Date: Apr 26, 2020
Yesterday, we sent an email announcing new pricing for Hutch for new customers, along with a new Attachments feature and an update for the native iOS/Android app release date (May).
Unfortunately, we’re realizing many of our customers did not receive this email (please check your spam folder if you didn’t receive it). This has caused some confusion about what is being offered to current customers, and how this pricing change will (or will not) affect them. There has been some misinformation spread on our Facebook group about this and we want to clarify everything here.
There are also some mistakes we realize we made in the process of releasing this update, many of which we have already corrected. We apologize for these errors and for the additional confusion this has caused. On this page, we will attempt to clarify any confusion, and address all the questions and concerns that have come up.
First, we want to assure you that we value and appreciate our customers, and we remain committed to providing top quality rabbit record management software for you at a price you can afford.
A Little Background
To give you some background, Hutch was created over 3 years ago with a vision to create better rabbit record software that could also be used across multiple devices.
As new and homegrown software (in beta), its initial pricing was set to an attractive low price. Annual subscription prices ranged from $12-40 per year (which is equivalent to $1.00-$3.33 per month). We also offered a “Forever” plan, allowing a one-time payment of $130 for Hutch.
Since that time – 3 years ago – so much value has been added to the product without any increase in price. This includes features like printable cage cards, a genetic predictor, more helpful reports, the ability to foster, sell, and transfer rabbits, countless bug fixes, and much more. All of this was added to existing customer accounts without any price increase, leaving Hutch highly underpriced.
Unfortunately, over time, we began to see that the current pricing – and especially the Forever plan – was not sustainable for continuing to update the product long-term. The initial surge of Forever customers helped jumpstart some development, but it quickly ran out and new updates began to slow, unable to be sustained by the low prices we were offering, especially as we began development of an additional app for Android/iOS.
Your Feedback on New Pricing
We knew that in order to continue providing our customers the quality of software they deserved in a timely manner, and to continue updating it with new features, we needed to raise our prices. To understand best how to do this, we asked them.
In January, we sent a survey to all our customers asking about what features they wanted to see, what they liked and didn’t like about Hutch, and how they felt Hutch should be priced. We had over 350 respondents. One of the questions we specifically asked was, “What is the ideal price for a product like Hutch? (Enter amount per MONTH in USD)” and we left a blank field for answers. Answers ranged across the board, and though there were outliers, the majority fell strongly on the values $5, $10, $15, and $20.
In listening to our customers, and also looking at other SaaS (“software as a service”) products of similar quality, we recognized that these suggested amounts truly are a better reflection of the value that Hutch offers. These new prices would also allow us to move beyond the slow pace of development we were facing, and take Hutch to a new level of world-class software that we know we can create.
So we chose $4.99, $9.99, $14.99, and $19.99 as the plans for our new monthly pricing, with a discount of 3 months free when paying annually.
Announcing the New Pricing
Next came the question of how to announce it. We recognized this was a very big increase and we wanted to make the transition as easy and painless as possible for existing customers. Ideally, we would let customers know in advance that we are raising prices so they have time to prepare. However, we feared that if we did this, there would be a mass flux of signups to the Forever plan, which would reduce our ongoing revenue. If a significant number of customers did this, it would help for a few months, but would hurt us long-term, making it more difficult to keep the software updated over time.
So we decided to release the new pricing for everyone all at once, but create offers that lessened the effect for existing customers.
Specifically, for recurring customers, we migrated them to the new plan that matched the number of breeders on their account. Despite these plans costing more than before, we made this migration free for customers, with no additional charge until the customer’s next annual billing cycle. After that, we also offered 50% off of the following year at the new pricing, whether a monthly or annual plan chosen. This discount would be applied automatically at the time of the next billing cycle.
As each customer’s billing cycle is different, this would look different for different users. For example:
- If a customer last paid on Mar 1, 2020, then they would already be paid up on the new plan until Mar 1, 2021. After that, the automatic 50% off discounts would be applied for the following year (until Mar 1, 2022), for whichever plan is chosen.
- If a customer last paid on June 1, 2019, then they would already be paid up on the new plan until June 1, 2020. After that, the automatic 50% off discounts would be applied for the following year (until June 1, 2021), for whichever plan is chosen.
In both cases, if an annual plan is chosen, of course the 50% discount would be in addition to the 3 months free already given. To find the date of your next billing cycle, visit your Account page, and look in the “Receipts” section at the last payment amount. Your billing cycle will be one year after that.
For Forever plan customers, as their plan was a one time payment, they could continue using it for forever, including all the features that were listed as included in the pricing chart when they signed up, along with all future updates to those features. However, this would not include some of the new features we might release in the future on other plans, such as the new attachments feature and the upcoming iOS/Android app. For those who wanted to upgrade to the new plans for these additional features, we offered a full 100% credit ($130) to those who upgraded, which can be applied to one of the new plans at any time. As extra incentive, we offered a $160 credit to those who upgrade before April 30. This, we thought, would be a good way to grandfather in the Forever customers, while also giving those who wanted it, an opportunity to upgrade at a significant discount. To those who would like the upgrade but the discount is at a level that their rabbitry would be materially impacted, we invited them to reach out us at email@example.com so we can see what we can do for them in their situation.
For users who signed up for a Free Trial with the old pricing, we chose to offer a 50% discount for one year until the end of the month to make the pricing change easier to adjust to.
We sent this announcement via email to all of our paying customers. However, for whatever reason, a large portion of the emails did not get opened. We also made a broadcast message, showing when customers login, that linked to a web version of the email. Unfortunately, our ability to send broadcast messages to specific groups of customers is a new function we launched at the same time we launched the new pricing, and we discovered a bug that was causing some customers to receive the wrong messages. For example, some paying customers were seeing the message intended for free trial users. This added immensely to the confusion people experienced, although we were able to fix it by the end of the day. Still, many customers ended up going to Facebook, where a lot of reactionary and misinformed comments were posted that added more fuel to the fire. It also put our very part-time support team under overwhelming pressure to try to mitigate the damage and help everyone understand the situation.
Another mistake we discovered was that when migrating the plans based on number of breeders, this inadvertently caused some former Premium customers who had access to the Ledger, to no longer have access to it. This wasn’t our intention. No one should have lost any features in this migration. We obviously didn’t think that process through enough, and we’re so sorry for the frustration and confusion this mistake caused. As a quick fix, we added the ledger to the Grow plan to restore their access, and the next day we migrated all former Premium customers to the Plus plan, so they can have permanent access to all features they had before, including the ledger. As the Plus plan may be a higher price than some customers with few breeders were expecting, we are inviting these customers to reach out to us at firstname.lastname@example.org and we will create a coupon to adjust your rate. (Of course, as explained above, nothing will be charged until your next billing cycle.)
Forever Customers and the iOS/Android App
One of the biggest frustrations we heard was that Forever customers felt they were not getting what they were promised. We didn’t realize this, but early on, apparently, one of our team members promoted the Forever plan in such a way that could be interpreted as including all future updates to existing features (which it does include) as well as all new features that will ever be added to the software (which it does not include). Of course, the Forever plan was created to include all of the features of the former Premium plan, as listed on the pricing page, with the intention that customers could pay once and be able to use it forever. This has not changed. And over the years, we have continued adding new features to both the Premium (and therefore, the Forever) plan without requiring additional payment.
In most software companies that offer licenses for a one-time purchase, updates to that version of the software are included for free. But when a new major version come out, the option to upgrade to that new version requires an additional purchase, or at least an upgrade fee. If this were not so, software companies would not be able to stay in business and continue updating and modernizing their software long-term.
However, we value our customers and because promises were made that the future iOS/Android app would be included as part of the Forever plan without additional cost, we have decided to honor that promise and include the iOS/Android app as part of the legacy Forever plan. Of course, Forever customers will also continue to get updates to existing features, as well as bug fixes and other site-wide improvements that are released to all plans.
We are currently on schedule to the release the App in both Apple and Google Play stores in May, and it will be free to download for all Hutch users. As a companion to the web version of the software, it will, of course, require a Hutch account in order to login and use it.
Difference in Price
Some customers have expressed to us that they were shocked by the drastic difference in prices between old and new plans. Looking back, we can see that perhaps rather than jumping to the prices customers identified in the survey, that it might have been better received to make the change more incremental. However, smaller changes would only have small effects on our ability to produce at reasonable speed, and we do feel these are reasonable fees for the value Hutch offers, though maybe not ideal for hobbyist breeders. The discounts we’re offering were intended to ease the transition for existing customers, and as we’ve stated elsewhere, if these pricing changes materially impact your rabbitry, we invite you to reach out to us at email@example.com so we can find a way to support you in continuing to operate your rabbitry moving forward.
Timing and COVID-19
We also admit that the timing of this announcement was fairly poor, especially due to the worldwide affects of COVID-19. We considered waiting on the announcement, but we knew that the longer we delayed, the longer it would take us to get to the software and new app to where it needs to be. With April and May being high season for rabbits, we also noticed that most of our customers were adding more rabbits and making more sales – indicating that COVID-19 was not affecting rabbitries as much as it has other industries. We felt our offer to reach out for additional discounts if needed for your rabbitry would help with those who are struggling. Still, we admit it was not the best timing.
At this point, we hope your questions about the new pricing have been answered, our apologies about what went wrong have been heard, and that you understand we are simply a (very) small business trying to create great software to help people, and we’re doing the best we can. We apologize again for the confusion, the errors, the mistakes, and misjudgments we’ve made in this process. We’re learning through this, doing all we can to rectify our mistakes, and hopefully not make similar ones in the future.
We hope that you will continue with us as we continue improving Hutch. We have many plans for improvements and new features we want to release this year. Our ability to do this will depend in large part on how our customers support us in this mission.
Many of the new feature priorities are still being discussed, but we wanted to give you an idea of a few things that are in the plans.
First, we want to mention the new Attachments feature we just released on the new Plus and Max plans. This feature allows you to attach files to breeder profiles. The files can be in various formats and include anything from medical records, show results, receipts, or anything else you’d like to store. This can be accessed from the “Attachments” tab when viewing a breeder’s profile.
Next, of course, is the native iOS/Android app. This has taken an immense amount of resources to bring you and we’re so pleased that it is finally through its initial testing and is currently being beta tested by several customers. We believe that the majority of the bugs have been identified and we’re working through them, with an expected public release date some time in May, 2020. The app will include all features that exist in the web app, although the interface will be slightly different (ie. swiping to delete, etc.). It will also include the ability to read records offline once they have been downloaded to your phone. We hope this will be helpful to those who need to access their records at places without a good Internet connection. In a future update, we plan to also add the ability to create records while offline as well, and later sync it when back online.
Some of the other features and updates we are looking at for this year include the following:
- Contacts List – for tracking your vendors and customers, their contact info, and linking them to sales and purchases.
- Updates to the search, filter, and list functions of Breeders, Litters, and Kits. We want to make it more clear what search or filter is currently being performed and improve the interface so it’s easier to find what you’re looking for. This may also include alternate views that allow you to see more breeders on a page.
- Increases in speed and security to the software as a whole, including updating underlying frameworks, APIs, and more to their latest versions.
- More options for customizing the appearance of pedigrees.
- More options for customizing the appearance of cage cards.
- Improved genetic tracking
- A complete section for medical records (more than just attachments)
- A complete complete section for show results (more than just attachments)
- The ability to track more than one type of animal (ie. Chickens in addition to rabbits).
These are the major things on our radar for the next year or so, although some of them are quite large and may flow into the next year (such as the ability to track more than one type of animal). Some still need fleshing out, and we’ll be reaching out with additional surveys to make sure we’re creating these in a way that best serves our customers needs.
Thank you for reading this far – we know it was long, and we hope it has helped. Please remember that we’re here to support you in using Hutch, and if these changes materially impact your rabbitry, we invite you to reach out to us at firstname.lastname@example.org and we’ll see what we can do for you in your situation so you can continue enjoying Hutch.
Thank you for using Hutch, for supporting us in creating great software for your rabbitry, and we look forward to continue serving you for years to come.
The Hutch Team