With your dog walking and pet sitting clients, should you charge more for multiple pets? If so, how much? And when?
We're going to cover that here.
I'm definitely a fan of charging what you're worth. And, when you put forth more effort, I believe you should be compensated for that.
In many cases, taking care of 2 or more pets is more work than taking care of just one. With that in mind, I believe you should charge more in certain cases.
The first consideration of when to charge more is how much time the visit is going to take you.
Let's say you're dealing with 3 active dogs. Will caring for 3 dogs take more time than caring for just one? In many cases, yes. So, let's keep that in mind.
What about effort?
How much more effort do you need to expend to make the visit a success when you have multiple pets? If your 3 dogs are all off-the-wall hyper and you need to feed all 3, walk all 3, and clean up after all 3, you can bet that this is going to require much more effort than if it was just one dog.
And how many pets are going to be under your care?
People are generally accustomed to paying more when there is a higher quantity of something involved.
Whether they rationalize it by assuming there is more time involved or more work, one way or another things just cost more when multiple units are included.
In this area though, you want to keep in mind your customer's reasonable expectations. For example, if a client of yours has 2 hyper Dobermans, I'd say a reasonable person is going to assume that this will take more time/effort than just one. So, it's going to be pretty easy to charge more and have the client pay it.
On the other hand, what about cats? If a client has 2 lazy cats, is this really that much harder than one cat? Maybe and maybe not, depending on the situation. If it's a pretty easy job, convincing a customer that they need to pay more for a second cat may not work on every single client.
If you have a case of multiple pets, how much extra do you charge your client?
If you charge by time, then one easy solution is to bump the visit from one length duration to the next. For example, if 1 dog takes you 15 minutes to accomplish everything but you know that 3 dogs is going to take longer, then bump the visit length to your next time block of 30 minutes and charge for the half hour instead of the quarter hour.
If charging by time isn't going to work, then fall back to the extra effort that's involved.
This is a judgement thing. Is the visit with 3 dogs going to be MUCH harder than handling just 1 dog, or is it really not going to be that different?
Based on this, you can assess what that extra effort is worth to you. If the base price for the visit is $20, then maybe a MUCH harder visit is going to require an extra $10 while an additional pet that doesn't require too much extra effort will just be billed an extra $3.
Or maybe you add on extra fees simply by the number of pets under your care.
For example, a normal pet sitting visit with 1 dog is $20 and every additional dog is an extra $3 per visit, no matter if there is extra time/work involved or not.
No matter how to structure your multiple pet pricing, have a process that you follow that helps you determine how much to charge.
Will you always assess extra fees based on time, effort, or just the actual number of pets?
Any of these methods will work. Having a process in place of how you do it will help you assess the situation in the same way from client to client.
For example, in our company, we always allow a second dog "for free". Most of our clients do not have multiple pets though so it's not often that we are doing the work for two dogs while getting paid for just one.
By the same token, our clients that do have two dogs feel great precisely because we're not charging for an extra pet. They're getting the second dog's care at "no cost" and it's another selling point for our services.
For 3 or more dogs (and any other pets), we base our extra fees on the amount of effort it's going to take. Regardless of how much additional time a visit may or may not require with multiple pets, the effort is what changes things. We'll generally add on between 25% and 50% to the base price of the service when 3 or more pets (or a special circumstance) are involved.
Do you charge more for multiple pets? How do you decide when and how much? Let us know in the comments.
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.