Raising Your Rates

Ready to raise your pet sitting or dog walking rates? This guide shows you how to do it!

Raising Your Pet Sitting Rates

Within the realm of dog walking and pet sitting, deciding what to charge your clients can be a massive challenge. Between balancing what you and your staff members need to make a living, noting your competitors' rates, and charging an amount that feels fair and attainable for your clients, it can be difficult to know where to begin. For many pet care business owners, once they have overcome that obstacle and have settled on their service rates and additional fees, it can become even more difficult when it comes time to raise their rates. Whether it be due to the uncertainty of how to implement a cost increase or the fear that clients will terminate service, there is an almost universal hesitance to raise rates that is shared amongst dog walking and pet sitting companies alike.

That is why, in today’s lesson, we’ll cover the reasons why raising your rates every couple to few years is necessary, guide you on how to decide your new rates and announce them to your clients, and provide some tips for implementing a price increase for your company using the tools and features provided by Time To Pet.


It’s A Dog Eat Dog World Out There

Nobody likes an increase in prices. After all, an increase in prices indicates a larger overhead that business owners have to meet in order to ensure they can cover their expenses while still turning a profit, and clients may find the increased rates incongruous with what they are able (or willing) to pay for their services. Regardless, as the cost of living continues to rise and inflation impacts the going rate for various goods and services nationwide, prices will need to continue to rise alongside them. Otherwise, how can you expect you or your team members to make a livable wage?

While it is with noble intentions that many dog walkers and pet sitters strive to keep the pricing of their services low, you should never forget that, even though you are there to provide the best care and service that you can to your clients and their pets, you and your staff deserve to make a decent living doing what you love. If you are barely making ends meet in an effort to offer your clients low or custom rates, you’re more likely to experience extreme stress and burnout as a result. And if you reach the point where you aren’t able to consistently put your best self forward each and every day due to such circumstances, all you’ll be doing is hurting your clients (and yourself) in the long run. You don’t deserve that, and the clients and the pets you and your team love don’t deserve that. So don’t be afraid to raise your rates to what you need to make a comfortable living, as anything less will make it hard for you to put your best foot forward and keep your business afloat.

It’s also important to note that having significantly lower prices than those of your competitors isn’t always viewed as a positive thing. While there are advantages to lower rates, there can also be a significant drawback. No matter how high quality the service you and your team provide may be, if your pricing doesn’t reflect that, many clients may look at your company and write it off as being of poor quality due to a perceived lack of value in what you’re offering. Whether or not that perception is correct, people can be prone to making face-value judgments and can look at two identical items and assume that the one with the higher price tag is more reputable.

“But what if I lose clients when I increase my rates?” you may ask. Unfortunately, there is always a risk of some clients being unable to afford your increased rates and seeking other services. However, if you provide top-of-the-line service and have a good relationship with their pets, you might be surprised at how many clients will stick with you and your company. For many pet parents, having a pet care company that treats their pets well and provides them peace of mind when they are away from home will make an additional cost worth it. Some pet parents may not have the means to afford your services. While organizing a special discount or lowered pricing for well-established and loyal clients is understandable, you want to be careful about whom you make deals with. While you may wish to assist every pet parent in need, which is a wonderful goal, you must also remember to safeguard your own livelihood for your own sake and the sake of the staff members and clients who rely on you.

The services you and your team provide enrich the lives of both the pets you care for and the pet parents who love them, but you cannot provide that top-notch service if you can’t keep your doors open. While we have established this point many times, it’s important to internalize that you and your business are worth it, and while some clients may go, there are many more clients just waiting to get to know you and your team!

Note: Are you newer to the pet care industry and need help setting your rates in the first place? Consider checking out our Ultimate Guide To Setting Your Pet Sitting and Dog Walking Rates!

How To Raise Your Rates Without Bringing Down The Roof

Now that we’ve covered how important it is to raise your service rates, the next step is determining when and by how much you should raise them. Oftentimes, you may think you need to wait for something significant or for an appropriate milestone (such as the beginning of a new year) before you can implement a price increase. Especially if you have enacted a price increase within recent memory, you may not feel like enough time has passed between price increases and that it may be inappropriate for you to do so. However, you should be careful to avoid this type of thinking. Though it may seem counterintuitive, especially with an industry as personal as pet care, you don’t actually need to justify a price increase to your clients in order to put it into action.

As we have discussed previously, you most likely dread the thought of raising your rates and what the reaction from your clientele will be – and with good reason! It’s a difficult decision to make and can feel overwhelming in its risk potential. However, if you are staring down the barrel of a price increase, it is most likely because there are pressing reasons for it. Perhaps your competitors are raising their own prices, or maybe you want to be able to afford to offer health insurance to your team members. Whatever the reason you’re looking to raise your company’s pricing, that is what should determine your timeline surrounding your rate increase.

Consider how urgent your situation may be. For example, if the minimum wage is going up in your state in the upcoming year and you know you’re going to need to increase your service rates in order to pay your staff properly, then it would be a good idea to plan to raise your rates a few months in advance of the event. This way, you’ll not only be able to afford the higher wages you’ll need to pay for your staff, but you’ll also hopefully be generating additional revenue that you can put toward other aspects of your business. Depending on how early you learn of such news, you could even plan to roll out a price increase in stages over several months in order to allow your clients a longer transition period.

How much you choose to raise your rates can vary depending on the following factors:

  • How long has it been since your last price increase?
  • Do you need to increase the amount of wages your staff are earning?
  • Have your business expenses gone up, or are there new ones that need covering? This could refer to the prices of materials and supplies you and your staff need to complete your work, any pet sitting or accounting software you may use in the day-to-day running of your business, office space costs, and the price of insurance, etc.
  • How much profit is currently being brought in for your business, and how much is left over after you’ve paid your expenses and your staff? Are you turning a profit or just breaking even?

After considering all of the above questions, you should be able to arrive (or at least get a good idea) at the figures you need to ensure your business is booming. If this is the first time you are raising your prices, you may need to make a more significant increase than expected, depending on your situation. As we discussed earlier, though, if you’re not comfortable with putting undue financial stress on your existing clients, you can always choose to present your updated pricing to new clients only (as they’ll never have known anything else) and allow your existing clients to keep their current pricing. You can always set up a minor price increase for existing clients or plan to phase out legacy pricing at a later date. You don’t necessarily need to do everything all at once.

For example, if you offer dog walking services and you plan to raise the rates of your walks by $5, that can be a big adjustment for clients who rely on your services on a daily basis. In order to ease existing clients into the new pricing, you could raise the base walk rate by $1 in a couple of months, then $2 after another few months, followed by a last increase of another $2 some months later. Meanwhile, you could offer the full service rate to your newer clients signing up for your services for the very first time.

When it comes to deciding the exact date you should make your rate increase official, though, it will greatly depend on your circumstances. Many companies like to wait until the beginning of a new year for a fresh start, or if they need to increase prices sooner, they will at least wait until the beginning of a new month or quarter of the year. However, since these can be standard times for businesses to announce price increases, you may even want to aim for a less busy time of year. While the start of a new year sounds like the perfect time to put a price increase into action, it’s also a stressful time of year surrounded by additional financial stressors like the holidays and tax season. To avoid making an announcement in an already hectic time, it could be prudent to wait until the spring or to make the announcement in the fall before the holiday season hits.

And while it isn’t required, it is a good idea to plan the implementation of your price increase well in advance. That way, you will have plenty of time to break the news to your clients, update your website and any other platforms where your pricing might be listed, and make other necessary preparations.

Announcing Your New Rates To Your Clients

Once you have decided when and by how much you will raise your rates, the next step is to notify your clients of the upcoming changes. Earlier, we touched on the fact that you do not need to justify raising your prices to your clients, and while that remains true, you do need to give them the news in a timely manner. While you may lose a few clients due to a price increase no matter how far in advance you make the announcement, you would lose much more business if you chose to just spring new rates on your clients without a heads up instead. After all, not many people would take kindly to receiving an invoice with new pricing they were never informed of and never consented to pay.

That being said, you don’t necessarily need to inform your entire client base when you are preparing to raise your prices. Suppose you have clientele that receive daily or regularly recurring visits, for example, and you will be raising prices that would impact their services. In that case, you should absolutely alert those clients to any changes in their rates. However, if your company offers ad hoc services like cat visits, overnight sittings, or boarding, you don’t necessarily need to reach out to them about your prices increasing. Since the clients scheduling such services would most likely be doing so on an infrequent basis, it isn’t unreasonable for there to be a difference in what they’re paying between one booking and the next.

One of the most crucial factors in notifying your clients of a price increase is the way in which you communicate that information. The most common way pet care business owners might touch base with their clients about important updates is by email or text message. If you run a solo business with fewer clients, you may choose to deliver such information by telephone. However you typically communicate with your clients, we recommend staying consistent with that communication method when it comes to relaying the news of your price increase. While you want to be sure clients stay informed, you also don’t want to make a bigger deal of the topic than it needs to be by deciding you’re going to tell each of your clients about the price increase by phone personally when you usually would send a mass email.

Though such a personal touch is a meaningful gesture, and you may wish to make yourself available for clients to express their questions or concerns, you could also be opening yourself up to a large amount of additional work and stress. And in an industry as busy and ever-changing as pet care, you want to focus on lessening your stress, not adding to it!

As you draft your rate increase communication to your clients, consider including the following elements:

  • Specify which services will have rate increases and by how much those rates will be increasing
  • Highlight precisely when the new prices will take effect and whether or not previously booked events will be honored at the old pricing or held to the new ones
  • Include a brief explanation of why you’re raising your rates, but don’t let it turn into justifications or you defending yourself. To reiterate an earlier point, you don’t owe your clients an explanation, but letting them know generally that costs are rising or that your team is expanding, etc., in order to provide context can be important
  • If communicating a price increase to existing clients, be sure to make it clear whether or not they will be held to the new rates or if you intend to provide them with legacy rates
  • If you plan to roll out your price increase in stages for your existing clients, be explicit on how many stages this plan includes and when each stage will be enacted
  • Thank your clients for their business and let them know how much you value the opportunity to take care of their pets. That it’s important for you to invest in your business and your team so that you can continue to service them with the top-notch care your company is dedicated to providing

However you choose to communicate your price increase to your clients, it’s vital to remember the relationships you and your company have built with your clients. In an industry like ours, the work we carry out is very personal, and it’s difficult not to get attached to the animals in our care. In many cases, dog walkers and pet sitters are practically considered members of the family, especially those who provide frequent care to specific pets. The peace of mind they provide to the pet parents they work with and the enrichment they bring to the lives of the pets they care for isn’t something that can be easily replicated. And once a client has established that sort of trust with a business, a slight price increase isn’t likely to break that connection. If it does, they either weren’t your best client to begin with, or they were put in a position where it just wasn’t feasible for their budgets. These things happen, and that’s okay.

All of that is to say, if you receive complaints from some clients or if you find yourself on the end of a client who is trying to haggle their way into custom pricing – tread carefully. While giving in to such a demand might seem worth it if it’s someone you have worked with for a long time, it will inevitably lead to more situations where you’ll have to make similar concessions. And it will never end. So consider your options carefully before going down that path, and do what is best for you and your business.

Note: Should you keep legacy rates for existing rates as you increase your prices? Check out our detailed blog on the subject for more information: Should You Keep Legacy Rates for Old Pet Sitting Clients When Raising Your Rates?

How To Increase Your Rates Using Time To Pet

Time To Pet offers many different features that you can use to set default rates for your services, create custom rates for specific clients, update customized prices in bulk, and refresh rates for multiple events at a time. When it comes time to raise rates for your company, you can utilize these tools to ensure your company has a seamless transition to your new pricing and that you are charging your clients exactly how you want them to be charged. Below, we’ll go over some of the basics of increasing your rates in Time To Pet, a few key features that will help you implement your price increase, and provide some additional resources for you to reference.

The ABCs Of Rate Increases

When it comes to raising your rates within your Time To Pet account, it’s critical to keep the following things in mind:

  • You cannot schedule automatic rate increases ahead of time. Whenever you adjust your default service rates, all events scheduled for that service from that moment forward will be priced at your new rate. We would recommend adjusting your rates the day of or the night before you plan to increase your rates. If you want to increase your prices within Time To Pet earlier than that, just keep in mind that you will need to manually adjust any events you schedule between the moment you alter the prices and the date your price increase goes into effect.
  • Events scheduled before updating your default service rates will not retroactively be adjusted to the new pricing, even if scheduled for a date that falls after your price increase. If you would like existing events that were scheduled for a date after your price increase to be updated to your pricing, you will need to either manually update the rates for that event directly on that event’s invoice, or you can refresh the rates for multiple such events to your new ones by using the Bulk Update tool.
  • Clients with custom rates already set will not be impacted when you update your default service rates. If you want to update these clients to your new rates, you must reset their custom rates to reflect your company’s default rates. You can do this for an individual client by navigating to their profile and selecting the “Rates” tab. If a custom rate has been set for a service, select the “Use Default” button to reset the rate to the current default rate for that service. If you would like to remove or update multiple clients with custom rates at once, this can be done using the Bulk Custom Client Rates tool.
  • If you would like to increase the rates for additional pet fees, after hours charges, or frequency discounts, you will need to do so for each individual service in your Services List. This cannot be done in bulk.
  • With templates, the rates are assigned based on your current rates when the template is approved. For templates that have already been approved for dates that take place after your price increase has been implemented and you would like your new rates to apply, you will need to refresh them using the Bulk Update tool. Templates that have not been approved will reflect the pricing set on their approval date.
  • If updating pay rates for your staff alongside your price increase, you will need to adjust the rate for each individual service in your Services List. This cannot be done in bulk, and if staff have custom pay rates set, their pay rates will not be impacted by the price increase. To remove any custom pay rates for your staff, you must navigate to the Staff List, select their profile, and click on the “Rates” tab. Then, either adjust the rates to a new custom rate or select “Use Default” to remove the customization.

These Features Are An Admin’s Best Friend

  1. Bulk Update Tool

Found in the upper right-hand corner of the Scheduler, The Bulk Update tool is one of Time To Pet’s most powerful features. Unlike the Bulk Edit tool, the Bulk Update tool can be used to update aspects of events that exist across multiple invoices. While it has several different applications, when it comes to updating the rates for existing clients, you will want to use the “Refresh Rates” option. When chosen, the “Refresh Rates” option will update the following for all selected events: Service Primary Cost, Extra Pet Rates, After Hours Rates, Weekend Rates, Frequency Discounts, and Holiday Rates. If a client has a custom rate set, the Bulk Update tool will use that amount instead of the service’s default rate.

  1. Bulk Custom Client Rates Tool

The Bulk Custom Client Rates Tool allows you to customize the rate of a specific service for all (or a subset) of your clients. It can be found by navigating to Settings > Advanced > Bulk Custom Client Rates. If there are multiple clients with the same custom rates that you would like to update or you would like to remove all custom client rates for a particular service, this tool will eliminate the need to go into each client’s individual profile to make those changes. Instead, you will be able to make those changes all at once. You can also use the Bulk Custom Client Rates tool to set a new custom rate for multiple clients or lock in a client’s existing rates if you want clients to keep paying their current rates after putting a price increase in place. The Bulk Custom Client Rates tool also provides a filtering tool so that you can easily group clients depending on your needs.

  1. Scheduling Reports

Suppose you are refreshing rates for events that were scheduled prior to your price increase in order to set them to the new rates but don’t know how far out you have scheduled services. In that case, you can use the “Upcoming First/Last Visits” report found under Schedule Reports to determine when the furthest date out of a service is scheduled. From there, you can easily use the Bulk Update tool to update all the future months with scheduled services that need to be updated to your new rates.

  1. Client Flags

If you have different discounts or custom rates set for specific subsets of clients and would like to be able to quickly identify them on their profiles and across Time To Pet, consider using our Client Flags feature to label what type of discount that client has. When it then comes time to update those custom rates, you can use the filtering options on the Bulk Custom Client Rates tool to sort clients by specific flags.

  1. Mass Client Emails

When it comes time to notify your clients of your rate increase, you can use our Mass Email Campaigns to send a message to all or specific groups of clients at once. You can also choose to copy the message to your client’s general conversation feed on their profiles or to their private message feed if you have them enabled. This will save you precious time when communicating these changes and answering any questions or concerns your clients may have. You can also keep track of their responses through Time To Pet by copying the messages into their conversation feeds for easy referencing.

  1. Free Rate Calculators

If you ever need help determining what you should set your new service rates to, we offer some free calculating tools for dog walking, cat sitting, dog sitting, and pet sitting to help guide you on what other pet care providers are charging on average in your area.

Additional Reading

Rates Webinar - Time To Pet conducted a live Advanced Webinar on Rate Increases! This webinar focused on basic rate increases, how to set legacy rates for existing customers, and how to increase rates on extra fees, frequency discounts, templates, and packages. You can watch that webinar at the link provided and take a look at some of the answers to questions that were asked during the webinar’s Q&A.

Best Practices For Updating Legacy Client Rates - This help article focuses on the best ways to update clients that have set custom rates.

Best Practices For Locking In Legacy Rates for Existing Clients When Raising Rates For New Clients - This help article focuses on the best ways to keep existing clients at their old rates while simultaneously increasing rates for incoming clients.


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