Back in 2011 I knew in order for my business to function (grow/stay alive) I would need a “customer management system” (aka CMS). In my hunt, I learnt that other businesses spent an incredible amount of $$ to have their own CMS developed specifically for their business. As I was a micro-business (smaller than a small business) with limited funds I needed a solution that was already developed. Unfortunately, at the time, all the solutions that I knew about where developed for the US Pet Sitter market. Except for one which was cost prohibitive as it’s costs were based upon the British Pound. The conversion of Pounds to Aussie Dollars was not what I was seeking (cost-wise) even thought the software itself looked good.
Finally, one of the software developers I approached were willing to look at making customisations and working “with” me to help develop something more suited to the Australian market. That was Leashtime. Recently (2012), I’ve been recently informed by another pet sitter (and network member) of another solution called Pet Sit Click. I will allow you, the professional pet carer, make the decision on which solution is best suited to your needs.
Personally, I’ve been using Leashtime now (at the time of this post) for a year and it’s been nothing short of wonderful. Yes, it isn’t perfect however I would now be lost without it and the monthly cost I’m happy to pay. As I’m a member of APSE, I do receive a discounted rate.
Without further fanfare this is the email that I used to share with people on my review of Leashtime !
In reply to one sitter’s email about my experiences with Leashtime I mentioned the following:
Just an updated note – I’m now using a VA (Virtual Assistant) to help with administration side of the business. Due to this I was able to create a special “dispatcher” role for her in the system. I’m still “master admin” of the system (her role has most abilities that I have however not all of it). I’m finding this extremely helpful as it also allows Maria (my VA) to log calls she has made to clients and vice versa.
I seriously adore this system. It works brilliantly esp. considering I use other people … and I’m finding it great to organise myself too.
As for changing over from paper contracts to Leashtime… it did take a little time and $$$ however has been well worth it (and REALLY helped me define how many clients I really have – which ones are really interested in using us and so forth). I’m now in the process (using Maria) of doing my annual database update.
Here is my original review of Leashtime:
You asked for more information about Leashtime (the pet sitting software I’m using for my business which has made my life a lot easier!!!)
**WARNING LONG EMAIL VERY EXTENSIVE REVIEW AHEAD**
It’s an AWESOME system.
Here’s the thing – hopefully all the kinks have been worked out thanks to my use of it that it will be a smooth easy operation for other Aussie sitters. It’s now very “Aussie” friendly. The only thing that reminds me that it is USA based is the support because ultimately matt and ted operate on USA time for the support.
Yet that’s okay, they answer everything back VERY quickly. Even for my sitters for the mobile sitter app part etc. I personally have not used the mobile sitter app so I’m relying upon the sitters to give feedback to me as well as Leashtime with any of the obstacles etc they experience with it. Since I’m the manager and I’m “in” the management side of the system 95% of the time versus my “sitter” profile ….. I am familiar with the management side.
I’ve done extensive research …. and none of the others really were any “good” for Australians… Leashtime (Matt and Ted in particular) were the ONLY ones out of all the other US “pet sitting software” companies to want to even “try” to help make their system more international (because if it works for us here in Australia it will work anywhere IMO). The last sitter I spoke with who wanted a “client management system” spent $600+ on something that was really built for groomers. The other one I’ve seen promoted and spoke with are not mac friendly and operate ultimately on someone’s computer not “in the cloud” (I wanted something that I could access from any computer anywhere as such)….. not to mention they used ACCESS database or something (and seriously were snobby too and very closed to any suggestions to even TRY to be mac friendly).
The plus sides that I have experienced:
– Less spending time sorting thru inquiries in my inbox (less inbox email yay!)
– It’s smart phone and tablet (iPad etc) friendly (so you can use that as a selling point to people who are wanting to make an inquiry which I do)
– Once you have set it up, it’s a breeze to use.
– I’ve received more praise about the system from current and new clients than negatives (brownie points with some too)
– Matt and Ted (aka “Leashtime”) are very open to your suggestions and feedback…… and will implement features (the meeting one was thanks to my prompting for them to release it “sooner rather than later”)
– They have a lot of training videos and “HOW TO”…. I’ve put two on my website for my clients if they need it. They also have HOW TO for the mobile sitter app for your staff sitters.
– Mobile pet sitter app …. allows the staff sitters to login on the go to see what’s happening (and they can “check off” as such visits they’ve completed).
– Key labels !!! They’re barcoded Thus the only way for people to know which key is which is to use a barcode reader (free app to download from the app store) then login to Leashtime as such …. extra security!
– Matt and Ted are the awesome. I’ve thrown some stuff their way… silly questions and everything… and they’ve always been happy to help !
– I feel more productive now I’ve literally answered a “prospect” whilst waiting at a red light or hanging out with a kitty cat (taken me less time too compared to my old system).
– Works at its brilliant best when you have a last minute client with a smart phone (or access to your site right there) & staff sitters have kept up to date their time off calendar…. CLICK the client is a prospect (incl. the ability to suggest meeting times)… organise the meet n greet thru those suggested meeting times whilst at the same time making them a new client… bam… meet n greet set up, client has login details. done. The only things to do from there is to ensure the client 1) makes a booking thru their system (unless you opt to do this for them that’s your own personal decision) and 2) puts in their details for their pets and home
The way I’m thinking of getting around missed home and pet data (even booking info) is to buy an iPad. Leashtime can be easily used via an iPad (tested it). You can login to the client’s account (because you as the manager determine their username and temporary password). One of the huge reasons I’m thinking of doing this is because this will show them how easy the system is to use (a bit of “on site” training lol)…. anyway… login to the client’s account…. fill out the pet and home data and “make a booking” sections. done. From there you can easily login to the management section to send them an invoice on the spot (or leave it until later).
The not so good sides yet really they aren’t that bad that I’ve experienced:
– Not all my clients are “yay” initially about having to fill out their details within their account (especially those with more than two pets in their household) and it can take some time and constant pushing them to do so…. this is a decision you will have to make in re current clients: do you spend the time filling out all their details for them, let the Leashtime guys do it for a reasonable charge or try to have the clients do it themselves (so they can be familiar with the system)
I’ve basically said to everyone – you can fill it out or we can do it for $80 charge to cover the time it will take for us to fill it out. Yet still there are people who resist *sigh*
– Learning the system… it was a steep learning curve (took a lot of back and forth with Matt and Ted and watching the videos) however I’m on top of it pretty much now
– Setting it up for your business … it’s not just the client data… setting up email templates etc… it can be a bit of a bitch to do initially (big task)
– No Google Calendar or iCal integration YET (it’s seriously in the works – check their Facebook page out for updates) honestly I’m not too miffed about it as I use a “pen and paper” calendar as a back up
– The system is really set up for people with smart-phones so if you have any staff sitters with older phones that cannot access the internet/have a web browser the mobile pet sitter app isn’t as friendly with them.
– I use my gmail account to send the emails out to people via Leashtime. The only trouble is that I tend to get a copy here in gmail ….. so there is a little bit of extra work in deleting all those emails out of my various folders however (honestly) that’s because of the filters I’ve set up for my gmail (back before Leashtime) and my subject line of those email templates. You don’t have to use a gmail account…. use your ISP email account. (UPDATE ON THIS REVIEW — I’ve since stopped doing this and instead changed my gmail filters to help with this…)
– Use the “EZ Schedule” system. Stay away from using the PRO one unless it the booking is “set in stone” because it’s much easier to chop / change with EZ Schedule bookings than the other one if you make any mistakes… you’ll understand what I mean once you get “in” the system.
– No “referral” field within the inquiry form that they gave to me hosted on their site ….. this will be overcome once I do the inquiry form hosted on my website as I can include it then. Ultimately, Google Analytics helps here too.
– I’ve no idea how this will work for employees. When I get my first employee I’ll know more.. best to ask Matt or Ted how it works for employees as there are plenty of sitters in the USA (who is still their major customer base) who have employees who use the system.
I think I covered it all ? :-)
If you have any questions from a user prospective just ask me
Otherwise contact Leashtime for a trail — www.leashtime.com
If you want to trial the system for free to see if it will work for your business before you sign up … please tell Matt or Ted that you heard about it from me.