EVERY PET OWNER'S DECISION: LARGE COMPANY VS. SMALL ONE
I was passionate about my company, but I didn't want to plunge into something that wouldn't benefit my customers: if we couldn't deliver quality, they would all go away eventually. I am a pet owner myself, and there are a few things that are very important to me when leaving my pets:
Meeting the person who would take care of my pets
Knowing that the pet sitter was attentive to detail and wrote down all the instructions
All instructions are followed consistently
Low employee turnover and having the same person doing all the visits
Reliable pet sitter who lived in the area and who could accommodate changes in my schedule
Plan B for emergency backup
Easy to reach my pet sitting company - I hate leaving voicemails and waiting for callbacks
Love and care for my pets as if they were their own
So I made the above list and started brainstorming on how I can meet this criteria, expand geographically and keep my customers happy. After years of hard work and experience, using feedback from my customers and employees, we now have a system in place that allows us to grow without compromising the quality. We even opened a location in Austin!!
What we are able to deliver to our customers are the resources of a large company (telephone coverage, emergency backup plan, insurance and bonding, money back guarantee, pet sitter availability on short notice, extensive employee training which consists of a written exam, and many more), and the benefits of having a close in proximity local pet sitter. Pet sitters have ownership of their clients and territories, they are compensated based on customer ratings that they receive after each pet sit takes place. They work in small groups and act as each other's backup if one has an emergency or takes a vacation. The clients that they are assigned to become "THEIR" clients and the well-being of the pets becomes their responsibility. The sitters never have to worry about scheduling, getting paid, or managing pet sits. We also monitor their work load closely to prevent "burn-out" or scheduling too many pet sits that they "rush" through their assignments. We encourage them to take time off, and their compensation is very competitive to make this job fun and attractive. Our employees are the foundation of who we are and what we became over years. We have employees who have been with the company since 2003!! Our rates and services are based on making this a great part time employment opportunity for pet sitters, because we know that if the sitters value this job, our customers will be happy too.
In other words, we provide "the best of both worlds" to our customers: small sub-companies that are managed as separate entities but are backed up by a large corporation with resources and reputation.
Our primary goal is to exceed expectations of every phone call and every pet sit. We invested in a very sophisticated telecommunication system which allows our customers to either leave a message or press "0" and be transferred to a live person no matter what time of day or night it is. If the person on call isn't picking up, we employ an answering service which will continue looking for the management team or owners until a live person picks up and is connected with the client or pet sitter in case of an emergency.
When it comes to pet sitting, we send out a survey to each customer after pet sits have been completed. We read each and every one of them and compensate sitters based on their customer ratings. We LOVE compliments, and we value suggestions and criticism. We are constantly working on improving our work.
We use very sophisticated software that tracks completed pet sits, and our IT support is only one phone call away. If we don't see the sitters "completing" the visits in the computer, we immediately call them. If we were to miss a visit due to something happening to a sitter, we'd know about it within 12 hours. If the sitter isn't answering the phone and there is no activity in the computer within 12 hours of scheduled visits, we assume that there may be an emergency and take immediate action so the pets are not forgotten. We subcontract a company that monitors security of our clients' info and adds custom features that we request when our needs grow. The software has been growing with the company allowing us the resources to add volume and sustain quality.
And the most important thing is that I am so married to this company and so passionate about it's success, that I will do whatever it takes to accommodate my customers and employees. I believe in doing the right thing and loving what you do - that's why I started this business at the first place. I am always available for any feedback - my cell phone is 214-235-5301 if you ever need to talk to me in person.
Olga Wharton, owner