Looking after pets? Planning to apply for a dog walker vacancy? Here are some essential tips to be included in your future contract with a pet owner.
It is impossible to imagine a successful dog walking business without drafting a contract. That's all because you need to formalize the relationship with each particular client in every specific case. And is such agreement so necessary, if you are well acquainted with the owner of the dog? Certainly. Force majeure and unforeseen situations are always awake.
Pros and cons of drawing up the agreement
Just have a look at these 3 important advantages of drawing up an agreement:
- The ultimate protection of your business in case of legal claims and opportunity to settle the disputes between the parties to the contract via legal means.
- Shaping of your personal brand and professional image. It is a strong competitive advantage of your business. Isn't it?
- You can definitely sleep peacefully knowing that your contract clearly delineates all rules, limits, fees and additional services that you can provide. So the client won't even have a chance to think of something over and above them.
A counterweight to all of the above-mentioned points there is only one disadvantage — the amount of money you should pay to a legal advisor in order to review the contract and make sure it meets the legal requirements in your region. But it's truly worth it. Attention! Don't use free dog walking contract templates from the Internet. They usually lack some basic data that you may need.
Essential information you should include to the dog walking contract
So, let's review the most important paragraphs and their content.
- Parties to the agreement and the actual date. The first and one of the most significant data to be properly and unambiguously identified — full legal names, addresses, ID numbers are necessary. Important! Clarify the exact way to reach the owner of the pet while they are on a vacation or a business trip.
- Permission to enter the household. Make sure you have a legal permission to enter the pet owner's residence, if you are supposed to take the dog for a walk while there is no one at home.
- Variety of services. It is important to describe what exactly you will be offering to a pet owner. Will it be just walking dogs or feeding them and even a part-time pet sitting? This will mark your business and personal boundaries and protect you from unexpected (and sometimes unrealistic!) customer's requests, such as taking dog to a groomer. Important! It is strongly recommended drawing up separate agreements for dog walking and dog sitting services.
- Schedule for payments and deadlines. The contract should specify the fees for the dog walking services, as well as any payment schedules or methods. It should also outline any additional fees that may apply, such as for late cancellations or last-minute bookings. This paragraph provides information whether your customers need to make a deposit or, maybe, you want them to pay full amount in advance. Or, probably, the monthly fees will depend on the number of your visits? Or there is a double price for the visits on weekends? Get all these variants down on paper too. It is also necessary to go over the ways of accepting money: cash, credit cards or checks.
- Particular needs and nuances of a pet's behavior. Discuss and fix the major distinguishing features of the pet: temperament, health condition, dietary habits, etc.; see how the dog acts among other animals and people in order to provide the best service and avoid possible troubles.
- Vet information. This paragraph includes the contacts of the vet and confirms the fact, that the dog's veterinarian has approved you to be able to perform dog walking service and has provided you with complete information about the pet's health status.
- Agreement termination and renewal. The obvious aspect of cancellation and extension is often overlooked. Don't make this mistake and set the exact time and conditions (like you prefer to be given a 2-week notice on a cancellation and so on). Write down if there are some additional charges in a case of late termination. And, of course, point if there is a possibility to extend the agreement or not (for example, some dog walkers provide their services only in summer). Otherwise, you won't avoid misunderstanding with your clients.
- Modification of contract. The contract should outline the procedure for modifying the terms of the contract, including any requirements for written notice or agreement from both parties.
- Dispute resolution. The contract should include a clause outlining the procedure for resolving any disputes that may arise between the owner and the dog walker, including any steps for mediation or arbitration.
- Disclaimer of liability. The contract should clearly specify who is liable in the event of any injury or harm caused by the dog during the course of the dog walking services. It should also outline the responsibilities of the owner and the dog walker in the event of any loss or damage to property. This part of the agreement claims that you are not responsible for any damages and incidents caused by a pet.
- Emergency. It is necessary to discuss, establish and list the actions, that you are authorized to take in case of emergency. Or, the other way around, — confirm in written, that you are not able to make any decisions without owner's permission.
- Signatures. Check whether the agreement is signed properly.
Although the range of services and additional terms may vary, the key aspects that listed above should definitely be present at your dog walking contract. And make sure your clients have the clear understanding of all the points of the agreement, particularly of those regarding fees and charges.
The comprehensive contract made under the supervision of the legal consultant will work for the sustainable future of your dog walking business.