Making the Most of the Holiday Rush
By Laura Laaman
Pet boarding is filled with peaks and valleys of demand. How you navigate these helps determines your profitability, or lack thereof.
Though countless factors are in flux at any given time, pet care facility owners can count on the holidays bringing the greatest periods of demand. This is, of course, due to increased human travel.
Depending on your region, Thanksgiving might hail of your busiest times. Many will experience the most traffic over the Christmas holiday. Of course, you’ll want to fill your brick–and–mortar facility as much as possible during these critical times. However, truly capitalizing on these opportunities takes careful consideration. You might start by asking yourself, “Who should I let in?”
Each New Client is a Christmas Present
Human hotels generally fill with a first–come–first–served basis, with the exception of loyalty programs. Booking this way might work for human hotels, but pet care facilities have much more to offer than a home–away–from–home for the holidays. We provide loving care and activities. The holiday surge of business is a chance to make your business healthier, not just in pet health, but in increased holiday revenues and beyond. Boosting your new client intake is a critical part of your company’s growth.
Every year, even the most successful and client–centric pet care facilities lose a percentage of their client base through no fault of their own. Clients move, pets age out or, sadly, pass away. This natural, inevitable attrition can lead to a yearly loss of about 30% of existing clients. This means your growth, as well as your stability, depends on continuous acquisition of new clients.
It may feel natural to show preference to existing customers during your busiest times, and loyalty is important. But this period of high demand allows you the chance to be a little choosier, leaving room for those precious and valuable new clients. A returning client who only visits you during the holidays might be displacing a new client ready to use many of your services, year–round.
How do you determine how often a client will use your services or how many services they will use? Ask during your initial intake procedure. Smart pet care facility owners designate a minimum of 25% of their inventory to new clients over the holiday rush.
So, Who Should You Let In?
As you decide who you should let in, consider the upside a client brings in as well as the risks. Plenty of ideal clients (young pets, daycare users, frequent travelers…) might come knocking at your door come holiday time. Some risk factors include:
- Aggression: Aggressive dogs present increased liabilities (risk to employees or other pets, increased workman’s compensation claims, bad public relations…) with little financial benefit to offset the possible downsides. During this peak season, set up a system to evaluate the inherent risk that comes with aggressive dogs.
- Age: Accepting reservations from all your returning clients, especially those with senior pets, quickly drives up the average age of your client base. Younger dogs will statistically need your services more often and their owners are more likely to spend more. I’m not suggesting you turn away an older pet who has stayed with you for years and done well while in your care. Rather, you can consider how well a new, older pet will do while staying with you.
- Health: Similar to age, health affects how well a pet will do while in your care, as well as how much a client might use your services. On top of this, you have the risk factor of a pet growing ill or passing away in your care, through no fault of your own. If you’ve experienced this, you know firsthand the sorrow and disruption this causes to your team.
Ultimately, it’s wise to make the most out of the burst of holiday business. Accepting every reservation as it comes in means turning away valuable new clients and sending them right into the arms of your competitors.
Laura Laaman is president of Outstanding Pet Care. Outstanding Pet Care guarantees to substantially increase the revenues of its clients with its proven services. If you’re interested in growing your revenues, schedule an individual consultation with Laura Laaman or one of her team members. Call Outstanding Pet Care at 1-888-735-5667 or go to www.OutstandingPetCare.com.