Holidays are a busy time of year for pet professionals, especially pet sitters. Demand for our services goes through the roof but our availability generally remains the same.
With demand outstripping supply at these times of the year, how do you charge for holiday dog walking and pet sitting visits in a way that's fair for your clients, yet also is financially rewarding for you as a business owner?
First, it's important to know that it's acceptable to take advantage of holidays as a way to increase your revenue.
It's supply and demand. When demand goes up and supply remains the same, prices go up. That's been the economic model of things since the beginning of time.
Your dog walking and pet sitting clients will understand and accept this. Any normal person realizes that, for a variety of reasons, our types of services are going to cost more on certain days.
You are not being a jerk or unfair for charging more on certain days. It's just good business.
Aside from the whole supply and demand thing, your extra effort and time needs to be fairly compensated for, too.
During holiday periods, you're going crazy trying to juggle client requests with your availability plus dealing with your staff's schedule and when they can make visits.
This is hard!
Not to mention, you'd like to have some time off and maybe even joy the holidays yourself, too, right?
You're putting in extra effort, double time, and under maximum stress.
So, yes, it's fair to charge more on these days. You deserve it!
Now that we agree that you're worth a few extra bucks on certain days, how do you actually implement your higher fees?
The first question to ask is if you're going to charge more for each individual visit on the holiday or is it going to be a one-time fee for any and all visits made on that particular day?
The way we do it is to charge a "per-visit" fee.
Our rates are about $20 for 30 minutes. With that $20 figure in mind, we then charge $10 more per visit for holidays.
So, if we visit once on a holiday, it's another $10 added to the bill. If we visit 3 times on a holiday, then it's another $30 added to the bill.
I prefer this over a one-time holiday surcharge because it's more fair for our clients. For those that use us more frequently on that day, it costs more for them. For those that use us less frequently, it costs less for them.
We charge by time, not service although the $10 holiday surcharge doesn't vary. So, no matter if someone uses us for a 15-minute visit or a 45-minute visit, it's still $10 extra pet visit either way.
If you're a solo operator, then obviously this is all extra money that's coming directly to you.
If you have staff though, do they get any of it? And, if so, what percentage?
A lot of this answer is going to depend on how much you're already paying your staff, if you give them bonuses of any sort, how much of any tips they get to keep, and generally how well they're already compensated.
For many business owners, it's going to be a good practice to divide up that extra revenue and share it with your staff. If they're making the visits and spending time on days they could be with their families, I'd say that's the fair thing to do.
How much do you give them? Obviously there's no set rule on that but my suggestion would be at least 50%.
Wondering what holidays to add that extra surcharge to? Our decision was based on a variety of factors including increased demand, time when clients may be traveling, time when clients may want to be with their family, and time when my staff and I would want to be with our families.
Here's the list of holiday surcharge days we use in my company.
What days do you charge extra for? And how much? Share your thoughts and questions in the comments below.
John loves animals and business. He put the two together and built a multi-million dollar dog walking/running and pet sitting business with hard work, systems, and great people. He now teaches everything he's learned in the Pet Business Masters! community.