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Charge - pay online

7 Considerations When Deciding What To Charge Your Clients

Knowing what to charge our clients is always a hot topic. It is hard to figure out if we should base it off of what others are charging, the averages, stay competitive, or something else. There is a fear that if we charge too much, we won’t have any work or a bunch will leave. So whether you are just starting out or have been in business for a long time, the following will be a timeless message.

Charge - pay online

What Are You Charging For?

Duh Bella… pet sitting and dog walking you might be saying. But what if I told you that is what everyone else is doing and you should be different!

How?

Easy. Are you charging for a service that takes someone’s problem away and gives them a certain positive feeling or are you taking their money and giving them X amount of your time?

It is really as simple as that and it is something that many don’t think about. Most pet sitting websites look like this:

15 minutes = $18
30 minutes = $22
45 minutes = $25

We walk, feed, play, and love on your pets just like they are our own.

Blah… blah… blah…

Now if you are feeling a little irked at me for saying that, I beg you to stay with me and hear me out. What I just showed you above is what the majority of business owners present. How about presenting a problem that you take away and then give them a positive feeling?

Like this:

Lunch Time Let Out: Never worry about racing home in the middle of the day from work to give your dog relief. Take back your lunch break and relax while we let the dog out. TLC, Water, and love always included.

Puppy Visit: Congratulations on your new addition! Just like babies, puppies are a lot of work and we are here to help save your carpet and furniture by keeping your same training schedule so your carpets don’t get soiled and your furniture gets chewed. With our help, your puppy can learn the rules of your house at an early age with the consistency we provide. We reinforce the words you are using and get all their puppy energy out.

Do you see how one is like a menu and the other is more emotional? Take some time to think about what you are selling and how you are selling. This basically comes down to quantity vs quality. 

charge - sign up online

How Is Your Sign Up Process Presented?

We did an interesting experiment in the Mastermind. We pretended we were a new client for 9 of the members and timed how long it took for us to be able to check Pet Sitter/Dog walker off of our to-do list. The average sign up took about 8-10 minutes. Some we couldn’t even sign up.

Side note: If you are in the Mastermind and didn’t watch yet, it is in the Processes Unit 🙂 

Did you know that 60% of the sale is over by the time you even hear from the client? 60%! Imagine how many people are actually going to your website but not converting. Do you know why? It just might be because of the user experience on your website. How easily can they get what they need or sign up? Most of the time if people have questions, they will NOT ask you.

I feel like many business owners are quick to blame it on the price. The price is too high… I can’t charge that much, which might be true, but it is neglecting to look at the full picture and this part of the picture is called User Experience.

What Do You Upcharge For?

Upcharges are those additional fees for extra pets, time or tasks. Consider a few things here:

  • How does it make your client feel when they have a base charge but then all these add ons? Does it focus them on the price?
  • If you charge by time (ie. 15 min and 30 min…) then are you always leaving a bill if you or your staff is there for extra time? Like 20min or 25min? or are you just leaving money on the table? Who decides how long the job should take?

In other words, will your charges be all-inclusive or al la carte?

Will You Put Your Prices On Your Website?

This is a tricky one that really depends on a number of factors. I will do my best to break it down:

Put them on your site if:

  • You have a cheap price.
  • Your ideal client is a price shopper.
  • Your website is not professionally created.
  • You do not have a software where the client can automatically sign up without speaking/emailing you.
  • It is a very simple fee structure.

Do not put them on your site if:

  • Your price is average or high.
  • Your ideal client thinks of their pet as their baby or this service as a luxury.
  • You have software that is simple and easy to sign up.
  • Your website is professionally created with a user experience (UE) that really is impressive.
  • You have problems that you solve on your site, not exchange for time and money.

I am sure there are even more factors, but basically, you don’t want the price to be the determining factor. No one is going to buy from you because you have a pretty website. Price is a factor but when it is introduced into the conversation is important. That being said, if you choose not to have your prices on your website, your call to actions need to be on point (and easy). You also need to address it somehow like, “Prices starting at X.” or “Email/call to find out about our current monthly special” 

So when you are trying to decide what to charge consider if it is important to you (or not) to have your prices on your website. That will play a factor when determining what to charge.

charge for dog walking

Will You Always Be Solo Or Will You Have Staff?

This is a tough one and where business planning comes into play. Obviously, you have a lot larger piece of the pie if you are just solo. However, if you ever want to bring on staff, you must start early in understanding the numbers and what it will take to run a healthy operation. The pricing structure and strategy guide is great for this. This will be a factor in deciding what you should charge.

How Much Does A Visit Cost You?

Have you ever done a cost analysis of how much a visit costs? How much it takes to acquire the clients, wear and tear on your car, gas, your time, supplies, admin work for the actual booking, etc? There are a lot of hidden costs that I don’t think many take into account. This is going to be your expenses. They must be covered and then some. Especially if you have or will have workers in the future.

Will You Be Giving Raises? and When?

Something else to think about when deciding how much to charge is that wiggle room. You want to be able to leave some room for raises. Think about how much you will want to give and how frequently.

it is math

Math not Emotions

At the end of the day, you have to remember that deciding what to charge is a mathematical equation and it is not a popularity contest. If you have a keen understanding of all the things that will go into creating your price, you will have a much easier time at the actual marketing of your services. Even though XYZ Pet Sitting company does the same thing as you – the experience and quality are very different. Am I right?

It is exactly why a Ford Fiesta costs $13,000 and a Tesla Model X costs $80,000. Ultimately, both vehicles get you from Point A to Point B bu the experience in which they accomplish the transport is completely different.

How do you think of your business? There is no right or wrong answer. It just all needs to tie into your end goals for what you want from your business.

Most people I talk with want to do less work for more money, be disruptive in their market, have a steady flow of clients, and happy employees who love their pay.

How about you? Tell me below. I want to know!

Jump Start Your Pet Business - What should you charge

hiring staff switching from IC's

Hiring Staff Or Switching From IC’s Without Losing Your Mind!

One of the scariest things to do as a pet sitting business owner is hiring staff or switching from IC’s to staff. I mean think about it – you’re literally changing the structure of your business. You’re going from hiring people who have their own company, who know how to do a job to someone who doesn’t have their own company, who wants to be trained, who you get to control & check up on. Those personalities are two totally different things.

Today I bring you 6 steps to successfully make the jump from IC’s to staff, designed personally by myself and Kate McQuillan from Pawsome Media. If you don’t know Kate, she helps pet business owners around the world with their social media and marketing in their business. Be sure to check her out here.

Hiring Staff Or Switching From IC’s Without Losing Your Mind!

hiring staff switching from IC's

Step 1: The IRS Blessing

Little known fact: There’s this awesome government program called the Voluntary Classification Settlement Program (VCSP) that can serve as a HUGE help when making the switch from IC’s to employees.

To simplify it down from the legal mumbo-jumbo, your business pays a small fee and in return you NEVER have to worry about being audited for employment tax again. Consider this as a safety net and an investment for your business. Read more about it on the IRS website, or check out this detailed article I wrote breaking it down for you. 🙂

Step 2: Pricing

You HAVE to figure out your margins.  You deserve to make money – you’re dedicating so much time and energy to your business, that you deserve a handsome paycheck 🙂 If you’re not, let me help you get on track.

People fear when switching from IC’s to staff that there’s going to be all these extra costs, but the reality is you can RAISE your prices and see an increase in business. Seriously! I have NEVER seen a person say “OMG I raised my prices and my business crashed. Never.”

Not everyone has to raise their rates, but that’s when the numbers don’t lie. You have to pay yourself, pay the business, and pay for the labor.

If you’re still unsure how to price your services/figure out your margins to get ready for hiring staff or switching from IC’s, I have an entire guide dedicated to this. Take a look at my Pricing Guide Structure & Strategy, and never be confused again!

Step 3: Building A Team

Gather people you can trust to advise you on payroll, laws, operations, websites, hiring, and cash flow. Without a team in place, you will not be able to efficiently and professionally accomplish everything you need to. The art of delegation will be learned during this step!

You have to evaluate your business and find what your needs are. Picture the perfect demographic of what you’re looking for, and then FIND THEM! You don’t want to compromise – you have to stick to what you need and what you’re looking for. If you do this, finding the right people is as easy as checking off boxes.

Step 4: Creating A Manual

First you need to decide if you’re going to have one big fat employee manual, or are you going to have an employee manual AND a training manual? What’s even the difference between the two? Are you going to have a training manual for each position (i.e. pet sitter, dog walker, office manager etc.)

Ensure that your new staff will understand the rules and regulations of your company. Outline your exact operations and the philosophy of your business so each member can work harmoniously as a team with consistent service time and time again

These are all important questions you have to figure out before you even pick up that pen & paper. When hiring staff or switching from IC’s, you want to have all of your processes and procedures in place beforehand. This will create a successful work environment for everybody.

Hire for attitude, train for skill.[ctt template=”8″ link=”iK3nf” via=”no” ]Hire for attitude, train for skill.[/ctt]

Step 5: Interviewing

You need to learn how to ask the same question in many different ways to see if their answer changes. But most importantly, if you get it wrong: correct and continue.

Learn how to determine the right type of person for your business to grow with. Determine what interview questions, screening, and hiring processes will bring you the best candidates. This is the toughest part of the 6 steps!

Don’t use the all too common excuses of “I can’t hire” or “Nobody can do it as good as me” Hiring staff  or switching from IC’s to staff is an ON-GOING problem. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: You always need to be hiring!

Step 6: Operations

Basically, you have to figure out how to make everything run smoothly. Nobody will want to work for you if they have to ask you questions for every single client they go and see. Communication has to flow through you, the clients, the pet sitter, and even other pet sitters.

You’ll want to have your client feel like you’re at the home and you know exactly what’s going on. That they’re hiring a COMPANY and not just the pet sitter. That nothing’s going to slip through the cracks.

Bottom Line: Operations can make or break you.

Now, I want you to take a deep breath. Is this a lot of information? YES. Does it mean that you can’t do it? NO. I believe in you – which is why I have SO many resources to help you achieve your goals and fit different learning styles.

Download My 6 Steps To Switching To Employees Infographic – FREE!

Employee QuickStart 1:1 With Bella

 

Episode 19: A Look Back at How A Pet Sitting Business Started & Grew with Kristie Glazer

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In this episode of “Bella In Your Business”, Bella talks with Kristie Glazer from Philly Pet Care, a family-owned pet-sitting and dog-walking company in Philadelphia. Kristie talks about how she got started and what changes she made that really helped her business grow.

After graduating college, Kristie and her husband moved to Philadelphia which is near where she grew up in South Jersey.  She was a teacher for a little while and then a sales rep for a shipping company. But she wasn’t happy.  She sat down and thought about what would make her happy….the answer….dogs!  She figured she lived in a city now and people probably needed dog walkers. Before her husband got home that day from his job as a chef, she had a full business plan worked out.  She told him she planned to quit her job and start this business. He told her to go ahead and do it!

{Don’t you just love that?}

So Kristie did it. She started a website. She started cold calling and giving people her card.  She would take any job that came along (which she says in retrospect is a mistake many new business owners make). She did start  to grow the business though, which at the time was called “Personal Pet Care by Kristie”, and continued on for four years adding clients as she went.

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Bella notes that having that moral support from our loved ones really can help catapult our businesses from the start. Maybe not necessarily our business numbers, but it certainly helps us with our tenacity.

Kristie continued by saying that when she first started the business, the ironic thing was that they lived in an apartment where they could not even have pets. So they naturally had to refuse requests for overnights or doggie daycare.  But they eventually moved to a place where they could have pets and started offering both of those services.The business got so busy that they moved to their own home and Dave quit his job as a chef and joined the business!

Kristie said they had some major bumps in the road along the way. In fact, she wishes in retrospect that they had had a “team” (lawyers and accountants) early on as it may have helped them avoid some of the roughest bumps.

One bump, she points out, was a failure to secure all the licenses needed to board dogs in their home. It led to a neighbor calling Licensing and Inspections on them resulting in them having to cease doing the boarding for two years while they worked out all the necessary issues (including getting their home zoned to be a kennel).  

Kristie talked about a point in time when they were working constantly in the business. It was just her and Dave and trying to juggle the business and their three year old son got to be too much.  She came across Bella and Jump Consulting and as a result made some changes.  They rebranded to “Philly Pet Care”.  They revamped  their website and added professional photos and higher quality business cards.

They raised their rates, which caused many customers to go away, but with the higher rates they still made that money back. They cut out the doggie daycare which Kristie said drove her nuts anyway. They made those changes four years ago and Kristie said doing all that gave them back their sanity and the business has been humming along smoothly every since.

Bella says what she is hearing is that they now have a clean system and process and that their business works for them and not them working for the business. Bella paints the analogy of the bow and arrow.  She said that, at that time, Kristie and Dave were like a bow that needs to get pulled back a little bit so that it can get released and send that arrow soaring forward. But notes that it really stinks when you are going through it.

Kristie agreed. She says it is difficult and a lot of work but it is so worth it in the end. She notes that you have to grow though, because if you don’t grow your business will fail.

Bella then asks Kristie about the future of Philly Pet Care.

Kristie says they are still doing the dog walking services in Center City (Philadelphia). They do still do overnights, but only for dogs they have a walking relationship with.  Dave and she hope to remove themselves more and more from the business. Not remove themselves completely because she and Dave like to make sure they personally know each and every client. In fact, she believes that is what really helps set them apart. They have two employees now but hope to have more in the future so they can have more time off.

Kristie also said they are starting to plan for retirement. They are at a point with their business where they are making enough money to really start saving for the future. So that, maybe in 10 years or so, they could be in some form of retirement. But she notes that she doesn’t really see herself ever completely letting go or selling the business.  She has even pictured their son ultimately being the owner of Philly Pet Care.

Bella compares a successful small business to having built your own beautiful home.  You can live in it until the day you die. You build yourself a quality life with the luxury of having options.

Bella wraps the episode by telling  Kristie how proud she is of everything Kristie and Dave have accomplished.

You can find out more about Philly Pet Care and Kristie and Dave at http://www.MyPhillyPetCare.com or to hear about the rebranding experience Kristie had with Bella a few years ago, you can watch the video here.

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Episode 17: Should Pet Sitters Still Offer Overnights If They Have To Pay Per Hour?

In this episode of “Bella In Your Business”, Bella discusses whether you should still offer overnights if you have to pay per hour? This is a hot topic because during this election year many are talking about raising the minimum wage, in some places as high as $15/hour.  In California, not only is the minimum wage being raised but they are mandating sick days and other things which are really going to cost businesses more and more money.

Education is Key to This Decision!

Bella emphasizes that you really need to educate yourself on the legislation in your particular state, what risk that implies for your  business, and what it will cost your business to comply. She says she really wants you to focus on the right team members (bookkeeper, CPA, lawyer) and to reach out to your state’s Department of Labor. Learn as much as you can and then make your own educated decision. Don’t listen to everyone on Facebook or your competitors!  Just because someone else elects to take one action doesn’t mean it’s the right one.

So, should you still offer overnights?  The easy answer for some will be no because they figure if they have to pay someone $15/hour for 8-10 hours, they would have to charge at least $200 for an overnight and they believe their clients would never pay that.  Bella points out, that could mean you are automatically giving up (what is on average) 20% of your revenue. In short, she recommends that you still offer overnights even if you have to pay per hour.

Put it on your website (with or without the price) and make sure you price it according to the 30/30/40 rule (30% for the business, 30% for you, and 40% for wages). Just be aware of what happens when you get to 40 hours (another great question to ask your state’s Department of Labor).

Remember, you don’t get to decide what is too expensive. Your clients do.  If a client does tell you it is too much, simply explain why it is that high.  Then offer them a less expensive alternative like 3 visits a day.  Let them know that it will probably be alright but if they feel that still isn’t enough then they could try the overnight option.

How To Sell Overnights:

Bella points out that if you don’t at least offer the option then visitors coming to your site looking for that option will “bounce” over to another service’s site.  Leave it on there. Keep them on your site. Engage them in a conversation giving them the reasoning and statistics and let them make the decision.

Another question to ask your state’s Department of Labor is whether or not you are exempt from the minimum wage due to the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) which states that people who make less than $500,000 don’t have to adhere to it.

Add More Value:

You could also consider additional value for these overnights like perhaps sending video and photos. You might include things like taking out the trash and/or sorting the mail. Add value to the overnights and make them exclusive benefits. Any of these additional values can help make a client feel better about spending the money.

Bella points out that in reality most pets are perfectly fine sleeping by themselves and that the real benefit offered in overnights is making the client feel less guilty about leaving their precious pet.  So let’s appeal to them and keep offering this service. Because if you don’t you have no idea just how much money you might be leaving on the table and walking away.

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Episode 14: Discount Daily Dog Walks

In this episode of “Bella In Your Business”, Bella discusses whether or not you should offer a discount daily dog walks. She covers points on both sides of the issue.

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Bella starts by stressing that before even considering a discount for daily dog walks, you really should know just how much profit you make off of a dog walk or pet visit. She points out that many company owners aren’t fully cognizant of that number or even understand how the costs and profits are divided. Bella points out that some of the money goes to the employee who walked the dog (usually a fixed amount) and some of that money should go to your business to cover expenses and business profit.  Finally, some money needs to go directly to you the owner, so that you are paying your salary.

Pricing-Guide - Discount Daily Dog Walks

Can You Even Afford it?

When offering a discount on a daily dog walk you have to decide out of which of these pots that discount will be taken.  You can’t really pay your employee less, so it will need to come out of either your pot or the business’.  If your business has stabilized costs, you may be able to find some money in the business pot to support the discount.  But if you are in a period of steadily increasing expenses, then you may not have it there.  Bella advises you to be careful about taking discounts out of your own pot as many business owners hurt themselves by not paying themselves enough to sustain themselves, and the business.

Discounting Can Be Good!

On the pro-discount side, Bella talks about how even “rich people” like discounts and

you should not be offended if someone asks you to discount daily dog walks.  

She even suggests that you set a higher “standard” rate and that the “discount” you offer be actually in the range of what you need to keep the business growing.  This could also be couched as a “Friends and Family” discount, or be given through package plans that encourage clients to use your services more often.

When You Should Never Discount

On the anti-discount side, Bella suggests that discounts on daily dog walks are not likely appropriate if your rates are currently low, especially if they barely cover costs.  In those cases, it is best to gradually increase your rates to a level where you can offer discounts.

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Pricing Strategy & Formula: A Teleconference for Pet Sitters With Worksheet Included

Pet Sitting Business Price


Do you know that the most asked question I get is “How much should I charge for….?”  You would be surprised if you saw how many times this question comes across my computer! Pet sitters are constantly looking outward for the answers they should be looking inward.

If you don’t charge the right price, you won’t be able to have the life that you want to live.

 

“At the end of the day, we are in business to make money!”

 

We are in business to see our business be sustainable for years to come and afford us to do what we love in life. Whether that be work ourselves to the grave, or work when we want to and spend the rest of our time with friends and family, it is a choice that every single of one you have as a business owner.

best price pet sitting business

If you feel like you don’t have a choice at this point in your business, then you are doing something wrong and you CAN fix it. You just need a little guidance.

When I hear that pet sitters are basing their price off  what “other pet sitters charging”   The answer to that question matters just as much as what type of underwear are they wearing! WHO CARES! I want to show you what does matter in this decision. They do not have your mortgage, car payment, expenses, or financial goals.

 

Here Is What Pet Sitters Are Already Asking:


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pricing pet sitting

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Who Is This Course For?

This course, is for any pet sitter who has been in business for a long time, short time, just starting out, or who has ever raised their prices.

This course, is for YOU!  

 

Over the years, this course has evolved to what it is today. I started out just talking about a formula. Then it evolved into a presentation, and now… it is a force to be reckoned with. You can take this course knowing that it isn’t just the first version. I have tweaked and perfected it over the years, anticipating just about every question you may have all the while forcing you to get out of your own stinking thinking and get that lightbulb to turn ON!

Although, I strongly believe we can’t talk about the right price, without talking about the strategy and structure of the cost of your services too.

What Can I Learn If I Get This Course?

Sign up for this live call and leave being so confident in your decisions on pricing that you are never asking questions like the above again. During this class, I promise to teach you:

  • How your strategy or lack there of can help or hurt your business.
  • How pricing applies to businesses with and without staff.
  • How your perceived value or lack there of increases or decrease the price clients will pay.
  • Where pricing absolutely does NOT come from.
  • What impact supply and demand has on your services.
  • The actual mathematical formula that you can use for every single service you provide to keep you floating! (not just your head above water)

If any of this sounded interesting to you, please sign up for this course. It will be a teleconference and at the end, I will open it up for questions. It will be recorded so you can listen to it again and again. Although, in order to really get the most bang for your buck, I strongly encourage you to be on the call.

Just click the buy now link below and you will be off and running with access to this life changing course!

 

Only $79  for LIFETIME access

to the “Bella-inar” and worksheet!

Pet Sitting Business Price