The pet sitting meet-and-greet visit is a must-do before accepting any new pet sitting client. It’s the time when everyone gets together to learn more about each other, the paperwork is completed, and the service dates are confirmed.
Unfortunately, many pet sitters view these meetings in the same way as facing a job interview, where the client decides if we are worthy enough to take care of their animals and be trusted with free entry to their home. (Enough to make any pet sitter sweat a little, even if you’ve been around for years.) Their points are valid of course, but that’s only half the equation. Meet-and-greets are also the time you’ll form your own opinions of the family, the animals, and the house and its safety. Just because you’ve decided to meet does not mean you must accept this client to your roster.
Let’s take a look behind the scenes of the pet sitting meet-and-greet:
Your Business – Your Choice!
One thing we sometimes forget while we’re in the middle of a pet sitting meet-and-greet is, we as pet sitters have a choice to go forward also. Remembering this is especially good if you tend towards being a little timid with people or if you are desperate for those first few clients. Keeping this in mind helps you straighten your back and raise your chin a little higher if you’re nervous. The client and especially the animals must see you as the leader to instinctively trust in your capability. That means you need to show them you’re in control. From then on, it’s your show and you decide if they’ll fit your roster and schedule!
Better with Two
As often as you can, bring along someone else to a new client pet sitting meet-and-greet. Especially if you won’t be caring for the client’s animals personally, invite the primary pet sitter you have assigned. You can also go with your spouse, a backup sitter, or a friend. You’ll feel safer being with someone, but you will also get a fuller picture of the situation. The second person can help with the animals…especially when the owners decide it’s just fine to let them jump and crawl all over you while you’re trying to ask important questions and fill out paperwork. The second person can also track the conversation and jump in with observations or questions you might miss.
The Paperwork and Discussion Topics
Many pet sitting associations include meet-and-greet paperwork, including contracts or you might fine forms online that meet your needs. We’ll review some of the details in a separate article, but as an overview, you’ll want to include information on the animals’ health, feeding, and habits, veterinarian details, emergency contact information, paperwork for the keys or alarm, and the contract.
Some companies like to email this paperwork ahead of time for people to read, so it will be signed during the meeting. Others prefer to explain the documents and talk about the animals at the meeting. Then they leave the paperwork to be read again later by the client for signing and pick-up on the first sit.
There are pros and cons to both ways as you’ll see, but you should at least have one document in hand with a signature on it when you leave. We suggest taking the Service agreement home with you along with your contact information sheet which doesn’t need a signature. The service agreement simply discusses the rates quoted and the dates they’ll need you. If you have that on your first visit, you’ll at least be able to prove you have legal access to the home should someone ask!
Your First Impressions
Pay attention to your own first impressions and intuition about the people, the home, and the animals you’ll be caring for. How does your body react? Are you leaning yourself towards the people? Away from them? Are you clenching your hands or crossing your arms or legs? Is your laugh nervous and tight or natural and relaxed? You know yourself. What do these reactions to people and the environment tell you?
The Pet Sitting Home
Look at the home closely as you enter and during the tour at the end of the meeting. Is it safe? Is there lots of clutter? Steep or slanted stairs? No banisters on the stairs? Potentially slippery flooring? Low ceilings? Is it well lit and clean or are you afraid your portfolio might stick to the table when you set it down? (Is there room on the table to set it down?) Is there a heavy layer of cigarette smoke in the air? Decide which things you can live with at every visit and those you cannot.
You might think I’m reaching for outlandish exaggerations here…but all of these situations happen with startling frequency.
Join us for, “The Pet Sitting Meet-and-Greet” Part Two – coming soon!
Until then, have fun out there!