Saying “thank you” isn’t just basic manners. Aside from a happy pet, it’s the last impression you leave with your clients. Fortunately, there’s a way to thank a new client that will also help with client retention: goody bags. Goody bags are a prime way to thank a client for trusting you with their beloved pet. The items you choose are a way to keep you (and how well you took care of Fluffy) in mind over time. Each of these items plays a specific role in how you can turn your new client into a regular one.
Client Retention With A Thank You Note
First, I usually start with, “Thank you for trusting me to care for Fluffy.” Then, I write something specific about the stay, like “Fluffy definitely missed you, but we had a blast playing tug-o-war in the back yard!” This will remind your client that their pet received one-on-one playtime, exercise, and attention. I also use some space to ask if the client can find the time to leave a review on my Facebook page and mention that I’ve included a few business cards to give to any friends or family. I thank them one more time, then sign. It doesn’t have to be an elaborate gesture, but it does need a personal touch. That personal touch is going to be key for client retention in the highly competitive pet care industry.
Even in the digital world, a business card can make all the difference. This is something lightweight that can easily be carried around – and handed out – as your clients go about their days. They may have a friend or colleague who mentions pet care, and one of your business cards is immediately thetr. Make sure the card is easily legible and has your contact info.
This is also a good place to add a coupon with a referral bonus – $5 off for a friend referred by your client, and $5 off for your client on their next booking if that referral successfully books. Come up with a way to track those referrals (by writing your client’s name on the business cards you give them or create your own coupon code if you’re feeling fancy), and ask them to mention it when booking. By asking your current clients to spread the word, they become involved and engaged, which also leads to client retention.
The tennis ball is an icon of dog play time. Some dogs live and breathe for fetch. Some prefer to chase the ball around, or maybe use it as a chew toy. It’s something that’s small, but useful for many breed sizes. The next time the client goes to play fetch with Fluffy, they may reach for the tennis ball you provided. Once again, they are reminded of the excellent care and exercise you provide. If you know the dog doesn’t care for fetch or playing with a ball, you can replace this with rope, or possibly just a few extra treats.
Treats are an all-around good move. By leaving the client with treats, you’re showing that you may want to spoil Fluffy a bit and give him everything he’s ever wanted in his fuzzy life. But you’re also leaving that up to your client. I always provide a small piece of paper with a picture of the treat container and a list of the ingredients. The biggest downside to treats is allergies and irritants. You should go over any of these possible problems with the client before booking a stay. Make sure whatever you’re offering won’t knowingly upset Fluffy.
The bandana is another icon of pet care. Every time you see a pet come back from the groomer’s, there’s usually a small bandana around his neck. I like to use full-sized bandanas that I fold, roll and tie to be in the shape that you would have around the dog’s neck. However, by providing the full-sized version, you leave the bandana open to many uses. Most clients probably don’t pick out a bandana for Fluffy to wear every day. But when you leave your client with a full-sized one, that bandana can be used for all kinds of purposes. It can become a cloth they use around the house, and if you have these bandanas personalized, then who knows how often they’ll see your logo?
Branded Photo Magnet
This isn’t something I personally have in stock, but any small, practical item like a magnet is great for marketing. The next time your client goes to the fridge for a snack – there’s your logo (and possibly your face). Once again, your client is reminded of your services and will be more likely to book with you again. Bonus: Remember that thank you note? With a photo magnet, you can now leave the note hanging on the fridge.
I’ve modified these items for my clients with cats as well – kitty treats and a crinkle ball instead of a tennis ball. The best part is that none of these items is terribly expensive, especially if you buy in bulk. Chances are that if you’re a dog sitter, you’ll want a steady supply of tennis balls anyway.
The Final Product: Goody Bags
I place these items in a brown paper bag (with blue and green stripes – something that will stick out and has a bit of personality), and I leave the note in an envelope propped up against the bag. Make sure this is out of Fluffy’s reach, or even closed inside a cabinet. If you will not see the client in person again and it is out of sight somewhere, drop your client a message letting them know you’ve left a small token of appreciation and specify the location. This message also continues the conversation after the end of the stay and lets them know you’re thinking about them beyond the hours they’ve booked.
Going above and beyond what’s expected is a surefire way to increase client retention. Leaving a thank you gift is a simple gesture that gives off a warm feeling and peace of mind. It’s the last impression, and a lasting impression, that can turn a good stay into a fantastic, 5-star review that leads to client retention. It reminds your clients that, while you do need to make a living, caring for their pet is your number one priority. Beyond the dollars and cents, this demonstrates why you got into pet care, and it’s not because you’re thrilled about spending your afternoons picking up dog poop in the park.