A year as a small business owner and pet-sitter has taught me a few things:
Loyalty is rare
Business often conflicts with “the right thing”
People are generally good-hearted
As much as I like to think that a client is always going to keep booking with my company, the reality is that there are other companies scratching and clawing for customers. My business claims over 100 clients but I think about 20 or so are “regulars”. Occasionally, someone drops off the radar, usually because they have found another option for pet care, a family member, friend, or “gasp" another pet-sitting company. What I can be sure of, nobody leaves because of poor service. It’s always a monetary motive. Most of my “regulars” are loyal because they are done shopping-around, have tried other options and failed. It’s not really loyalty, it’s smart business for them.
Smart business is not always right. Sometimes, you make a call “just because” and it doesn’t help your business but it helps your heart. In my experience, doing “the right thing” gives you good karma and helps you keep going when things are tough. In a way, that is smart business so, forget I said anything.
Speaking of karma, in a year, nobody has not paid. A couple clients have dragged-out payment but, after exploring the issues, they always meant to pay in a timely fashion. Something else “happened”, and stood in the way of payment. I belong to a pet sitter’s chat group (sounds thrilling, doesn’t it?) full of ideas for insuring payment, like demanding payment up front but, honestly, I haven’t seen the need. A couple of clients have presented challenges, but they generally have good intentions and need help becoming educated. Educating clients is a huge part of the business.
Ultimately, the goal of my business is to improve pet welfare so this has been a VERY successful year by that yardstick.