What Matters in Pet-Care Industry Trends

Starting a new dog daycare business? A new dog grooming salon? Expanding into a larger dog boarding kennel facility?

Keeping up on important pet-care industry trends helps keep you up-to-date on best practices and competitive in a busy pet-care market.

Carmen Rustenbeck of IBPSA delivered a deep look at what matters in pet-care in her recent article on The State of the Pet Care Services Industry.

To themes and trends noted:

Reputation Matters

As Rustenback comments, “…technology-based marketing companies have been able to sell the consumer the idea that boarding has very negative connotations and any caring pet parent would not put their pet in a “cage” (ibid).

Facility-based pet-care businesses need to attend to the reputation not only of their facility, but other facilities as well, so that the tide of all pet-care facilities rises above the ‘ubers’ of pet-care like Rover and DogVacay.

“We started realizing that if we – who have no real experience – can do this, then pretty much anyone can”. - Aaron Hirschhorn, founder of DogVacay.
— https://www.inc.com/zoe-henry/how-the-airbnb-for-pets-became-a-70-million-dollar-business.html

Hirschhorn’s comments above provide a simple benchmark that pet-care facilities can ensure to stay competitive: a reputation for experience and professional training in pet-care facilities.

Association Matters

Advocacy, training, 3rd-party certification. Participation in pet-care associations helps ensure your business rises, and the industry as a whole rises as well. Join the International Boarding and Pet Services Association HERE and get engaged!

Education & Certification Matters

Educating yourself and your staff in ‘best practices’ of dog daycare and boarding operations helps you manage risk, increase employee satisfaction and reduces turnover - and helps you win customers-for-life.

Certifications help your employees develop themselves as industry professionals, elevating their job-satisfaction, pay, and elevating the businesses they work for. Pet care staff and facility certification will play a growing role in the pet-care industry in 2019.

Learn more about these important pet-care services trends at https://www.ibpsa.com/state-pet-care-services-industry/

New Pet-care Software Features Release!

We continue to make Gingr the most modern and feature-rich pet-care software, serving boarding, doggie daycare and grooming pet-care businesses of all sizes. We’ve hired more developers this year (all U.S.A.-based), and the results are showing! Gingr continues to lead in online pet bookings, operations management and point-of-sale for pet-care businesses.

On the heals of major features released in September 29, 2018, our feature release on Dec 1, 2018 is perhaps one of our biggest releases, hitting many important aspects and feedback from our customers. This includes meaningful user-interface upgrades, mobile card-processing features, online retail-functions, and an Employee Scheduling add-on module.

Here are some highlights:

Re-designed the Owners and Pet Details Page - we’ve re-built the owner, animal, & reservation details pages from scratch! This new interface provides powerful customization. For example, you can create a “groomer”, “receptionist” and “owner” view which will allow you to bring relevant information to the forefront for that type of employee’s work.

Re-designed View All Owners, Animals & Reservation Pages - We’ve re-built these pages as well as created a new View All Reservations page. These pages are more powerful than ever before — allowing you to filter down all of your data to find exactly what you’re looking, including custom-fields.

Re-designed Specialist (groomer, bather, trainer, driver…) Scheduling - Based on feedback that we’ve received over the years, we’ve re-designed the Specialist scheduler to make it super easy to manage complex specialist schedules.

  • The specialist scheduler is now in a calendar format (similar to the lodging calendar),

    which makes it much easier to see your specialists’ availability at a glance.

  • You can manage multiple service specialties at once (goodbye having to edit each service schedule individually!)

  • You can drag-n-drop schedules around the page.

  • You can more easily configure complex recurring schedules.

Ready to learn more? Contact our customer-consultants HERE

WOW! and there’s MORE!

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Pet-Care Staff SCHEDULER - Say goodbye to paper-calendars, google-docs and 3rd-party apps like ‘When To Work’. Gingr now has a fully integrated staff scheduling module. This can be added to any Gingr subscription-tier.

  • You can create recurring schedules for employees.

  • You can assign an employee’s shift to a “team”—this allows you to create teams like “Reception”, “Yard” and “Cleaning” and view your weekly schedule based on how you want to categorize your schedule.

  • Once a weekly schedule has been “published”, an email/sms will be sent to all employees with shifts for that week containing their schedule info.

  • Employees have their own page in Gingr where they can see their weekly schedule.

Online Customer-Portal Purchasing - we’ve added two new online purchase functions:

  • Customers can purchase retail items online for in-store pickup.

  • Customers can purchase recurring package-subscriptions and memberships.

Mobile-payments - available with our integrated card-processing, we now have a wireless hand-held mobile device to collect card swipes/dips! Our customers who are doing ‘curbside’ service are loving it! Learn more HERE

Loving it yet? Contact our customer-consultants HERE

But wait, there’s mooooooore:

Waitlist Function Upgrades - We have improved the functionality of the waitlist to allow you to better understand where your waitlisted reservations stand and if you have capacity to accept them.

New Location-Owner Rates - We’ve improved the way that Gingr handles location and owner rates to make it easier to change your prices.

Re-designed Hours of Operation Administration Page - you can now manage your hours of operation easily and without worrying about messing anything up.

Lodging Manager updates - We have improved the interface of the lodging manager page to allow you to more easily add, remove, and edit lodgings and areas from the Admin page. Now, you can bulk create lodgings and assign them to specific reservation types with ease!

Custom Icons Upgrade - We’ve upgraded Gingr to use FontAwesome Version 5. This brings almost 1,000 brand new icons that can be used in Gingr! To enable these pro/paid icons, you can purchase a license directly from Font Awesome (https://fontawesome.com/pro) for $60/year.

Full Search on Mobile - To enhance your experience in Gingr when using a mobile device, search on mobile has been changed to auto-populate results when searching for owners and pets (rather than having to click search to view your results). This will give you a more streamlined Desktop-to-Mobile experience.

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Time Clock - We have improved the time clock functionality to allow for image captures when clocking in and out on mobile devices. We have also increased performance so that you can clock in and out more quickly than before and know exactly where you’re at in the process.

New Pricing Rule - We’ve added an Animal Species pricing rule type to help you make even more complex pricing strategies for your business. Another example of Gingr’s capacities in customizing complex pricing!

Ready to learn more? Contact our customer-consultants HERE

Mobile Friendly Credit Card Terminals Have Arrived!

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A New WiFi Equipped, Mobile Ready Credit Card Terminal Has Arrived!

Gingr now supports the Ingenico iSMP4 (http://m.gingr.io/ismp4). This terminal is perfect for curbside check out, mobile groomers, and anyone who wants more mobility when collecting payments.

The price is $435 to purchase outright or $25/month to lease from CardConnect.

Features:

☑ EMV (chip card) ready
☑ Connects over WiFi
☑ Long lasting rechargeable battery
☑ Integrated 8" tablet + CC terminal case accessory (sold separately)
☑ Belt holster accessory (sold separately)
☑ Shoulder strap accessory (sold separately)

Want to order now? Awesome! Use the form embedded below to place your order.

Have any questions? We're here to help! Reach out to credit@gingrapp.com with any questions you may have.


Thanksgiving Holiday Support Hours

To allow our team to spend time with their families over the coming Thanksgiving holiday, support hours will be abbreviated as follows:

Tuesday, November 20th — Regular support hours 7am-5pm MST for Live Chat and Email

Wednesday, November 21st — Regular support hours 7am-5pm MST for Live Chat and Email

Thursday, November 22nd — No Live Chat support, Normal Email Support

Friday, November 23rd — No Live Chat support, Normal Email Support

We appreciate your understanding and wish you the best during this holiday season!

The Pet Boarding and Daycare Expo East 2018 is almost here!

The Pet Boarding and Daycare Expo in Hershey, PA is coming up! Hosted by Barkleigh Productions, this is one of the top pet care conferences and expos for dog daycare, boarding kennels and grooming businesses.

Starting with a Keynote presentation on the “Guiding Principles for Success in Today’s Pet Care Industry”, this pet care conference hosts educational sessions, networking events and a robust trade-show / expo.

The Pet Boarding and Daycare Expo East 2018 schedule is HERE

Not registered yet? Register for the 2018 East Pet Boarding Expo HERE. You can sign up for one of the inclusive Packages, or select ‘a la carte’ for any tradeshow day or educational session.

See the Exhibitor List HERE and be sure to find Gingr' at Booth #6!

Complete information about the event can be found at https://www.petboardingexpo.com/ and at

We look forward to seeing you there!

Join us at the 2018 IBPSA conference next week!

Next week we’ll be at the 2018 IBPSA pet care conference and trade show in St. Louis, MO.

The event hosts speakers and exhibitors with services to help pet care professionals manage and grow their businesses.

Conference information can be found here: https://petcareconference.com/.

The 2018 conference schedule is here: https://petcareconference.com/2018-schedule/

Our very own Andy Gale will be presenting on Using Online Technologies To Increase Revenue, Efficiency and Customer Loyalty on both Tuesday and Wednesday of the show.

Be sure to visit Gingr at booth #35 at the show!

We encourage you also to meet up with our partners also exhibiting:

Professional Animal Care Certification Council: https://paccert.org/

Broadly: https://broadly.com/partner/gingr

Forget to arrange lodging at the pet care conference venue hotel? Contact the SHERATON WESTPORT CHALET HOTEL ST. LOUIS or that’s full, the nearby Double Tree has a first-come, first-serve block for conference participants.

We look forward to seeing you there!

New Support Site

We’ve upgraded our support site to a new platform in order to better serve you, our beloved customers. Benefits include:

  • Ability to upload images via chat.

  • Chat queue status, so that you can see your position in the chat queue.

  • Clean, consistent, knowledge base articles.

  • Improved search-ability so that you can find what you're looking for!

  • Knowledge base article suggestion inside your app.

We're very excited to share this with you, and can't wait to be able to provide improved support to those who matter most — you!

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We've got you covered.

The look and feel of the support site is changing, but the stellar support that you count on is here to stay!

In the app, you’ll get a hold of us by clicking the widget in the bottom right corner:

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Direct link to the new knowledge base: https://support.gingrapp.com

The new direct email is: support@gingrapp.com

Chat times will remain the same: 7:00 am - 5:00 pm MST

Over the coming weeks, we’ll continue to improve the support site by revamping training videos and updating existing articles. Our team is dedicated to your success and we hope that you will love this new support platform as much as we do!

Growing Your Pet Care Business - What's the right amount?

Dog daycares, boarding kennels and grooming businesses need a steady stream of new customers.  Customer loss is inevitable - through no fault of yours - due to clients moving, pets aging or passing on, and new competition.

 

Additionally, your costs are constantly going up due to increases in payroll costs, increases in utilities and ongoing maintenance of your facility.

 

Customers are sensitive to any significant price increases, so the best way to ensure the long-term health of your dog daycare, boarding kennel or grooming business is to ensure that you have a steady stream of new customers coming in to buy your services.

 

Competition is increasing

As Laura Laaman of Outstanding PetCare notes, "you are (likely) not appreciating how much your market is being attacked" (Source)

Laaman continues in her article in Pet Boarding and Daycare Magazine:

..." pet parents have an abundance of choices. With the advent of such services as Rover.com and Wagwalking.com, pet care is only a few clicks away. Additionally, large chains, as well as the pet parent’s family and friends, are silently stealing your prospective and existing clients."

 

Leverage your inherent competitive advantages as a facility-based pet-care provider. Provide what no 'for hire' pet-walking apps like 'Wag' can provide (great, professional onsite care), while embracing the use of modern technology and industry innovations that will further enhance the value of your services.

 

 

use contemporary tools to support your growth and stability

Ensure you are gaining and retaining new customers steadily by providing them with a 21st-century service experience that today's customers expect. Use modern operational and marketing tools to ensure today's pet-owners (many of whom are very tech-oriented) find it easy to do business with you.

This includes:

  • great online experiences like online self-registration,
  • easy online booking,
  • photo and video sharing,
  • regular marketing outreach,
  • additional value-added services (web-cams, educational materials) and experiences to retain your new customers.

Gingr software, for example, provides all of the above features and integrations to help you gain and retain customers, so that you stay ahead of any inevitable losses.

Learn How Modern Software Can Help in this 3-Minute Video

online Reputation is King

Ensure your online reputation is positive and current:

  • ensure your business information is accurately represented on key business listing sites, maps, etc.
  • ensure your online reputation is always at its best, with current positive reviews on Yelp, Facebook and Google.

 

Here are some resources on how to get reviews:

Get Positive Pet Care Reviews on Google

Automate Positive Review Generation and Online Listings with Broadly

Learn How to Get Reviews on Facebook

 

Want to learn more about how Gingr can help you grow and sustain your business?  Contact a Customer Consultant here.

 

 

Flooring for Pet Care, Dog Daycare and Boarding Businesses

Like the software you choose for your dog daycare, grooming or boarding facility, flooring is where you really want to put your best foot (or paw) forward. Great pet care software streamlines your operations - great flooring is the foundation to streamlining likely the biggest maintenance aspect of your business.

We caught IBPSA's recent article on flooring for pet care facilities this month, and want to share some of the great information shared there by Jeff Adney of PermaTek coatings.

(Andy's little known fact: he sold commercial flooring in a previous job).

Primary considerations for the right flooring solution include:

1. Cleanliness and disease-control,

2. Aesthetics

3. Minimizing maintenance periods,

4. Safety, including slip-resistance,

5. Life-time costs (installation plus maintenance).

 

Types of Flooring for Pet Care

There are several floor-finishes suitable for dog daycare, boarding and grooming businesses:

1. Sealed Concrete - low upfront cost, opportunity for DIY

2. Polished Concrete - perceived low-maintenance often a misnomer

3. Resinous coatings - can provide a seamless, non-porous finish, up the wall cove as well

4. Seamless rubber coatings - provide benefits to staff and pets, including noise reduction, impact reduction, slip resistance and ease of maintenance

5. Artificial grass  - popular for daycare and play-areas, these products will require proper sub-floor preparation and adequate ventilation

 

Disease-control, aesthetics, ongoing maintenance, safety and comfort are all important considerations when selecting flooring solutions for your pet care facility. Of course, cost is important as well, especially on-going maintenance costs.  Be sure to consult with several commercial flooring professionals when selecting your pet business' flooring products.

 

Some resources:

Commercial Flooring Contractors Association

Permatek Coatings

Abacus Sports Flooring

K9 Grass

 

We hope this helps, and let us know what kind of flooring you select!  - Andy

 

 

 

 

 

 

This Edition of Pet-Travel: Trains

Many dog daycare, boarding kennels and dog trainers and other pet care services provide transportation for their customers' pets. Most of this is over relatively short distances via van.  Yet it turns out some are transporting pets over long distances. Many use airlines to 'transport' or 'ship' the pets to and from the facility, particularly for 'elite' dog training services.

Yet, there are many risks and discomforts for pets with air travel, and many airlines are 'tightening up their policies for flying with pets' (see author and blog below).

Fortunately, there are alternatives, including the network of train-travel services. 

As MillionMileSecrets writes:  "Traveling by train can be much safer than flying.  That’s because air travel can put your pet at risk due to changes in air quality, air circulation, temperature, cabin pressure, and other environmental issues that could be harmful to your pet’s health!" (see blog link below).

Train travel - even for short distances - may also be preferable. Many public-transit trains allow pets to travel aboard, including the Bay Area Rapid Transit (BART) trains and many light-rail services across the country. Generally, expect that small dogs are allowed, if they are carried in containers. Larger dogs may only be allowed on light-rails if they are service animals, for example: https://www.soundtransit.org/Rider-Guide/getting-started/rules-riding

You can learn more about what train services allow dogs to travel, and what their requirements are in this very informative blog:  https://millionmilesecrets.com/guides/traveling-with-pets-on-trains/

Whether you are transporting pets across long-distances, or just across town, take a look at how trains can help.

Additionally, much of this information may be helpful to your customers for use in private travel. Consider sharing Million Miles' blog link with your customers!

Happy travels! - Andy

Pet care businesses may benefit from artists' collaboration

We've posted information about pet-art here previously.  Among the many pet-care services growing today, pet-art and specifically custom dog-art and portraits are in growing demand. Many pet lovers and owners tend to be art lovers as well. Who doesn't want a custom portrait of their 'fur-baby' on the wall or on a coffee mug?

Check out this recent article in the Denver Post about Denver-area artist's booming businesses doing dog-related art:

https://www.denverpost.com/2018/07/11/denver-area-artists-pet-paintings/

Pet art can be on on print, canvas and other mediums, and provides an opportunity for you to build your business' branding and income.

Dog daycares, boarding kennels and grooming services can find cooperative business opportunities with local (or global) artists. Perhaps there's an opportunity for you to help build your pet-care business:

1. Consider 'hosting' pet-art in your business and collect a commission on the sale of any art. Consider working with an artist (local or otherwise) to promote custom and other art.

2. Team up with a local artist to do onsite portraits of your customer's pets. Collect either rent or a per-piece commission.

3. Hire an artist to develop custom art for your facility and for resale.

 

Additionally, you might consider some of these artists' work to adorn your business' walls. Find an artist online that produces work that is similar to the branding and styles that you and your customers will resonate with.

For art's sake....

 

Independence Day Support Hours

In observance of Independence Day, Gingr's support team will have the following availability:

  • Tuesday July 3 2018 - Chat Support 8AM-1PM Mountain, Normal Email Support Hours
  • Wednesday July 4 2018 - No chat support, Normal Email Support Hours
  • Thursday July 5 2018 - Normal Chat & Email Support Hours

Introducing 2-Way Texting

We're excited to announce the introduction of a highly requested feature in Gingr–2 way texting! 

Now your customers can reply to text messages sent from Gingr and you can respond with a custom SMS. Select any customer at any time to send them a custom text message. Incoming texts are visible from anywhere in the app, and you can type up a custom response to send immediately. Customer communications have never been more efficient!

We plan on making this feature available to all customers (in the US and Canada) on July 18, 2018. 

A handful of beta testers will start using the feature on June 25, 2018. (Thanks to all who volunteered! We've never gotten so many volunteers for beta testing so quickly!)

Aussies & Kiwis: If you're interested, it is possible to use this feature however pricing is much more expensive for texts within your home countries. Just as a guide, AU would be ~$0.07 per SMS and NZ would be ~$0.15 per SMS.

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FEATURES

  • Receive SMS from your customers
  • Custom replies to SMS
  • Send SMS to any phone number you'd like
  • User notification when incoming SMS is delivered
  • User permission for who is allowed to send custom SMS
  • Get your own phone number for Gingr in your area code
  • Dedicated SMS log

PRICING

  • $50/location/year (if you already have a custom phone number for texts in Gingr, then you won't be charged again)
  • $0.02/SMS received
  • $0.00/SMS sent

How Online Reservations Can Save Your Summer

For most dog boarding and kennel businesses, summer is peak season. This is the time to maximize your revenue - without maximizing your time on the phone or email or duplicating data entry. 

Don't let summer own you and your staff!  Integrated online reservation management will save you time, help ensure you remain at full capacity, increase your income and cash-flow, and help you get back to some barbecuing or time on the beach.

Gingr customers see up to 90% (some even do 100%) of their reservation inquiries and requests for boarding reservations happen online, saving them HOURS PER DAY of staff time.

Many pet-care software programs tout online booking functions, though all are clearly not equal.  Here are things to look for:

1. High level of branding-customization. Several cloud-based pet-care software programs will support online reservations, but the branding is centered around the software provider, not the business.  We think that's wrong. We want to support your relationship with your customers!

Does the customer experience enhance your brand-relationship?  Your online portal should at the minimum support your logo and branding, and enable you to further brand with your own css and java-scripts.  See a couple examples here:

   Bed Bath and Bonz   and with some custom scripts:  Disco Paws

2. High level of customization of forms and settings to make it seamless and easy for your customers to enter data you need. The trick here is to encourage your customers to enter as much information about themselves and their pets as you need, without creating 'barriers' to successful self-registration and reservation requests.

A couple of our competitors have some visually-appealing customer portals (aside from the branding aspect above), but it turns out their online forms and reservations leave a lot to be desired in terms of flow and ease of successful completion of reservation-requests.

For example, Gingr allows specific fields on the owner and animal forms to be required for specific reservation types (say, boarding as opposed to daycare). If a customer requests a particular reservation type (i.e, "Boarding") and has not filled out some required information, the system will bring up the form that needs to be completed, without navigating away from the booking page.

In contrast, one software program, in allowing customer to view or interact with the reservation form, they are first prompted to go fill out additional information. Once they fill in that information, they are not redirected back to the booking page, but have to navigate back to it themselves. (Software company) has no way of specifying that particular fields are required for particular reservation types. There are only blanket requirements.  This leads to confusion and is a barrier to successful completion of the reservation-request, often leading to a phone call. It seems small, but can really add up in impact on your staff.

3. Up-selling Add-on Services.    One of the great benefits of online reservation systems can be the 'pre-sale' of add-on services.  In fact, Gingr's online reservations with add-on services amount to an average $24 increase in the reservation value (and that includes single-day daycare reservations!).  This is a great way to boost your income.

4. Is it mobile-friendly?  We noticed one software customers' online reservation page has to warn people that their portal is not mobile friendly.  Ouch! 70% of online activity is from a mobile phone. Gingr is designed from the start to be mobile friendly. Make it easy for your customers to engage with you online!

 

 

The trick though is to make those add-on service options very clear to your customers, especially with respect to frequency.  Do they really want you to play fetch with their dog every day, including the day of drop-off and pick-up?  Get it wrong, and you either over-deliver and have an upset customer paying too much, or you undersell and miss out on income.

Gingr allows the customer to select from many frequencies, such as "every day," "every other day," etc., while other software online reservation systems provide no ability to select frequency of additional services.

 

Online reservation and pet-care software can streamline your operations, saving you time, money and boosting cash-flow.  As you can see, 'it's all in the details', so ensure you find the right solution to help ensure your success in getting your summers back!

Want to learn more? Reach out to schedule a quick chat and get setup with a free demo HERE

 

 

 

Financial Project Underway

We are thrilled to announce that we have partnered with a development firm to complete our financial project, which will include development for all of the most popular financially related feature requests we’ve received over the past few years.

As we work concurrently toward the release of other innovative features, this project, already underway, will deliver features like invoices, split-payments, online payments, gift cards, improved reporting, and streamlined QuickBooks Online integration.

Overall, this project represents the biggest and, for many, the most positively impactful change ever made to the Gingr application.

In order to ensure feature quality and the integrity of your past records, the project will be executed in three phases, which are roughly outlined below.

Phase 1 (delivery expected early Q3):

  • Move from a receipt-based model to an invoicing model
    • Simplifies revenue reporting, eliminating hard to identify owner balances
  • Collect multiple payments on a single invoice
    • Easily split payments on invoices between payment methods
  • Replace owner account balances with store credit (and unpaid invoices)
    • This helps simplify revenue reporting

Phase 2 (delivery expected late Q3):

  • Account codes assignable to reservation types and services
    • Allows you to group reservation and service types together on the revenue report, to view totals for each of your revenue streams (i.e. Boarding revenue vs. Daycare revenue)
  • QuickBooks Integration
    • Automatically sync transaction data with QuickBooks Online in real-time

Phase 3 (delivery expected mid Q4):

  • Gift Cards
    • Sell physical gift cards from your facility
  • Loyalty Program
    • Offer a point based rewards program to your customers

As always, we intend for new features to have little to no impact on how you currently use the application, excepting however you choose to implement the new features. If you don’t need these features, you will be able to carry on using the application as you do today.

Please be assured that, if you have submitted related feature requests, in any form, they have been considered and will likely influence the final iterations of the new features. Please feel free to continue submitting feature requests to our Support team, and they will be considered as we move forward in this project.

We greatly appreciate your patience, understanding, and loyalty as we have diligently worked to get all of our ducks in a row to once again deliver industry-leading functionality.

We are very excited to be underway with this project. Further updates will be forthcoming as we near the completion of each phase.

All the best,

The Gingr Team

Memorial Day Support Hours

In observance of Memorial Day, Gingr's support team will have the following availability:

  • Friday, May 25 2018 - Chat Support 8AM-1PM Mountain, Normal Email Support Hours
  • Saturday May 26 2018 - Normal Weekend Email Support Hours
  • Sunday May 27 2018 - Normal Weekend Email Support Hours
  • Monday May 28 2018 - No chat support, Normal Email Support Hours
  • Tuesday May 29 2018 - Normal Chat & Email Support Hours


We'll be training a new member of Gingr's support team starting Tuesday! Keep an eye out for increased chat support availability and even lower wait times for ticket responses.

 

Enjoy the holiday weekend!

-Lee & The Gingr Team

Estimating Profit for your Dog Daycare or Boarding Business Plan

Estimating Profit for your Dog Daycare or Boarding Business Plan

Download our FREE profit/loss simulator spreadsheet from this article!

Let's meet at the Pet Boarding and Daycare Expo West in Burbank!

Every year, hundreds of dog boarding and daycare business owners and professionals meet up in Burbank, CA for the Pet Boarding and Daycare Expo (West). Check out the schedule of events below!

The conference begins on April 30th, with the expo on May 2nd and 3rd.

Here's the Pet Boarding and Daycare Expo West schedule: https://www.petboardingexpowest.com/schedule/

Find out more here: https://www.petboardingexpowest.com/

We hope to see you there!

Evaluating online booking software for your dog daycare, boarding and grooming business

Evaluating online booking software for your dog daycare, boarding and grooming business

Learn about online booking, reservation and appointment software programs for dog daycare, boarding kennels and grooming services.

4 Benefits - and Dangers - of using Free Kennel Management Software

This pet care blog article looks at the benefits and risks of using free kennel management and doggie daycare software and other free or low-priced doggie daycare dashboard - type software.

If you are using pen & paper, white-boards and google docs (let's call these '20th century fixes') to run your pet care business, switching to any online pet care software is likely a good thing for your business. And, if it's free, why not?  After all, the pen & paper system is free, right?

The Opportunity Cost of 20th Century Fixes

First, let's look at whether pen & paper systems are really free.  The fact is, there are opportunity costs  of using older, outdated technology.  Any 20th century fix requires significant staff time, is prone to errors (whether overbooking or under-booking) and other issues that cost you operating money, and limit your cash-flow. We know, that's why we created Gingr - one of our co-founders ran a busy doggie daycare using 20th Century fixes!

Typically, these 'systems' are, at their best, run by one-person who knows how the system 'works'.  As soon as you enter multiple players and increased business activity, things start to fall apart. Simply, as your pet-care business gross, the 20th Century 'fix' is not scaleable.  Your costs increase as fast as your business does.

The Benefits of Pet Care Boarding and Daycare Software

The benefits of pet-care software are many:

  1. Improve accuracy (pet info', client info', reservation data, financial reporting)
  2. Save staff time on the phone and email (with integrated online booking and customer portal) -  this can translate to $100s even $1,000s in savings per month.
  3. Improve customer service (most customers want to be able to engage online, and software will speed up transactions, saving your customers' time).
  4. Increase cash-flow (avoid lost revenue by automating fee calculations, track amounts due, automate payments increase tip-collection)
  5. Make marketing easy
  6. Automate online reputation management
  7. and many more.....

When the Software Is Free or Low Priced

Free or low-value software can often be a great choice for small pet care businesses seeing less than 20-25 pets per day, especially if you are coming from '20th Century fixes'.  Your income is lower, so you want to spend as little as possible on operations. That's good intuition, but often comes at a cost (remember opportunity cost - you might be missing out on important money-saving features).  You haven't risked much in going to free software, so no big deal if it doesn't work for you, right?  Also, you can always switch to a higher-value service as your business grows.

That said, you want to know what you are missing if you stick with the free or low-value product.  I almost always go budget on car rentals, but I know what I'm missing with the luxury rentals - space, comfort and style - and I know when I need to rent a higher value car.

Software is similar. A higher value software service will give you more money-saving functions, streamlines operations further, increase cash-flow and impress upon your customers that you don't skimp on the essentials. This becomes more important as your business grows (if you want it to grow).  An extra dollar a day towards higher value software can go a long way in terms of ease-of-use, time-saving features, support, and the knowledge you are using the best product available.

The Dangers of Free Software

Free, unfortunately, normally means you are missing out on something, or giving something up.

In pet-care software, 'free' can mean any or all of the following:

  1. Limited use of the software, either in # of records or # of users.
  2. Poor performance in availability. Cloud-based software requires a lot of back-end technology in storage and redundancy. This costs money. Much of a software subscription goes towards maintaining security and backup systems to help ensure a high level of software availability . Gingr, for example, delivers a target of 99.96% uptime (and outperforms this every year).  How does the free service compare? When your software is down, it's not free - it's costing you money.
  3. Lack of features and/or lack of granularity and customization of features - the software may 'have the feature', but it's limited in scope and customization.
  4. Limited support services - the company lacks the funds to provide quality support.
  5. Limited development - the company lacks the funds or knowledge to support continued development.
  6. Limited customer-base - the company lacks industry knowledge generated from its customers and fails to develop as the industry evolves.
  7. Higher costs as your customer grows in # of records or users, or higher hidden costs for SMS services, credit card processing rates or critical 'modules'. READ THE FINE PRINT!

Moving Forward

Risks and dangers aside, free pet care software may be a good fit for you to get started with, especially if you are a very small business. The important thing is to know what you are missing, so you can make an educated decision, and be aware of when you might want to switch from 'free' to higher value software service.

A few questions you can ask:

  1. What is your availability and uptime?
  2. What is your security?
  3. What are your hidden costs?
  4. What are your on-boarding and support services?
  5. When I want to leave, can I export and/or backup my data, and what format will that be in?

Free software can be a starter, and you can always upgrade to a more robust, higher-value product as your business grows.

Here's to your success!