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A Win-Win Cancellation Policy For Pet Sitters and Dog Walkers

Cute Cat

Early on in our company we had a very strict cancellation policy. I did not want to be taken advantage of by a client booking enough visits to fill up my schedule (which would not allow me to book other clients), only to have that client cancel at the last minute and ask for a refund. 

We ran with our strict cancellation policy for a few years and it led to more than one client being upset about losing the hundreds of dollars they’d paid me to care for their pet. One client even called me to chew me out, and tell me he would never be my client ever again. 

After that phone call, I came up with a win-win cancellation policy. I don’t offer refunds, but the client does not lose the $$$ they invested in their visits.

Keep A Credit On File

We charge for pet sitting visits 2-7 days in advance, and we charge for dog walking visits 15-30 days in advance, depending on client’s preferences and our current sales offering. So, we often already have the cash in our account when a client cancels. 

When a client needs to cancel their visits, we offer to put a credit on their account (in the amount of the canceled visits), which they can use for future visits any time within one year.

This way, we don’t refund the money, but the client also does not lose their cash. We are also sure to make it clear the credit expires after one year so we don’t have that liability left on our books indefinitely.

Improvements to Cashflow

When you offer a credit, you are essentially keeping a liability on your books that you owe your client. But, you only need to keep enough cash to cover the amount you pay your staff to complete the future visits–not the entire amount of the full visit cost. 

Meaning, you only have a liability of 55-70% of the total visit cost, depending on how much you pay your staff. The leftover 30-45% is yours to keep, or invest in your business right away. 

Also, if the client does not book within one year, you can clear the credit from their account and you keep the full amount.

Keeping Track Of Credits

When you are using this style of cancellation policy, you will want to be sure you keep enough cash in a seperate account to cover the cost of paying staff for the visits the client will book using their credit. 

Whenever a client cancels, I transfer the amount I would have needed to pay staff to do that set of visits to a separate bank account. When a client books using their credit, I transfer that cash back into an employee pay account.

The fine folks at Precise Pet Care have also generated a custom report for me that I can use to keep track of client’s credits.

It’s Easier Than It Sounds

There are a number of moving pieces to keep track of when using a cancellation policy like this, but the benefit you get to cash flow and customer satisfaction is worth it. 

If you want to implement this style of cancellation policy but need some guidance on how to get it working in your company, schedule a coaching meeting with us and we can work through it together.

Dog walking online training and certification

Communicating The Policy To Your Clients

At the meet & greet, we give the client a folder that has a number of goodies in it, such as a refrigerator magnet with our company logo and information about certifications we maintain. But most importantly, the folder has a page that spells out our most important policies. Our cancellation policy is right at the top. 

You could also communicate your policies in a welcome email.

Here is the exact language from our Policy Highlights Sheet.

What is your cancelation policy?   

The sooner you can let us know the better. Here are the details

Pet Sitting

  • If you need to cancel at any time, we place a credit on your account that you can use for future bookings within one year
  • Please cancel using our online system or by calling. We may not accept cancellations made by text message.

Dog Walking

  • Our dog walking cancelation policy is very flexible. You can cancel a visit at any time. If you need to cancel a visit, we will just add it as a credit for any future visits that you book within one year. 
  • If you need to cancel a visit within 24 hours, calling the office will work the best. You will get an email notification when your walk has been canceled and the credit will be added onto your account. If your sitter is already on their way to your visit or they are already at your place, we will need to charge for the visit.

We also have a more detailed cancellation policy in our service agreement, which every client must agree to before they get access to our online scheduling system, Precise Pet Care or Time To Pet. 

Here it is:

Pet Sitting Cancellation Policy (60-day look ahead for ongoing visits)

  •  If you need to cancel anytime, we place a credit on your account that you can use within one year. 
  • Please cancel using our online system or by calling. We may not accept cancellations made by text message.

Dog Walking Cancellation Policy

Our dog walking cancelation policy is very flexible. You can cancel a visit at any time. If you need to cancel a visit, we will just add it as a credit for any future visits that you book.

How to Cancel Dog Walking Visits – Within 24 hours

The online system will automatically prevent you from canceling a dog walk within 24 hours before the start of your dog walk. 

If you need to cancel a visit within 24 hours, calling the office will work the best. You will get an email notification when your walk has been canceled and the credit will be added onto your account. 

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