I speak with many pet sitting business owners on a weekly basis and something that most all of them have in common is their lack of creating boundaries and expectations when setting up a pet sitting business.
Case In Point
I spoke to a very smart and ambitious owner last week who told me that her dream is to build a million dollar pet sitting business. She then told me that she emails and/or texts all of her customers every Sunday night to see if they’re going to need service for the upcoming week.
I explained to her that setting up a pet sitting business means she must set her business up now for where she wants to take it. Meaning, if she had a million dollar business would she be able to personally text and or email every single customer to see if they need service? No, of course not! She could maybe automate it, but most definitely would not have the time to do it herself.
Creating That Expectation With Her Customers
She is also creating an expectation for her customers. Let’s just say the business grows to a point where she can no longer continue sending out the personal reminders. Her customers are going to be like, “Hey! Where’s my reminder text?” because that is now the expectation that she has created.
My Experience With This
I have personal experience with this exact issue. I once had this very high-maintenance client. My Client Happiness Manager found it easiest to reach out to him on Friday afternoons to see what he needed for the following week, so she didn’t have to deal with a Saturday or Sunday phone call from him. Well, one week she forgot to reach out. The client called on Monday morning frantic about his dogs and was very upset that he did not receive his reminder email. I mean, really?! As annoyed as I was about his attitude, it was our own fault for creating that expectation. I then stepped in and kindly explained to him our actual procedures for scheduling. He responded that if he didn’t receive the reminder from our office that he would take his business elsewhere. I said, “good riddance!” No, I didn’t actually say that. I wanted to, but I took the high road. I expressed my disappointment, but wished him and his pups the best of luck. They can now be someone else’s headache. I know that sounds harsh, but I’m telling you, if you start “unleashing” these types of negative, heartsick clients, you will make room for more of your ideal clients.Unleashing negative, heartsick clients, you will make room for more of your ideal clients. Click To Tweet
I just went off on a bit of a tangent there. Back to boundaries and expectations…
How to Create Boundaries and Expectations
If you want your clients to communicate with you via email, don’t text them or accept reservations via text. Kindly explain to your customers that text messages sometimes fall through cracks and that you would prefer they use your online scheduler or email.
If you don’t want to be on call 24-hours per day, don’t answer the phone or emails in the evening. On your voicemail message include your office hours and when callers can expect to hear back from you. For your email, create an auto-responder, which includes the same info. Turn on the auto-responder at the end of the day and set a reminder to turn it off in the morning.
The Downside of Doing “Extras”
I tell our sitters to please be careful with the extras they provide, because what will happen when the next sitter goes to their home? The client is going to expect the extras for which their new sitter isn’t obliged to provide because it’s not part of her job description.
You must create clear boundaries and expectations with your customers, so that you can leverage your time, your business and your sanity. This will allow you to manage many more customers and provide them all with a level of service that is top-notch and replicable.
Your Homework Assignment:
- What expectations are you creating with your customers? How can you manage your customer’s expectations better?
- What boundaries would you like to set?
- Next, send out an email or snail mail letter explaining when and why your procedures are changing.
- After your letter goes out, enforce your boundaries!
TIP: Remember…“Those that mind don’t matter and those that matter don’t mind.” Click To Tweet
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