As you get into another peak holiday season, be sure review your reservation-deposits policies and management practices. Here are some "best practice" suggestions from our setup and support team regarding how you can manage deposits.
Best Practice #1: Do Not Accept 100% Deposits
Actual boarding and add-on service fees are rarely exactly as predicted. A customer may come early to pick up their pet, cancel some add-on services, or pickup late and have added fees anyway. Overpayments add administrative tasks to you and your staff, taking valuable time away from taking care of pets and people. By collecting the balance of payment when the client picks up their pet, you can review any Check-Out Notices (and discounts) with your customer, and you have an opportunity to collect gratuities for your staff.
Generally, we recommend not collecting more than 50% of the estimated amount due for the reservation. This simplifies and standardizes the deposit policy. The deposit collected will be automatically applied to the customer's charges in the shopping cart at the time of pickup/payment.
Best Practice #2: Review Your Deposit Settings (System-Wide Settings)
Check your settings regarding automated email reminders for new deposits, requiring deposits paid for checkin and the One Deposit Per Family Setting.
Best Practice #2.1: One deposit per family setting (SMS) This setting can save you a lot of time managing multiple deposits for families with multiple pets with the same reservation type and dates. With this set 'yes/on', one deposit will be collected (instead of two or three) for that family. Note that the one deposit will be based on the estimated value of only one of the pet's reservations (not all of the reservations for that family).
Best Practice #3: Review Use of Your Deposits Report
Get familiar with your Deposits Report. Pay special note to the Outstanding (Collected, but not consumed, refunded or forfeited) section, as these are deposits that have been collected, but they have not been used yet for payment on a Reservation. If the reservation time (or the Cancellation cut-off time) has passed, then you will want to either Refund or Forfeit (i,e, you retain the funds), depending on your cancellation policies.
Lastly, train your staff on the operational procedures you use to manage deposit payments, and communicate with your customers your deposit and cancellation policies!