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September Sitter Changes

Category: For Sitters

Sonya Petcavich

Sonya Petcavich

Last updated: August 23, 2020
September Sitter Changes
Meowtel client, Oscar, in San Francisco

I am excited to share with you some major changes we are bringing to the platform on September 1st. Over the past few months, we’ve interviewed hundreds of sitters and customers and learned a lot about how we could improve.

Here’s what we learned:

  1. Both customers and sitters would love to have the ability to select shorter/longer visit durations, enabling sitters to significantly increase their earnings, while allowing customers to get even more cuddles and quality care for their kitties.

  2. Sitters would like the ability to reward both their first-time and loyal customers by offering discounts.

  3. Finally, both customers and sitters were worried about Meowtel’s sustainability over the long run, especially with how the pandemic has unfolded. Even though we have offered the lowest sitter commission rate in the industry (18%) over the last few years, we still had some sitters undermining the platform by trying to convince customers to pay cash, which breaks our business model and ability to support our operations. We spend the bulk of our budget on acquiring new customers for our sitters to service. We're all on this kitty train together and when we don't make money, we can't help our sitters make money.

So without further ado, we're announcing the following features which will be released on September 1st:

Visit Durations: Book 20 Min, 45 Min, and 90 Min Increments

One of our goals is to ensure kitties are well taken care of, while allowing you to maximize your earnings. We know there are super shy kitties who you never see during a visit and on the flip side, there are super social kitties who want a human companion for hours.

To accommodate different kitty needs and customer budgets, you will now be able to offer 4 different services on Meowtel and to set your rates accordingly for each of the following service types:

  • 20-minutes (once or twice per day)
  • 45-minutes (once or twice per day)
  • 90-minutes (once or twice per day)
  • Overnights

All sitters on Meowtel will be required to offer 20-minute and 45-minute services, as 1x and 2x per day visits. Overnights and 90-minute visits will be optional and sitters can opt-in or opt-out at any time. If you absolutely cannot do 2x per day visits, please contact us so we can help you adjust your listing.

Customers will also have the option to specify their preferred time of day for each visit, with 2x/day bookings defaulting to morning and evening visits. Here is an example of what the new booking process looks like for customers:

Visit Durations

Not only will the new durations increase your average reservation earnings, but you will instantly receive more scheduling clarity with each request that comes in, helping prevent back-and-forth questions with the client.

To understand how to set your rates in order to maximize your earnings, we built an earnings calculator which will help you compare your current earnings to your new earnings.

Custom Discounts Set By Sitters

This feature has been requested for a long time by Sitters: Custom discounts and offers for Clients!

You will now have the ability to create and fund custom discounts for each of these audiences:

  • New clients
  • Existing clients
  • A specific client
  • All clients

Each client discount can be set based on a percentage-off method, which is governed by the difference between Meowtel’s minimum required rates and what you are choosing to charge. For example, if the minimum required rate in your area for a 45-minute visit is $30 and you set your rate to $35, the maximum discount you will be eligible to set is 14% off ($35-$30 / $35). This is to ensure you receive a competitive wage for each reservation, while still being able to offer a special discount to clients.

Sitter Discounts

It is important to note that if you choose to offer discounts, they are 100% funded by you. In other words, each discount will impact your earnings. If your normal rate on a reservation is $100 and you offer a 4% discount to new clients, your earnings will now be based off of ($100 x Your Commission Tier %) - $4 = your new earnings. If we assume a Tier 1 commission percentage, this would be ($100 x 70%) - $4 = $66.

A New Earnings Structure: Commission Tiers

Since we launched back in 2015, we have offered our sitters the lowest commissions in the industry (the average is 30% and Meowtel's is 18%). We've also been working hard to improve how much you earn on each reservation, by releasing a tip option with 0% commission as well as holiday surge pricing to compensate you for working on holidays, our busiest times of the year.

Over the last 2 years, we realized that despite these efforts, some sitters were choosing to undermine the community and the meowvelous reputation we’ve established in the pet world by redirecting customers off the platform to avoid commissions. Not only is this risky for our customers, but it is also detrimental to the rest of our sitters as well as the Meowtel brand.

We need to ensure Meowtel remains a viable business over the long term so that we can continue supporting both our sitter community and our kitties!

That's why we decided to reward our most loyal & highest performing sitters by establishing a 4-tiered approach to commissions. Sitters who consistently provide excellent service and win over more repeat clients will benefit most. Please see the examples below to understand how these changes will work.

Our new commission structure will be based on your total reservation earnings with each client:

Earning Tiers

  • Tier 1: 30% commission for any client from whom you have earned $0-$299.
  • Tier 2: 25% commission for any client from whom you have earned between $300-$999.
  • Tier 3: 20% commission for any client from whom you have earned between $1,000-$2,999.
  • Tier 4: 15% commission for any client from whom you have earned over $3,000.

All currently active sitters will receive a grandfathering period of 18% commission on repeat clients until October 1st, 2020. New clients will fall under the new commission tiers effective October 1st. After October 1st, all clients will fall under the tiered commission structure. Please note that tips are not counted towards client earning calculations since they are already commission-free. You can always check up on your commission tier progress with each client by taking the following steps:

  1. Visit your Clients screen on Meowtel.com or in the mobile app

  2. In the upper right corner, sort by Earnings or double click on the Earnings column to re-sort the table

  3. Your clients will be sorted from highest to lowest earnings

Earnings Progress

As always, if you have any questions about these changes or you would like to share your feedback, please chat with us via the Meowtel Bellhop chat room in your Meowtel Inbox and I look forward to answering your questions next Caturday if you're joining the Zoom call. Thank you for being purrific members of our community and we look forward to continuing to improve the Meowtel experience so we can help every cat and cat parent live their best life!

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Sonya Petcavich

Sonya Petcavich

Founder & CEO; Cat mom to Rollo