How not to get fired, and how to get re-hired (again and again) as a pet sitter. Now, on to number 6 on our list:
6. Don’t Consume the Fridge/Pantry/Bar
We all enjoy a little food and drink while binge-watching Netflix with Fido, but it is rude to devour all of someone's food or alcohol. Polite clients usually say, “help yourself to anything you want”, but this is not meant to be taken literally.
Would you like to come home to a barren fridge, and find that the only drop of alcohol left in the house is the cheap Riesling you ended up with years ago due to a bad draw at a friends white-elephant holiday party? Ha! I think not, so don’t do it to your clients.
It is OK to nibble, but if you finish an item, be sure to replace it. They are paying you to watch Whikers and Fido, not to KonMari their bar and pantry ...with your mouth.
7. Sort Mail
Depending on how long your client will be gone, a service I always like to do is to sort their mail. Imagine being on vacation for 2-3 weeks only to come home to a ton of to-dos, including a huge heap of mail. No fun. It takes less than 5 minutes to sort. I will sort into categories:
- Sales/junk/mass mail
- Packages and shipments
- Important stuff – letters, bills, statements or other official-looking documents (a “pre-sort” on the postage area is usually junk)
(If this seems strange to you, I am good at mail-guessing due to my many years spent as an Executive Assistant. Mail galore!)
8. Send Frequent Updates
Another way to improve your pet sitting service is by staying in daily contact with your client while they are away (or ask them their preference). I typically send a daily text or email with a photo of the client’s pets and an update. A sentence or two is fine. Or say, if the yard guy stopped by that day I will mention it. Or if the weather is good or bad, etc.
I try not to convey anything unnecessary or negative when I contact my clients while they are on vacation. I try to keep things informational and positive on a “need to know” basis. Clients like to know that their home and pets are alive and well while they are gone. You should never let more than 2 days go by without some sort of “update” message to your clients. This gives them added peace of mind on their trip.
9. Use Current Technology
In case you aren’t aware yet, the year is 2019 and everyone has a smart phone. They are fabulous! Savvy businesses have incorporated practices to cater to these great technological advances. Pet sitters, included.
I once downloaded the Whistle Phone App per my client’s request so I could sync with her dog’s collar (he was an escape artist, so the app was essential to track him in case he got out).
Then there are apps like Whats App, Facebook and Viber that I have used with my clients while they travel internationally (calls and texts can be made right over WiFi via these apps, without using any expensive international data).
Whatever my clients prefer, I adhere to. Being flexible with your clients technology preferences is essential. Never make a client download a special app, or payment platform just to work with you. The client always gets the choice (within reason) of what apps they choose to communicate with me or how to pay me.
One last tip: Be OK with the fact that your clients use cameras in or around their home – they are technology for the protection of everyone. Yes, everyone.
10. Flexibility and a Sense of Humor
Lastly, I think the pet sitting biz as a whole requires flexibility and humor from the start.
You want me to mix green beans and beef in with your pets kibble?
Your dog has bad gas?
It’s not the worst thing ever, trust me.
You want me to stay a little longer due to your delayed flight back?
You decided to drive home a day early?
No problem, I’ll credit you the unused day for your next booking.
Being reasonably accommodating, and not nickel-and-dime-ing clients goes a long way. There can be a lot involved in good pet care, and my mindset and daily-rate is all inclusive to these little extras (within reason of course).
Life, pets and people are not perfect. Pet sitting is a very personalized service, a business yes, but a very unique one. Yes, ideally, each pet would be easy: they could hold it for a zillion hours at a time, eat a scoop of kibble at every meal, sleep all day, never need to be run or walked, never be bored or chew, or bark, or snore, or bite.
BUT in reality, many pets are aggressive toward other people or pets, they snore loudly, bark excessively, chew up stuff, need complicated meals or insulin shots and some can’t hold their pee longer than 5-6 hours.
For these reasons, flexibility, compassion and a sense of humor in these scenarios will give you a true edge above the competition in pet sitting.
Having a true love for animals should be first and foremost – it makes this “job” 10 times easier and more fun for everyone. Trust me.
Until next time,
PS. Follow me on Instagram. I am posting less pet photos these days and more of other goings on.