Connect with us


Update Your Service Pricing Annually. Here’s How

Price right!




PRICING SERVICES CAN be confusing. If you set your prices too low, you may not make a profit. If your prices are too high, you will struggle to find enough clients to stay afloat. Experienced pet sitters and dog walkers can benefit from evaluating pricing every year or two. Part of the reason that pricing is so difficult for most first-time business owners is that there is no concrete formula for finding the right price. Location, demand and even the condition of the economy affect how much customers are willing to pay for a particular service.

Some of the most common mistakes business owners make is setting prices too low and neglecting to raise rates every few years. The idea that the lowest prices bring in the most customers is not always true. People want to feel like they are paying for quality, especially when it comes to their pets. Don’t sell yourself short!

On the other hand, it is easy to price yourself out of business by charging too much. I see this most often with new pet business owners who have no idea what the going rate is for pet services in their area. For this reason, I suggest you start by figuring out what other pet business owners charge where you live.

An internet search should give you the information you need, or you might need to spend some time on the phone with local business owners. Write down what 10 or more other similar businesses are charging per walk, visit, etc. Break it down in terms of time amounts for each service.

If there are any companies charging a lot more or less than the average price in your area, try to figure out why. Are the businesses with the lowest prices new companies? Are their visit or walk times shorter than others? When it comes to the businesses with the highest prices, what sets them apart? What service or experience do they provide that allows them to charge the highest prices?

Review your rates once a year. The cost of doing business and living your life will always go up. If you’ve got more clients than you know what to do with, then you can raise your prices with confidence.


Some of my coaching clients feel awkward raising rates, especially for friends and family. Failing to raise your rates is an expensive mistake! Here’s why: It will cost you more to do business every year, and if you don’t raise prices regularly, you will work more to bring in the same amount of money. This can lead to burnout and drain all the joy out of your business.

One question I frequently get from my coaching clients is how should they tell their customers about the rate increase? They worry that their clients will be upset or leave altogether. And yet, many of my clients hear from their customers that they are surprised it has taken so long for prices to go up. Those who do leave often make room for more clients, allowing you to attract and retain the best clients who value the service your business provides.

This excerpt from Kristin Morrison’s book, 30 Days to Start and Grow Your Pet Sitting and Dog Walking Business, appeared in the National Association of Professional Pet Sitters Association magazine. Morrison is a nationally recognized pet business conference speaker and the founder of Six-Figure Pet Business Academy. She hosts the annual Prosperous Pet Business Online Conference and the Prosperous Pet Business podcast. Her books include Six-Figure Pet Sitting, Six-Figure Pet Business and Prosperous Pet Business.




Webinar Replay: How One Store Reached the Top of the (Raw) Food Chain

Catch a PETS+ Live! webinar replay in which host Candace D'Agnolo hosts the owners of Ben’s Barketplace, the largest independent retailer of raw food in California. To see more PETS+ Live! webinars, visit

Promoted Headlines

Want more PETS+? Subscribe to our newsletter.


Shawna Schuh

Assign Tasks with the End Goal in Mind

Ask in a way that will actually produce results.



THERE ARE MANY TIMES when I hear from my clients these kinds of laments: “I should have said that differently.” Or: “Maybe I used the wrong words …”

When this happens, I’m delighted because that leader is becoming more aware that she has control over those words and how they may or may not land. However, sometimes it’s not the actual words but the intent behind them that makes or breaks the situation.

Let’s dig deeper into this.

Here’s a standard miscommunication:

When you say “Would you please do X task?” your words, in your mind, may be clear and determined.

You are asking them actually to do the task, right?

That’s what you think.

In reality, it’s an inquiry with no clear intent of when it must be complete or even a determination of end result.

When I’m coaching clients, we take it down to the elements that will actually produce results.

First question: What do you want? And let’s go deeper than having the task done. Aren’t tasks the means to an end result? If you are spending a lot of time on “tasks,” you may have a checked-off to-do list and still not have the results you desire.

Ask yourself instead: “What will having this task done accomplish in regard to my big goal or highest priority?”

That question will shift your thinking to shift from “task doing” to “results producing.”

But what do you ask then if not, “Will you do X task?”

You have many choices. and all of them depend on the intent.

Intent one: Get a task completed. To do this, ask it as is with the addition of a timeframe: “Will you do X task by 3 p.m. today?” The specificity will help you both.

Intent two: Get a commitment to a result rather than a task. Say: “To further the goal of X, please provide me with a list of tasks and who is best to accomplish them inside our timeframe.”

This request will allow the other person to take leadership of the goal and either take on the tasks or find those abler to do so. Remember, of course, to include a timeframe.

Intent three: further action on your end goal. Ask a new question: “To make sure we reach X place, what do you think is the best plan or path to accomplish it?”

This will help them buy into the goal and give you new ideas.

As a leader, we usually know the goal and know the steps or actions to take. That doesn’t mean we should do those actions, nor that others know the goal.

When you shift your thinking like this, things in your world begin to improve. I see it all the time in my coaching clients. If you want the same results, the first step is to stop and think, “What is my intent?” and then the words will come easier.

Continue Reading


Pet-Business Owners, It’s Time to Stop Using Those Outdated Marketing Tactics

The world is changing. So should your marketing.




IT’S A WHOLE NEW world out there, especially when it comes to marketing and advertising. There are the big, obvious casualties in the advertising world — Yellow Pages and newspapers, for instance. Now, we market using websites, email and social media. But it’s how we use them that I believe is silly.

From observing pet business ads delivered via email, I notice most of them look like print ads that ran in newspapers.

Is there something wrong with that? Well, yes, as a matter of fact, there is …

The medium is email. The name implies that it’s mail, delivered electronically. So instead of making it look like an ad, you might do better to make it look like mail!

Direct-mail tests continue to prove that a snail mail piece in letter form (versus a designed postcard or brochure) will outperform other formats. In head-to-head split-run tests with several of my clients each year, this rule holds up.

Correspondingly, email that looks like a letter tends to be more successful in producing responses in the forms of click-throughs, conversions and sales.

At least try the letter-looking approach in your email marketing: Conduct your own split-run test.

The other area where pet businesses are doing the same old things — just using new media — is in the aim of their ads.

Almost all pet businesses seem to be competing using the same offers to the same prospects for the same reasons with the same-looking ads. We’re all attacking prospects that are ready to buy today, tomorrow or at least this week, trying to get their dollars now.

Problem is, people — millennials in particular — aren’t buying that way anymore. They have changed, but your marketing hasn’t. People take more time to make decisions now. They do their research and they go through a process.

While all of your competition is frantically focusing on the last week or two of that process, the digital age has made it possible for you to get in early and market to these people in the tranquility of an uncluttered cyberspace and an unencumbered mind.

Use both traditional and digital media to drive “suspects” to a landing page instead of your store or even your website. On that page they’ll be able to sign up for a free something that will signal they’re now more than a suspect. They’re now a true prospect.

Before the competition gets to them, you have the chance to establish a relationship, render value, help them establish their own buying criteria that favors you and pre-empts the competition, invite them to make an initial purchase (converting them from prospect to customer) and ultimately get them to make the purchase from you … without ever seriously considering doing business with anyone else.

This takes planning and system development, but it recognizes the digital reality of the new world. It’s a new way of marketing, and while it may take a while to build the marketing program to exploit that reality, it will surely lead to new and higher profits when you do.

Continue Reading

Editor's Note

Better Buying, Thanks to Peers

Here’s to the readers willing to share with the world what works for them.




EVERY ISSUE IN PETS+, we bring you features designed to help you make better buying decisions, so you can sell more products and services to your customers.

Our Hot Sellers section (page 18) asks Brain Squad members to tell us what sold well in the previous month and why.

Our Favorite Sellers mini-column (page 17), gives space for one reader to share his or her favorite product to sell — and, importantly, why.

Both allow real retailers and service providers to share what works for them and to give credit to the suppliers or manufacturers where it’s due.

We believe there are no better endorsements of products or services than those from people who are in the business of dealing with end consumers every day and of knowing what they need and what suits them best.

In this issue’s Big Story, “Brands Indies Love” (page 32), we take that belief a step further.


We asked readers to tell us the suppliers who give them the most support — companies that view retailers as partners, not simply as conduits for their products or as accounts in a spreadsheet.

We also asked manufacturers to tell us ways in which they help and stand behind their wholesale customers.

I should point out here that we list these companies regardless of whether they spend their advertising dollars with us — a reminder of our editorial golden rule we have stood by since our first issue: If a story doesn’t help American pet business owners sell more, manage better, or even just sleep easier at night, it doesn’t go in PETS+.

The companies listed in “Brand Indies Love” is by no means exhaustive. We hope to revisit this subject in the future, and we invite readers and suppliers alike to alert us of great things they are doing.

Meantime, see you at Global! Stop by our booth — 4039 — and tell us what you’re buying in person.

Best wishes for your business,

ralf signature

Ralf Kircher
Editor-in-Chief, Pets+

Five Great Tips From This Issue You Can Do Today

  1. Build in more time for tax prep this year. It may take longer due to the new tax law and lingering effects of the shutdown. (Manager’s To-Do List, page 14)
  2. For even more marketing inspiration, download the 2019 calendars. (Service Shorts, page 28)
  3. Don’t normally sell online? Try a one-day online certificate sale. (Hot Sellers, page 18)
  4. Running late today? A dozen donuts is worth 1,000 apologies. (Tip Sheet, page 50)
  5. If you haven’t raised your service prices in a year or more, it’s time for some research. (Columns, page 54)

Continue Reading

Most Popular