Policies and Procedures
Creating well defined and clearly stated policies for your dog walking business will help set the appropriate expectations for current and future customers. Having all your policies available for pet parents to see will also help to prevent confusion and give your business added credibility. If you use Time To Pet for your business, it’s easy to add policies and a service agreement to your portal, requiring all first-time clients to read and sign your policies before taking any other actions on their account.
Having detailed and professional contracts will save you time and create a more pleasant experience for your customers. Also, keep in mind that as you grow your business and become a more experienced pet care provider, your contracts will likely change. It’s a good idea to revisit and update your policies at regular intervals.
Here is a quick look at some of the policies and procedures that you should create for your dog walking or pet sitting business.
Standard Service Agreement
Your service agreement will include all the terms and conditions of how you will conduct each visit. It will describe everything that a pet parent should expect from your business and what you expect of them. The service agreement includes your cancellation policy, what will happen in case of emergencies, and any other “what if” situations that might occur during service. We have created a sample service agreement to help get you started. When creating your own, you will want to employ an attorney to make sure everything looks okay.
Other Forms for Dog Walkers and Pet Sitters
In addition to a service agreement, you will also want to consider a vet release form, key handling form, and payment authorization form.
- A Vet Release Form is an essential document that authorizes your business to obtain medical care for a pet in case of an emergency. This form should include all the information for a client’s preferred veterinarian and emergency contact information. The vet release form should also include instructions for how you will proceed if the pet parent is unreachable at the time of the emergency. We’ve created a sample Veterinary Release Form you can review.
- A Key Handling Form is hugely important when you have many clients with many keys. You are responsible for the security of pets and their homes when you access them with a key. We have a detailed blog post on key management to help create an efficient and secure system for handling all your customers’ keys. We also have a sample key handling form that you can review to help create your own.
- A Payment Authorization Form should provide clear instructions to your clients on how they will pay their invoices. If you require a credit card on file and will be charging that card for the client, this should be authorized in the form. We also have a sample Payment Authorization Form for you to review.
There is no avoiding the unpredictability that life sometimes throws at you. It occasionally happens that a customer needs to cancel their dog walking services—sometimes at the last minute. Having a clearly defined cancellation policy that pet parents agree to before you provide services can help you avoid confusion about what should happen if a customer needs to cancel. Cancellation isn’t a big deal, but it’s important that you are compensated for your time and expenses if a pet parent cancels at the very last minute.
Meet and Greets
Setting up a meet and greet for dog walking services is a great way to determine if a potential client is a good fit for you—and vice versa. It’s essential to make a great first impression even before the meet and greet, by clearly setting expectations for what will happen. You’ll usually have this chance on your initial phone call when setting up the meet and greet.
Holiday Fee Policy
Creating a holiday fee policy is a good idea for ensuring you have a procedure in place before you get specific holiday requests. Being a pet care professional is an exciting and fulfilling career, but it also comes with a few atypical job characteristics. One of those is that you will likely be the busiest when most other people are on vacation. The days surrounding major holidays are when people require pet sitting and dog walking services the most. Having a holiday fee policy in place will let your clients know that you will be charging a premium during the year’s busiest times. Having this policy in place sets up appropriate expectations for everyone involved and makes sure you are fairly compensated for your services.