Time To Pet Blog

Author: Michael Grenier (page 1 of 10)

Mobile Application Updates

Your staff members spend the vast majority of their time utilizing the Time To Pet Mobile Applications so we’ve added increased functionality so they can now do even more from the app! You’ll soon notice three lines on the top left of the mobile app.  These open the “App Menu”:

The Mobile App Menu allows your staff to perform several additional actions in TTP right from the app.  These include access to a quick “Agenda View” of their upcoming visits:

Access to their Documents:

The ability to view, send and receive direct messages sent from the pet care company:

Access to their staff invoices/pay stubs:

And Time Off Functionality:

The mobile application update will be rolling out to all devices in the next 24 hours but you can force an App Update right from the Account tab of your app:

Visit Report Cards

Visit Reports on Mobile

Sending a visit report from the Time To Pet App.

Here at Time To Pet – we are always looking for new, innovative ways that we can help our clients better serve their customers. Today, we are are super excited to announce the release of our Visit Report Card feature! Visit Report Cards are a fun, quick and easy way to provide an update to your clients after completing an event. Visit Report Cards are also entirely configurable which means you can create a custom Visit Report specific for your business.

At the core of this feature is a set of questions that you can answer after completing an event. Visit Report Cards can be used to navigate through an “after-visit” checklist, can substitute for your update note or can be used in addition to your note and some visit pictures. These questions can be  simple yes/no questions, can be a count (a numeric total) or can be a multiple choice question. Some examples of questions are “Refilled Water?”, “Used Bathroom?” or “Ate?”.

Visit Report Cards include the question text (where you can enter the question being asked), a fun icon and the question type. Time To Pet supports nearly 100 different icon options ranging from a food bowl, to a fish, to a leash and everything in between. You can customize your Visit Report Cards directly from the Mobile App Configuration page in Settings.

Visit Report Admin

Configuring visit reports from the Dashboard.

You and your team can send the Visit Report Card immediately after completing an event through the Time To Pet Mobile Application. In addition to the standard note and after selecting a picture (or two) – you can then send a Visit Report Card for each pet that was included in that visit. You can also skip sending a Visit Report Card for one (or for all pets) as well. Your client can view their Visit Report directly in the Conversation Feed of their client portal. If your client receives an email and/or a text message update – they will also get a link directing them to their Visit Report Card.

Be sure to check out our help article on Visit Report Cards and check out our help videos too!

Visit Report Card Settings

Sending A Visit Report Card

 

 

 

Client Spotlight – Zoomies Pet-Sitting!

logo_zoomiesToday’s Client Spotlight is shining on Jessica Cobb and Zoomies Pet-Sitting! Based in Griffin, GA, – Jessica is a true entrepreneur.  She saw a need and an opportunity and built a fantastic business surrounding it!  Zoomies is based on not only providing their human clients with peace of mind but also making sure their pets have fun!  Zoomies’ services include pet sitting, dog walking, transportation, horse and farm care and field trips! Be sure to check out Zoomies website and like them on Facebook too!

jessica-cobbWhat caused you to get into pet sitting/dog walking?
I’ve always wanted to do something involving animals. My opportunity came when we had recently moved to a new state. My husband and I were both working full time jobs and one of our dogs still had to be crated when we weren’t home. Before we moved, my Dad would come over every afternoon and let our dogs out but we didn’t have that anymore and I felt guilty about our youngest dog being cooped up for so long. I searched in our area for someone who offered pet sitting and there was no one in the area that did it professionally or even came up in a Google search! I hated my job at the time, saw the opportunity to create a pet sitting business in an area where they desperately needed one….and it all fell into place!

What is the most fulfilling part of owning a pet sitting/dog walking business?
Of course the animals are a big part of why anyone gets into this business and there are so many rewarding parts to it. However, I’ve found that the most satisfying part of what we do is too help assist the owners. I’ve had numerous clients with health issues that have started our services because they could no longer walk or care for their pet as they once did and our services mean everything to them because they are able to meet their pets needs with our assistance. Or clients who haven’t been able to go on a vacation for years because they haven’t felt comfortable enough to leave their pets and are now able to get away, relax and know their pets are safe and happy in our care. These make the biggest impact and remind me that what we’re providing is SO much more than just walking dogs and feeding animals.

What is the most challenging?
The most challenging part of this business is working around X amount of client’s schedules and still trying to find time for a life. One person’s life is very busy and hectic these days, let alone managing upwards of 100 or more changing schedules and plans! Sometimes it is hard to find balance between work and your personal life because this is a very personal business and you don’t want to let anyone down.

dog1Where do you see your business in 5 years?
In 5 years, I would love to see our pet sitting service area expand to the surrounding areas that don’t have many options in the way of professional in home sitters. Beyond that though, I would love to open a boarding facility/dog daycare where dogs could interact and play with one another. Another part of this facility would be a canine activity center. It would be complete with dock diving, lure coursing and other activities that owners and their dogs could participate in as well as the option to have boarding dogs participate in these exercises while staying with us.

What has Time To Pet changed the most about how you run your business?
Oh gosh, how have I lived WITHOUT TTP for so long!? It has made everything so much simpler! It has freed up a lot of time in regards to the administrative side of things and eliminated a lot of separate processes that I had to do beforehand. It has also added a whole other level of professionalism to my business and I constantly get comments and compliments about how impressed they are with the system, how easy it is to use and how great it looks! I truly don’t know how I managed before using the TTP software!

Friday Feature Focus – Bulk Reassign Keys

For a company that deals with a lot of staff members and a lot of keys – making sure those keys are assigned to the correct location can be challenging. We’ve simplified this process with our Bulk Reassign Keys feature!

Let’s say James Turner just got back to the office and dropped off all of his keys for the day. Instead of navigating to each key and assigning to the office – Bulk Reassign Keys let’s you do this with a couple clicks!

Bulk Reassign Keys can be found in the Master Key List.

Have a great weekend and stay warm!

Bulk Update Service Rates and Message Filtering

Bulk Updating Service Rates

This time of year – many of our clients are looking at increasing the rates for 2017. With a rate increase, you often like to grandfather your current clients in at the existing rate. Our Bulk Update Service Rates feature makes this simple!

You can now update all of your custom rates for all clients with one click. This can be found in the Service Rates section of Settings.  You can now also remove all custom rates as well. Be sure to check out the full help article for more details.

Increased Message Filtering Functionality

In Messages, it is now possible to filter your messages by both client and staff member. If you need to find the message that your staff member James Turner sent to client John Doe a few months ago – this process is much easier with filtering!

Be sure to stay tuned for some major feature releases coming up soon!

Guest Post – 7 Inexpensive Ways To Get New Clients

Every so often – one of Time To Pet’s extremely talented clients likes to share some helpful hints, tips and pointers with other pet sitters.  Today’s post is about some low cost ways to help grow your pet sitting or dog walking business.  Cara Armour is our guest author and is the Owner & Alpha Female of Active Paws®, Inc.  and product manager at PetProHero.  Cara co-founder Active Paws in 2003 and is a Pet Sitter of the Year award winner.  Enjoy!


There are a lot of options out there for someone looking for pet care. With the recent emergence of national pet care listing sites, it can be tricky to be found among the paid advertisements and SEO. Whether you’re on these sites or not, it’s now become a little more challenging to acquire new clients.

One of the advantages that will always remain with local pet sitters and dog walkers despite the national listing service sites is; you provide a service to a select target demographic in a very localized area. Meaning, while Rover might dominate the top of any google search, you can still very easily and inexpensively – dominate the local area market. Rover isn’t at your vet, your groomer, your local pet supply store or even your coffee shop. They don’t have press releases about charitable events they have done and they aren’t producing blogs about what’s going on with pets in your town. This leaves several areas for you to use to your benefit as the pet-trepreneur in acquiring new clients that are exactly your target – animal owners in your service area.

Here are 7 ways for you to capture new clients without breaking the bank.

Word-of-mouth

Now if you’re an introvert this can seem like an intimidating tactic but I challenge you to step outside of your comfort zone. Create an elevator pitch that you can articulate to anyone you meet that has a pet, has a family member with one or is even thinking of getting one themselves. Ask yourself why you got into this business, have a meaningful story and be proud to share it with people. In the digital age computer screens separate us from human interaction and people are starving to talk! The weather, food and now pets are exciting topics to discuss because they are experienced by most of us in person and require physical interaction. My husband and I have recently noted that whenever we go out to eat, at least one table near us (often more) somehow ends up discussing their dog, or their neighbor’s dog or how their cat took a bite out of the holiday ham! People love their pets, we know this from the boom in our industry but they love to talk about pets. Have you ever asked the receptionist at your dentist office if he or she has a pet? Not only can you boast about your business, but you can pass some time in a discussion about something you clearly love!

Marketing Collateral

I could write an entire blog about what and where to get good materials for cheap but for the purpose of this blog, let’s talk about inexpensive and creative marketing collateral.

Business cards – The obvious go-to but have you took a hard look at yours? If you posted it to a bulletin board would it stand out to someone with a pet? It might be time to redesign your card. Also, where are you leaving it? You have a 65% chance of a person with whom you interact having a pet, leave one behind for your server at your favorite restaurant.

Pens– One of my favorites, almost better than a business card because they get used, lent out and lost. What someone else may leave behind, another pics up. Pens are very inexpensive and are useful marketing collateral.

Clothing– I know, you’re going to say clothes are not cheap but they are if you think about them as something you need and a walking billboard. I need shirts to wear to work, I always wear one so why shouldn’t it advertise my company? I know there are debates about the safety and each side could be argued until we’re blue in the face; if you don’t feel comfortable wearing one on the job, consider giving them to your top clients – that’s a conversation starter for them to brag about your service in public!

Brochures and Flyers– The advent of companies like Vistaprint, has made making, ordering and paying for these items cheaper than going to Staples. I have made some masterpieces from my pajamas with free design sites like Canva. Waiting rooms are an excellent place for these as well as coffee shops. Think of places where people spend time WAITING to be seen or to meet up with people. What about your local mechanic? Could you offer to recommend them to your clients or mention in a newsletter and then they allow you to leave your brochure behind?

I had a big surge in business when I was trying to boost daily dog walking clients, I mailed flyers to the licensed dog lists in the 3 towns I serviced. Nowadays with junk mail on the decline (it’s all in our email inbox now), people are paying closer attention to things they find in their mailbox.

Don’t forget to make your market work for you. If you have clients that love you, why not promote them to share you? Free t-shirts always help but leave behind business cards, postcards, brochures, anything letting them know about the referral program you have or just started. Let them be your boots on the ground plus – who knows more about the wonderful job you do than them?

Be Social

This should be a given and I know some of us just don’t have the time. You can pay a good chunk of change for social media schedulers that do seem to be worth it but if you could set your own schedule, connect a few accounts to save you some posting time and get posting – you would add so much value. Social media sites are free, they add a little to SEO with linking and they allow you to connect with people in your area. Boosted posts can be done for pretty cheap and interacting with clients and future clients can be marketing gold. Ask a weekly question, have people post a picture of their pets doing a trick, ask what their pets favorite food is, the options are endless.

Local Listing Sites

Hubspot wrote a great blog about 50 online local business directories where you can list your business. This is sort of like being listed in the yellow pages (they’re included on this list), but with a big advantage of SEO. Look into partnering up with community groups on Facebook, often these can act as resources to list your business; my community group has a business list.

Blogs & Podcasts

You’re probably sick of hearing about SEO but it is the way to get noticed. Blogs and Podcasts are not just another way to move you up the list in searches but they allow you to express just who your company is, or talk about what matters to your company. They allow you to connect to other like-minded people, folks in the same industry or people that just want to be entertained by whatever you have to say. Blogs can be done for free, they will only cost your time and a podcast will require equipment and some software to cleanup/edit the audio. There are options for affiliate advertising on your blog or podcasts so while they might cost you time, you could actually make money to help offset the time spent.

Don’t know what to write about, Time To Pet addresses this in their great blog on 7 blog ideas for your website.

Local Events

Farmers markets, home shows, town celebrations, craft fairs and especially rescue events are all great ways to advertise your company. It gets you out from behind the computer and puts a face to your company name directly to the pet owners in your area. Now these events can range from $25 booth rentals all the way up into the thousands but you can split booths with other companies or even just sponsor to get your name on the banner then attend the event in your company attire; armed of course with business cards and pens! You can easily stand out at these events not just with marketing but do you have a dog that can do a trick or could you display a video on an iPad of you entertaining a client cat (with permission of course)?

Press Releases

These can and will be a great way to generate SEO but will also give you some credit. Did you attend a rescue event or run a pet food drive that everyone should know about? Do you have a unique story to tell as to how you got into this business or did you just complete a certificate course and want to let your community know why you are the best choice in pet care? Did you just hit a milestone in years in business? These are all reasons I have had press releases sent out. We even got lucky and had a local newspaper looking to do a piece on people that had met and married in town, they wanted to write about how my husband and I met at the dog park.

There are so many reasons to get a press release out and while they are often free, they do take a concerted amount of effort on follow up. Reporters are inundated with stories, make certain to follow up and make yours stand above the noise.

All in all there are some great cheap ways to get your company marketed to the pet owners in your area. Put your creative cap on and at the very least, go start some conversations.


cara-armourAbout the author:  In 2003 Cara Armour co-founded Active Paws Inc., a professional pet care business based in the greater Boston, MA area. In 2009, Cara won Pet Sitter of the Year, many more accolades were to follow. Active Paws Inc. expanded into a grooming and holistic pet supply store, in addition to the pet sitting. Since 2003, Cara has hired over 50 employees in her pet care business and as a former retail store manager for larger corporate companies she has interviewed over 200 candidates. In late 2015 Active Paws Inc. began using Time To Pet software which opened up an incredible amount of time for Cara to pursue a career working with an online pet first aid and CPR company as the product and marketing manager for ProPetHero, the pet first aid and CPR division of ProTrainings. She still runs Active Paws Inc. thanks to the help of TTP and still has time left over to volunteer for The Boxer Rescue Inc, be a health conscious breeder of Boxers, and play in many dog sports such as agility, barn hunting, lure coursing and conformation.

Friday Feature Focus – Agenda View

Time To Pet’s Calendar makes it really simple to view all of your scheduled events. You can also drag and drop your events to change the time right on the Calendar too. However, sometimes it can be easier to view a simple list of your events. Our Agenda View does just that! Whenever you would like to see a simple list of your events, you can set your Calendar View to one of our two Agenda Views.

First is the Agenda Week View. From the Scheduler page, simply click the “agenda-w” button to change your view:

Agenda Week View

Next is the Agenda Day View. You can enable this view by selecting the “agenda-d” button:

Agenda Day View

Happy New Years!

Client Spotlight – Stardust Doggy Care!

stardust_logoOur next Client Spotlight is shining very brightly on Stardust Doggy Care based across the pond in Glasgow, Scotland!  Lisa McCabe is the proprietor of Stardust and her and her team are providing first class care to to dogs (and dog owners!) in the UK.  Offering a multitude of services like doggy daycare, walks and home boarding – all of Stardust Doggy Care’s services are tailored to provide fun and exercise in a relaxed environment.  Be sure to take a look at the Stardust website, like them on Facebook and contact them if you are in need of pet care in the Glasgow area!!

lisa-mccabeWhat caused you to get into pet sitting/dog walking?
I decided to set up my pet care business as I was working within the property industry and although I had an excellent salary and really good job, I was thoroughly miserable and was becoming very jealous of my own dog going out on adventures each day. So, I did all my research and went for it. I wanted to be a business though, here in the UK, the pet care industry is seen as more of a hobby, so I’m trying to change that one dog at a time through Stardust.

angusWhat is the most fulfilling part of owning a pet sitting/dog walking business?
I love being able to make a difference not only to the lives of the dogs we look after but also to their families. We get so many lovely stories of dogs behaving better or being more outgoing as a result of being with us. There’s also nothing better than a slobbery mud filled dog cuddle!

What is the most challenging?
The challenges we face are really in terms of attitudes towards the industry. Most people don’t fully understand it and have a romantic idea that we just walk fluffy cute dogs on leads in a lovely park but there’s a whole back end business network involved too. Also increasing our prices is always a bit of a challenge as people do not realize the overheads involved and see paying £10 for an hours dog walk as quite expensive, although we know we are worth at least double that! I’d really like to see some change in UK legislation for our industry.

img_1249Where do you see your business in 5 years?
In 5 years, we hope to dominate the UK pet care market, with franchises throughout the country. We also hope to be well established within the U.S and have a range of Stardust products on sale.

What has Time To Pet changed the most about how you run your business?
TTP is exactly what I had been looking for, it’s now so easy to make and manage our bookings as well as provide feedback to our customers. It’s a one stop shop for us which saves so much time and has reduced my workload by 50%!

Client Spotlight – DPS!

dps-logoWe are super excited to announce our next Client Spotlight!  This one is shining on David’s Pet Service (DPS) and founder David Steinberg.  DPS is based in West Hartford, CT and services clients in the surrounding areas.  DPS has a lofty goal to provide their clients with the most trustworthy and accountable In-Home Pet Service experience ever and based on what their clients say – they exceed expectations!  Their policies are focused on pet safety and home security which maintains their clients peace of mind and their pets health and happiness.  Be sure to check out DPS on their website, like them on Facebook and follow them on Instagram for some of the best pet pictures you can find!

image2What caused you to get into pet sitting/dog walking?
A few years ago, while attending grad school for clinical social work (located in my home town), a few of my childhood friend’s parents told me I had to pet sit their dogs to which I happily obliged. Eventually, a friend said, “Hey, you should make this a business” to which I replied, “Okay, why not!”

David’s Pet Services (DPS) was born. All it took was a business card for many to think of me as “the real deal,” something I found quite humorous. Alas, word got out and within no time I transitioned from a busy pet sitter to a dog walking and pet sitting business owner.

What is the most fulfilling part of owning a pet sitting/dog walking business?
For me, the greatest gift is connecting with my staff in a way that promotes healthy boundaries and a fun work environment. As a teenager and young adult, I remember witnessing bosses who overcompensated for their ineffectiveness in ways that, among other things, negatively impacted relationships. I’ve always wanted to be a different type of leader; one that pays close attention to the well being of their employees.

image3What is the most challenging?
Puppies. Yes, the most challenging thing for me is … pulling away from the puppies. Oftentimes I want to complete the dog walks and pet sits myself because I love to exercise, play with, and train doggies. I also love shmushing their little faces (I mean come on, who doesn’t love that?).

However, when I take myself away from business managing and marketing, invoices aren’t sent, growth stagnates, etc. I’m like a soon-to-be-retired football player who’s too stubborn to move on from player to coach.

Where do you see your business in 5 years?
In the next five years, I hope to achieve two goals. First, to be the company which sets the highest standard in pet sitting and dog walking, in terms of effective dog training, customer-friendly policies, and advanced safety procedures. Second, I aim to expand my service area, which is currently a handful of towns surrounding my main hub of West Hartford, Connecticut.

image1What has Time To Pet changed the most about how you run your business?
Every. Single. Thing. I’ll spotlight one example (of so, so many). No longer are the days where throwing my computer through a window sounds more appealing than going through the grueling process of creating invoices on Microsoft Word.Now with TTP, I can sit back and relax knowing that once a client schedules their own services, it’s automatically invoiced too. I no longer have the urge to hurl my PC from my office onto the lawn. Thanks, TTP!

Friday Feature Focus – Default Cancellation Charges

Dealing with cancellations is one of the most time consuming aspects of running a pet sitting or dog walking business.  Here at Time To Pet – we’ve taken a few steps to make this process simpler for our clients.  One way we do this is with our Default Cancellation Charge feature!

Most pet care companies have a very specific cancellation policy.  It may be a 50% charge on all cancellations or charging full price when visits are cancelled with less than 24 hours notice.  Regardless of your approach, you are probably finding yourself enforcing your cancellation policy quite often.

The Default Cancellation Charge feature allows you to set a simple rule to more quickly process cancellations.  This feature can be found in Scheduler Settings:

default-cancellation-charge

When adjusting your Default Cancellation Charge, it’s important to keep in mind what happens most often when your clients cancel.  Do your clients typically cancel and you charge them full price?  When you’re clients cancel – do you charge them 50%?  Do you usually not charge them at all?  Set your default to how you most often charge your customers.  For this scenario – our company typically charges a 50% cancellation fee:

default-cancellation-charge-50-percent

Be sure to save your changes!  Now, next time you cancel a visit in Time To Pet – the cancellation prompt will default to your 50% fee:

cancel-visit-prompt

Need to make an exception to your cancellation policy for this visit?  No worries!  You can always adjust how much you are charging your customer before clicking Save!

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