Problem: You step out of your car at your first event of the day, and the first thing you hear is vigorous barking from inside the house of your client. You hope the barking isn’t from the main portion of the home, where you’ll be working, and wonder if the hostess missed the clause in your contract which states that all pets need to be removed from the party area during the event. In addition to having some pet allergies, you don’t want an inadvertent swipe of the tail or unforeseen pet antics to upset and possibly damage your equipment. Will the client be offended if you reminded her of your pet policy, and will she be willing to comply with it?
Solution: Always ask clients if they have pets during the booking process. In your basic party questionnaire, as you’re gathering information about venue, ask whether there will be pets present on the premises during the party. Whether your pet concerns are from allergies or because animals can be unpredictable, it’s okay to request that no animals have access to your working area. A hostess will be too busy serving her party guests to be be watchful of a pet, whether curious or cantankerous, and pets can cause trouble before a hostess can reach them.
Fall back on company policy and your contract. People are less likely to argue with you on the pet issue if you’ve made it a company policy and put it in your contract that you cannot perform in a space shared with pets. Make sure the clause in your contract clearly defines your terms of service with regard to animals, including the liability for damages which become the client’s responsibility if they are incurred from pets which haven’t been contained. Also, mention the pet policy in your emails, since clients sometimes fail to read contracts closely. This will insure there are no last-minute surprises which could upset your client.
Send a reminder or call the day before the event. Don’t leave it to chance that a busy party hostess will remember that you have a clause on page three of your contract which stipulates pets are not allowed in your work space. If she has indicted they have a family pet which you feel may be a hazard, when you send your final confirmation to let her know you’re looking forward to face painting for her, add a friendly reminder that you’ve requested all pets (if there are any) be secured in a separate location before you arrive, and thank her for doing it.
In some cases it may be hard to predict what a pet may do, so it’s best to err on the side of caution. One face painter shared a story of being placed near a parrot during a party. The hostess asked the artist if she minded the arrangement, which she didn’t, but it wasn’t until she began to work that she discovered the bird at her elbow would continually try to steal her materials. It was a comical situation, but the pet proximity made her job more difficult and stressful than it needed to be.
Fortunately, clients often put pets in a separate room or in the basement during a party, simply because guests may not be comfortable around them. But if your hostess forgets or doesn’t believe it’s necessary to remove a pet, it’s best to be clear on your policies and specific needs in this respect.
If a client resists removing her pet or makes light of your policy, pull out the signed contract as a reminder of your mutual agreement. Explain the policy exists as part of your loss prevention strategy, which is designed to keep your clients from incurring extra cost based on inadvertent pet-caused damage or accidents. If a client can be made to realize that your policies are for the client’s protection rather than to cause her inconvenience, she will be more likely to view them favorably.