Getting ready for flea and tick season

Getting ready for flea and tick season

Discover ways to manage the risk of fleas, ticks and lyme disease among your pet-guests.

Preparing for Spring Break

Preparing for Spring Break

How are you preparing your dog daycare and boarding business for peak-season?

 

 

Best in Show of Dog Myths

Can you teach an old dog new tricks?    Do dogs eat grass only when they are sick?

 

Of course there are safety-related myths, like "my dog will be okay in the car if I crack the windows". We all better know the answer to that one, and have a role in letting our customers know the facts.

There's "all dogs are colorblind."    Reportedly, "the canine retina indicates that dogs can see some colors, primarily blues, yellows, greens and shades of gray"1.  (http://www.petful.com/misc/20-ridiculous-dog-myths-debunked/)

 

My favorite is whether "a wagging tail means a happy dog".  My family commonly refers to our dog Gregor's 'wag-o-meter'. We're pretty sure that the more wagging, the happier he is.

 

 

Here's the Mythbusters video on the subject:  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IAv7czgIl0Q

And for more reading, here's a link to Cesar's Way blog on the subject: https://www.cesarsway.com/about-dogs/dog-myths/taking-a-bite-out-of-a-dozen-common-dog-myths  

 

What dog-related myths do you ponder?

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Continuous cash-flow with recurring payments

Pet care businesses can benefit from establishing recurring subscription payments for dog daycare services.

Recurring, or 'subscription' payments are automated, scheduled credit card payments for services.  Just as with the magazines, recreation memberships and software subscriptions, pet-care services can offer 'subscriptions' to customers for doggie daycare.  One-time setup of a series of payments from your customer increases your customer service level and creates recurring, low-transaction cost revenue.

Benefits of recurring billing:

  1. Ease for customer
  2. Fewer, yet higher-value transactions
  3. Less errors
  4. Low-transaction costs - save on per-transaction processing fees, less staff time.
  5. Increase retention

Any payment service that adds value to the customer is a win-win.  The customer feels less 'transaction pain', and so does your business.  Save your customer time, and they'll a sense of great customer service.

With fewer transactions, you are saving staff time, leaving less chances for errors, and you will pay less per transaction-fees.

 

Examples of recurring billing in dog care businesses:

1. Renewable monthly day-care package

2. Memberships

3. Payment-schedule for group class or multiple months of private lessons

 

One risk of recurring billing is losing some 'touch' with your customer. Use your time saved partly to ensure engagement with these customers. Ask them how they are liking your services and thank them for their regular business.

 

Take a look at how you might establish recurring billing into your services. Many of your customers will love the convenience, and you'll enjoy the steady stream of 'easy' income.

What recurring payments are you considering?

How many hats do you wear?

Automation and delegation can help dog daycare owners shed some tasks.

Using Online Technologies to Increase Revenue, Efficiency, and Customer Loyalty

Watch the webinar! This includes engaging graphics and a real-time demonstration of integrating online software technologies.

Introducing Employee Time clock

Today, we're releasing an employee time clock to all Gingr customers. It's super easy to use and available at no extra cost.

How does it work?

First, an employee logs into Gingr with their password, Google account or alternate means (Yubikey, employee ID card, etc..).

Then, it's as simple as clicking on the big blue Clock In Button!

The circle icon (visible on all pages) will appear green if currently clocked in.

The circle icon (visible on all pages) will appear green if currently clocked in.

When clocking in / out, the system will record:

  • Time
  • IP Address
  • Device Type (User Agent)
  • Device Fingerprint
  • Webcam image (currently not supported on iOS devices)

For more information on this feature, be sure to check out our documentation!

Using Flow-Diagrams to Streamline Your Pet Care Service Operations

Using Flow-Diagrams to Streamline Your Pet Care Service Operations

Learn how flow-diagrams can help you organize your dog daycare, boarding and grooming business and help you configure your software.

Recurring Subscription Billing

We have just released recurring subscription billing functionality to Gingr! In this post we'll outline 5 ways subscription revenue can help your business.

1.) Reliable revenue stream

Subscriptions can help smooth out your revenue stream throughout the month. Because packages automatically renew at set intervals, you'll be better able to predict the coming month's sales.

2.) Faster, Friendlier Check Outs

Because your customer's packages will automatically renew there's no need for staff to sell a customer a package every so often. This allows for less friction at check out and more time for staff to engage the customer.

3.) More Loyal Customers

Customers with an automatically renewing subscription are less likely to go looking at your competition. A study by Ventana Research shows that the primary business drivers for using such a model are “increasing the top line, enhancing the customer experience, and increasing customer loyalty.” 

 

4.) Planning for Growth

High volume businesses (especially daycares) need to know in advance how many dogs will be attending over the coming days. Not only does predictable attendance allow for more accurate staff planning, you can allow a greater number of customers to attend Daycare because there's reduced variance in attendance from your existing customers. Hopefully you'll be able to cut down on your day care wait list :).

5.) Custom Pricing Plans

Recurring package subscriptions allows you to offer your services at a reduced rate, perhaps even negotiated with each customer. This flexibility allows you to create a program that benefits both you and the customer, without causing headache and confusion at each check out.

We think recurring revenue is a very powerful tool and are very excited to bring this to our customers!

 

New Grooming Features!

On Friday night, 11/4/2016 we will be releasing some awesome new features to Gingr.

Grooming Revamp

We've completely revamped Gingr's grooming functionality to provide the most flexible and robust grooming features in the industry. Specifically, we are introducing 2 new ways to schedule your groomers:

  • "Slots" are a flexible way of setting a groomer’s capacity and booking grooming appointments according to how much work they require. The slots system is used instead of booking appointments at specific times with specific durations. 
  • If you would still like your appointments to be at a specific time with a specific duration, you can now set a capacity on that specialist time block. I.e. Melissa can do 2 grooms at 8am, 3 at 11 am, etc.
  • The new Facility Calendar allows you to view groomer availability and book directly from the calendar, and shows you the breed of pets who are already booked.
  • The new New Appointment page puts grooming notes and appointment history right at your fingertips. You can also set the price at the time of booking, along with adjusting the duration of the appointment or the number of slots required.

Click here to learn more about slots.

New Incident Reports

Gingr's incident reports now use our custom form builder. You can now totally customize questions asked on incident reports and create incident reports that include multiple pets.

Speech to Text

Gingr's rich text editors and employee notes tool now allow you to speak directly to the computer and Gingr will convert it to text in real time. Currently, this is available only with Google Chrome.
 

Log In With Yubikeys!

Starting tomorrow, Gingr users will be able to log in with a Yubikey. Say goodbye to usernames and passwords!

What is a Yubikey?

A Yubikey is a small physical device that can fit on a keychain and can be used to securely log into a variety of online services and apps (Gingr, Google, Windows, MacOS, Dropbox, Salesforce and Citrix to name a few).

How do I use it?

To log into Gingr using your Yubikey, navigate to your Gingr app and click the Yubikey icon. Next, plug your Yubikey into a USB port and tap the button. Bam! You're logged in.

How much does it cost?

The Yubikey 4 is available from Amazon (with Prime) for $40.00. The Yubikey Neo is also available on Amazon for $50.00 and includes NFC (wireless) functionality. Currently, this only works on Android devices (not iPhones/iPads).

Do you have a video available to see how it works?

We sure do!

7+ reasons to offer online pet-service and dog daycare appointment scheduling

Plenty of research is now showing an increase in online reservations for a variety of services. Many of us are likely used to booking plane tickets and hotel rooms online at this point. Some of the slower-moving industries include health-care and automotive repair.

There are many good reasons to do this for your pet-services business:

  1. It's what people want. - One study of service-business customers showed that 59% of customers wanted to schedule online if able. People like convenience and success. When they can make an appointment request on their own terms (say, after hours) and feel successful in 'getting it done', they are happy doing business with you.
  2. Younger demographics prefer it. The Washington Post reported that 75% of folks currently in their 30s have dogs. These 'millennials' also prefer things like technology, smart phones and making reservations online.
  3. New customers seek it out. Up to 63% of new customers in one study were seeking out the ability to do online scheduling. You want new customers? You need to serve these folks.
  4. Talking on the phone is expensive. When customers aren't able to schedule reservations themselves, they rely on your staff to do it. Track how long a typical call (or series of returned calls) it takes to make a typical appointment appointment or reservation. (Let's use 5 minutes for example Now multiply that by the hourly wage you pay an employee (plus payroll taxes, say $15/hr). Now multiply that by the number of reservations you do by phone each month (say 25/day, or 500/month). You'll get a sense of the monthly cost of those phone-made appointments. In this example: $1.25 per call * 500 calls = $625.00.  And that doesn't include follow-ups/return calls!
  5. It shows your customers you are 'in with the times'. Your customers' perceptions of you are important. If you show them you are using modern technology, they will trust you with other things, like caring for their pets and managing their accounts correctly. Honor your customers by showing them their time is valuable, and increase their confidence in your business as using the best available technologies to provide the best service.
  6. Reduce frustration and surprises. Self-service online scheduling reduces errors, transaction time and can reduce 'no-shows', thereby reducing frustration among your customers, staff and you (and perhaps even the pets!). Make it easy to do business with you, and make it easier to work for your company!
  7. Up-sell add-on services in advance - Show your customers add-on services when they are scheduling, so they can select these services in advance. Even if they don't, they'll know in advance of the option, and then you can up-sell them at check-in.  Among all Gingr apps, 21% of self-made online reservations have add-on services. That compares to 15% of all reservations having add-on services. The average add-on service value is over $24.00.

Imagine at least 50% of your appointments/reservations being made 'self-service' online by your customers, and at least 20% of those appointments having an added value of $24.00. If you do 500 reservations/appointments in a month, you've saved over $300.00 and generated over $6,000.00 in added revenue. How would that help your business?

The success of online reservations depends on the user-interface being USER-FRIENDLY. Ensure that your prospective software solution actually gets used by the end-user customer for online reservation or appointment requests. Ask the sales folks for the software, and if you are already a Gingr user, now might be the time to use this functionality!

Do you have any other good reasons to accept online reservations? Or any concerns that are preventing you from allowing this 'self-service' booking model?

Let me know, and here's to your success in business.  - Andy

Did You Know: Describe Your Reservation Types

Just in case you missed it, in our newest release, we have added the ability to describe your Reservation Types! This is long awaited and a great little feature allows you to include a rich text box with photos, text, tables, and links that shows on both the customer and business portal! Use this feature to show off your rooms, describe what's included, or list requirements and expectations for each reservation. 

To add descriptions, navigate to Admin > Reservation Types and Services Configuration Page > Edit a Reservation Type (Pencil Icon) > write a description > Save Changes.

Add Custom Email Text to Reservation Requests

Want to take your communication to the next level? Check out this quick article to find out how to add customized text to your automated emails for each Reservation Type. 

Did you know: See More Dates in Expected and Unconfirmed

On the Dashboard's Expected and Unconfirmed sections, we have added some small new features. Previously, Expected Today meant only who was expected to arrive today, but you can now include all animals that have been expected on previous days, but who's reservations were not checked-in or cancelled.

The Unconfirmed section used to include only unconfirmed reservations expected to arrive 7 days in advance, but now, you can set the amount of days you would like to look ahead! 

To see these options simply click on the chevron icon on each section. While you're at it, check out what options are available in other dashboard sections!

Learn more about your Dashboard

 

Did you know: Icons can help control capacity

Did you know: Icons can help control capacity

This simple setting allows you to control how many animals with this icon are checked into your facility.

Getting new customers to build your dog kennel business

The sustainability of your pet boarding, daycare or grooming business will always depend on getting new customers, as some of your customers will move, their pets will pass on, or they will leave for other reasons.

I just listened to TyTheDogGuy's "PetLifeRadio" short on getting more leads for your pet business. I'm not a marketing expert, but I can appreciate the value of more leads (I'm Director of Sales for Gingr, after all). I think Ty has some good advice.

How do you maintain getting new customers for the life of your business?

Most of your prospective customers will look for you on the internet and review your website. They've made it to your website, but how do you get them to the next step? How do you convert them to engage with you?  Remember, all you need from them at the start is their name, an email and phone number.

The Opt-In

The goal is to get the prospective customer to 'opt-in', by at least giving their email or contact information to you, so that you can develop the relationship to the point where they will come in and use your services. Generally, you need to offer a carrot (or a bone, in this industry) to get them to provide you with their information. All you need from them is their name, an email and phone number. 

You need to give something to them. This could simply be some form of information, via an e-book or a video.

E-books - For them to opt-in and download an e-book, you need to give them a very big PROMISE. Make it specific. Make it big, like "5 steps to get your puppy house-trained in 4-days". It's really not hard to develop an e-book. You need some content, create a PDF file, and have an auto-mated way for that to send to them once they enter their information. Have your web-designer help you with this.

Videos - Facebook can be a good way to market to people to engage and check-out a video you are offering. It should be interesting and entertaining enough. Use Facebook ads to help catch their attention to your site to get the video. There are lots of very affordable video services now to help you with video content.

Free- or discounted- service 'taste' - If you offer something for 'free', the client will know they are going to be sold on something, so what can you add on-top that has bigger value than the fear the prospect may have to 'being sold' on your service. How can you make it attractive for them to take the time to check out our 'free' offer?

A discount can be helpful, to get them in the door and try out your services, but be careful, as that can cheapen your services, so consider instead a free gift that does not de-value your services.

Pricing - On your website, give them all the information about your business and services (get them hungry), but don't have your pricing on your website. Have prospective customers enter some information so that they can receive your pricing. Then you can follow-up and see if they are a good fit for your business.

Follow-Up

And here's where it all lies - the timeliness and qualify of your follow-up. It can be tough, I know, as people are busy, and they may submit an inquiry, but then it's hard to reach them. Develop a system and stick with it. If you show them you are available and persistent, you can connect with the prospect and help them learn more about your business' services. This gives you a chance to control (to a degree) when and how you communicate with your prospective customers, so you can do a better job of selling your services.

Here's a link to the audio file:  http://petliferadio.com/sixfigureep60.html?platform=hootsuite

 

What are you doing to attract and communicate with new prospective customers? Let me know!

 

 - Andy

 

Introducing Webhooks

What is a webhook?

A webhook allows one application to notify another that a particular event has been performed. It's like an API, but in "reverse". 

What kind of events are we talking about?

Gingr is able to notify a third party application when a reservation is checked in or out, owner or animal is created or modified, as well as when an email is sent from Gingr. Over time, we'll be able to expand on the types of events we send. 

Give me an example.

Let's say you use a CRM at your business, and want the CRM to stay up to date with your customer's reservation and communication history. When you click on the Check In button in Gingr, a webhook will be sent to your CRM letting it know that a reservation was just checked in.

I want a video.

Here ya go! 

What kind of apps can I integrate with?

Just about anything! Popular integration services like Zapier and IFTTT can receive a webhook from Gingr that can then be pushed out to any of the thousands of products they are integrated with. If you're looking for a more customized solution, any decent web developer can easily interact with webhooks.

When will this be in my Gingr app?

We'll be releasing this feature into all Gingr apps over the next few days. You can get started with the documentation of this feature here.

 

Software tool box for your pet care business

Often I get inquiries about our dog daycare and boarding software that include the phrase "we want pet care software that does everything".

I have a little joke I sometimes share in response, and it goes like this: "Google is working on that". The implication is that Google is working on software that does everything. Every conceivable task for every industry. An ALL-in-one solution.  (Kind of like super-sizing your lunch. Bigger, but not necessarily better). Of course they are not. That's why there are well over 100,000 software companies in the U.S. alone, building tools for different needs in different industries.

The truth is, no software does everything, even within it's industry niche. Yes, some are better than others for certain types of customers. Some do more, some do less, some are more user-friendly software, some are less. Some you pay more for, some less.

Here at Gingr, we use at least 15-20 different software/apps. Here's a partial list:

Slack (team communication), RingCentral (telephony), Join.me (screen sharing, online meetings), Agile (CRM), Gusto (payroll), googledocs/Drive, MS Office, YouTube (video-sharing), Trello, Asana, FreshDesk, SquareSpace; Zapier, MoonClerk, Stripe, Squarecash (for paying each other for lunch) .... (this does not even count what the developers use, and I'm sure I am missing some anyway).

Now you may not need that many software/apps, but here's the point: pick the right tools for the right job. No software will do everything, even with respect to your specific industry. So why not use the best tool for the right job?

Here's a process you might go through:

  • Define your needs. Where is your pain? Is it time on the phone? Data entry? What are most important functions or operations that you can streamline and automate as best as possible? What tool or tools will do the most important functions?
  • You might need several tools to complete a larger task* (i.e, running your business). Have a software toolkit. Use the right software(s) for the right task(s).
  • Have a selection of tools at your disposal in case of emergency*. It's good to have a back-up plan.
  • When a new tool is created that does the task better or faster or makes your life easier, learn about it, assess it, use it if it's the right fit.
  • You only get the full effectiveness out of some tools if use them together* (like a hammer and a chisel to carve a sculpture). For example, we use Zapier to integrate our online forms with our CRM and project management tools).
  • There are more tools than anyone one person could use in a lifetime, but some will become indispensable to your practice.*

(*attribution to Kim Cofino's post at: http://kimcofino.com/blog/2008/01/19/the-technology-toolbox-choosing-the-right-tool-for-the-task/)

In general, I look for solutions that have the following attributes:

1. Automate tasks when possible and appropriate.

2. Empowers other people to enter the data and find information when they need it.

3. Searchable, easy to find information.

4. Simplify my life/work.

5. Easy(er) to learn (full disclosure, I used to be a technophobe.)

6. Replicable and scaleable as my business/activity grows.

 

I feel very fortunate to work for a company that provides a software service that meets the above criteria. We don't do everything, though, and I'm always happy to help a prospective customer identify other tools to help them succeed.

 

What software/apps are you using to help make your life and work easier and more successful? Let me know!

- Andy

 

Take A Break? I'm too busy!

It's summer, a busy time for pet-boarding businesses, so it is especially encouraging when I hear a dog kennel or daycare business owner say "I'm going on vacation". That's a good sign - usually that they at least have good staff on hand to manage the operation while the owner is getting some time off.

A business owner that gets out of 'managing' the business and more into 'building' the business (and taking breaks) is on the path to a sustainable business. (Read days off, vacations, time focused on marketing, retirement, even exit-strategy).

Good hiring of staff is part of this, as are other operational improvements that streamline work-flow and make it easier to train those staff to be successful in providing great service. They'll then be happy, productive and loyal, and your headaches will go down.

I remember the feeling of my first day off after starting my business. It was largely due to the trust I had in a particular employee. (Ahhhh, I was making money and had a day off!)

Back to the point: To get that break (and focus on building your business) you've got to set up operational systems that make YOU less busy in the day-to-day managing of your business, and make it easier to train your staff to do the things you need done independently. Setting up processes (and automating whenever possible) that make the task seamless and streamlined will improve employee success and happiness. Your customers will notice, and they'll be happy too.

I suppose that's why I love my role as sales director for Gingr. I am helping business owners and their team manage a productive dog boarding or daycare business. I am helping them be more efficient so they can focus on what's most important: taking care of their customers.

By helping dog boarding business owners reduce inbound phone calls, automate reminders to pet owners, automate pricing rules to capture the right amount of income from each sale, Gingr just might get a few more business owners on a day off or a summer vacation now and then.

Myself, I'm taking a river-trip with my family in a few weeks!

What's keeping you from a day off or a vacation? Let me know. Send me a note to andy@gingrapp.com and let's see if we can figure out a solution to get you on the beach, on the river, or whatever 'recharges' you.

So, empower your staff, set-up great operational systems, and take a break. You deserve it!

- Andy

 

 

What is your dog-business' (friendly) competitive advantage?

With new dog daycare and pet boarding businesses starting everyday, the industry is growing and well, getting more competitive. That's a good thing.  Competition gets us to 'raise the bar' and get better at what we do. Further, competition in a healthy market can actually increase your business and increase the value of it.

After reading a post by the folks at PetBusinessSolutions about competition ( https://petbusinesssolutions.com/your-competition-is-crushing-youanalyze-that/ ), I reflected on my days as a business owner and addressing the competition (which unfortunately was not very friendly - all they could think of was to lower prices and steal our brochures). 

I decided that it is better to compete on differentiation than price. Price wars just drive everyone's business down, and in the end customers suffer as well. Develop aspects of your business that differentiate - that give you an advantage in attracting and retaining customers - and your business will grow sustainably.

A helpful exercise for business owners and managers (all employees, really) can be to assess your business' competitive advantage. That is, "what gives us an advantage over our competitors? What helps us attract and retain customers that our competitors aren't doing?"

Competitive advantage can take form in many ways:

  1. Location - that great corner location or exclusive lease in a commercial area.
  2. Facilities and fixtures - physical amenities.
  3. Unique training and certification - get certified as an owner or manager, or get your facility certified.
  4. Operations - Toyota developed a lasting advantage through their operational systems, and yes, some of that was in their software. In other words, they focus on processes - as much if not more - than on product.
  5. Recruiting and retaining great staff. - Empowerment, training and enabling employees to do their jobproductively and provide great service.
  6. Customer relationship 'management'. How easy is it for your customers to communicate with you and ask for what they need? How quickly and effectively do you respond to their inquiries and requests? How can you make this system more efficient and productive?

Now it may be hard-to-impossible to change your location (and that may be less of a differentiator anyway), and expensive to change all your kennels or other fixtures, so you might focus on other differentiators like your operations, staff training and empowerment, and customer relationship management and communication.

I think you might find that much of this is in the way you do business and in the way you handle transactions and relationships that give you an advantage over the long-run.

Consider your reservation systems, payment processes, staff training systems and communication techniques with your customers.

How can you improve service to your customers? 

How can you make it easier and more enjoyable to business with you, as opposed to the other business down the street?

 

 

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