When you?re marketing your business you put a great deal of time and thought into the preparation of your materials. You analyze every word and picture to make sure you not only portray the service you provide, but that you entice potential clients to take action!
Once you get the call from a new client, the next piece of information they receive from you is crucial in solidifying your relationship. Whether you use a generic contract or have one that you tailor to each individual client is up to you ? however, you need to remember that the materials you use to ?seal the deal? reflect the quality of your business and set the tone for the type of relationship you will have will your clients.
Because I?m a not just a business owner, I?m a pet-service provider ? caring for the most precious possession my client has ? I want all my paperwork to not only portray my professionalism, but the fact that my business is run by a ?real person.?
I recently reviewed the professional relationships I?ve had with business coaches, fitness instructors and personal chefs, and realized that they all had something in common ? a Welcome Packet ? not a contract. It also occurred to me that I immediately liked working with these professionals because I felt at ease ? almost like we were working ?on a handshake? instead of in a tight corporate structure. Don?t get me wrong ? I knew that these welcome packets included all the same ?fine print? you?d find in a contract ? it just felt better.
This realization led me to the creation of my own Welcome Packet for pet-care clients. A Welcome Packet can be an essential tool in your pet-care business? success and can set the tone for the human touch to all your client interactions.
Here are some tips for creating and using a Welcome Packet for YOUR pet-care business.
1. Start with a welcome letter that is easy to personalize.
Include the client?s and the client?s pet?s name in the opening paragraph. Feel free to include anything specific you gleaned from your pre-qualifying discussion. Ex. ?Dear Susan, It was a delight to talk to you today about Fifi?s puppy training regime. I certainly remember the early days with my pup and the stress I felt trying to get home each day at lunch to let her out. Fifi?s needs are really clear and I?m so glad we?ll be working together to make them happen.?
The welcome letter should also tell the client briefly what information follows in the document. (Ground rules, rate information, client profile and pet profile and anything else you will send with this initial letter)
The letter should include a brief list of what the client should expect and have prepared for their in-person registration meeting. (Keys, payments, completed packet)
End your letter with a personal touch by thanking them for contacting you and letting them know you look forward to meeting them and taking care of their pet?s needs. If you have set a date and time for your registration meeting, you should include that here too.
2. The next document in your packet is your ?Policies and Procedures? ? which I refer to as ?Ground Rules.? This is a fairly extensive document which I begin with a statement that it?s important to our relationship that they READ and UNDERSTAND all the terms included before we start doing business together.
Items that I include are:
Payments and Deposits
Holiday Policy and Fees
Access to home by others
Additional Fees (delivery, transportation)
Emergency/Last Minute service
Pet-proofing certain areas of the home
Safe Access (shovel walks, clear entry)
Request for their comments and testimonials
Referral partner statement
3. The third item or document in the Welcome Packet includes a Service Agreement.
The service agreement includes the start date of service, reiterates the rate and states that the service can be renewed without any additional paperwork. It also states that we will complete the specific work as requested. In essence, this is the working contract for our services.
4. The additional documents in the Welcome Packet include
Pet Profile Form
Client Profile Form
Vet Release Form
Locksmith Release form
Pet Guardianship Form
All of these different ?documents? are combined in one file that is sent, via e-mail, to new clients. We also attach a copy of our testimonials, a referral list and a tip sheet for working with your pet-sitter with each Welcome Packet.
The Welcome Packet itself is fairly lengthy document and you should verify with your clients that they have DSL or cable internet access in order to receive the document. In rare cases where they do not have the ability to receive this type of attachment, the packet is printed and presented to the client during the registration meeting.
Our clients continue to tell us how much they enjoy working with us ? and that they knew from our first ?official? interaction that we would have a good fit ? because while they could tell we knew the ?business? side of pet-care, it was clear that we understood the ?human? side too!