"Sitters have increased from 10 to 25 and revenue has tripled in just 10 months after installing Pet Sitter Plus."
Drew Bensen - Close to Home
Seattle, WA - USA
Seattle Washington USA
Close to Home
Seattle, Washington USA
Drew Bensen runs a thriving pet sitting business based in Seattle WA but he does this from his home not far from the beaches of southern California.
Since introducing Pet Sitter Plus, his business has grown from 10 to 25 sitters and his revenue has more than tripled in just 10 months.
Read his compelling story about how this transformation came about.
I started “Close to Home” in 2008 and it quickly grew to be a mid-sized business with about 10 employees. I soon realised that my growing business couldn't grow any further because of the inefficient and over complicated administration systems that we had at the time. I was using what I considered to be a market leading pet sitting software but it was actually this software that was holding me back. This is my story of how I came across a new and innovative pet sitting software that has enabled me to double my revenue in just 5 months.
Looking back it’s hard to imagine how we managed with our old system. My sitters were supposed to access their schedules via their phones but our software was not designed for the small screen so my sitters had to keep re-sizing the interface to be able to see the information. They found this to be too difficult so they would often not bother and instead they relied on an email sent overnight which contained their schedule for the next day. The problem was that this email was often out of date by 9:00am due to all the last minute scheduling changes and so we ended up employing someone to manually update our pet sitters with last minute schedule changes either via email or text. This was an expensive overhead for our business.
Another big problem was that our sitters didn’t have access to the client, pet and visit routine information that they needed to complete their jobs so we implemented another system called Evernote that provided this information. This meant that our staff had to access 2 separate systems to get all the information and our admin team also had to keep this 2nd system up to date. All in all it was inefficient, expensive and cumbersome. We found that we were actually losing staff who weren’t happy with our technology and it was also very difficult to train new staff.
"Since we implemented Pet Sitter Plus there have been some pretty amazing changes and cost savings."
Pet Sitter Plus provides a mobile optimised app-style interface for our staff which they absolutely love. Not only is it styled like an App, making it easy to use, but it also provides all the client, pet and visit routine information that sitters need to complete their work. Pet Sitter Plus for mobile has made our staff much more independent so that they need far less supervision. This has improved so much that we no longer require a member of staff to provide last minute schedule changes and routine updates and this has saved us a lot of money. We simply could not have managed the growth we have experienced without this technology.
Now that we have a GPS based check-in check-out function our sitters use this feature when attending each and every visit and this has helped us to understand whether or not we are delivering on our promises. We had a client call us to say that she thought her sitter had not attended site so we asked the sitter concerned to use the GPS check-in function. The sitter subsequently did not check in and this, along with other evidence provided the proof we needed to let her go from the business. This is an example of how Pet Sitter Plus helped us to manage what could have been a very difficult and potentially expensive problem for our business.
Invoicing was the biggest nightmare for us before we had Pet Sitter Plus.
I once had a friend say to me – “Drew, you walked my dog 10 times this month – its $20 a walk – how can you get that wrong?”
We made so many mistakes and a lot of these were attributable to how the old software worked. It was never very clear what anyone owed us and I could rarely be sure that the account balances in my system were 100% correct. This meant that we frequently had to write balances off. Today I am 100% sure of my account balances and the account information is very clear for both me and for my clients. Now that I have Pet Sitter Plus I rarely have to write anything off, I am getting paid much faster and I spend far less time on invoicing. The whole process has improved dramatically.
Another big change we made was to introduce a policy that removed the option for clients to pay by check or cash. This was a pretty bold move because all clients were then required to provide their credit card details via the Pet Sitter Plus secure portal but this one policy turned out to be one of my best decisions. This single change brought about a spectacular improvement to the cost of collecting cash and it revolutionised our cash flow. Credit cards are now charged at the time of invoice and the receipts are processed directly into Pet Sitter Plus meaning I am very much more in control of when I receive my cash.
The client portal has revolutionised our scheduling. Clients love the fact that they can now book & cancel services online at a time that suits them. Prior to implementing Pet Sitter Plus we were inundated with phone calls, texts and emails from clients requesting services but now, the online booking function has removed about 4 steps from our booking process making us more efficient. Today clients almost exclusively use the portal to book their services and the feedback is that they feel more in control and happier.
There are other ways too that the client portal has made clients feel more connected to my business. The fact that they have access to their client and pet information and can make changes online makes them feel more in control of the relationship with us. It also improves the quality of the information we hold and saves time as we no longer need to gather and input this information manually.
Since implementing Pet Sitter Plus my business has grown beyond all expectations. After going live in November 2014, we have seen our revenue triple in 10 months and we continue to break records every month as we go forward. The number of sitters we employ has increased from 10 to 25 and as we continue to grow I have no fear of the admin getting out of hand.
Today I feel like I run my business and that it no longer runs me and I owe a lot of this to Pet Sitter Plus.