Pet sitters around the world typically do two things when they charge for their services.
They either charge by time or by un-timed visits.
Personally, I don’t believe in charging by time and I think every single pet sitter could do the same, if they wanted to. Here, we will focus on the in’s and out’s of un-timed visits as well as how to get over the mental roadblock of many automatic questions it comes along with.
How Will My Clients Still Know That They Are Getting A Good Value For Their Money?
How do they know that 30 minutes equals great pet sitting services?
They have been conditioned to think that.
So is it safe to assume that we can condition them to think a different way? Couldn’t a pet sitter sit there doing nothing for 15 minutes because a cat won’t come out for them? Every client (two and four-legged) is different. Some want you to try and sing and hang out to get the cat to come out, others don’t want you to. Plus, what an amazing marketing technique that could be in your area. “No Time Limit!” When all of your “competition” is charging by time! This is precisely what un-timed visits are all about!
How Can I Find Employees That Won’t Think It Is A Good Way To Go Fast And Not Do A Bad job?
If an employee does a good job or not, it has nothing to do with the amount of time on the clock. Some are lazy. Some are superstars. Some will walk back to the kitchen 5 different times for 5 different things. Others will anticipate what they will need and bring it all at once. Sometimes they are there for 45-50 minutes. Sometimes they are there for 15. It all depends on the client. Every client is different.
What Do I Tell The Clients Who Ask How Long I Will Be There?
(This is my fav)
Before they even have a chance to say anything…. you tell THEM that you have un-timed visits. Trust me, this really breaks up the momentum of it all. It is like tires screeching and, “Wait…. what?!?”
Then you can explain to them that “This means if Fluffy is scared, we will take the time to try to form a bond. If Fido is sad because Mom is away, we will sit on the floor and hand feed him. Or, if it is a beautiful day and they are really enjoying their walk, we might take an extra lap. Alternatively, if they decide to “redecorate your house” or have an accident and we need to wash materials… we will be there to get it done. We are more concerned about you and your pets happiness and less about the ticking on the clock! I usually tell them that if any emergencies arise, we deal with that 100% with no extra charge for our time. Un-timed visits mean we are there for a quality time… not a quantity!”
Another benefit to this type of thinking, and what always makes the client feel great is when you say, “If we charged by time, you would come home to an extra bill for extra time spent. With us, you will never have an extra bill. We provide a full service, quality service, guaranteed!”
This is almost verbatim what I say to people on the phone.
If they ask you again, how much time (which by this time, since I brought up the objection myself….AND showed them the value they hardly ever ask) I tell them average visits for households like yours are…. (insert time span here. 20-30 min 25-35 min 25-45 min) It all depends on their situation.
What About Dog Walks?
“Our average dog walk is between 20-30 minutes. Just depends on the day and the dog!” See? That is un-timed too!
What If They Insist on A Certain Time?
If clients are demanding an exact time and that isn’t what you provide you can do two things. One, tell them you don’t have a service that will fit their needs. Two, offer then another service like pet sitting by the hour. Which, in my company, is not a visit. It is like baby sitting. It is by the hour.
It Is A Frame Of Mind
Are you a rigid business owner? Do you have a micro or macro management style? How are your marketing skills? How do you set yourself aside from the rest? Not charging by time doesn’t mean that a business owner is a rip-off or being evasive. It just simply means they like to do things different than the normal. Sometimes it could really offer the business a way to stand out above the rest. It is all in the way that the business owner views and manages this situation. A pet sitting business owner could “not charge by time” but then say that every visit is typically between 20-40 minutes. Is that charging by time? Nope. That is a range and not specific. If a pet sitting business owner charges by time and says $20 for 30 minutes, I firmly believe the client should be charged for 10 or 15 minutes extra if the pet sitter is there. After all, that WOULD be charging by time, right? But many do not. (Sorry, I know I am repeating myself but I think it is a huge point to make!)
Why Is This The Way I Choose To Do Business?
- My staff isn’t watching the clock and “waiting” for time to pass on those houses that just are low maintenance.
- When you have a saturated area, (clients on the same street/building) sometimes you can do 3 -4 visits in an hour or hour and fifteen minutes. It all depends on the situations. This is great for your staff and for your business. Although this is more connected to your marketing plan.
- My clients are more concerned about the quality of the work. The warm and fuzzies. The intangible feeling and understanding that we “get” their pet like they do.
- My staff LOVES it. They feel like they are always on the move and they have the freedom to do a great job. Honestly, more often than not they spend more time than I think they should but they have the option to do that and make a difference.
- It offers me a HUGE way to differentiate my business from the other 40 pet sitting companies in my area. Saying off the bat, “No Time Limit!” People do a double take because for all the other websites they were searching everything is 30 minutes for $X. Now, truth be told, there is one “competitor” who recently just followed my lead… 🙂 It helps our brand message be quite different!
Who Isn’t This Method Good For?
As with all things in life, everything isn’t for everyone. Just like timed visits aren’t for me. Un timed visits aren’t for others. The business owners that think this method wouldn’t be good for are those who run a rigid ship where everything is defined. I am not sure of the best way to say it, but “structured” seems like the best description. There is an exact exchange of $20 for 30 minutes. You know exactly what you are getting (time) and it is measurable. When you don’t charge by time, it is less measurable. Although, what is being cared for is almost immeasurable. I mean, when was the last time you rated your happiness on a number scale?
Still Don’t Believe Me?
That’s okay. You don’t have to. Believe Becki:
How do you charge your clients? Do you charge by time or no time and WHY? Do you think I am right with what I just wrote to you above or do you disagree? I would love to hear your thoughts and how you do things!