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.
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:
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?
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.
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.
Who is a company provider? A formally registered company that recruits providers best fitted for the service and trains them to their own company service standards. We find this to be the biggest misconception of professional providers. Commonly companies are thought of as agencies, simply finding and connecting individuals, end of the story. However, in essence, they recruit, train, assist, mentor and monitor suppliers and their performance. Thus, you hired a company that specializes in what you need. When you hire a mechanic or vet, you hire for their expertise, and not how well you know them.
If you want to do minimum admin, and easily hire the most capable people, and let them guide you through the service experience by providing assistance required along the way, then using a company is for you.
NB: Disclosure, not all companies are the same, and not all companies act as such. Some might be registered but simply connect suppliers and clients as a pure agency, some might only have one person working or some might not provide or act in anyway of the benefits that using a company offers. There are good, or bad companies, like any service.
The advantages of using a company:
Easily find and use a provider.
You have a formal contractual service agreement with the company.
The provider is trustworthy with a great track record of happy clients.
The provider is less subjective to availability.
They are reasonably priced due to volume services.
They take care of any admin, service issues, or assistance you might need.
By far the most important factor between choosing a company or individual is accountability or ownership of service. The pet services industry is not regulated for quality standards. Meaning, that if a personal provider provides bad services, not much happens. The client simply uses someone else, and they move on to another client. The client might be extremely upset, but won't launch a campaign against someone. This could create complacency for an individual, as a lack of owning the service usually results in sub-par standards or doing the minimum needed. This creates a cycle in which in a lot of cases create a very negative image in the industry for those that do amazing work.
A company is accountable for its actions and service quality standards, and is only as good as its current and last services. Every service has to be great, and if not, they have to rectify the situation for good service recovery. If not, then obviously a customer will complain, review negatively, create negative WOM, or share social media content accordingly.
In addition to accountability, a company has a learning capacity. They can constantly learn to improve services to various client needs, whereas an individual's benefits get lost if they are not available, or decide not to strive for personal service improvement.
There are many private companies out there. What makes using a pet services provider any different from another? How will you know if they are good? Well, professional pet services are extremely personal, based on trust, carry a lot of risk, and is based on personal direct relationships with clients. Accordingly, any positive review or merit is the culmination of a long customer process and the result of successfully providing the service in its entirety. Conversely, any negative review represents a bad customer experience that was not recoverable through good service.
What do we do?
We provide nothing but the best in professional pet services. (Period)
What makes us different? Well, we provide:
Convenient Booking: Easily check availability and book via a WhatsApp message to our business account.
Availability: We offer greater availability (especially las minute bookings) due to our team capacity.
Accessibility: We're available 24/7 for any request through our after-hour line.
The Best and Personalised Providers: We provide instant access to the best suppliers and assign providers based on your needs (ex. big, anxious, or medical needs dogs) and booking type (ex. farm with multiple animals requires more work than a flat).
Service Guarantee and Backup: We monitor all services daily to ensure all was performed, and if not, liaise with suppliers so they do. We provide backup to our sitters in case of emergency to eliminate any cancellations.
Once-off Registration: Only register and orient us around your home once, for future events we just update the needed info. If a different provider is needed for future bookings or certain dates we orientate them for you.
Trustworthiness: You can trust us due to our long history of delighted clients.
Competence: We train our suppliers to perform at our standards, provide mentorship, assistance, and perform service or random checks. We have extensive experience with all types of dogs, big, small, and difficult ex. bad temperament.
Booking and Crisis Management: Rest assured, we manage any booking request or unexpected event that could occur ex. a vet trip. Any request you sent to us, we communicate to the supplier and make sure it's completed.
Home Management: We take care of your ENTIRE home and can feed other animals ex. fish, water plants, switch on pool pumps etc. and we look after your home like our own.
Best Price: We provide the best service for a fair price.
In sum, we provide the best services possible to match your personalised pet services needs. If having the best service one message away is something you need, then we are the right solution for you. We always strive to provide the best services, and constantly update our service practices to match your needs and assist our Laika's in the best way possible. As a result, we are more than equipped to assist almost any type of client or any special booking. For more info, see the next article to be published soon.