a script that I would say to them all right, back to the situation.

So she says, you know, she wants everyone to share. What would happen if this was them? And then she goes on to an example about a steady client who usually schedules Tuesday and Thursdays twice a day, but they often cancel because their week schedule changes. And so her boundary is she requests a 24 hour notice at least to make the schedule changes. And then this week, they asked for the schedule changes of only one visit, and she said that she has a two hour arrival window. But then they started freaking out because they wanted to change her two hour window. And so it sounds like there’s, like, a lot of different things going on there, and she’s just really perplexed as to how could she keep the client happy, but also not feel my words taken advantage of, because I feel like she feels taken advantage of, and just kind of on call for these people. And so we’re going to talk a lot about this today. I’m going to kind of go back to this example, but I just thought it was it really sparked my interest to talk to you guys about this today. And like I said, I feel like a lot of us struggle with boundaries. And so what are boundaries? Let’s just start there.

So the context of a pet sitting business, boundaries are the clear lines that you draw concerning your working hours, your policies on cancelations, how you expect to be treated by your clients, and these limits ensure that you’re not overextending yourself and maintaining a professional relationship with your clients. For instance, you might set a boundary that you’re only available for communication during certain hours, or you have a policy for last minute cancelations to ensure that your time is respected. Boundaries are like. The framework of a house, they hold everything together and they keep it standing. If you don’t have that framework, then the house is going to crumble, and you might have felt that way before. But these boundaries are not just about setting limits for others. They’re also about protecting our own well being and ensuring the sustainability of our business. Imagine you receive a late night text from a client expecting an immediate response left unchecked, these small boundary breaches can add up leading to burnout and resentment, which ultimately affects the quality of the service you provide. For example, if you were to actually respond to that client late night, then they’re going to start realizing and feeling that they can now get you, reach you in the middle of the night, right?

So boundaries provide a reliable structure for your business operations. They help establish clear expectations and prevent misunderstandings between you and your clients. You’ll find that most clients will appreciate knowing your boundaries up front as it sets the stage for a respectful and professional relationship. So it’s crucial to recognize when the boundaries are being blurred. And like, here’s some signs that you can look for. Are you ready? So one clients are frequently contacting you outside of your stated office hours. And again, this is, like, it’s really interesting, because if it’s happening with a lot of people, you know, it’s you. If it’s happening with just like one or two people, you know it’s them, and then number two clients are expecting immediate response, or three clients are making last minute schedule changes without considering your availability. So let’s break them down further. If a client’s texting you at 10pm there’s a breakdown in your communication about acceptable hours of contact, and I would say, like texting, because texting is like, you kind of expect immediate response. If you were to email at 10 o’clock at night, then emails like, you know, aren’t checked all the time. I think emails are more like, okay, get back to me when you can right. So similarly, if clients expect immediate response, it might indicate that you haven’t clearly communicated your turnaround time, and if clients are repeatedly changing their schedules on short notice, it suggests they don’t understand or respect the impact of your planning. And so these actions can lead to increased stress or burnout, lowering professional respect, disrupting your personal time. It’s not just about inconvenience, it’s about the larger impact of your overall quality of life and the sustainability of your business.

Because again, getting back to what I said at the beginning, I know that many of you got into this business for more time and financial freedom. These actions can lead to increased burnout and stress, and I want you to think about your daily routines like, How many times have you found yourself distracted from your personal life because a client is pushing your boundaries? Have you ever felt anxiety of checking your phone late at night, dreading that there might be a message that you must respond to? I call this the electronic leash. These scenarios are often led to unhealthy work life balance affecting both your mental and physical health. Some of you listening right now might even be there right now. So let’s talk about reframing your mindset. Okay? Because it’s crucial to differentiate the difference between personal and business interactions. I want you to view your business as if it’s a corporation that you work for, not an extension of your personal self. The separation will help you manage your boundary issues without taking them personally.

Boundary issues often are not personal attacks. They usually stem from unclear communication. A client may not realize that they’re overstepping simply because you have not clearly set the boundary. Now for some self reflection, think about this like, am I reacting defensively, or is this a one off inconvenience? Think about, have I communicated my boundaries clearly and politely? Think about, have I previously allowed this behavior so maybe they think it’s acceptable. Think about, what can I change in my communication or policy to prevent this in the future. Okay? And now I think that last one, everyone jumps to it, including the original poster that I used at the beginning of this episode, sometimes we have to consider those other things first, because we may have taught people to treat us this way. So self reflection is a very powerful tool. Tool. It allows us to look at our own response and see if there’s a if they are proportional or they might have been fueled by past frustrations.

For example, if you find yourself getting overly upset about a client messaging you after hours, consider whether this has been an ongoing issue or if it’s a one time thing that introspection will help you manage your emotional response. And I cannot stress enough that you cannot respond when you’re feeling emotional. That does not always mean angry. It could just be like You’re like, check in with your body. Like, is your heart fluttering? Are you feeling anxious? Are you feeling angry? Are you feeling depressed? Are you feeling overwhelmed? Right? We want to make. Sure that we’re at like a like a neutral, emotional feeling before we respond. And so how do we address boundary issues positively and assertively? So I want to give you a couple of phrases. So pause this right now. Grab a pen and pen paper, or go to your notepad. These are three things that you can say when a client makes a difficult request outside of your boundaries, you might say something like, first, like, be very affirmative. Like, yes. I’d love to help you with that. Here’s what we can do, either A or B, or A, B or C, right? Give them an opportunity to make a choice, then they’re gonna really feel like they’re in control. But any choice that you give them are choices that you are comfortable with.

The next one is if a client expects an instant reply, you can say something like, Oh, thank you so much for understanding my need to maintain a consistent schedule for my clients, or Thank you for understanding or thank you for being patient while I got back into the office. For office hours to reply to you something like that. Can just be very gracious and kindly reminding them of the boundaries. Or for last minute changes, you can say something like, I understand things come up to maintain my schedule, please notify me of any changes within 24 hours in advance. I appreciate your understanding. And then you can go back to maybe this was within that and you could be like so unfortunately, today my schedule is set. We could either A, go on with the time as planned, or B, you can get a credit applied to your account for the next visit or see, unfortunately, it’s within my cancelation policy, so we’ll have to forfeit that visit, you know, like, give them their options, so it’s not just like, oh well, you canceled within 24 hours, so you’re being charged, you know. Like, still give them that I used to say something like, Well, unfortunately, we’re still, according to the policy, right? So it’s like, third, it’s the corporation. Unfortunately, according to the policy, the cancelation policy states that you will be responsible for half the booking So, or half the invoice. So, would you like me to at least still come today and we can, like, still save it, or would you like to just need to, you know, forward half of it onto the next booking.  And so reply scripts can be incredibly useful in maintaining professionalism. You could use for like, time management.

Here’s another kind of thing to provide the best service possible. I check and respond to messages between this hour and this hour. I’ll get back to you as soon as possible during these times, last minute changes, I understand things come up. However, to maintain my schedule, please notify me of any changes in 24 hours in advance. I appreciate your understanding or payment policies to continue providing quality service, I require payment by date. Thank you for respecting this policy. Now, of course, this is very generic, and this might not be in your tone or your brand tone, so I encourage you to adapt it to how it would sound more natural for you all right.

Now we’re going to move into like practical tips for maintaining the boundaries. One would be to teach clients how to treat you. Okay, so you want to model the behavior that you expect. Think about like you’re training a puppy. Okay, we want to reward them for positive behavior. We want to like, kind of ignore and redirect the the negative. Um, if you’re consistent with your boundaries, your clients will link learn to respect them. Um, literally, it’s like training a puppy. Also, you want to remember that consistency is key. Stick to your policies and schedule if you make expectations clearly, communicate them as such, I’m making a one time exception for you, but generally, we adhere to what policy. By sticking to your policies and schedule consistently, you’ll set up a standard for your business operations. Clients will gradually understand and respect your boundaries as they see you maintain them without expectation. So exception.

So here’s the thing, like I used to I could have been like, laying on the sofa watching TV, and someone calls and they’re like, hey, Bella, we want to book next week, Monday through Friday, midday visits. Oh my gosh, Tammy, I’m so excited to hear from you. Thank you so much house. Fido, oh, great, Tammy, I’m not actually at the computer right now, and to ensure that I do not mess it up or forget, I really need for you to log in and do the visits. I need you to do that today, and please make sure that you get a confirmation for me by tonight, because I don’t want to forget. And so go ahead and do that, and as soon as you get the confirmation, that is how it will be booked. I do not want to forget, so I need you to go in and do that. Oh, sure, Bella. I’m so happy to go do that. You start redirecting them. You don’t say, Oh, sure, I’ll put it in there for you. You are not a glorified secretary. Okay, okay. And so that’s like, one example of something I used to do all the time. And I did that once or twice to people. And guess what? They stopped asking me to create their bookings. They just went on and booked. And so I could be out at dinner, and all of a sudden I’m like, huh, just got a $250 booking. Yay, because my clients have been redirected and rewarded for going in and doing that.

And so you got to be consistent and then also mindful communication. Frame your responses in a way that highlights professionalism and the value of your services. And so it’s like you just you have to kind of consider where they’re at and what they’re trying to get. And you giving examples of why we need to change this behavior is also goes a long way. So remember, we teach people how to treat us. If you’re answering the phone late at night or sending emails outside of office hours or bending the rules frequently, you’re setting a precedent with emails, you can know you can schedule them for the next morning. I do this all the time. Okay, I’m not going to send an email at 9:36pm I’m going to schedule that to send out at 8am the next morning, and then it’s out of sight, out of mind, so it’s not hanging over me soon with the new Apple update that they just announced this week. But by the way, is freaking amazing. I should do a whole podcast on that, whether or not you’re an Apple user.

Let me go off on a tangent really quick, whether or not you’re an Apple user, this is going to affect you, and it’s also bringing they’re teaming up with chat GPT, which everyone thinks that’s all there is to AI, and it’s only like a breadcrumb of AI. But what that’s going to do is it’s going to get public adoption happening even faster. And right now it’s like one month is like one year of revolutionizing AI. That’s how fast it’s moving. It’s amazing, and that’s why we’re spending the whole month of June in the mastermind talking about AI, which is also fun, because it’s not a matter of how to it’s a matter of conceptually understanding how this is going to change.

But back to this, you’re also going to be able to schedule text messages in in Apple, which I heard the stat that like 60% of people use apple. Also the emails. I’m going off on a tangent right now, but it’s way too exciting not to your emails that are being sent. It’s not going to be a sliver of the first couple words or something. It’s now AI that’s going to be reading it and explaining what this email is about. And there’s so many other changes. There’s so so so, so so much. But what I’m saying is that with all of this technology coming out, it’s really important that you leverage it, because it’s going to also help you with your boundaries. So to schedule that text message or just schedule that email, it’s going to help a lot. And then also, I would really no one reads services, service contracts, right? So like when it came down to cancelation policies, I had it five places during a booking, and the sign up and it was everywhere. It was on the website. It was in the service contract. It was when you click here, when you’re actually scheduling it, a little pop up would come up and say, Are you sure you want to schedule? This is our cancelation policy. When we met with you, we gave you a rundown of the most important policies. And there was, like three to five of them, and that was one of them. It was right on the website as well. Um, it was everywhere. And so I put that there so that I didn’t have pushback. And so when people would say, oh my gosh, I don’t want to, you know what about the cancelation policy? I’m sorry, I put it in five different places. Do you have any suggestions for me to put it anywhere else for you not to miss it? And so you just have to, you have to respond clearly, empathetically but assertively.

And so to wrap things up, right? And like, I mean, let’s go back to this, this lady who posted, you know, and she was talking about the schedule changes, and she really, is really, you know, she doesn’t know how to assert herself with her clients. And I think I’ve kind of answered this, maybe, like four times already, but what she would do is she would kindly respond like, you know, reply to them and say, as a reminder, these are windows. We don’t guarantee any kind of hour, and if she it also seems like she’s a little stressed out. So I would encourage her to maybe reconsider her 24 hour policy, or reconsider her cancelation policy, because it sounds like her policies aren’t working for her, right? It sounds like the clients are actually doing what they need to do inside of her policies, but that her policies might need to change a little bit. And so I think she needs to do a little bit more introspection and find out, what do I want? How do I want my business to work for me? How do I want this corporation to work for me? Right? And then adjust it, which is why I said at the beginning, I think it’s very it’s ill advised to ask everyone else what their policies are, because I think that’s searching for the solution from the outside, instead of really going introspectively and. Figuring out, what is it that I want, and how can I create and build a business that respects what I want? I think too much, and this isn’t just with cancelation policies that business owners in general, not just pet sitters and dog walkers, they look out to what everyone else is doing without ever really considering what they want. Okay, that is no different ladies than us going and seeing a trend and wearing a trend, a fashion trend that might not look good on your body, but you’re still wearing it. Like, come on, girl, like, don’t do that. And so it’s kind of the same thing.

So to wrap it up, you know, there is a very great importance of setting boundaries in your business. If you have a story or you have something you’re running up against, DM me. Like, let’s talk about it. If we’ve never talked before, let’s jump on a 20 minute call. Just go to www.jumpconsulting.net/20. I would love to talk to you. I mean, like, It’s the highlight of my day. I want you to recognize when boundaries are being blurred and the impact it has on your business and personal life. If you’re feeling stressed out, burnt out, overwhelmed anxiety, chances are you’re not maintaining your boundaries. I also want you to consider reframing your mindset, to see the boundary issues as business matters, not personal attacks on you. I see it all the time in Facebook groups. Oh no, they didn’t. Oh they’re not a good fit. Oh, my God, they’re not respecting my boundaries. How? How? How dare they do that? It’s like, wait a minute, you’re taking this too personal. And have you done every like, what is your part? Is your side of the street clean? Have you done your part in making sure that we maintain these boundaries? Because if you have, then either a you’ve established your boundaries, and then, because your boundaries are so important, you’ve let that client go. Or B, we haven’t been clear with our boundaries. And I understand conflict. It feels like conflict, and conflict is very different for or very uncomfortable for people, but it doesn’t have to be.

And then I want you to respond assertively yet positively, using the scripts we discussed, and then maintain the boundaries with consistency and mindfulness. I really hope that this has helped kind of shed some light on some things I know it’s not talked about often, it’s not really walked through this way. And so I’m really, I’m looking for inspiration to help energize and motivate you guys in a way that feels encouraging and positive. If you like this episode, it’s not just enough to be motivated or be like, Oh, that’s good. I want you to actively practice it this week. I want you to be motivated to action. Being motivated does nothing. It’s like toilet paper that you throw down the toilet. Yes, I just went there. But to be Act, to be motivated to action, to change things in your business, is truly where it’s going to be amazing.

So I want you guys to connect with me on Instagram. It’s just Bella vasta be like in Victor asta. I’m sure you know this already. Jump on into the mastermind. I can get you a coupon code for $25 off a month forever, if you would like. There’s been no better time to join the mastermind than right now. We are talking about things that the rest of the industry is too scared to talk about or doesn’t know enough to talk about, and I’m bringing you experts in there to talk about it. Ai every month theme changes. We have goal tracking. We have accountability partners. We got all kinds of fun things in there. Just go to jump consulting.net, forward slash mastermind. And until then, if you have any other things that you want to hear about on the podcast, feel free to DM me or message me. Bella at jump consulting.net, I’d love to hear from you. I hope you guys have a really wonderful weekend. And remember when life gets you down, always keep jumping. Bye now you.

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