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How To Never Lose Again To The Kid Next Door When It Comes To Price

barcodeHow many times have you weighed in on the hot topic of “should you list prices on your website, or not list prices on your website?”

You’ll be happy to know that this article is not about that specific debate, but rather will offer a solid middle ground that should make both sides happy.

Whether we are talking about “ICs vs. Employees” or “does advertising your pet sitting business on your car compromise the pet owner’s security,” nothing is more highly contested than the ‘prices on your website’ debate.

There Are More Than Two Options.

At first glance, it may appear that the only two options you have is to decide to list prices on your pet sitting website, or to not list prices on your pet sitting website.

Allow me to introduce a third option, and it’s the very option I choose for my own pet sitting website.

For the record, I am of the school to not list specific prices on your website (but remember, that’s not what this article is about).

While we chose to not list specific prices, this does not mean that we avoid it at all costs.

In fact, we have a menu item on the site named ‘Pricing’ that directly addresses the topic head on.

Since, like many other pet sitters, we offer a very customizable service and actual price depends on a variety of factors, I’ve had a hard time justifying an exact price for each service.

Some custom factors include:

  • Discounts for length of stay
  • Discounts for number of pets (our dog boarding service discounts the second dog)
  • Discounts for the elderly (pet or owner)
  • Discounts for newly rescued or adopted pets
  • Additional charge for number of pets (our cat sitting service has additional fees for more pets)
  • Additional charge for injections
  • Additional charge for last-minute bookings
  • Etc.

Plus, consider this:

Your Potential Client May Not Know What The Best Option Really Is

We’ve learned early on that when pet owners call, they don’t necessarily know what the best service for their pet is. For example, we offer in-the-sitter’s-home dog boarding and we also offer overnights where the sitter sleeps in the client’s home.

As a professional service, we like to get all the facts about the pet and the owner’s situation first and then together make an informed decision on what the best possible service for their specific situation is.

Perhaps they’ll want two overnights in their home followed by two days of walking the dog 3 times per day. (It has happened, and is an option the pet owner didn’t realize was possible)

Or perhaps they think their newly adopted puppy will be just fine left alone for several hours without accidents or chewing up the furniture. (A little education goes a long way in this line of work!)

The way we approach our service is not by presenting a set of options like a Chinese takeout menu (choose your service from Column A and your add-on service from Column B) but rather like how a professional dentist might approach it.

You present the facts about your situation to the dentist (through dialogue and by sitting back and opening your mouth), and she will assess the situation and make her best professional recommendation. From there, the two of you will discuss all possible options.

You are different than the ‘kid next door,’ right?

If we as an industry are to position ourselves as professionals, and as the educated service provider, and as completely separate from the ‘kid next door,’ why leave it in the hands of the pet owner themselves to decide what is best for their pet and unique situation?

Shouldn’t we want them to turn to us as the professional, and as an adviser, and as the trained pet sitter that we are, to best determine together what care is in the pet’s best interest?

The more often you can position yourself as the knowledgeable, educated and go-to pet sitter for the clients in your area, the more often you will win out over the kid next door. You will less often find yourself wondering how to compete on price, and gain a ton of confidence in the price point you have set for your service.

Inspiration From An Example Selling Pools

One of my favorite blogs is The Sales Lion by Marcus Sheridan.

Marcus recently touched upon this exact concept of making sure to (at least) address price, instead of avoiding the topic all together (in a guest article on Social Media Examiner).

The entire point of his article (from a pet sitter’s point of view) is not to go and put exact or specific prices on our site but to address it.

The author of the post has a link to a web page of his pool site that addresses price in a big way but does not list specifics. You’ll see he talks extensively about price ranges and this has landed him very high in Google for people searching for the cost of fiber glass pools.

Finally, you’ll see in this short 2-minute Youtube clip that he confronts one of the people in his seminar – a software developer – about why he won’t list prices.

The software developer responds with things like, “Because it varies greatly… it depends on the client’s specific needs… they may want some add-on options… we may be able to discount…” (Sound familiar?)

And the author’s direct reply to him is, “Perfect. So why not put that on your website?”

That is addressing price in a big way.

In the words of the post’s author, Marcus Sheridan, “There is a big difference between answering questions and addressing questions. What does Google want you to do? They want you to address things.”

How To Phrase It on Your Website

While I do not list specific prices, I do *address* price. And that is important.

Since every single visitor to your site naturally has the question of price in mind, you do want to at least address it for them.

Instead of listing something specific like “$17 for a 30-minute visit”, it’s OK to say something like:

“Our service varies from pet owner to pet owner. Each pet has different needs and requirements and therefore our service is never one size fits all. We take great pride in the personal service and attention we provide each pet (and their owner) and are certain you will love what we do and how we do it. Please take a moment to give us a call so together we may discuss and put together the perfect solution for you and your furry friend.”

The specific way I address it on my own pet sitting website is this:

“Since fees are based on a variety of factors including length of stay, special needs of pet and service requested, please contact us today for an accurate estimate and so we may answer any additional questions you may have.”

(This is written after we reiterate on the pricing page how our service differs from all others, and after we reiterate the value they will receive from us over all other options.)

That is addressing price. And it does not give a specific price or leave the visitor a bit frustrated because there is no mention of price.

Finally, The Professional Pet Sitter Rules

The goal of what I teach is simply to position yourself as the trusted, capable, and professional choice. Only then will pet owners look to you for you, and not to the ‘kid next door’ so she can save a few dollars.

Do you think this option of addressing price could work on your website? And, do you currently feel that pet owners look to you as their trusted source?

I look forward to your thoughts and feedback below.

*Would YOU like us to work on your Website?*

If you are looking to dramatically improve your website results by appearing on the front page of Google (like we have done for hundreds of your professional pet industry colleagues), then review the options here and let's compare notes!

. . .

Josh Cary is a respected and well sought-after speaker and business consultant within the professional pet care industry. Since 2009, having grown his own pet sitting business, Josh provides his industry with the tools, support, and resources to build and maintain a thriving and respected pet business.

With a strong focus on digital marketing, search engine optimization (SEO), and website development, Josh’s one mission is to help you Get Found First through a professional and effective website.

This Post Has 16 Comments

  1. I list my prices because I find it frustrating as a consumer when a company doesn’t. I leave their site and go to a company who is up front and does not force me to contact them to get this information.

    My prices are competitive yet I don’t receive contact from the majority of visitors to my site. I may try your approach!

    1.  Hi Sherry, I very much appreciate your input. This entire topic is a tough one.  It needs to be handled delicately by each pet sitter to truly determine what works for their business, their style, their goals, and their ideal client they wish to attract.

      I will say this: simply because YOU find it frustrating going to a site without a price listed, does NOT imply that your user (ideal client) will!

      Think about it: When was the last time you did an online search for a pet sitter for your own pet, didn’t find price listed on a website and left in frustration?

      In other words, are you sure that you would make price the most important factor when determining who to let inside your home while you are not there, to care for your furry friend?

      I am thrilled to hear two things from your comment: 1 – That you are aware that the majority of your visitors are not making contact, and 2 – That you are willing to adjust your approach and try something new!

      That’s always my goal; to present another option for those sitters who want another way to go.  It’s always about opening up dialogue in the professional pet sitting community to present yourself more trustworthy, more educated and more trained over all others so you can gain many more clients.

  2. Perfect timing! As you know I am updating everything on my web site this will be a great way to address price.
    Long story short, one of my long standing clients was looking for a vet that does house calls. She didn’t think to call me after all I am the pet sitter, I have a lot of educating of my clients left to do. Yes the vet is on my list have to get the new web site up soon, my human clients need the infromation

    1.  I love when things become “perfect timing!”

      It sounds like you are fully aware of how “educating” your clients will make you stand out above the rest.  When we become seen as professionals, advisers, friends, partners, and resources to pet owners, they will think twice before looking elsewhere.

      And they will surely think twice before searching for the lowest listed price on a website.

  3. I list my prices, but I have an asterick noting that some locations will have an out of area charge. One of my pet sitting friends lists “$17 and up – depending on number of pets, location, etc.” I like that.

    In regards to differentiating my business from the kid next door. I am finding that I need to be a lot pickier on who I hire to represent my business. I need polished people who see pets as family members. I gasped when one of my new people texted the client, “Your animals are fine today…” What?!! Animals?!! Are we taking care of livestock at the ranch or what? At a minimum, they are pets, not animals. I don’t even like to call them pets. I refer to them by name, or things like “The kitty crew” etc. The client needs to know that I see their pets as family members with names and personalities. Not mere ‘animals’ to recieve the minimal food and water.

    1.  Hey Julie,

      Early on, we have used the “$17 and up…” approach.  I think it could work well, too.

      And on the other note, while I would never use the term “animal” to refer to a client’s pet, we have chosen to name our entire pet sitting business “Alitia’s Animals!”  DOH 🙂

      I guess we needed that matching letter A!

      Have you approached her to correct the problem of the text?

      1. She doe a good job, but she is an IC just helping me out for this one job over Spring Break. She is  moving to Arizona at the end of April, so I’m not going to waste the energy. Damage is done. lol.

  4. Thanks Joshua, I have long struggled with this. Our services are slightly higher than some of the other local pet sitting services because we’re a speciality (cat’s only) premium pet sitting service in Beverly Hills and the surrounding Los Angeles areas, and I’m sure some people have looked at our pricing page and not even called even though per visit we are only slightly higher. Our current clients appreciate the fact that we are cat specialists, and I know once perspective clients met with us, our slightly higher rates are more than justified. Thanks to this article, I have now done what I’ve been wanting to do for awhile now and have removed our rates and written my pricing page to be in keeping with your suggestions. Thanks so very much! Now if I could just master the ever-changing Google algorithm, I’d be all set! Rita

    1.  All great to hear Rita!

      This part makes me smile: “Our current clients appreciate the fact that we are cat specialists…”

      It sounds like you are on a great path and positioning yourself in a way to attract the exact clients you want and not the ones you don’t.  I look forward to hearing how your new adjustment turns out.  Please let us know.

      Yea, I think Google wants us to be ever-guessing :).  The way you conquer it is literally to continue to add valuable content to your pages that your visitors will love.  (That is really all Google wants you to do.)

      Too many pet sitting sites I run across do not have nearly enough content on their home page or throughout their other pages.

      The quickest trick to improve Google rankings and traffic is just to write more content on your site.  It does not have to be in the form of blog posts or articles, but just has to be relevant and informative content about your service that the visitor will find helpful.

      Do that, and you will win more clients every time.

  5. I agree with Sherry because when I go to a website and don’t find their rates or prices I will go on to another site that has rates listed.  Personally I don’t have time to be calling around for prices so for me I like to have our rates listed for people like myself.
    It is something to think about and maybe try to see how things go and if it doesn’t work then put the rates back on our website.

    1. I thought about that too Maryjo, but then I don’t want to compete on price. I’d rather they want to go with me because I’ve clearly spelled out why they should use us, and the few dollars extra we may or may not cost makes no difference… In the past when competing on price and we our rates were lower, I found I attracted too many people who were unable to pay. Those aren’t my ideal clients 😉

    2.  Maryjo,

      Like I mentioned above, perhaps you are not your ideal client (and that’s ok!).

      By suggesting that you don’t have time to call around suggests that you believe pet owners will not give themselves the time to properly research the best pet care provider for themselves while weighing ALL factors (pet sitter training, education, ability, credibility, trust factor, reviews, references…) including price as perhaps just one of the deciding factors – not THE deciding factor.

      We as pet sitters spend so much of our days immersed in learning more (communities like this one, associations, message boards, etc.) that we don’t often take that training and proudly display it on our sites in ways that would suggest “Hire me for all THESE reasons, and price will not need to play a part.”

      (We often sell ourselves short on this front.)

      It’s tricky too because while it’s great to list logo affiliations on your website, that doesn’t paint the complete picture for your potential client.  You’ll want to expand further through the content on your pages.  I know it could be a challenge but I do have tools I’m currently creating to assist with that very thing.

      In either case, I’d be happy to hear your results if you test this approach.

  6. Wow, I was reading this blog and all the comments and have not had a single new client call in a while so I thought maybe I should change my web site and not post my prices and was even in the process but had not yet published the changes when bang I get 4 inquires about pet sitting mind you 2 were for this holiday weekend. So I think I will just leave things the way they are for now.

    1.  Very interesting timing, Tami.  I will suggest that you keep an eye on things post-Holiday and see what kind of inquiries you receive.

      In any case, keep an open mind and test, test and test.

  7. Interesting take and there are some things here I can incorporate. I do have prices because I have felt that frustration myself at not finding prices listed (as others have said below). I’ve only been up and running for just over a year and so still remember looking for kitty sitting as a client and not finding prices displayed on a site annoyed the heck out of me lol! However, I feel I can be less specific than I have been and will be relooking at this on my own site. I’ve felt tied into prices sometimes because of what I’ve published – when really I should have charged more for the job. I will relook at this. Thanks 🙂

    1. Sounds like you are seeing both sides of the coin, Sue. As you stated, you don’t want to be tied in to an “across the board” fee if things do in fact depend. That is why it is recommended to ADDRESS price so as not to frustrate the user. See what works, experiment and track results. Keep us posted on progress.

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