1) Composing a rate increase letter: above all, keep it simple. Do not apologize in any way, shape or form about raising your rates. Here’s a sample of the rate increase letter that I sent out to my own pet sitting and dog walking clients year after year (and hundreds of pet business owners have used this template so it’s a proven letter with very little ‘pushback’ from clients):
Dear Wonderful Dog Walking Clients (or Pet Sitting Clients),
It’s been such a pleasure to work with you and your pets this year. Thanks so much for the opportunity of letting us care for your pets.
Due to the rising cost of doing business we will be raising our rates slightly. Starting on (date a month away from date you send letter), our rates will go up $2/per walk and $2/per pet sitting visit. Our overnight sitting rates will go up $5/per night.
As always, we are committed to providing you with excellent pet care service and we look forward to doing that for you this year.
Thanks for letting us serve you and your pets,
Your Business Name
2) When and how to send your rate increase letter: If you regularly mail or email your dog walking, dog training or pet sitting bills simply include the rate increase letter in your next round of bills. To make sure everyone is aware of your rate increase you can gather the email addresses of your clients and send out a mass email to your business email list. If you are a smaller company and deal with clients more on the phone rather than email or mailing them bills then just verbally tell them. However, due the fear that may arise in declaring your rate increase, it’s sometimes easier to write a letter or email.
If this is your first time raising your rates I encourage you to take the easier route and write your clients a letter or email. Don’t make it harder on yourself than you need to and do remember to give each client at least a month’s notice before the increase takes effect.
3) If you are afraid that they won’t want to work with you anymore, read this. I’ll bet that they won’t leave you if you raise your rates a dollar or two. Why? They are used to working with you. They like you. You like them. Their pets like you. You know the house. Just one of the above would keep them wanting to use you no matter what you charge. Let me tell you a little secret: no one likes change. And how that applies to raising your rates is that most people don’t want to go out looking for a new pet sitter or dog walker when they can just keep you and pay you a little bit more. Finding a new pet sitter is a hassle. Staying with you is easy. And they like working with you. And remember they don’t like change (and nor do you, which is why it’s hard to let your clients know you are raising your fees – even positive change can be hard for us humans!)
4) If they do leave. I know, I just said above that they probably wouldn’t leave but be prepared that one or two might. But, hey, out of 30 or 50 or 100 clients, one or two isn’t bad. And really: do you want to work with clients who are unhappy that you are simply charging what your time is worth? I don’t think so. My experience has been that the clients who leave when I’ve raised my rates have been clients I’d secretly wanted to let go of anyway.
Here’s another secret I’ve learned in my years of pet sitting: After a client has left simply due to my raising rates, soon after I’ve had well-paying and enjoyable clients fill their slot. Having had this experience happen over and over in the course of the nearly two decades that I owned my pet sitting business has helped believe in the power of raising rates! I now let those who do want to leave, leave. And I let them go gracefully and gratefully because I know that having them leave makes room for clients to show up who will respect me and respect my rates.
5) Write your own rate increase letter. Now. It’s great to read about this but you won’t make any more money unless you actually write and send your own rate increase letter. I encourage you to do this today and send it out to your clients tonight or tomorrow. If you love what you are doing then you are meant to thrive financially and this is one simple way that you can easily and effortlessly make more money this year. So what are you waiting for? Stop reading this and begin writing your own rate increase letter now (and you can copy and paste the one above to make it VERY simple). That short and sweet rate increase letter above has worked great for me, for hundreds of pet business owners who have read this article or who have found this blog post!