How To Maximize Tipping For Your Pet Sitting Business
Leaving a gratuity is a relatively accepted practice in the service industry, whether it is an expectation or not, and it is a wonderful way for clients to express their appreciation to service providers for a job well done. In the pet care industry, tipping hasn’t always been as typical, but there has been a shift in attitude in recent years. It is becoming increasingly commonplace for clients to tip their pet sitters and dog walkers, and tips are becoming an integral part of a staff member’s earnings.
With this change in direction, you may wonder how you can lean into this shift as a business owner. Whether you run a solo business or have a team of dedicated pet sitters, we’ll not only provide you with some “tips” of our own on how to encourage your clients to leave gratuities, but we’ll also help you teach your staff some tricks that will help them go the extra mile to earning those tips, and some ways you can utilize Time To Pet to maximize tipping for your business.
Some Tips On Tipping
Oftentimes, clients have a lot of questions when it comes to tipping. Some wonder if it’s even appropriate to leave tips at all, while others are unsure of what amount it is suitable to leave or through what means. From the get-go, it is imperative that you consider the answers to these questions and have them ready at your disposal when a client inevitably asks. But don’t just rest on your laurels and wait for your clients to inquire about tipping - be proactive in your encouragement! Below are some ways to introduce the concept of tipping their pet sitter to your clients and suggestions for helping to ensure they follow through.
The Meet & Greet
One of the easiest and most effective ways to maximize tipping for your pet-sitting business is by bringing them up during your initial consultation. When discussing your billing and payment policies with your clients, be sure to mention how they can leave a tip for your team members. Some people might prefer to leave cash or a gift card, while others might want to tip through an app like Zelle or Venmo. If you have specific protocols in place for how you would like tips handled, especially if you utilize software like Time To Pet, go over those guidelines in detail with your clients and clarify how they can do so. Not only can you walk them through the process during the Meet & Greet, but you can also answer any questions they might have, and it’s an excellent way to plant the seed to leave a tip in their minds early on in the process.
Social Media & Other Online Platforms
Another great place to leave information about your tipping policies is on your website or other social media platforms, where you include information about your services, billing process, or frequently asked questions. Depending on what content you have on your social media or if you send out a newsletter to your clients, you could also include information on the benefits of tipping your dog walker and pet sitter. Providing quotes and testimonials from other satisfied clients to advertise on your website, emails, and other marketing avenues is also a great way to drum up expectations regarding the quality of service your team is known for. By utilizing your online platforms to convey this information, you ensure that it is readily available to clients at any time, and it can help reinforce the importance of tips for your team members to your clients.
Welcome Home Cards
While a lot of pet sitting businesses utilize text updates, emails, or messaging through their pet sitting software to deliver visit reports to their clients, there are still a lot of companies that like to leave handwritten notes or cards for their clients to find and read once they’ve returned home. These cards can be great for leaving a more personal touch to conclude your team’s stay/services and are a great additional way to remind clients of how they can book further services should they need them, how they can tip their pet sitters, or where they can leave reviews. While you should never demand tips or make them seem like an expectation, it doesn’t hurt to remind clients that tips are always appreciated for a job well done and are a great way to support their pet sitters!
Pet Sitting Software
While there are many ways to accept payment and tips for your team and services rendered, one of the easiest and most efficient ways to process billing and collect gratuities is by using a pet sitting software with an integrated payment system like Time To Pet. With the right pet sitting software, you’ll be able to automate tipping amounts for recurring clients, allow clients the opportunity to leave tips as part of paying their invoices, provide clients with suggested tip amounts, and accept tips in multiple forms of payment. Further into the article, we’ll explain in more detail how to utilize Time To Pet and its features to promote tipping amongst your clients.
Things To Remember
Much like leaving a review or rating your business, tipping often falls under the umbrella of something that is “not required but very much appreciated” in the pet care industry. As we have discussed previously, however, it is becoming a more prevalent practice and something that is more necessary to team members than before as the costs of living continue to rise. Nevertheless, when approaching your clients about tipping, you should be careful never to sound demanding or make it seem as if it’s an expectation that clients leave a tip, as people can sometimes take that in a way that was not intended.
Instead, be sure to remind clients, especially those grateful to your company and looking for a way to express their gratitude, that tipping is a much-appreciated gesture that goes a long way to recognizing a staff member’s hard work.
It also isn’t a bad idea to emphasize, depending on your company’s policies, that all tips go directly to the staff member(s) that took care of their pets, as that is a concern many clients can have around tipping. This is because they want to ensure that their additional funds are going exactly where they want them to go, and it’s a good idea to reassure them of this fact.
Since there is a lot of uncertainty surrounding proper tip etiquette in the pet care industry, some clients might need guidance when it comes to leaving tips. This guidance can come in the form of suggested tip amounts or prompts for them to leave a tip when paying for their services. Doing this with pet sitting software that offers integrated payment options is easiest. Still, you can also implement strategies to encourage your clients to tip through your website, welcome home cards, or through messages attached to a client’s invoice. However you choose to prompt your clients, your methods should be tied to how you process payments.
Regardless of your strategies, as with many aspects of customer service, it is essential to remember that the ball is ultimately in your client’s court at the end of the day regarding whether or not they tip. You can encourage your client to the best of your ability and provide them with all of the necessary tools to support your team members and business should they like to, but none of it may matter in the face of how a client is feeling at the conclusion of their services with your team.
This is why your team members and the work they do for your company will need to be able to stand on their own merit and be capable of inspiring these gestures of appreciation from your clients. When clients return home from work or a trip, they should be left feeling happy and relieved that your team was there to look after their pets to the point that they want to take the extra steps needed to support your team and business, e.g. in the form of tipping.
And if a client does leave a tip for your team, don’t be afraid to thank them in return with a little message or note to let them know how much it meant to you and your team members that they did so! Every little token of appreciation goes a long way and will leave a lasting impression in your client’s mind.
Staff Member Dues And Dont's
While there is a lot you can do as a business owner to encourage clients to leave tips, much of what will motivate them to leave a gratuity at the end will be determined by the quality of service they receive from your team members. This is why it is imperative that you train your team members on how to foster good relationships not only with the furry friends under their care but with their pet parents, as well.
Below are some ways you can help your team members sharpen their customer service skills and bestow them with the tools they need to surpass client expectations and increase their likelihood of earning tips.
1. Go Above And Beyond
One of the keys to providing phenomenal service to your clients is the willingness to take an extra step or two to ensure their comfort and peace of mind. When you are a dog walker or pet sitter, it isn’t just your furry client you need to consider, but your human client. Whether you’re staying overnight while a client is out of town or you do a daily lunchtime walk with their pup, consider your routine and how you can contribute to bettering the environment around you for both the pet and their family.
If you’re visiting some kitties while their parents are out of town, for example, consider sweeping up the area where the litterbox is kept or dusting up visible clumps of pet hair that you see. If you’re staying overnight and it is the middle of winter, be mindful of any precautions you might need to take, such as turning on faucets to ensure pipes won’t burst or touching base on what temperature the clients would like their home to be kept at.
While these actions may seem small, when you take the time to consider what might make the pets under your care happier and you make a conscious effort to act in a pet parent’s best interest, clients will take notice of your efforts and will keep your thoughtfulness in the forefront of their mind.
2. Better Than You Found It
Pet care requires a lot of trust. Not only are you entrusted with a beloved family member, but you have also been given access to a client’s home, often when they are out of the house at work or on vacation. While many clients have cameras or security systems that can help to hold pet sitters accountable, there are still many opportunities to take advantage of or damage that trust, whether it’s intended or not, so it is essential to be mindful of your surroundings and do your utmost to leave a client’s residence in a better condition than you found it.
Especially if you are staying overnight, you should take extra steps to ensure you tidy up after yourselves and the pets, and if appropriate, consider doing some chores like collecting the mail, taking out the trash, or watering the plants for your clients. After all, nothing is as satisfying as coming home from a long and potentially tiring trip to find happy pets and a clean and well-kept-after residence. That reassurance that their trust was not misplaced goes a long way to boosting satisfaction and securing client loyalty.
3. Poor Communication Kills
The number one most important aspect of developing a good rapport with your clients is how you communicate with them.
Avoid perfunctory updates. Instead, when providing updates for a walk, visit, or overnight stay, be detailed on what you and a client’s pets did that day, and don’t be afraid to get a little inventive in how you present the information. Treating your updates like a story you’re recounting is not only bound to be more fun for your clients to receive, but it’s a great way to convey the pets, their personalities, and share little anecdotes. It’s also a fantastic way to let some of your personality shine through, allowing you to connect easily with your clients.
If words aren’t your forte, still provide as much detail about the visit as possible, but shift your focus to delivering stellar photos and videos of the pets instead. Visual representation of their pet’s joy and tangible proof that they are having a good time is sometimes all a pet parent needs to have complete peace of mind. No matter how often you have visited a pet, always make an effort to provide a photo, even if it’s just for the sake of the client getting to see their beloved pet that they probably miss dearly!
If anything unusual occurs during the visit or if the pet has a soft stool or something similar, be sure to report on these matters as well, and be sure to do so promptly and precisely. Provide photos if necessary and consult with your managers and the clients if there is anything more that should be done, depending on the situation.
Keeping clients in the loop and ensuring they know what is happening with their pets and home is essential to establishing their trust, and maintaining effective communication with them is paramount to providing the best service possible.
4. Make Every Moment Count
Providing excellent updates, maintaining a tidy residence, and helping out wherever and however you can are all vital parts of giving stellar customer service in the pet care industry, but something you should never overlook is the reason why you’re there in the first place - to spend time with some adorable pets!
The care, love, and attention you are giving to the pets under your supervision while their parents aren’t able to is invaluable, and you should try to make every moment that you’re with them count. That can mean snapping a selfie when you’re snuggling on the couch with them, taking them for an extra long walk, or getting in some quality brushing time before bed if they’re into that. Not only will you have a wide selection of experiences with the pets to share with the client, but you’ll also organically build a bond meant to last, and that bond will speak volumes. Clients love their pets, and it means a great deal to them when it’s clear their pet sitter does too.
How Time To Pet Makes Tipping Easy
As we have stated previously, one of the most efficient ways to handle billing for your pet care business is to use a pet sitting software with an integrated payment system that allows for multiple payment options. It is especially effective for tipping purposes if credit cards, debit cards, and ACH payments are included among those payment options. We have discovered that our customers who use Time To Pet and accept credit cards and ACH payments are 7.5 times more likely to receive tips than companies that only accept cash or checks. In fact, in 2022, Time To Pet’s customers earned over $12.2 million in tips alone, most of which came from credit card and ACH payments.
In this section, we’ll look at how to use Time To Pet and its available features alongside the strategies highlighted above to help maximize tips for your business.
Accepting Credit Cards
Time To Pet has two integrated payment processors - WePay and Time To Pet Payments (Powered By Stripe) - that can streamline your company’s billing process by allowing you to accept both credit/debit cards and ACH payments. Any payments processed using Time To Pet are automatically applied to a client’s invoices. With the option to allow your clients to submit payments (and tips) themselves through their Client Portals, invoicing is seamless and can save a lot of time for you (or your bookkeeper).
Enabling credit cards is as easy as the click of a button - you just need to use your Time To Pet Dashboard to go to Settings > Invoicing & Payments > Credit Cards and connect with one of our payment processors listed above. From there, you follow the prompts, and you’ll be set to go within moments!
With credit card processing enabled, you will increase the chances that your clients will leave a tip exponentially and open up several other features your company can take advantage of using Time To Pet’s built-in payment system, including Automatic Charging and Automatic Tipping.
If you have reservations about accepting credit cards as a form of payment for your company, we recommend checking out our article here to see why credit cards can be a major boon and contribute to the success of your business.
Automatic Charging & Automatic Tipping
Automatic Charging is an extremely useful tool designed to run client invoices automatically. It is set to run at a schedule of your choosing, making it so you barely have to lift a finger when it comes to processing payments. Time To Pet will also send an automatic reminder email to your clients twenty-four hours before they are set to be charged, and its settings can be further customized to favor ACH payments or whatever credit/debit card your client has on file, depending on the preferences of you and your clients.
When it comes to tipping, Automatic Charging is extremely beneficial because, in the automatic reminder email that is sent to your clients (which is a message you can further customize under Settings > Company Settings > Messaging), there is an “Add Tips” button clients can click that allows them to add a tip directly to the invoice being charged. Within the messaging of your email reminder, you can also prompt your clients to leave a tip for the staff member that cared for their pets and thank them for their support.
While Automatic Charging can apply to all of your clients across the board, Automatic Tipping is a fantastic way to automate tipping for clients individually. Especially for clients with daily or recurring visit schedules, they may wish to instill a set dollar amount or percentage that they tip their dog walkers or pet sitters on each invoice. With Automatic Tipping, you can set up their preferred tip amount straight from their client profile on their Services/Invoices tab, and it will automatically be applied to the next generated invoice.
With Automatic Tipping enabled, clients won’t have to worry about logging into their Client Portals or Client Apps to leave a tip, as it will already be taken care of for them. When used in tandem with Automatic Charging, your clients won’t need to worry about invoices or payments at all until the time comes when they might need to update their payment methods or adjust their service schedule.
One of Time To Pet’s greatest strengths is the many ways in which you can connect and communicate with your clients. Our software enables you to send personalized messages to your clients in a number of ways, including through their individual conversation feeds, scheduled messages, or saved replies and mass emails, as well as allowing you to utilize portal notifications and invoice messages or notes to further reach your clients. With so many ways to correspond with your clients, there are many opportunities for you to convey the importance of tipping and how it impacts your staff members, and when clients do leave gratuities, you can express your gratitude to them for their consideration.
The strength of your communication with your clients is one of the most vital aspects of pet care. It can set the tone for their relationship with your company and is essential to building a foundation of trust with you and your team. That is why training your staff to communicate effectively with clients is so critical. However, it is also important that you refine the way you and any office staff you may have speak to them as well. While professionalism is paramount to any company’s success, and you should strive to always maintain a respectful and tactful tone with clients, that shouldn’t prohibit you from being as transparent as possible. Clients highly value honesty, and a peek behind the veil regarding how you run your business never hurts, especially when it comes to a topic like tipping.
Don’t be afraid to be upfront with your clients regarding tips. Highlight to your clients how they are distributed within your company and emphasize the benefits they bring to your team and the quality of service they provide. You never know how far communication will take you, but more often than not, clients will respond positively to businesses that establish a certain level of transparency.
Mass emails can be extremely effective for educating your clients on the importance of tipping, and invoice notes and messages are great places to prompt clients to leave a tip and remind them how they can do so. Meanwhile, when clients do leave tips, you could create a saved reply that you send out to thank them for doing so. When it comes to your staff members, you can also use mass emails to offer suggestions on how they can improve their chances of receiving tips or show them how much you appreciate their hard work.
In addition to making tipping a breeze for your clients and granting your company many different ways to connect with them, Time To Pet also offers some great behind-the-scenes resources for you and your office staff to use to keep track of what clients are leaving tips and what staff members are making the most in tips.
Almost everything you need to know about tips in Time To Pet can be found in the Pay Center, which is located under Staff > Pay Center when accessing it from your Time To Pet Dashboard. In addition to showing you all tips that have and have not been disbursed to your staff members under the Tips tab, there is an option to export all of your tip disbursement data that will allow you to see a complete list of all the clients who have ever left a tip for your team.
We also have three reports specific to tipping you can pull data from under the Tip Report tab: Tips Over Time, which provides a breakdown of the total amount of tips received in a specified period of time; Tips By User/Staff, which will show the total tips disbursed to each user/staff member within a selected date range; and Tips By Client, which will show how much money in tips each client has paid within a supplied date range.
Using these reports, you can determine what clients need to be thanked for their tips, what staff members are providing outstanding care to your clients, and where you might want to turn your focus when it comes to deciding what clients to reach out to and what staff members might need some additional training or assistance.
If you want to see a more in-depth history of the tips your staff has received, you can do so on their profile page by clicking directly on the Tip Balance tag underneath their names.
Staff members can also view who has tipped them by navigating to the Tips tab found in the My Pay section of their Time To Pet dashboards. This can be useful if you would like staff members to send their own message of gratitude to the clients who tipped them.
For more information on implementing these features in Time To Pet and some examples of messaging you can use for your staff and clients, please see our help article here: Best Practices For Maximizing Tips In Time To Pet.