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#1 tam

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Posted 15 July 2016 - 07:20 AM

I've been running into a bit of a issue with customer retention on my business directory (pet boarding) lately. When people don't renew I send a message checking if they had a payment problem or have ceased trading and I keep getting emails back saying the reason they haven't paid their renewal is they are fully booked up for months.

 

I had one person tell me the same after their free trial, they were very apologetic but it was so successful they didn't want to continue to the paid as they were fully booked. I've also had people asking to remove the listing they've paid for (just remove, they don't want a refund) as they are getting too many enquiries.

 

I'm very pleased the site is working well for them, but I'm also a bit stumped on how to deal with it. I've hit a bit of a plateau where I'm replacing at roughly the same rate I'm losing but I'm not growing. Ideas?



#2 EGOL

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Posted 15 July 2016 - 08:50 AM

Nice work!   What a unique *problem*.

 

Suggest that these clients raise the prices that they are charging for their services.

 

Maybe you should go into their business, or help someone start this type of business?



#3 tam

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Posted 15 July 2016 - 09:36 AM

The ones causing the 'problem' are small businesses and take dogs into their home to live like a family member while their owner is on holiday. People already pay a premium over what they'd pay for a kennel - it costs about half of what you'd pay for a budget human hotel room per night. They are limited by the licensing laws to taking 1-3 dogs (depending on where they live) at a time though which is why they fill up easily, and of course repeat customers help as people often come back to the same boarder.

 

By help them start, do you mean advice type content? I could put that together.



#4 iamlost

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Posted 15 July 2016 - 09:39 AM

What EGOL said about raising rates. Being booked past some point, i.e 2-3 months is the clarion call that (1) the service is successful and (2) it can support a rate increase.

And the awesome customer ROI on your directory is an excellent selling feature!

Congratulations!
And condolences, until you get them to leverage their opportunity.

#5 EGOL

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Posted 15 July 2016 - 12:02 PM

By help them start, do you mean advice type content? I could put that together.

 

Yes, advice type content to let people know that there is a demand for pet sitters. 

 

You could sell a kit that includes a guidebook and a short ad running on your website. 

 

"Get rich boarding dogs in your home.  Guidebook and  six months of ads that will get you leads only $XXX."

 

A lot of people who "do business at their home", often don't price their services as if they are really in business.  They tend to look at the money coming in as "payment" instead of looking first at their costs and adding their "payment" on top of their costs.

 

They also might not be taking advantage of upsells that they might be doing.



#6 tam

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Posted 15 July 2016 - 01:28 PM

It's possibly one of those odd areas where quite a few people aren't in it to get rich. Even at the top end of the market the limits that are legally imposed on number of customers mean that they'll be earning minimum wage and that's if you pretend it's an 8 hour day instead of a 24 one. But it's great for people that are at home anyway and enjoy the company of a dog. Obviously there is a bit of extra paperwork, and marketing etc. but work wise your getting paid to cuddle puppies and go on long walks in the park/countryside which is a lot more fun than most lower paid jobs.

 

I have a few competitors that are all about the 'get rich easy' - you sign up for free and they send you customers and take a cut but a very high portion of their boarders are operating illegally without licences and fall into the not really running a business category.

 

I could write a guide to doing it right - how long/in depth would you go?



#7 EGOL

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Posted 15 July 2016 - 03:50 PM

I could write a guide to doing it right - how long/in depth would you go?

 

I try to give as much as I can justify by the traffic that the writing might produce and the ad revenue that I might make from it, always staying within the limits of my experience and knowledge.



#8 jonbey

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Posted 16 July 2016 - 06:38 AM

Go international?



#9 glyn

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Posted 16 July 2016 - 02:13 PM

If I had a loyal client base I would go sideways and look at all the related things that might interest them. For example you might survey them and ask what they give their dogs to play with and then goto zooplus and put together a package of toys that they offer you at a special rate which you sell pn to them. As a pet person food wont make you jack, so I would head for accessories. Then you could look at things that they can offer to people when they come and pick up their animals from the dog kennels. Lots of oppurtunities.

#10 tam

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Posted 16 July 2016 - 03:56 PM

Go international?

 

Wayback when I started it I used a .com and put the location pages as .com/uk/location with a vague idea I could do that one day. I've never done anything specifically aimed outside the UK though so that's a pretty big hole to jump into! Maybe I should do some research on boarding in the US and whether there is any demand there.



#11 EGOL

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Posted 16 July 2016 - 05:08 PM

This is like Airbnb for dogs.

#12 tam

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Posted 16 July 2016 - 06:55 PM

I hadn't thought of it like that but yes :lol:

 

I think I had a brainwave about the start up help you suggested... writing a starting up article to generally attract people, but tie it in with a longer indepth PDF, which is included as a free bonus to people when they pay for their listing or available separately at the same price as a years listing but you can take up the listing (or not if you decide it's not the business for you) at a later date.

 

That would catch an as yet untapped audience (thinking about starting up but not ready to advertise), then those that do start up are likely to take up the listing as they've already paid for it in effect (and hopefully renew annually), and people are likely to convert sooner (and possibly in greater numbers) from trial to paid to get the info.

 

And as a bonus I get to educate people on the important professional stuff which makes the businesses I'm promoting to dog owners better which makes the site better.

 

Thanks :)



#13 earlpearl

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Posted 18 July 2016 - 10:48 AM

Congrats Tam.  Unique problem.  Good work on your behalf and excellent suggestions.  More good work--asking for help to take advantage of this unique situation.  Good luck on moving forward. 



#14 JakeMask

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Posted 09 August 2016 - 01:54 PM

Is it possible to charge per booking? You could attract more pet boarders by making it free to list, a make more money on the backend given how popular the bookings are. 

 

This is like Airbnb for dogs.

 

If so you might want to develop your website to handle bookings and payments for the pet boarders (similar to Airbnb).



#15 tam

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Posted 10 August 2016 - 08:00 AM

Is it possible to charge per booking? You could attract more pet boarders by making it free to list, a make more money on the backend given how popular the bookings are. 

 

 

A couple of competitors do this, the fact I don't is a selling point for a lot of the boarders. They often end up making long-term relationships with their clients and whilst it would be good for me if they gave me a cut every time they rebooked, you can imagine from their point of view it isn't great to be committed to giving away a portion of their business that way. I imagine they same thing would happen even if you made it against the contract, once they've made face to face contact there is no need for them to keep booking through the site and paying a % when they can just sort it privately.

 

They seem to get a lower class of boarder too, a lot of people that just try it out because it doesn't cost they anything and might make them spare cash, rather than they are running a professional service.

 

Thanks for the suggestion though :)

 

I'm 34,175 words into the guidebook... I think I may end up sticking it on amazon as a physical book too as I couldn't find anything specific to that niche when I was researching.





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