Why Pet Sitters have Cancellation Policies

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Why Pet Sitters have Cancellation Policies

Do you actually “Read” your pet sitting companies contract? The contract is for you, your pet & your pet sitter’s benefit. Policies and liability waivers are put in place by professional pet sitting companies for good reasons. The number one thing often missed on contracts by pet owners is the cancellation policy. Then they are upset because they still get charged for services they had scheduled. Don’t be caught off guard and end up saying ” I missed that in the contract, so my fault.”

Many pet owners who do not adhere to a pet sitters cancellation policy often get defensive, make excuses and find the polices “absurd” because they don’t want to pay the cancellation fee. There is a very good reason these policies are put into place. Keeping in mind Pet Sitting companies have a “business” with overhead to run.

Many pet care companies have a time frame in which you have to cancel by in order to not be charged. This time frame varies depending on the type of pet care business & the volume of pet care they handle. For example many pet sitting businesses offer “Daily Dog walking” and have a 24 hour to 48 hour cancellation policy. They offer a daily repeat service where last minute cancellations and scheduling is not a huge change to their schedule. Many services that offer “Daily Dog Walking” can handle a volume in excess of 70+ clients per day between a staff of 7+ pet sitters. So a last minute cancellations often offers a welcome break to a busy dog walker and a last minute booking can easily fill that slot that just cancelled. Their schedule varies and changes consistently on a daily basis.

Now a business like “Shannon’s Pet Sitting” we do not offer daily dog walking. We are more specialized with strictly vacation & out of town care services with a longer duration of overnight care and stop by care. We have a small staff of 3 pet sitters and tend to book a month or more in advance due to demand. Therefore we have a 7 day cancellation policy. So a last minute cancellation can completely change a pet sitters work schedule for a longer period of time. As well as leave an opening that could have been filled by another pet owner who was denied care due to being already booked.

Another thing to take into consideration is the pet sitting business’s time involved. Time = Money. Many people do not take into consideration how much of a pet sitting business’s time is taken when it comes to scheduling & cancelling a pet care reservation. Let me provide an example of how much time and the steps involved in booking a new client and the loss a last minute cancellation.

Senario: An email lead came in on a Monday through PetSitting.com costing Shannon’s Pet Sitting $20/per lead. A pet owner needed 1 visit on that Saturday. Shannon herself was completely booked that week with no time in her calendar to schedule a consultation to meet with the owner.
1) Shannon sent an email to the pet owner explaining how she was already completely booked for the week however one of her pet sitters would be willing to meet with her & be able to do the requested 1 visit. 2) Then Shannon had to forward the email with pet owners information to her pet sitter Sue, and also call Sue to advise her of how she was unavailable and she would like to Sue to handle scheduling the consultation and do the pet care visit on Saturday.
3) Sue called the pet owner and was able to schedule a consultation to meet with her & her pet.
4) Sue then called Shannon & advised her that the consultation was scheduled for Thursday and the necessary paperwork can be sent to the pet owner.
5) Shannon has to email the pet owner the Pet Information forms & Vet release in one email, and send a separate email with the online electronic signature contract which outlines all the policies and liability releases.
Those 5 steps took a total of about 30 minutes to book 1 – 30 minute pet care visit.
Sue shows up for the consultation on Thursday (3 days prior to the scheduled visit) and to find the owner had broken her foot a few days prior and during the consultation advises Sue wasn’t going to need our services on Saturday after all. The owner never bothered to call or email Shannon’s Pet Sitting to cancel the pet care visit prior to the consultation. Sue was at this owner home for 30-45 minutes.

So Shannon’s Pet Sitting spent about an hour and half of their time to book, schedule and meet with a pet owner in addition to paying $20 to Petsitting.com for the lead. Only for the owner to cancel. Shannon’s Pet Sitting hourly rate is $40/hour. Despite the 7 day cancellation policy in place, Shannon’s Pet Sitting was out a total of ~$80-100! 1 1/2 hours=$60 + $20 petsitting.com lead + $20 1 pet sitting visit + Sue’s cost for gas to drive to & from the pet owners home for the consultation (~$4/gallon). Because of the cancellation policy they broke even having the owner pay the $20 visit which paid for the $20 pet sitting.com fee. But they are out the remaining time & cost for gas.

We have also found that last minute requests with less than 7 days notice from departure date often cancel at the last minute due “other arrangements, friend or family” coming in. So we go through the consultation, & jump through hoops rearranging our schedule to accommodate the pet owner etc. only to get a phone call and have it not go through. All that time and hard work is now gone of the pet sitting companies & they can’t get it back.

Cancellation policies are put into place to avoid inconveniences for the the pet sitter, cost of gas (which is ~$4/gallon), time/money lost & last minute schedule changes. Cancellation policies often deter “repeat offenders” and help the pet sitting service maintain a good base of quality of clientele.

None of us like it when somebody wastes our time and pet sitting services are no different. It’s just a matter of being courteous of a Pet Sitting business’s time. Understanding that other pet owners may be in need of their services and could have used that opening had it become available at an earlier time.

About the Author: Shannon's Pet-Sitting