This week, Scout added the ability for pet owners to easily add gratuity to their invoice for a job well done. Our goal is to remove barriers that make giving gratuity inconvenient. Let's face it, a lot of people don't carry cash, and most ATM's only spit out $20s, which might be excessive for certain services. This feature has had positive results in other service industries such as coffee shops, ride-sharing, and home repair apps.
How does Gratuity work in Scout?
Scout includes a simple, unobtrusive call-to-action in the pet owner's appointment summary email. If a pet owner wishes to tip their dog walker or pet sitter, they are presented with three pre-defined options based on a percentage of their bill as well as the ability to enter a custom amount. The gratuity is automatically added to their invoice and reflected in the payroll report.
3 Things You Should Know About Tipping
While researching this article, I came across a number of discussion boards and comment threads about tipping. Here are 3 of my takeaways:
1. Tipping doesn't replace a livable wage.
The dog walking and pet sitting industry is extremely labor-intensive. As a result, staff salaries and independent contractor fees make up our biggest expense. Gratuity is an excellent way to boost wages without having to increase prices, but it's decidedly not a replacement for paying pet sitters a livable wage. The overall consensus on gratuity is that it's not expected but every little bit helps.
2. People like getting tipped.
Receiving a gratuity feels good. While giving the best care possible should be the baseline for service, we all respond well to positive reinforcement. A bonus never made anyone sad. Dog walking and pet sitting is incredibly rewarding, but also very challenging. Commuting and exercising energetic pets is exhausting. Sometimes we all need a little boost, and a little extra cash is always appreciated. In a high-turnover industry like pet sitting, tipping can make a big difference in staff retention.
3. Be cautious when evaluating the numbers.
I originally thought gratuity could be a great indicator of customer satisfaction. After doing some research, I'm not so sure anymore. The discussion boards and comment threads suggest that giving a gratuity, to dog walkers and pet sitters, is not an expectation, unlike wait staff. As a result, I'm not sure you can apply restaurant industry data to the pet care industry. This leaves very little available data. There is a belief among some pet sitters that socioeconomic background and service price, compared to the average, are stronger predictors of tipping. Trends in tipping should be monitored, but when it comes to judging job performance, proceed with caution. I'll be implementing this feature at my company this week. I'm excited to see what information we gather. As we discover trends, we look forward to shedding some light on this important topic.