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Company vs Individual Service Providers

Who should you use?


Are you new to using a pet service provider like a dog sitter or walker? As mentioned in the previous article, the majority of people either use an individual provider like a friend, colleague, or neighbour, or a professional company that uses trained individuals. Whatever option you choose is based on your needs and preferences, and both options could be viable solutions for your needs. The aim of this article is to enhance your insight into the differences between the two so you can make a more informed decision.

Individual Provider




Individual Providers


Who is an individual provider? Someone you recruit yourself to take care of your dogs normally on an informal agreement basis. You know a friend that lives near you and you ask them to take care of your loved ones for a specific time basis like a week, when you are on holiday.


When making use of such a person you should note the nature of your decision in terms of the following:


Contractual Obligation


You are contracting someone on an informal basis agreement, meaning you have no official agreement stipulating your requirements to them and generally only a verbal agreement. Your trust in them represents the faith of the agreement. If you know this person well, giving this person access to your home is an easy decision, but if you do not, you could be exposing yourself to a risky situation. How do you know someone well enough to trust them without knowing them?


Service Abilities


Are you selecting this person for their ability to look after your dogs in a way that they will have an amazing holiday? Will they pay attention to your personal requirements, and give enough TLC, love and attention? Or are you selecting them for their trustworthiness? We find that most of the time people choose the latter, which creates unhappiness for a client if their service needs are not met. If you are close to the individual and they make mistakes, its often hard for the client to address issues, or they ignore it.


Price and Ability


It's common for individuals to charge you the amount they think their time is worth. Focus on time, not necessary skills. We often find that even though an individual might charge a high price, that does not guarantee a happy client experience. Often individuals over-price their capabilities. Think of a teacher. Even though the services share similarities, they are different. At work, the teacher has to please students, and finish curriculums, but dealing with unwilling dogs, safety proofing homes and demanding clients might not be her forte. Also, if she is new to pet services, she might overcharge for her services.


The price individuals charge represents various factors like what they think they are worth from past services, their level of experience with animals, what other clients were willing to pay for them before, the relationship with previous clients (ex. your friend or boss), and the costs they need to charge to make it worthwhile.


The price you value also depends on a variety of factors such how much you value the specific person or think they should receive (ex. friend), their level of experience with animals, level of customer service, their responsiveness to your communication, their trustworthiness and what your quality expectation is for what they charge.


Thus, the supplier's price and your expected price does not always match. More so, the actual service delivery of the supplier might not represent what you paid for. There's also the issue of bias as individual sitters most likely have regular clients with a set standard for quality, which yours might exceed. Also, a lot of private sitters will require some sort of deposit you might lose when cancelling. At the extreme, we've encountered events from unhappy clients where sitters took the capital and didn't even show up.


Availability


When hiring an individual, you are indeed hiring a person. Read that again. Again! By using only one regular person, you are subject to their availability in terms of bookings and performance. When you need to travel for urgent or unforeseen reasons, they might not be available for those dates, or only parts of the booking. Critically, they are the only one that can perform the service. Thus, if you are planning an international holiday to Disneyland or Hawaii with the family of 4 kids, the last thing you want to hear when you land is that your sitter cannot help you anymore. They are sick, they can't cope with the dogs, an unforeseen family event occurred, a car broke down, all issues we've seen before. What do you do then? (cringe).


Admin and Risk


Every time you hire someone new for services, you have to restart the recruitment process again of finding a sitter and vetting them yourself, starting from the zero trust point, and giving all your information to another party, potentially exposing yourself to risk. This also means explaining your home requirements to them over and over, which creates inconvenience.


What are the advantages of using an individual:

  • You can quickly find someone you prefer (ex. friend).

  • You trust them due to your relationship and feel safe leaving your home and loved ones in their hands.

  • You have control over the hiring process.

  • You directly communicate with the provider.

  • You can most likely negotiate the price.

What are the disadvantages:

  • A casual or verbal agreement.

  • Possibly overvaluing trust for service capabilities.

  • They could be overpriced.

  • You are reliant on their booking and service availability.

  • Find and screen individuals yourself

  • Re-give all your information or requirements and provide your home orientation.

  • Limited trust with new individuals.


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