I’ve been fired! How to cope when clients let you go

i've been fired

I once found out I was fired from walking a dog when I pulled up to the house as usual and found a ‘for sale’ sign outside. It had slipped their minds completely to tell me they were moving out of the area, and it hadn’t even occurred to them that I might be upset about not seeing the dog again, whom I had walked for 5 years.

There are numerous reasons that people might not need your services anymore and 99% of the time it’s purely to do with life changes rather than anything you’ve done wrong, so try not to take it too personally.


Reasons owners might fire you

Moving out of the area

Just as with my experience, they might just be moving house. There are some painfully socially awkward people out there but hardly anyone ever goes to the extent of selling their home and moving just because they don’t like their dog walker 😉

Just make sure you get the date of the last walk so you can have a last cuddle of their dog, and make sure they’re all settled up with payments before they go.

Your schedule doesn’t fit their needs

It could be that you’re unavailable when they need you. Perhaps they ask for evening walks and weekends? Be someone that they’re going to want to recommend because you were helpful and found them a walker who can meet their needs. Remember, that walker will recommend you too so it’s a win-win situation if you can find someone who works a different schedule to your own.


Your walks aren’t suitable for their dogs

Do you like to splash in muddly puddles on long countryside hikes and they have a pure white Westie who they have professionally groomed on a weekly basis? Perhaps you’re just not the right fit for them 🙂

Maybe they have an older dog who can’t do the longer walks you offer. Or they have an energetic red fox labrador who needs to run for miles and you offer pavement walks on a one to one basis.

It’s ok not to be a good fit. There’s lots of work and lots of walkers. Network with your competitors and you’ll both benefit by having the right owners, the right dogs and enjoying different walks.

They don’t like your dogs

It could be that having seen those fantastic group photos you put on Instagram, they don’t like the types (or more often breeds) of dogs their own dog is walked with.

There really isn’t anything you can do about this, so just let them go. It’s tempting to want to change their minds, but that energy is probably better spent finding a replacement client for your business.


You’re unreliable

Not in a ‘never shows up’ kind of way but perhaps in a ‘comes sometime between 11am and 3pm’ kinda way.’

Some owners just want a more specific schedule for their dogs and that’s okay. Once again it’s just that you’re not the right fit for their needs.

They found someone cheaper

We’re all working to a tighter budget these days and that includes our clients. Yes they may have enough disposable income to employ a dog walker, but they might still need to shave a little off the expense.

I know that the best pro dog walkers have qualifications, yearly CPD, crated, safe vans for transport and experience, but sometimes the price will matter more to clients than the value they get from hiring you.


A relative is now doing it

It could be that someone they know has become available to come and walk their dog/s for free/cheaper than you. Or their friends’ sisters daughter has started up as a dog walker too so they’ve gone with her.

You’re not meeting their needs.

Are they a high maintenance owner and you don’t send enough pics and videos for their liking? Maybe they trust you and just want the dog walked and you send too many, too often? Perhaps you cant do weekends and they work a shift pattern? Do they call for ad-hoc walks and you’re always turning them down because you can’t fit them in?

It’s ok not to be a good fit. There are plenty of dogs and plenty of walkers to keep everyone happy, including you.


Ask the question

As a business, you can’t improve if you don’t know what the issues are. Unfortunately, clients might not feel able to be honest with us, or would rather gloss over the issues and move on, rather than let us know.

Unlike a normal job, we don’t have performance reviews (Thankfully!) so the only way to find out if we could improve things is to ask the question.

So if a client has recently let you go, and you’re not sure why, ask.

The easiest way would be to have an anonymous exit survey (which you could make with something like SurveyMonkey) which asks a few general questions about your services.


“Did you find our services met your needs fully?”

“Is there a service you wish we’d offer?”

“Do you feel our pricing is cheap/affordable/expensive?”

I really hope you don’t experience this often, but be reassured that it’s usually them and not you 🙂



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