Our daily dog walk clients received a flyer (or should have, email us if you didn't) a couple of weeks ago on our winter cancellation policy of 2016. We do not have an actual policy on the books for inclement weather, because how we handle our scheduled sits and walks is entirely up to the client who booked us. Client reactions to snow have varied in the past everywhere from "You're still coming, right?" to "Please tell me you're not driving today!" What really happens is somewhere in the middle.
First let's take out-of-town sitting. In last year's blizzard, pretty much every single client that week cancelled. We were extremely lucky that no one had left town just before the blizzard hit because snow or not, we would have been responsible to visit their animals. So what happens to out-of-town visits when winter weather happens? We may employ any number of methods such as:
Leaving out extra food in case we can't come for the next visit or two (cats).
Adjusting the time of the visits to just before the snow starts and right after the roads are clear.
Arriving for overnights several hours early and getting snowed in at the client's house instead of our own. I've come as early as 10 am for an overnight when it snowed!
Transferring cats with medical needs or dogs to boarding/overnights in lieu of several visits a day.
All traveling clients are kept up to date on the status of their homes and their animals' visits.
In addition to traveling clients, all three sitters have recurring dog walks on their Monday through Friday calendars. These are the clients who received a flyer. The flyer asks for the client to please indicate under what circumstances we can assume a walk is cancelled such as Frederick County Schools closing, Federal Government closing, etc.
In years past, I would wait to hear from my clients when they were ready to cancel their walks and told them to assume I was coming unless they heard otherwise. Our business has grown past the point of this arrangement. By the numbers:
14 recurring dog walk clients every week
Over 80 clients total and growing
Two full time and one part time sitter/walker(s)
Only one sitter in the city of Frederick with an all wheel drive vehicle
Basically, when the snow hits the ground the you-know-what could hit the fan! It would be extremely helpful if our recurring dog walk clients could please fill out the form and let us know under what circumstances they would cancel (e.g. if you know your kids will be home from school because Frederick County closed).
If I could compile a list of our clients who will definitely cancel, I could create a "snow day" schedule for the staff. A lot of worry would be alleviated if we knew that, for example, we wouldn't have to risk driving until noon because we had enough cancels to allow the snow to melt.
Please help me to put the safety of our sitters first. If your sitter does an extraordinary job coming out in the snow, or anytime, please show her your appreciation with a note, a tip, or perhaps an online review! Stay warm!