A Pet Sitter’s Guide to Navigating the Holiday Season

by Nicole Gagnon in
A Pet Sitter's Guide to the Holidays

It's never too soon to start preparing for the upcoming holiday season! Whether you’re feeling prepared or just getting started, this guide will outline every step of the way.

It’s no surprise that the holidays are a busy time of the year for everyone—especially those in service industries! The past year has presented several challenges for small businesses including staffing and the increased cost of doing business. As we head into the holidays and start thinking about what 2023 will hold, you may want to prepare by making some changes to your business to help keep everyone—including your team and clients—happy.

Set yourself up for success by planning ahead with staffing

If you’re solo, determine when you’ll be available and how many clients you can handle. If you have any staff members, ask them for their availability for the next couple of months and set any expectations or requirements of when you’ll need them. This will help you understand who is available and when; how many pets you’ll be able to take care of during the upcoming busy season; and how close you are to being fully booked with what you already have on the schedule. Tools like Gusto make it easy for you to manage employees or independent contractors including time off and payroll.

Since things can change last minute or may need to be shifted around to accommodate others, you may want to consider building your schedule online using Google Calendar or software like PetPocketbook, that’s specifically designed for pet care businesses. This way, you don’t have to keep crossing things off and rewriting your whole schedule, and it’ll be easy to make changes to your schedule since it’s all drag and drop and mobile-friendly, so you can make changes right from your phone while you’re doing your holiday shopping or baking treats for clients.

Determine holiday surcharges and additional compensation for your team

It’s no surprise that many pet care businesses charge a premium on weekends and holidays. It’s normal to charge a little extra when services are in high demand and you’re spending valuable time away from your family and friends. Since businesses using PetPocketbook can automatically apply surcharges on weekends and holidays, we were able to run an analysis of surcharges for pet-related services on our platform. We found that most companies are charging a fixed rate for these surcharges, and the average additional fee for weekends is $7.36 vs. $12.53 for holidays. Just some food for thought as you evaluating your own prices headed into the holiday season!

Hiring and retaining staff has been a challenge the last couple of years, and that will persist as the pet care industry continues to grow. It’s projected that jobs within the pet services industry will grow 29% from 2021-2031. Since more jobs are available than ever before, people now have more options when choosing whom they’d like to work for.

To keep your team engaged, it’s important to provide fair compensation and time off, especially around the holidays. If you’re charging clients more for services, consider giving your team a portion of it—this is typically something that you can automate when setting up holiday and weekend surcharges in pet care software like PetPocketbook. It’s a small way of showing gratitude for the time spent away from their families. Speaking of time away from friends and family, make sure you’re allowing your team enough time to rest, recharge, and enjoy time off too.

Offer more flexibility for clients to pay

The holidays are a busy and expensive time of year for everyone! To help ease the stress of the holidays, offer clients more ways to pay. Old-school payments like cash and check that may be left on the counter or mailed to you are great but can be easily forgotten–especially when the counter is piled up with holiday cards, wrapping paper, and takeout containers! 🤪 Offering a digital way to pay can help make things easier for pet parents (and help you get paid faster too)! Zelle, PayPal, and Venmo have become popular options, and some invoicing platforms like PetPocketbook can even allow pet parents to set up a payment method in their profiles to be charged automatically. That way, they never have to worry about remembering if they paid you or not, and it’s one less thing to remember to check off the list! If you’ve added more ways to pay, be sure to let clients know by including this information on your invoices or in your holiday announcement.

Send out a notice to clients

To help you and your clients make it through the holidays smoothly, send out a group announcement to give them the full run down. Set expectations about your availability, any pricing changes, a reminder of your cancellation policy, and any other relevant information that will help make your life easier. Not sure where to start? Here’s an example:

Hi everyone!

With the holidays right around the corner, here’s some helpful information for the upcoming holiday season.

·      We have determined our availability through early January 2023 and are booking up fast, so we encourage you to submit your appointment requests with us as soon as possible!

·      For any visits on weekends and holidays, we charge an additional fee that will be included in the total estimated cost when you’re requesting appointments in PetPocketbook.

·      We’ve added more ways for you to pay! In addition to cash, check, or Venmo , you can now pay by credit/debit card through PetPocketbook too! Remember that you can choose to enable AutoPay to automatically charge the card saved in your profile at the end of each billing period. With AutoPay, you won’t need to lift a finger to make a payment!

·      Our cancellation policy will be strictly enforced. Any appointments canceled with less than 24 hours’ notice will be charged 100% of the service price. We appreciate your understanding!

If you have any questions, please let us know by replying directly to this message. We thank you for your continued support and for letting us take care of your furry loved ones!

Have a happy and safe holiday!

Don’t forget to say thank you!

Many pet care businesses say thank you by sending out a little something to clients during the holidays. Whether you’d like to send out something to all your clients, or just your top clients, a small thank you goes a long way! Homemade treats, framed photos from all those report card photos, or poop bags are all fun, inexpensive ideas your clients will love. If you can, shop local or support a cause! Jessica Sarcia, owner of Annie’s Woof Pack, donates a portion of proceeds to various causes throughout the year. “It gives clients a chance to get involved in what we’re doing. I try to make it as easy as possible for them to donate so they can pay a few extra dollars on their invoice. With how automated and digital everything is today, it’s easier than ever for clients to be able to give back. I used to have to drive all over town collecting donations. Now I can easily do all of that right in PetPocketbook as clients pay their invoices”.  If you’re looking for a free way to say thank you, you can download this Canva template of a holiday card we created! Get creative and share it on social media, in your message to clients, or have it printed!

Holiday Card Template

Now get out there and tackle the holidays with confidenceyou got this!

Feeling a little like Clark Griswold and need a little extra help for the holidays? Schedule a demo to learn more about how PetPocketbook can streamline the way you run your business and get started with a 60-day free trial to end the year with a bang and put your best paw forward in 2023!

Your cart