I've always been into tech. I remember taking a work from home day when the first iPhone came out. I camped out at my local ATT store starting at 3 am. So, it makes sense that when I started my company 10 plus years ago, I had software starting at day 1. It was a very simple scheduling and billing software. There were no bells and whistles, and def no apps. The iPhone didn't even let you store apps on the phone yet, everything was web apps. Even with limited functionality, starting out with dog walking software was one of the best decisions I made for my business. These days, with everything you can do with software, I still see new dog walking and pet sitting entrepreneurs balk at the idea. Why is there so much apprehension? I've narrowed it down to 3 myths that keep new business owners from signing up for dog walking software.
Myth #1: Dog Walking Software is Only for Companies with Staff
This is just false. You don't need staff to benefit from an organized schedule. Not to mention, managing staff schedules and payroll are just a small slice of what pet sitting software is capable of. Companies like Scout offer a ton of features that can help new business owners. Here are a few examples:
- Automated Billing: The ability to bill your customers accurately and accept electronic payment is huge. I should admit here that I'm anti-cash. The number one reason new businesses fail is that they run out of money. The benefit of using an automated system with built-in tools to aid collection should not be underestimated. Getting paid on time, at regular intervals, positive cash flow, is absolutely necessary to run a healthy company. With everything a business owner needs to manage, you don't have time to screw around, chasing after people for payment. Trying to save a few cents in processing fees is penny wise and pound foolish. Your rates should already reflect the cost of doing business.
- Smart Charges: Smart charges are automated fees that pet sitting companies charge based on their policies for occurrences such as late cancellations, last minute appointments and additional pets. While tracking these charges might not be the most daunting task if your flying solo, it's crucial to apply these fees consistently. One of the mistakes I see a lot of new pet sitters make is the waiving of company policy. In the beginning, having a confrontation with a customer over a fee can be uncomfortable. The software works as a bit of a buffer between you and your customers. It allows you to explain that fees are applied automatically, consistent with your stated policies.
- Dog Walking App for Staff: Whether you have a staff or not, your customers want peace of mind. They don't know you, and if you haven't been around very long, you don't have a reputation you can leverage. Chances are, you're not the only pet sitter in your area. You're competing with companies like Wag and Rover, or larger local companies with some type of accountability features built into their software. If you want to compete with the major players in your area, you're going to need to provide the same assurances to your potential customers.
Myth #2: Pet Sitting Software Makes it Less Personal
I'm gonna call bullshit! Having software doesn't stop you from fostering a personalized relationship with your customers. Having people text, call and email you to make appointments isn't personal, it's just a pain in the ass. There's nothing stopping you from making a call or text list, and checking in with a few customers every day. Most software, including Scout, provides a way to send pictures and personalized updates for every appointment. Birthday and holiday cards, newsletters, social media, and the good old telephone are all ways you can add a personal touch. Being able to devote more time to being personable is kind of the whole point.
Myth #3: "My Clients Don't Want an App"
Yes, they do. Maybe not every single one, but a lot of people. I have one older client that doesn't use the app, and I let her email me. I have 300 other clients that use the pet sitting app and love it. Everyone is busy, that's why people love using apps. They get their groceries delivered, a ride somewhere and even deposit checks. People spend billions of dollars on convenience apps. Millennials make up the biggest age demographic in the US. That's a market you can't afford to ignore. They definitely want an app.