Should I raise my prices?

by Nicole Gagnon in July 14th, 2022

If you somehow haven’t noticed, everything costs more these days. From gas at the pump to the subscription fee of your Amazon Prime account, the price of things you use everyday keeps getting higher.

cat protecting stack of money

As a pet care professional, you may need to raise your rates of out of necessity – otherwise, operating costs may be eating into the bottom line. On the flip side of things, you can understand why clients may be overwhelmed at the announcement of yet another price increase. So, what can you do? Luckily, you have options!

Cut costs where you can

One way to offset the impacts of inflation is to focus on efficiencies and cutting costs. For example, you might be using an app for scheduling, another for billing your clients, maybe another provider for receiving payments, and something else to keep your client information organized. If you have a team, maybe you're paying for yet another app to manage your staff too. These subscription costs can add up! Consider consolidating to one app – like PetPocketbook – that does it all, which may not only be cheaper but also streamline your day-to-day so that you get back more of your time to focus on growing your business.

Another way to cut costs is to focus on serving more clients in a smaller geographic area. Since the price of gas keeps increasing, it’s hard to predict how much traveling to and from clients’ homes will cost.

Find a platform that covers your online payment processing costs. In this day and age, pet parents want to pay for their pet services with a credit card like they do for everything else, but that can get really expensive for you as a small business. That’s where platforms like PetPocketbook can help. For example, we make money by charging a 5% service fee when pet parents check out through our platform. This might sound high, but we as consumers are paying the same or more when we book Ubers, order food online, or make a salon appointment. We use this fee to cover any fees associated with online transactions as well as other operational costs. This is how we also keep our subscription costs low for our clients at a flat monthly rate of $25, regardless of how many clients or staff you have. We realize that not every pet parent may be in a position to afford the service fee on top of their pet care costs, which is why our clients have the option to accept other methods of payment outside of PetPocketbook, like cash, check, Venmo, or Zelle. Payments made outside of our platform are not subject to our service fee.

an example of service fees

Consider raising your prices

If you’ve already cut costs where you can, you may need to consider raising your prices. As a dog walker, you’re constantly on the go. And with the average price of a gallon of gas topping over $5 nationwide, filling up your tank is going to eat into your profits rather quickly!

Start by figuring out how much you need to charge for each service to make money – not just break even. Take into account your time, fuel, operating costs, and more. How does that compare to your current rates? Determine how much more you need to charge given the increased cost of doing business.

Next, understand what others are charging. Do some research of other businesses in the area, including the services they offer and the rates for each. How do your services compare to others? How do the prices compare? We ran a quick pricing analysis last month on the companies using PetPocketbook and found that national average for a 30-minute walk is about $25 right now, and the average price of an overnight stay is roughly $70 per night. Check out the summary chart below from our analysis to see what the average price is in your state. Remember, if you’re doing something different and better than everyone else, it’s normal to charge more. Just make sure it’s obvious to clients what makes you different and the value of your service compared to others.

Average Price of 30-minute Walks Chart by State
Average Price Per Night for Overnights Chart by State

After doing your research, you might find that the price you need to charge to cover your costs for certain services is too high to be competitive. If you’re barely breaking even on a particular service, you may need to discontinue that service or consider other options. For example, if you’re taking a hard hit on 30-minute walks, but your adventure hikes are bringing in most of your profit, consider focusing more on adventure hikes and less on 30-minute walks. You can also try getting creative with your pricing. For example, instead of raising rates for all services, you may want to just charge more for weekends and holidays when your time is most valued, or add on an extra fee for a second pet in the same family.

Once you decide on your new rates, how you communicate these changes to clients is really important. Send out a notice (or maybe multiple notices 🤪) to clients announcing your increase and be sure to include information like when the new rates go into effect, how much rates are going up, and list the new prices for each service if you feel comfortable.

Here’s an example of a price increase notice we’ve created to help!

Hi everyone!

I hope you’re having a fantastic summer! Thank you so much for trusting us to care for your pets – we love them as if they were our own! Your support means a lot to us, and we could not run our business without you.

As you may have noticed, the cost of everything is on the rise, and everyone is feeling the heat! To offset the increased cost of doing business, we will be raising our rates effective {insert date}. Our new rates will apply starting with your first full billing period with us after {date}, regardless of when the service was requested. As a reminder, when you request services in PetPocketbook, an estimate of your total will appear before you submit the request, keeping our pricing as transparent as possible. Our new rates can be found in PetPocketbook when requesting services and are also listed in the attached PDF.

Thank you so much for your understanding! We look forward to seeing you and your pets soon!


{Your Name, Your Business}

Lastly, be prepared for questions and concerns. If you have a client who is struggling and simply cannot afford the increase, you can choose to work with them to offer custom pricing. That way, you’re still increasing your rates across the board while accommodating those who need it. At the end of the day just make sure you aren't selling yourself short. You need to make a living too, and your clients will understand that.

dog on skim board with caption coming for my moneeeey!

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