How many new clients try to negotiate pricing with you? And do you let them?

asked 2015-11-29 21:43:22 -0500

I've had several people try to attempt to low ball my pricing right from the get go. At first when I started and was hurting for clients, I was tempted to - now, I just decline their offer and archive the request. First of all, I'm very at the low end of the $/per day spectrum anyway, and secondly, I don't know you or your dog - your dog might be Satan. Why would I offer a discount straight away?

I have worked with people for repeat stays, or lowered puppy rates for puppies that are more housebroken than the average, but do you think asking for a discount straight off is silly? How do you guys handle it?

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I think when you meet the new client it is very rude of them to hassle about the price. If the dog is getting excellent care that should be their main concern. There are to many clients and good dogs to under estimate our value.

Cheryl M.'s profile imageCheryl M. ( 2016-03-03 18:01:41 -0500 )edit

I occasionally do a local price check with the commercial kennels. When a potential new client has the nerve to ask for discounts before having experienced my services, I produce the notes on my price checking. This usually puts them in check.

Susan D.'s profile imageSusan D. ( 2016-07-19 09:41:18 -0500 )edit

14 Answers

answered 2015-12-01 00:22:28 -0500

I've never had anyone attempt to negotiate prices until today, when I was contacted by a new customer for the holidays. After I responded that to set up a M&G, she told me that she had visited a kennel and told me what they would be giving her (a junior suite) and the cost. She asked if I could beat their price and suggested a 22% discount off my holiday rate. I said no thank you and that was that.

I put a value on the services and accommodations I provide guest dogs. If a potential customer isn't going to respect that, then I really don't want their business. The fact that someone wanted me to charge less than a kennel is insulting, when I am treating their dog like my own and giving it 24/7 personalized care. My fees are posted and I don't operate like a used car lot.

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I'm amazed they would compare your services with one of a kennel. A junior suite is a small room and maybe there is a TV in there depends on the kennel. Comparing that to free roam of your house, having 1 on 1 attention and being a part of your family is insane.

Frances M.'s profile imageFrances M. ( 2016-01-10 16:36:55 -0500 )edit

You might try asking the potential new client, who's asking for a discount, to call the local commercial kennels and ask for a discount!

Susan D.'s profile imageSusan D. ( 2016-07-19 09:43:07 -0500 )edit
answered 2016-03-14 21:18:50 -0500

Anytime I have accommodated a price break I have regretted it. For whatever reason, the dogs of people who try to talk me down behave worse than people who are happy to pay my reasonable boarding fee. If a new inquiry wants to negotiate cost, I simply tell them there is no price break for first time boarders. It's well worth it.

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Interesting observation. Now I don't feel so bad about saying no to someone who expected me to give them a 50% discount "until I can decide if I think you are a good sitter".

Jill G.'s profile imageJill G. ( 2016-03-18 20:13:58 -0500 )edit

Thanks Lindsey! You know, this is so true. I've also experienced that if people try and negotiate from the very start, chances are their dogs are super naughty.

Paul M.'s profile imagePaul M. ( 2016-04-09 14:09:00 -0500 )edit

I had one person haggle me for more and more of a discount. He wanted it because he hired me for a month of walks, so he wanted a "monthly" discount. It *kind of* made sense to me, so I compromised and gave him a small discount. Turns out he was very demanding, rude, and terrible to work with.

Erica J.'s profile imageErica J. ( 2016-05-31 11:04:31 -0500 )edit

I had a sweet little day care dog for a while. The owner was requesting a lower rate. I did give discounts but she started arriving very early in the am's to chat me up about her financial woes. This made me very uncomfortable. One day she didn't show up, no call, no text, nothing. I miss the dog.

Susan D.'s profile imageSusan D. ( 2016-07-19 09:32:16 -0500 )edit
answered 2015-11-29 22:46:45 -0500

I agree. Your rates look low. I never agree to lower a price before a meet & greet, and even then I'm not committing to care for the dog, but rather just meet. If my dog judges (or I observe) the dog has Satan like qualities, or even just isn't a good match, I won't accept the dog, for any price at all (not even 10X my rate).

Rarely does anyone ask me, but when they do it's usually because they have two small dogs. Adding to my perspective, another local sitter I converse with regularly has offered to help many people out, accepting about half of what is the competitive market rate for inquiries that come in from other non-Rover sources, and she's dealt with some crazy behavior as it seems owners that are less committed to paying for good sitter arrangements also don't pay or put in the time for good training (including walking, destructive behaviors, barking, etc), good food, good veterinary care, etc.

My rate was less when I started and then after a lot of thought I raised it to what is worth my time and effort and still competitive. For me, the choice is easy, I prefer less, better cared for clients than expose my dog and myself to an unlimited number of dogs with numerous concerns.

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I wonder about clients who are not completely forthcoming with the off putting little details about their pet/pets. The situation they're setting up for the caregiver and the pet/pets is terribly unfair and will most likely not be welcome back. They may end up having to go out of town for care.

Susan D.'s profile imageSusan D. ( 2016-07-19 09:49:27 -0500 )edit
answered 2016-03-04 14:14:19 -0500

This is a question that hits really close to home for me. While running our Rover business here in Omaha, NE we have clients that try and negotiate ALL the time. I think that arming yourself with knowledge and having confidence in the quality of services you offer is key. The trend that I've noticed is that as long as the price is within the $0-$300 range, people don't say much. It's during holidays, extended stays, and when the price threshold breaks $300 that people start to try and negotiate. I think that the idea above about a pricing sheet from local kennels and facilities is a great idea, but don't forget that the services we offer as Rover sitters are well above and beyond those offered at any volume based businesses, oftentimes cheaper too!

We are now to the point in our business where I simply let people go if they try and negotiate right off the bat. There are more fish in the sea. I do however, offer repeat clients discounts on a case by case basis when they ask for it. Remember, we are running our OWN business here. Prices, discounts, it's all up to us, Keep your clients happy, but don't take a loss or undervalue your services.

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A quick search of your area makes the point that when you're priced low, you endure this more. Of 39 profiles, yours was one of 13 below $23/nt. There were 26 profiles at or above $23/night.

Deb A.'s profile imageDeb A. ( 2016-03-04 14:31:56 -0500 )edit

It's also one of the ways we remain at the top of the list for sitters in my area. Most often we are the #1 sitter in Omaha, Out of those other 26 priced higher, look at their review count.

Paul M.'s profile imagePaul M. ( 2016-03-04 15:05:10 -0500 )edit

Okay, that's a trade off to consider, and that's your choice.

Deb A.'s profile imageDeb A. ( 2016-03-04 18:32:11 -0500 )edit

I'm the OP, and I can totally understand your pricing. I'm in Chicago, however it's sitters packed in shoulder to shoulder with other sitters here. I started at 23/night also, because most newbies were charging 25 - and have a lot of repeat customers now. I'm still very low, but considering raising pricing for new customers because at this point there is more demand than I can supply. I also only do special pricing anymore for my REGULAR regulars, and only if they ask (or I know they need it).

Cheryl W.'s profile imageCheryl W. ( 2016-03-07 12:01:28 -0500 )edit

I COMPLETELY understand where you're coming from Cheryl. I too am starting to get regular regulars. Without the huge demand and volume you currently have, I'm already to the point where i'm done with discounts. Unless it's special customers and even then, they have to ask.

Paul M.'s profile imagePaul M. ( 2016-03-07 15:50:13 -0500 )edit

What's a good extended stay discount? I got a request for 6 weeks but they asked what I can negotiate for a bulk price. Any suggestions of a percentage discount?

Joanna O.'s profile imageJoanna O. ( 2016-05-11 12:23:07 -0500 )edit

I would go with whatever percentage of the entire STAY that you feel is fair to you and them, but if they cancel before the 5 week Mark during the STAY, you might make a stipulation that the discount won't apply. Only do what you are comfortable with! Good Luck!

Lorrie G.'s profile imageLorrie G. ( 2016-05-13 10:30:52 -0500 )edit

When someone takes on multiple dogs, do they ask for dog food discounts at the store? Do they ask for "bulk" discounts at pet friendly hotels? I suspect not.

Susan D.'s profile imageSusan D. ( 2016-07-19 09:53:42 -0500 )edit
answered 2015-11-29 22:52:57 -0500

It happens on occasion, but it's been pretty rare for me. If anything, I think raising my prices to the higher end of average helps. People looking for a bargain are already going to be looking at the lower end of the price range, and they may hope that people who are already offering low rates will be more likely to give a discount.

When someone asks for a price break, I'll always highlight whatever discounts might already apply (coupon code, second dog rate, extended stay rate, etc), and potentially offer some other perk depending on the dog and owner. I'll let them know what I can offer their dog that makes my rates worth it. I'm happy to offer some discounts to my repeat customers or try and work with someone in a tough spot, but if someone seems to want a discount more than they want to find the best sitter for their needs, I'm unlikely to offer one.

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I agree with you offering discounts occasionally, especially with repeat clients who have well mannered pets.

Susan D.'s profile imageSusan D. ( 2016-07-19 10:02:48 -0500 )edit
answered 2015-11-30 10:53:19 -0500

I haven't had that happen with legitimate clients yet, but I have gotten a few lowball requests from people who turn out to be scammers. My philosophy is that I am providing a service, much like a hairdresser or a lawn service. I provide certain services and require a certain payment for those services. Would you try and lowball your hairdresser? Not if you want a good haircut :-)

If they are new clients and immediately start talking about deep discounts, I would decline the request. Like Laura, I will work with repeat clients if they ask, and with new clients I discuss the other discounts I do have available. I don't do this full time, so I don't need to accept all who contact me.

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What kind of discounts do you offer for dog walking services? I'm just getting into this and don't know what I should be offering. I don't want to go overboard through because my walking rates are already low for the area

Sarah B.'s profile imageSarah B. ( 2015-11-30 11:14:57 -0500 )edit

I don't offer discounts for my dog walking services, just for boarding. I based my rate on what other companies in the area charge.

Cari C.'s profile imageCari C. ( 2015-11-30 16:11:20 -0500 )edit

How do you know if people were scammers? And why would someone scam on a dog site? I've had many requests where people never got back to me and have wondered if they were scams...

Anne M.'s profile imageAnne M. ( 2016-04-24 22:16:11 -0500 )edit

I am still wondering the same thing- how does a client scam on a dog care site?

Betty G.'s profile imageBetty G. ( 2016-05-29 23:27:22 -0500 )edit

I wouldn't worry about scamming unless you live alone and agree to a meet and greet at your home without someone there with you. If this is your situation, have the meet and greet in public somewhere....like a local dog park.

Susan D.'s profile imageSusan D. ( 2016-07-19 09:59:21 -0500 )edit
answered 2016-01-07 14:12:38 -0500

I have included in my profile that after 3 stays I will lower the daily rate. I have had greet success with that because of repeat clients. This holiday season I thought I would have a problem but after talking to the pet owners I explained to them that I dropped the holiday rate to my daily rate and they were happy. It actually gave them more of discount my daily rate of $30 repeat clients are$25 holiday rate is $38 so I dropped them down to $30 .Both clients happy and me too.

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Great idea. I've been struggling with this issue of not wanting to lose current clients if I raise my prices. This is a perfection solution. How were you able to show that though? I don't see an option for listing different prices for different people.

Jill G.'s profile imageJill G. ( 2016-03-18 20:10:35 -0500 )edit

If you go to "past stays" in your mail box, you can send messages to your current clients letting them know you are raising your rates, but since you love their pup so much, your past rate is still good for them. That's what I'm doing. You will have to manually adjust their rate on future stays, though.

Cheryl W.'s profile imageCheryl W. ( 2016-03-19 22:59:46 -0500 )edit

Good to know! Thanks for that information. I appreciate it!

Lorrie G.'s profile imageLorrie G. ( 2016-05-13 10:36:27 -0500 )edit
answered 2015-12-31 20:51:38 -0500

I've just started with Rover in the last couple months so haven't had that experience yet. I've already thought about it though because I'm aware that people will try to talk down a price. I've decided that I will simply be gracious & tell them that there are many other Rover sitters in our area & they should look for someone who has a price that they are comfortable with, but so far my clients have not had a problem with my prices.

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That's great advise!

Susan D.'s profile imageSusan D. ( 2016-07-19 10:00:07 -0500 )edit
answered 2016-07-14 12:37:29 -0500

Also I might suggest:

As pet sitters through Rover we are also supported by Petco. I provide a premium service for your pet, and I am unable to provide a discount off my rates. However you might check Petco's website as they often have coupon codes for first time users.

http://www.petco.com/content/petco/PetcoStore/en_US/pet-services/services/pet-sitting.html (http://www.petco.com/content/petco/Pe...)

I have successfully used this on a couple occasions.

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answered 2016-04-24 22:21:20 -0500

I've just had a first time request that asked for a discount off our puppy rate. All the other sitters in my area have comparable puppy rates, so I'm not sure she'd get anything different from another sitter. I asked for a meet and greet before considering a price reduction. But puppies are more work and I don't really want to go down in price. I think sometimes people forget that even though they want a more affordable rate, we're still people trying to earn $. And after Rover fees, we're already not getting 100% of what they're paying. I also don't want to decline the request because I feel like I keep getting bogus requests from people who never get back to me, declining them and now I'm number 9 when I used to be number 1!

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