Is GPS Tracking a Smart Idea for Pet Sitters to Use?
As you know, pet owners have many options when choosing a pet sitter in their area to serve them.
Our job then becomes to create a professional first impression through our website and hope that they make contact.
From there, you will have to continue to dialogue and differentiate yourself to become the clear and only choice.
Some pet sitters like to offer GPS tracking to their mix to give the pet parents an extra sense of security and control.
However, at times the concept is not all its cracked up to be.
Ahh, GPS tracking. Why do you taunt me so much?
On one hand, it sounds like the perfect feature to offer potential clients to help ease any fears about the job she has hired you for.
You can boast with pride that you have and use a GPS tracker, which will give her peace of mind of the exact time and location you walked her pooch.
On the other hand, it might cause you more headaches than it’s worth. How?
Well, the tracking device may not operate as perfectly as you’d hope. Or it may give the potential client too much info to nit pick over and make your work that much more difficult.
2 Emails, 1 Day
Funny enough, I received completely separate emails from two pet sitters on the same day asking me advice about using a GPS tracker.
One pet sitter wrote:
Quick questions, hope you can help, I was using Pet Check Technology to GPS track in real time where we walk our dogs whereas clients can see that, when we arrive, departure, and I had full control. Problem is, system does not work well with Android devices and the owner doesn’t want to work with me.
Do you have a reliable service or system you recommend to do the above functions while putting my customers at ease? This is second time in 3 months I am changing providers. How do you explain “change” to customers?
The other pet sitter wrote:
I wanted to ask you a question – what do you know about Pet Check Technology? I had stumbled upon their service/software/website a while back and I just checked out some of their demo videos.
I was originally looking for an app/service to track our walkers via GPS while they’re working (just to ensure we know where our walkers are and as a safety net).
We had tried Veriwalk in 2013 but the app was awfully buggy and the developers refused to provide support. Anyways I’m just curious and figured I’d see if you know anything about Pet Check. Thanks!
What are the odds, I thought, that I get two emails separately nearly identical in nature?
I’ve heard pros and cons from both sides of the coin with using a GPS tracking device for your pet clients.
I’d love to hear from you!
Have you used a GPS tracking before? How did it work out?
If not, what are you reasons for specifically staying away from it?
Do you think it helps or hurts business?
Update From Pet Check:
When Pet Check was created in 2010 by an industry veteran of over 12 years our goal was simple: To bring the dog walking industry into the 21st century and to provide a great experience to all users. Pet Check manages everything for a dog walking company from scheduling to credit card processing, and everything in between. Pet owners get the accountability they demand and deserve for their pets that they were never able to get prior to Pet Check.
Our iPhone app was the first to launch and at the same time we released a beta version of Android. New and amazing full versions of both platforms have been out since late 2014 and are performing great for all of our users across 42 states and counting.
We believe that GPS provides the minimum level of accountability that pet owners demand and deserve for their pets. Pet owners want to know “where did you take my dog?” and “how long did you walk my dog?” and our GPS tracking answers these questions. GPS accountability is the basic performance metric of the services dog walking companies provide and being open and accountable to this data is something pet owners are demanding. Sure, there is trust. But it only takes one bad experience for a pet owner to lose that trust.
Pet check is much more than just GPS. It manages every aspect of a dog walking company and provides pet owners with the peace of mind they demand for their loved ones. Dog walking companies operate more efficiently, saving time and money, and also grow their customer base because they have this great market differentiator. Pet owners get real-time emails when their dog is picked up and dropped off, along with walk notes, maps and photos. They can manage their schedules and make online payments. Pet industry spending is at an all-time high because of the way pet owners view and love their dogs and Pet Check has been at the forefront of keeping up with that demand.
The websites referenced in the questions are Pet Check Technology and Veriwalk
photo credit: William Hook via photopin cc
Although I have heard of services like these, I decided to stay away from them. I feel if you need a “tracking” service, it puts little trust in your sitters. I think simply checking in at the end of the day by confirming your visits in a pet sitting software is good enough. Once you add GPS to your business I think that it says to potential clients, “Hey! we have GPS but more for our sitters to track them, rather than for you to track us?” Which also brings up the question, does it put faith in you from your clients prospective of trusting you with their pets. It could back fire and arise questions from the client as why were you not there at this time like you said, or how come you went this way or that way when I told you not to, and so on. Sometimes leaving well enough alone and going the old fashion way works better, at least in my opinion. Its a great feature, but along with that can bring headaches.
GPS tracking is a necessity. I recently tested a check in/check out GPS system and was surprised that some of my best sitters were shorting the clients by as much as 6 minutes on a 30 minute visit….and doing so routinely, knowing that they were logging it in to the system! This is one reason I’m going to employees, so I can implement this system and “counsel” sitters on what 30 minutes means. In a world with cameras, alarms and nosey neighbors, GPS tracking keeps everyone honest and accountable. We need to CYA and make sure our stellar reputations are not tarnished.
Thanks for your post. I enjoyed reading it and we implemented a system (Veriwalk) last spring as a trial. I loved the concept but the service/app was more trouble than it was worth. I was pleasantly surprised my dog walkers did great about timing and fulfilling the requested walk length. If ever a walk was cut short, it was communicated to me (weather or other reasons, and the remainder of time was spent indoors).
I still would like to use a tracking service but only if the software is ready and not filled with issues. What service are you using? Thanks.
The foundation of pet sitting is built on trust. The client needs to trust us with their pets, pet services and home. We need to trust that the client is going to pay us and be a responsible pet owner and we need to trust our employees and IC’s. My people know that I am not afraid to call them out if I see or hear of a problem. I have complete trust in them until they give me reason not to.
I’ve been using Pet Check Technology for about 9 months now so I thought i would share my experience.
My business has grown a lot but I am not 100% sure if it’s because of natural growth or Pet Check. The app can be buggy at times and frustrating. The owner knows of these problems and is working on a fix but it is very slow in solving the issues. They updated their user experience back in June and I was told I would be upgraded to the 2.0 system soon. In November, I expressed my dissatisfaction in having to wait this long and he told me it would be 2-3 weeks. Well, it’s January and still not update.
My clients really do love the alerts and gives them a peace of mind. I have not had 1 client nip pick about anything so I have no issues there. I also have employees and this gives me a HUGE peace of mind in knowing my employees actually did the pet sit and were there for the required time.
Overall, I love the GPS tracking but wish the quality of the service was better. Overtime, I’m sure everything will improve as this is still a relatively new pitch.
It’s not always a question of trust. For example, one of my most trusted sitters “spaced” an appointment. I texted and called her and could not reach her. By the time she did realize her error and go to the client’s home to do the pet sit (cats), it was about 10 hours later. The client was home. Since this is a sitter who I could not imagine missing a visit, I did not run across town to do the pet sit. I assumed she did it and just forgot to text the client and me. If I had the check in GPS system in place, I would have done the pet sit. As for the trust part….building trust takes time. I may not have all sitters use a system like this, but definitely for new sitters.
I use a GPS check in/out to verify sitter completions, but I would not want to use a system that routinely shares the info with the pet owner. It is for my use only, or in the event there is a dispute.
Brutus: Yes. I agree. However, in the 21 years in business, I’ve never experienced a dispute such as tracking, but I can imagine this quite beneficial with some clients. But to send the information to the client – no. Too many misunderstandings, incomplete info, never received, etc.
On a side note, a prospective client asked me not long ago, why don’t I have a form for receiving/turning in keys. On the surface it’s a good idea. In my case, no. Over the years, a small handful of client’s have called because they locked themselves out and needed the keys – pronto. No doubt, w/the system he suggested, a release form might be overlooked &, yet, the client has the form that states I’ve received keys. Accusations of losing the keys will arise. In those case, I don’t get the keys back until my services are needed, once more
We all operate as we see fit at the moment. That’s one of the advantages of operating in this field.
I agree with this comment. I/we mainly want it for internal/business purposed. You said it best and those are my exactly feelings.
The feature is great but should allow the business owner to turn it on and off for sitters and clients as needed.
As a client I would be extremely annoyed to get constant messages on check in and check out, everyday, and every time I use this services (even if it’s been years and I trust them).
My God, if I need a sitter I’m probably busy and don’t need another set of texts or emails in my phone!
GPS tracking for your pet sitter is definitely a novelty item and catchy marketing gimmick, but in real life it can be a problem for so many reasons.
Hi Josh! Great subject and I must say that I have seen advantages to using a GPS system, but our business offers pet fitness; walks and runs. I started nearly 5 years ago and offered GPS tracking for runs and walks, but not pet visits. It is possible to use the app for that though.
In 2009, the tracking was a selling point and DID build the trust needed when establishing a new business. It still is a selling point, but not as unique an offering as it was 5 years ago. The importance of using the GPS system for us and our clients is tracking the pet’s fitness. The best thing about it..it’s free! It’s called RunKeeper and is available for Iphones and Androids. There are plenty of other free apps available as well. Just do a fitness app search.
We have a custom question on our client registration form: “Would you like to receive activity reports for run/walk sessions?”
The other advantage of GPS is the map! Walking a new neighborhood? The app will help you navigate new walking routes. This app also has audio cues. We have ours set to cue every 5 minutes so that also helps us keep track of time.
Pet pro advantage…you track your own fitness too!
I know these apps are not designed for check-in/check-out accountability, but I see the ability to use it for that. If you do a lot of dog walks, it’s definitely a great, inexpensive piece of technology.
Hope this helps for those that can use it!
I was considering it for my clients and independent contractors and when I talked to my clients and got opinions on Facebook EVERYONE said no- they trust us and don’t feel it’s necessary. So I have now left it alone. Now we do offer jogging which I do myself and like the other person on here said I use runkeeper
It’s free and I keep track of if we are improving. But it also helps me track my time w the clients dog.
Just came across this discussion and wanted to share about PetCloud. At PetCloud we heard both sides of
the argument and determined that this was an individual choice for each
business. One of our core tenets is flexibility and choice and we are
constantly working towards building a system that can accommodate
different paths. PetCloud allows
you to turn on GPS tracking individually for both staff and customers.
For instance if you do not generally do GPS tracking but hired a new
walker you can turn on the GPS tracking for the new dog walker. If you
want to track the staff but not share the reports with the customers
that’s also doable. Just turn off the ability for a single customer or
all customers to view the GPS reports.
This flexibility allows you to offer the GPS tracking by
default, separate chargeable service or only for internal use. You can
make the changes anytime you want. You are in total control.