gps pet sitters

Should I Have GPS In My Pet Sitting Business?

GPS is a very loosely used term in many pet sitting companies. Depending on the client management software system that you use, they all work slightly different. Here are just three companies that currently offer GPS and how it works:

Time To Pet’s  website says: mobile application is fully GPS enabled allowing you to optionally track check-in/check-out times and locations. You can even track step by step the route taken on any given walk.

Pet Sit Click website says: Your customers can now receive an after visit email that can include Walker/Sitter notes, a photo, and GPS check-in data.

Pet Check website says: Pet Check only tracks the GPS path of your staff while they are scanned into a walk. Coordinates are taken every 23 minutes from the staff member’s app to show your customers where their pet was walked or to show that your staff stayed at their residence the entire visit (in the case of a cat visit). Once the appointment is complete, the GPS map is populated for you and your customers to see.

Precise Pet Care website says: GPS Sitter Check-ins to allow you to keep track of how your sitters are progressing through their day. You can view a map for each visit where the sitter checks in. Included on this map are the client location, sitter check-in location/time and sitter check-out location/time.

It is important to remember that this feature should be used for employees only. It is my personal opinion that you should never be using GPS with Independent Contractors as this would be seen as a form of control.

 

gps pet sitters

 

I don’t condone this GPS feature in our industry.

I am 100% against the GPS feature in pet sitting software programs. It is my personal thought, and if used, would go against everything I believe in. I believe in trusting my staff and only wanting clients that extend trust to us. If what some pet sitters are saying is true, that the professional industry is moving towards using more GPS than not, then I will just use it to set myself apart.

I also don’t buy into the argument that GPS can help prove to an untrusting client that we (company) was actually at the pet visit. If the companies relationship with the client has come to that, I would recommend reevaluating if that is a client that the company want. This situation happens once in a blue moon and definatly not enough to warrant getting GPS.

 

NOTE: If you want to be able to track your sitters behind the scenes you could always get Iphones and you can “find my friends” and see their location. Alternatively you can use the app “”Map My Dog Walk” and basically do everything that Pet Check says they do.

 

In short, here is a list of why I don’t think GPS is right in my business. (Keep in mind, this is my opinion.)

  • Shows I don’t trust my staff to my staff and clients
  • When was the last time the cleaning lady GPSed herself in and out of my home? Umm, never.
  • Just another time suck in my daily working chores. Who has time to check into all of that? (Olivia needs me!) 
  • If you are using it “in case you are audited” The burden of proof is on them (auditor), not you.
  • It encourages clients to be obsessed with the details of our work. Creating monsters.
  • It encourages numbers. When I am trying to sell more value and less price, I feel this puts us right back at nit picking. {Ain’t no one got time for that!}
  • If I won’t be monitoring it every day, what’s the point?

 

To all the all the pet sitters who love the GPS feature:

I want to be fair and show both sides of the coin. Just because I don’t believe in it for my company doesn’t mean that others can’t use it and I can’t help them.

{See? No judgment here. I have my way of doing things, you have yours }

If you are a company that has this feature, why not use it in your marketing and really set yourself apart from the competition?

Why not highlight that you have this feature and show how you are different? In a world where everyone is a pet sitter and business owners are complaining about all the hobby sitters popping up in their area, be the professional.

 

gps pet sitting business

This could be front and center on your website. Be a show off, now is the time! This is all marketing and that clients that is coming to your website, want to feel the reassurance that you “get it.”  Having this feature will help ease their mind.

Now, I have a free gift for you.

4 ways you can sell the GPS feature: 

Been Burned By Your Pet Sitter?
Run a campaign about loosing trust in a pet sitter. Then come in to save the day with the GPS features. In fact, if you email clients after the initial phone call, you might want to consider writing an email that talks about this feature to those callers who “My pet sitter canceled on me”  “I don’t think my pet sitter ever came when she say she did” etc.

Know When Your Pet Sitter Is There!
Real time check ins so you know exactly what time your sitter arrived and departed. No need to guess how much time you dog’s bladder has until you are home.

Cancel Your Security Off/On Feature!
Paying extra to know when your alarm is turned on and off so you know when the pet sitter is there? (Come on, you know when YOU turn it on and off, right?) Well cancel that add on and breathe a sigh of relief knowing when your pet sitter is there!

Add On GPS Feature!
This is the tactic you use if you are a dog walking company who wants to earn extra monthly revenue. For a monthly add on, you give clients the option of having this feature turned “on” or “off”for their visits.

Back To You:

Now it is your turn. In the comments below, tell me what you think about the GPS features. Do you like it? Hate it? Not sure? Does it work well in your business? Did you switch companies to get it? Sound off below. I want to hear from you!

8 replies
  1. Jennnifer
    Jennnifer says:

    Great blog! We used Map My Walk for the GPS feature before I purchased Virtual Imprints. I didn’t like the battery drain and the “big brother” feel. VI does not have a GPS tracking but does track the location of the check in and out with out the battery drain and constant checking up. This should ease any clients mind if they’re worried, if not then we aren’t the right business for them.

    Reply
  2. Katie
    Katie says:

    We use Precise Pet Care as our business software. It offers GPS check in, and it only checks where they are when they arrived and left. I don’t track my staffs every move, and it’s not visible to clients. I have it as a precaution. I can always send a client a snap shot showing times and location of check ins if there is ever an issue. I only check them if I start seeing problems with a certain sitter.

    Reply
  3. Shelly
    Shelly says:

    NEVER. I’m 100% with you on trust, and I don’t micromanage. And not everyone has a smartphone and I’m not about to provide phones simply for GPS purposes. Also, we have clients in dead zones – what would you do then? And finally – GPS is a huge power suck if you’re running it all the time.

    Reply
  4. Lynn
    Lynn says:

    I loved using GPS as peace of mind for myself (not so much as “I don’t trust my staff”) to see that everyone is progressing along well on their day (aka no random car accident, etc). It did come in handy one day when I realized someone (one of my really GREAT sitters) had checked in at the wrong house/wrong day). I called her. She was having one of those off days and had messed up her schedule a bit. But, she got on her way to the right house and our other client didn’t mind that she had said a quick hello to her dogs by mistake. 😉

    Reply
  5. Cat
    Cat says:

    We are currently on a one month trial of PetCloud. It charges by the completed visit so you could only use it for the clients that have expressed a concern or with a problem sitter that you want to track. Currently, the two issues I have noticed is that it sends out too many email notification and they are “all or nothing” (i.e., when an appointment is assigned, at check-in at check-out, AND when the appointment is complete). It also has GPS check-in & check-out with notes capability. The other issue is server outages. The feature I do like is that it is an app and is directly available from iTunes on your phone – there is no website log-in EVERY time to need to get there.

    Reply
  6. Mike
    Mike says:

    Thanks for the post Bella! This is Mike and I am a co-founder of Time To Pet. I definitely agree with you – GPS is something that is right for some people and very, very wrong for others. With TTP – our GPS features are entirely optional (that’s sort of a general theme with our system – we want to give our clients options). When a company is configuring their mobile application settings, they can turn GPS on or off. They can also turn time tracking on or off as well. When these features are turned on, a sitter will “check-in” and “check-out” of an event right from the mobile app. “Checking-in” and “Checking-out” will capture the GPS coordinates as well as the time stamp of the sitter. You can also turn GPS Mapping on (where the coordinates will be tracked for the duration of the event) on a service by service basis. Of course – it makes no sense to GPS Map an overnight visit but it might make sense to GPS Map a 15 minute dog walk. All of the GPS/Time Tracking data can be optionally shared with customers as well.

    I did want to share a quick story with too. I recently had a phone call with a pet sitter who was using GPS features on her software platform. She had mentioned to me there was an incident with one of her sitters and they were bitten by a dog. The owner of the dog did not handle the situation very well and accused the sitter of never showing up to the previous events. This client then contacted their credit card company looking for a charge back. The pet sitting company was able to produce all of the documentation that the visits did in fact happen using their GPS data.

    I most certainly agree that in 99% of visits, GPS is probably overkill but in those rare instances – it can be very handy!

    Reply
  7. Mary Anne Johndrow
    Mary Anne Johndrow says:

    I hate it! I follow some advice I read in a quote somewhere – “Keep your employees happy and they will keep your clients happy.” I concentrate on promoting a team spirit with my dog walkers. They respond by providing a service to the clients as if this were their own business. I trust them – they trust me to have their back if there is ever a question on performance. GPS is for finding an address!

    Reply

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