Revisiting March 2015
(originally dated 7/03/2015)
Anyone will know that there are bad businesses out there as well as good ones. The dodgy builder who doesn’t finish a job and disappears with your money, the iffy mechanic who charges for work that wasn’t needed or the dog walker who says they are walking your dog, but instead parks up somewhere and sits in their van for 45 minutes, only letting your dog out for 15 minutes along with 6 or 7 others (it does happen unfortunately!)
However as a consumer in the digital age we have access to online reviews as well as speaking to others online who may recommend someone they have used, and have first hand knowledge of the service provided. A consumer now has more power to pick and choose based on reviews and recommendations. Dog walking especially has become a popular business choice for many, so the choice is usually varied. Some do it for the love of the dogs and the love of working outdoors (like myself) while others unfortunately do it as they think it’s an easy way of making money (ha!) and will cut corners, sometimes dangerously.When choosing a dog walker for your beloved pet you can see reviews, hear about them via word of mouth, ask for proof of insurance (essential), canine first aid courses and CRB checks.
What about the businesses picking clients though? We can’t ask for reviews of a client, their ability to pay bills or their history on how they have treated businesses in the past. We have to put our complete trust in the client.We need to trust that they will tell us a full history of their dog before we do our own assessments so that we can be prepared for their behaviour, we have to trust that they will pay us on time for the services we provide and that they will treat us with respect should we demonstrate that we deserve it. Just like bad services and businesses, there are bad clients.
Some business owners will never admit this, they stick to ‘the customer is always right’ and bend over backwards for people who don’t deserve it. I am not one of those business owners!! Luckily in the 5 years Born 2 Run has been going, I haven’t had many bad clients. Unfortunately in the first 2 months of 2015 I had to deal with two of them!!
For my lovely customers whom I have the pleasure of working with now, I will bend over backwards for you, I will go the extra mile, I will fit you in at the last minute if you need me and I will be professional at all times. That’s because as clients you are great, you happily pay for services provided, you are polite and speak to me like you yourselves would like to be spoken to. You have told me everything of importance about your dog and keep me up to date with any changes.
However I have had to deal with a client who did not give me all the relevant information about her dog, and that dog went on to savagely attack another dog, then myself, leaving me needing plastic surgery. I’m now left with scars and a slight distrust of the larger breeds, which is unfortunate as I’ve worked with dogs professionally for almost 10 years without any problems. The owner of the dog was not particularly apologetic for her dogs behaviour. Bad client.
Then I had a client who wouldn’t sign the paperwork necessary for my insurance, regularly wouldn’t pay me and would not adhere to the law and get an ID tag for her dog. She said her dog was chipped, and that was the law so didn’t need a tag, showing ignorance for the law regarding the living creature she was responsible for. (For those of you unclear on the current dog laws, visit http://www.doglaw.co.uk/ for all the information and up to date legislation. This site is ran by Trevor Cooper, leading solicitor on dog law in this country).
I gave this client a month to sign one part in the paperwork, get a tag for her dog and pay me what was owned, as I know people are busy. However after a month, none of the above had been done so I said I could no longer walk the dog. I said I’d return the key when I was next in the area and get the money she owed. A week later I was attacked by a dog and this client slipped down my agenda. A month later she got in touch demanding her key, I explained about my incident, apologised and said I hadn’t been in the area. She became confrontational, refused to pay me and was generally unpleasant. My professionalism no longer extended to her and I told her she could come get her key as I wasn’t going out of my way for her when she still owed me money. She basically said ‘boo hoo’ about the money and got nasty, threatening to bad mouth me and tell people how ‘unprofessional’ I was. Bad client. Still owes money for services provided.
Others may disagree but I believe respect is earned, not expected and I refuse to respect anyone who does not act in a pleasant manor. If people think paying for the services we provide is optional, they are not a good client. If people treat us with contempt and like something the cat brought up on the carpet, they are not a good client. If people intentionally don’t provide us with all the relevant information regarding their pet and then something goes wrong because we were left in the dark, they are a bad client. Respect is a two way street, if a client acts in a pleasant and honest manor then I will be the best dog walker I can be, I will be professional, friendly and treat them with the respect they deserve. If they are a bad client, they do not get my respect, nor my professionalism and I will no longer walk their dog.
I still absolutely adore my job, working with lots of different dogs and other pets, but I do not tolerate rudeness from clients, just as I would not expect them to tolerate rudeness from me. I expect to be paid on time for the job I do, just like anyone else would. Can you imagine if you went to work and did a shift, only to be told you weren’t getting paid for it? You would not be happy and you would worry about your bills, about putting food on the table and supporting your family. It’s the same for dog walkers. As much as I do this job because I love it, I still have bills to pay and what I get paid for an individual walk makes all the difference sometimes.
Again, I am lucky to have the clients I have as they are lovely people with lovely dogs. It’s just a shame any of us have to deal with bad clients, bad businesses, bad service, but such is life!