At Scout, we think a lot about scheduling. It's kind of a big deal when it comes to managing a dog walking company. Our Staff view was a big project for us. We wanted to develop a fast and flexible way for pet sitting companies to manage the day to day operations without restricting creativity. After all, being an entrepreneur is all about finding creative ways to set yourself apart.
It has been an amazing and eye-opening experience during the first few months since Scout officially launched. As more and more businesses are signing up with Scout, we are seeing business owners use the software in interesting ways we never expected. Our software development process isn't something that ended when we launched. In the last few months, we have been very fortunate for the opportunity to keep an open dialogue with many of our stakeholders which include business owners, managers, staff members, and customers. The feedback we have received has already led to a number of additional features and important improvements.
Everybody Does Things Differently
Scout's development team spoke with a number of business owners early on to get a feel for how they run the day to day operations, but we had to draw mostly on my personal experience with dog walking. At Walk It Like A Dog, we do solo walking only and the dog walkers have set availability that remains the same every week. For one-off appointment requests, it easy, I just approve the appointment with whoever is working close by and a good fit. For recurring weekday appointments, I usually give a client the same walker each week so the approval process is pretty straight forward.
It gets more a little more complicated when pet owners request recurring appointments with an end date. These usually span weekends or hours where the walkers change depending on what day of the week it is. As a result, I don't want to save the entire series to the same walker and then have to keep moving things around after the appointments are approved. To facilitate this method, I re-save each series appointment as a one-time appointment. This removes the appointment from the series but keeps it as pending. It's super easy with drag and drop. Then I use the same process as if it was a one-off appointment and approve for the dog walker who is available at the requested time. While this method works well for me, it's by no means the only way.
We Love Getting Feedback
At Scout, we really want your feedback. You'll notice we ask for it all the time. This week I had two great conversations with administrators who are scheduling in completely different ways. One of them is a group, or pack, walking company. They use a "fake" staff member account and approve all of their appointments to this account. Each morning, they use this account as a distribution center. From this account, they assign walks out to their staff members. This allows the company to create appropriate groups and maximize their walker's route. It's not a method I ever thought of, but the business owner was able to leverage Scouts features to schedule in a way that works for their business. When we develop scheduling features going forward, we'll use this information to help us understand what business owners need to be flexible and creative.
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