'Why is the market for dog boarding on Rover behaving so irrationally ?

asked 2018-07-16 02:47:02 -0500

Markets generally operate in a predictable coherent patterns mixed with periods of irrational outliers. However what amazes me about this platform and services renders is that it defies the traditional price-quality equilibrium. In that as level of service and satisfaction increase so should the willingness to pay-price of service.

However in this business, I observe the exact opposite. If I board my dog a doggie retreat ah spends 16-20 hours a day in a 5x5 steel cage that are in rows next to other dogs. And for this I pay $75-100 a night.

However, if someone trusts me to board their dog in my home, they get 1:1 attention and interaction throughout the day and are part of the family. Much higher level of service but for some unknown reason after Rover takes a questionably high cut of 20% I take home maybe 10-15% of what a boarding location does.

A couple of questions for everyone, how can we marshal our sitter community to consider to a minimum daily rate based upon criteria of service.

  1. Why have we accepted a business model that behaves irrationally and what can Rover do with their 20% to help re-educate or change the perception that our rates should somehow be less than at a boarding facility.

  2. How does rover charging clients a booking fee impact our ability to be compensated for our excellent service given the irrational market

  3. Consider Uber isn’t giving away free rides just because you are not in a cab, those ride share apps are an example of how parity in rates with the other tradional business could work.

Bottom line if we all are giving the level of service I believe we are, how much longer are we going to accept not valuing our time or talents?

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"Consider Uber isn’t giving away free rides just because you are not in a cab, those ride share apps are an example of how parity in rates with the other tradional business could work." Not true, Uber destabilized what used to be an industry w/ full time potential.

Tim J.'s profile imageTim J. ( 2018-09-26 14:40:52 -0500 )edit

4 Answers

answered 2018-07-16 12:10:51 -0500

From my observation, a lot of "clients" believe they are getting a very professional service/higher quality service when boarding their dog in a licensed business kennel. Some just believe that if you have a large kennel business and employ 40 people and have 200 kennels, it means your business is successful, great and definitely better than boarding their dog at somebody's house who is a hobby sitter and/or goes to work instead of watching their dog. In the kennel, the dogs gets a 24 hr supervision.

Of course, there are people out there who prefer a Rover person. Not because it's cheaper, oh well, mostly because it's cheaper and more convenient . I just had 2 clients who told me they first tried a kennel boarding but weren't able to get in because you have to call 4 weeks in advance and they have set hours of drop off and pick up. So as a last resort they tried roveer.

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answered 2018-09-25 17:16:56 -0500

I agree. I honestly think we need to get a petition going for :

  1. Tipping option ( to help balance the time spent/ effort/ percentage rover takes / and the low price in comparison to kennels ) plus pretty much everyone tips groomers that typically spend 1-2 hours with your pet, but no tipping is encouraged in the booking or has any ability to do so through rover. Really frustrating for when you consider all the freebies you end up doing in grooming, walks, fun activities etc , parking costs for walks and more

  2. That to Rover creates different setting / display design for A. The professional rover sitters that are home full time, have a lot of reviews and experience. B. Rover creates a different setting for the hobby sitters so clients are able to pick which one they prefer! ( I am so over seeing hobby sitters get featured ahead of people and me who have stellar reviews and do this as a living full time not just a student looking for beer money so to speak. )

  3. And also that Rover sets a higher base price then it currently has. All the new sitters ans hobby sitters that are featured over me and orher sitters I know that have their rates super low and it seriously annoys me when people just assume they are better bevause they are listed as number 1 and only charge x amount.

  4. Rover should also have a search feature like EVERY OTHER WEBSITE that people can sort sitters by highest review count, highest rating. This is so annoying they don't have this!

  5. Remove the numbering on profile searches. It just confuses clients.

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Best of luck with your suggestions being implemented, the sitter community has little voice or pull with HQ

Walt G.'s profile imageWalt G. ( 2018-09-25 17:43:51 -0500 )edit

Rover doesn't care. It should definitely have other search features, for aggressive dogs, anxious etc... So much more should be done. And it should show amount of transactions! Not reviews. So many people do not leave reviews... But obviously Rover get so much $, they don't care anymore.

Lenka (Lenna) L.'s profile imageLenka (Lenna) L. ( 2018-09-25 21:37:58 -0500 )edit
answered 2018-07-16 07:54:01 -0500

I do agree that the platform and market is somewhat silly for what we are doing considering that private companies doing the same thing can charge way more and not have to give 20% away, and the client doesn't need to pay a booking fee - but at the end of the day it is up to you to define your success. Like Walt said, we are being contracted to do this and it's up to you to get and maintain the business in a way that is fair (or as fair as it can be).

At the end of the day, Rover is a business and that is the policy they have in place. All we can do is find a way to make it work for us, set rates that make sense for us, and find the clients who are willing to pay what we've set it at. It IS possible!

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answered 2018-07-16 05:37:56 -0500

Thanks for your post and compelling questions. As independent contractors, we are always free to set our rates to be competitive with other pet care provider businesses, but if you do set your price too high, there goes your business as far too many sitters charge far less. We aren't Uber as Uber sets the prices their drivers charge, the driver has no input- so you are suggesting Rover establishes the rate for all sitters like they do for the on-demand walk program $20 a walk/ I do agree the service fee charged to clients isn't fair since Rover already take their percentage from our rates, but we don't have any control over this.

We can fuss and complain about Rover and what we as sitter feel is fair, but it falls on deaf ears as Rover doesn't seem to care about our community.

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Thanks for your thoughts, I understand that Rover doesn't explicitly set our rates, however, they do suggest a low rate when you are first approved, and second, they could establish an economically viable base rate by geographic area. Rover should relook the risk they have their contractors assume

John & April S.'s profile imageJohn & April S. ( 2018-07-16 05:53:16 -0500 )edit

This risk is directly related the lack of insurance and the inability to purchase insurance based upon the business model. I am not convinced that most sitters understand their liability and lack of coverage for businesses under standard renters and homeowner policies.

John & April S.'s profile imageJohn & April S. ( 2018-07-16 05:56:11 -0500 )edit

Uber was used to show how a platform can leverage technology, fin tech, and customer interaction while maintaining a competitive business model that is on par with the traditional service (taxi).

John & April S.'s profile imageJohn & April S. ( 2018-07-16 05:58:16 -0500 )edit

Finally, I am concerned less with the 20% (I of course wish it was less), and more with the fee they charge to the owners. This inflates the cost of Rover boarding and makes any effort by the contractors to increase their prices less of a "deal" when compared to traditional boarding facilities

John & April S.'s profile imageJohn & April S. ( 2018-07-16 06:03:25 -0500 )edit

While Rover does recommend a starting rate for services those who go low tend to acquire clients a bit quicker than the higher priced ones. I started low with walks and my calendar was totally full by the end of 3 months. Of course I have raised my rates to be competitive with local dog walkers

Walt G.'s profile imageWalt G. ( 2018-07-16 11:35:36 -0500 )edit

We can purchase independent insurance in fact there a 4 major providers in the sector

Walt G.'s profile imageWalt G. ( 2018-07-16 11:36:19 -0500 )edit

Rover's App is on par with Uber but it is a different business model

Walt G.'s profile imageWalt G. ( 2018-07-16 11:37:11 -0500 )edit

I don't agree with your last comment on setting rates as many sitters make a strong monthly income, I sure do.

Walt G.'s profile imageWalt G. ( 2018-07-16 11:38:28 -0500 )edit

Walt thanks again for your feedback. I agree the business models are different and places rover CTRs at a disadvantage. I’m not saying they should dictate final rates but they could set a minimum rate that is economically viable. My point on insurance was that most people would not find it cost..

John & April S.'s profile imageJohn & April S. ( 2018-07-16 12:17:36 -0500 )edit

Effective initially, leading to inherent risk for the CTR. My rub is that we are providing higher quality of care than traditional boarding facilities yet the business model and the market are acting irrationally paying less getting more, to the detriment of us CTRS.

John & April S.'s profile imageJohn & April S. ( 2018-07-16 12:22:49 -0500 )edit

In my experience - people who are looking for dog boarding or sitting are *usually* last minute, and they aren't phased by the booking fee. If you've got a pet, and you need a sitter, and we're here to provide that - clients don't really care about the booking fee. :)

Casey R.'s profile imageCasey R. ( 2018-07-18 07:27:22 -0500 )edit

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