Maximize Efficiency: Retraining Your Pet Care Business Staff for the Holiday Rush

The Independence Day rush is approaching, making it the perfect time to retrain your front desk staff on the ideal check-in process. Check-ins offer a valuable opportunity for your team to personalize each pet’s experience, incorporating enrichment and departure grooming services to ensure every dog goes home as the best version of themselves.

Equally important is refining the check-out experience. By streamlining this process, you can minimize clients’ wait times for pick-up while still sharing essential information that reassures pet parents about their pet’s holiday stay. Utilizing kennel software with a ‘text to pay’ feature allows you to send invoices ahead of the pick-up day, enabling clients to pay before arrival. This lets your team focus on delivering happy updates rather than handling payments. Additionally, this system often prompts clients to tip, which is crucial for staff morale. Ensuring your kennel software includes run cards that capture critical information reviewed at pick-up can further bolster pet parents’ confidence in the care provided.

Why Deliver a Retraining for Front Desk Staff?

The average dog boarding facility will have 40 dogs scheduled for the 4th of July and an improved check-in process could increase your average revenue per pet night by 30% to 60%. 

Even top-performing front desk staff can benefit from a refresher on holiday pricing, new phrasing, and education about promoting enrichment services. This is especially true if you offer 4th of July-specific activities to help distract dogs and keep them calm during fireworks events. Holidays provide an excellent opportunity to engage pet parents in the experience through photos, videos, and fun crafts.

The Numbers

If your boarding rate during the holiday is $50/night and you are able to add a departure bath and 1 enrichment service per day, you will increase your average revenue per pet night by 30% during this holiday period.  If you multiply that 30% increase by the 40 dogs who have holiday reservations, then your net profit from a retraining would be $1760.    

The Math

40 dogs adding on a single $5 enrichment service would net you approximately $200 in net profit per day (assuming you are focusing on near-zero labor enrichment services).  With the average holiday stay being 5 days that is an additional $1000 in net profit.

40 dogs adding on a departure grooming service with an average price of $38/bath will generate $1520 in revenue.  The industry standard for groomer commissions is 50% which would net your business an additional $760 in net profit.  

Retraining Front Desk Staff

I always start a training session by acknowledging what the team is already doing well and expressing appreciation for their efforts. This validation helps open staff up to new ideas and improvements, such as incorporating new phrases, adjusting holiday pricing, and introducing holiday-specific enrichment services.

Providing laminated cards with answers to common questions and objections is also crucial. These cards ensure that front desk staff can quickly and accurately educate customers. Additionally, offering quick reference information on the value of each type of enrichment service helps staff communicate effectively with clients. This ultimately enables you to send dogs home as the best versions of themselves.

Kennel Software Configuration

When you decide to offer special services during the holidays, one key task is to make sure that you have a team member update your kennel software settings to operationalize those changes. 

Services Updates

The holidays are a perfect time to create new services that celebrate the occasion.  This planning should be done well in advance and at least 120 days before the holiday, you will want to ensure you update the services that are listed within your kennel software to make sure that all holiday bookings have the option to add a special craft, photo event, holiday meal or other holiday-specific services.

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Peak/Holiday Pricing Changes in Kennel Software

Update your holiday pricing on the services that are impacted.  Most boarding and daycare facilities will add a $5 to $10 per day increase to their standard pricing during the holiday period.  You will typically want to update your pricing for these holiday periods at least 120 days before the holiday to ensure that the clients who book early can see the estimate with the holiday pricing and not get sticker shock when they check out and see the holiday price increase. 

Occupancy Changes in Kennel Software

During holidays, we want to maximize occupancy, but it can be a delicate balance to make sure you don’t overbook.  The average facility will have several last-minute cancellations and if your cancellation policy isn’t enforced, you could potentially lose out on thousands of dollars of revenue.  To counter these last-minute cancellations, I work with hundreds of facilities that update their occupancy within their kennel software to allow them 15% “overbooking” to account for the anticipated cancellations.   This eliminates the need to balance waitlists and leaves a number of customers unsure if they have coverage, but does open you to having to get creative if you don’t have any cancellations and need to find an appropriate boarding space for the increased holiday occupancy. 

Kennel Software Retraining

The way in which your staff understands how to utilize your kennel software can greatly impact the customer experience, the amount of time it takes to check-in or check-out dogs, and their ability to modify an appointment to include enrichment and departure services.  As part of the retraining of staff for the holidays, you should do a quick best practices review on how you would like your team to update notes, feedings, special instructions, room assignments, etc… 

If your team books the perfect holiday appointment and adds all the appropriate information, it will streamline back-of-the-house operations to make sure the proper playgroups are created, it reduces labor for food and medication prep and ensures that you have an accurate list of dogs that are participating in your holiday-specific events/crafts/services.  

Back of House Staff Training

Retraining staff for dog boarding during the holidays is crucial for several reasons. The holiday season typically brings an influx of clients, creating a high-pressure environment where efficient and effective operations are essential. Staff retraining ensures that all team members are up-to-date on the latest protocols, including holiday pricing, special enrichment services, and safety procedures specific to high-stress situations such as fireworks. It also provides an opportunity to refresh customer service skills, ensuring that pet parents receive the best possible experience during their pet’s stay. By investing in retraining, you enhance the overall quality of care, increase revenue potential through upselling services, and maintain a positive, organized environment that can handle the unique challenges of holiday boarding.

1. Safety and Security

Firework Safety:

  • Ensure your facility is soundproofed as much as possible to minimize the noise from fireworks.
  • Use calming music or white noise machines to help drown out external sounds.
  • Secure all entrances and exits to prevent any escape attempts caused by fear or anxiety.

2. Comfort and Stress Reduction

Comfortable Accommodations:

  • Provide comfortable bedding and familiar items (like toys or blankets) from home to help dogs feel secure.
  • Ensure each dog has enough space to move around and rest comfortably.

Stress Reduction Techniques:

  • Use calming pheromone diffusers or sprays in the facility.
  • Provide individualized attention and soothing petting sessions for anxious dogs.
  • Implement a structured daily routine to provide a sense of stability and predictability.

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3. Staff Preparedness

Training:

  • Ensure all staff members are trained in handling dogs, recognizing signs of stress or illness, and providing basic first aid.
  • Train staff in calming techniques and how to manage multiple dogs in a high-stress environment.

Staffing Levels:

  • Schedule enough staff to handle the increased number of dogs and ensure each dog receives adequate attention and care.
  • Assign specific staff members to monitor dogs during peak times, especially during fireworks displays.

4. Communication with Pet Owners

Clear Communication:

  • Provide clear instructions to pet owners about what to bring, drop-off and pick-up times, and your facility’s protocols.
  • Keep pet owners informed about their dog’s well-being with regular updates, photos, and videos.

Emergency Contact Information:

  • Ensure you have up-to-date emergency contact information for all pet owners.
  • Be prepared to communicate promptly with pet owners in case of any issues or emergencies.

5. Enrichment and Engagement

Activities and Playtime:

  • Organize group play sessions and individual activities to keep dogs engaged and exercised.
  • Rotate toys and provide a variety of enrichment activities to prevent boredom.

Rest and Relaxation:

  • Ensure there are quiet times scheduled throughout the day for dogs to rest and recharge.
  • Create a calm and peaceful environment, especially during the evenings when fireworks are likely to occur.

6. Contingency Planning

Emergency Preparedness:

  • Have a plan in place for potential emergencies, such as a dog becoming ill or injured.
  • Ensure all staff are familiar with the emergency plan and know their roles and responsibilities.

Backup Supplies:

  • Stock up on necessary supplies such as food, medications, cleaning products, and first-aid kits.

Our business is only as good as the staff we hire and in an industry that aims to provide the highest quality of care for furry family members; we need to invest the time and energy to ensure EVERY staff member is an A+ contributor.  Retrain your front desk and back-of-the-house staff to ensure that your dog boarding facility runs smoothly and that all your canine guests have a safe, comfortable, and stress-free 4th of July holiday.