What makes good clients and what makes horrible clients? Lately, I’ve been thinking a lot about my clients past and present. As in any relationships, or friendships, sometimes I find clients who are “my people” and sometimes I don’t. Sometimes client’s communication (or lack thereof) and expectations simply don’t mesh with mine. Yet, I find most clients to be easy to do business with, time and time again.
I was talking to a friend of mine who pet sits a bit through Rover.com. She told me a story about how a woman who hired her recently, made a point to tell her “Don’t go into our master bedroom. We don’t want you going through our things.” My friend was taken aback by this rude comment. Of course she wasn’t going to rummage through the client's things and she was offended that the client expected that she would.
I realize that for most people it is nerve wracking to leave their home and pets to a total stranger when going on vacation. I am sure there are all sorts of scenarios going through their head. There are probably concerns about safety, competency, privacy, pet care, etc. I get it, I have been there. But, nerves aside, it is important to respect any guest in your home, whether it’s a pet sitter or a friend. Not to mention, trust is a crucial component of pet & house sitting as well, and you can read about my stance on security cameras in this previous post.
I’ll confess that some of my clients haven’t been the best. I have had to fire a few, and vice versa. It happens. That said, I have had some amazing clients that I have been extremely fortunate to connect with. It is not hard to be a great client.
Here I will share with you how to be good to your pet sitter, or ways to keep your pet sitter:
1 – Keep Your Travel Dates. I am listing this as number one for a reason, it is important! Pet sitters have schedules just like everyone, but a pet sitters schedule is booked with other people’s vacations, and thus cannot be easily rearranged. Once you notify a sitter of your vacation it shouldn’t change. If someone needs to change dates soon after they book them, I can usually comply but beyond that window it can be difficult to accommodate changes to scheduled trips.
2 – Never Cancel. This goes along with the first item. It is one thing to cancel a few months in advance, but if you cancel a few weeks in advance, or last-minute, that is a big no-no! I don’t have a strict cancellation policy or fees but I definitely make note of those clients who cancel. I may not be a huge pet sitting operation with lots of employees, but my time is still just as valuable. I realize life happens and everyone deserves some flexibility (and believe me, I grant it), but when cancellations happen two or three times, I won’t be too eager to reserve your next vacation on my calendar. Just sayin’.
3 – Provide Detailed Instructions. I was amazed by the tiny 4x4 note with feeding instructions that a new client left me recently. I thought: Really? You’re going to leave your entire home and pet’s routine in my hands for a week and you leave me zero information other than a few lines about feeding? I was stunned - I don’t think that people realize that I have several other client routines swarming around in my head at any given time, and it is easy to get them confused with other clients. A written or typed sheet from the pet owners greatly cuts down on any mistakes or liability on my part. At the meet-and-greet I take notes, but if the homeowner takes time to later provide solid written instructions, most of the time it’ll include something they forgot to tell me in person. I provide all of my clients with a document to guide them in what information they might want to leave for me.
4 – Pay Upfront. I have heard stories from other pet sitters about people failing to pay them. I am lucky it only happened to me once but I have had some very late payments. Like clients who cancel, clients who don’t pay on time are not ideal. Payment is expected upfront, at the meet-and-greet or when clients leave for their trip. There is nothing I dislike more than having to keep reminding someone to pay me. It makes me feel awkward and it is not fun. Bad things can happen on vacation, wallets get stolen, people get delayed, etc. If I have been paid beforehand it makes any delays you might encounter returning from vacation less of an issue.
Those four items are a good way to maintain good standing with your pet sitter. However, if you realllllly want to be a saint to your pet sitter, or make up for bad behavior (or for your pets bad behavior), try these extras:
Pet sitting is mostly about the pets, but the client-sitter relationship is important as well. I hope this post helped you see things from a pet sitter’s perspective and you’ll find the tips useful no matter if you use me, or another pet sitter.
Go enjoy your summer travels!