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November 2009
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December 2009

Policy letters

As I discussed in a previous blog posting, signage gets lot in the shuffle. However there are certain things that we do need our clients to fully  understand. Things like what our hours are, what our pickup and drop off policies are, vaccine requirements and the like.

The best way to handle this is to put them into a policy letter or brochure format. Most of the Office programs have a letterhead template and a brochure templte and they are easy to use. I am sure there are other programs out there, and you could have them printed for you, but it is just easier for me to do them myself as I need them, and I can change them to reflect policy changes if I do them myself, so I use Publisher and keep them up to date.


You can create a PDF to place on your website using any PDF creator (many are available online for free) or use a Word Document for people to download if you like. I also keep my Policy Brochures in a brochure holder on my front counter. Each new client gets one handed to them. I make sure that they get that along with my personalized leash, service flyer and magnet business card. These are my "Greeting packet" and every new client gets it. I sometimes put it in a folder like we used in school for reports. You know the type. They have two folders on either side of the folder and hold these items easily. I will discuss my client welcome packets in another pst, but for now, back to the policy letters.

There are certain things you absolutely need to make clients aware of.

  • Drop off and pick up policies
  • added fees you may need to explain
  • dematting policies
  • vaccination requirements
  • flea policies if you do not accept flea dogs and what you do if you find them on their pet
  • leash requirements
  • payment types and billing policies
  • appointment or walk in policies
  • anything else that you have particular to your shop

State your policies briefly, be clear and do not get into long paragraphs about WHY you are requiring certain things, just state your policy. For example, my letter states, "We require your pet to be on a slip lead or choker collar or in a carrier. No retractable leashes allowed. We can provide you with one if needed." I didn't get into the reasons, like "Your dog can slip out of a regular collar and we are not responsible if it does, and retractable leashes are dangerous and can leas to falls, injuries and damage to property".

There is no need to explain. Your policy is your policy. If a client has questions then you can explain it one on one, but I rarely get questions about my policy letter. They understand my rules. That is the key right there.

Policy letters come in handy when a client fails to arrive on time and you cannot groom their dog that day. You can simply say, "Our policy letter staes" and there is no arguing. It is also great when you are charging more for flea baths or late pickup fees. It is all spelled out and there is no way they can say they didn't know about the policy.

Hopefully you can use this guide to help you make a policy letter that will work well for your shop. I would not want to work without one.

Signs, signs, everywhere a sign!

I had a vendor tell me once, that it is better to have the least amount of signage telling people what they cannot do, because people will view it as negative. That you should limit your signs to important things, and to keep them positive. Tell people what you DO not what you don't do, and tell them what they need to know, not what you want them to know.


When I go somewhere and I see too many signs, I tend to not read them. I know that if I put up signs my clients fail to read them as well. At least in most cases.

I keep my signage to a minimum.

There is a sign saying "NO CHECKS" on my front door, at eye level, and on my main counter near the computer. People will lay their checkbooks directly on top of the sign and attempt to write a check, so that proves they don't see them.


The keys to making signs that people WILL SEE can be tricky to master and every time I think I have them figured out, something happens to prove me wrong. I am going to try to share with you what I k now about making signs that work, even though it doesn't always work for me, to maybe make your life a bit easier.

#1. Do not hand write signs. The more professional they appear the better they will be received. I am fairly good at graphic design with a computer and do my own most of the time. If it is a sign, like my No Checks sign, then have it professionally made. A good sign shop can make them really fast and fairly inexpensively. That particular sign cost me $10 for each one. Very affordable and very professional looking.

#2. Laminate signs or frame them. Do not just tape them onto the counter or wall on just a piece of paper. That looks tacky and will not hold up well. The framed signs or laminated ones will withstand months of use. I keep a frame on my front door to hold signs that I need to change up frequently. Right now it has a "PLease close the door completely" sign in it, but will shortly have a sign about our closing for the Atlanta Pet Fair.

#3 Use bright colored paper and pictures to grab attention. A black and white sign just hangs there and no one looks at it. Color will get people's attention and photos will help draw them in. The more attention the sign gets, the most good it will do to have it posted.

#4 Use a clean, large font. The script fonts can look pretty, but they are harder to read. A nice, crisp font will be the best way to get people to read the sign.

#5 Be positive. Sayings like, "We prefer your dog be on a leash" are well received. "Do not let your dogs run loose" is NOT well received and will likely alienate clients. The more positive you can be the more the client will respect you.

#6 Be concise. Keep the wording simple. "NO checks" works well, but, "We are no longer accepting checks due to circumstances we cannot control" will not get read and will be a waste of paper and wall space.


#7 Keep the placement of the sign where it is easily found. I try to put the most important signs we use at eye level on both sides of the door. That way, if they miss them, it is because they simply do not read signs, not because I made it hard for them to see it.

#8 Do a hand out or policy letter to cover things that are very important and use signs for things that come up or are temporary, like closures or hour changes, specials and the like. Things like regular hours, leash policies, late pick up fees, etc, need to be handed to each and every client and a policy letter handed to every single client the first visit and whenever a policy changes, is the best way to handle those types of notices. Not to mention, signs for each and every thing will take up space you can use for client photos or artwork.

#9 Size your signs appropriately for the importance of the notice. Use a large sheet of paper for important notices. I try not to use anything less than an 8.5 x 11 sheet of paper for any sign I do.

#10 Date any sign you hang up with the posting date. That way when people ask "when did you put that up" you can point and show them. It minimizes the need to explain yourself and makes the client feel slightly humbled that they did not notice it before. Many people will look more closely at your signage from that point on.

I hope these sign tips make your sign making and use a lot easier and more effective. They have helped me a lot. Now if I can just make the clients read then when I post them!