January 7, 2015 – It’s -25 C outside again today with a windchill in the -30s so I thought it would be a great day to talk about something completely different, the Pet Sitting Note. For day 7 of 365 Days of Pet Sitting we have the multiple-dog family with us still, we had two cancellations (non-weather related), two dog visits, and a cat to see. It was unpleasant being outside so everyone did what they had to, quickly…walks were shorter for safety reasons all around, and indoor play was a nice change. This was all spelled out in our pet sitting notes to the clients at the end of our visits, and it made me remember how important the pet sitter’s notes are.

Imagine for a moment, if you found yourself suddenly unable to look after your beautiful dog or cat and needed to hire a complete stranger for help. Even handing over the key to your home feels less important than entrusting your pup to someone you don’t know. And so it should.

So how do we build a relationship of confidence and trust when the only time we are ever likely to see that client is at the meet-and-greet visit?

Behind the scenes, you might have been referred to them. That’s about as good as it gets for instilling trust and the clients are usually at ease straight away. Next to that is having a good presence everywhere such as business cards on community bulletin boards, at your vet’s office, and even ads or post cards in community newspapers.

I keep an ad running in a free online classifieds directory called Kijiji. I also had a graphic designer do my logo, which is simple but professional. That again gives a better impression than a photo of a dog or cat would. You appear to be a respectable and permanent fixture in the community.

The Pet Sitter’s Note

But what happens once they’ve taken the plunge and you’ve made your first visit? Now it’s up to you to show the client you’re getting to know Joey or Snowpuff. This traditionally comes in the form of a pet sitter’s note. I can fit two on a standard letter sheet, landscape, and cut the page in half after printing. I put a small logo in the top corner, the “Date,” and we also print, “Marked the Territory” and “Needed a Bag” to remind ourselves to let the client know if the dog did his business.

Increasingly, clients ask for a text message, especially at the start. I keep texts short and send them a little later than the visit unless I feel I really have to get back to a nervous client. I want people to realize we aren’t in the habit of making calls and texts when we’re out looking after our dogs and cats.

Building a Relationship

Once you have pencil in hand…what do you write? This is your prime opportunity to show you’re getting to know the dog or cat. You can mention you walked this block or that park, but what made the day different? “We walked along Park Street and Rocky would take his eyes off some Cardinals at a feeder! He sat and watched quietly for ages.” Now what does that tell the client? First, that you were there because you described the feeder…you also showed them you were observant of Rocky’s interests and that you took pleasure in them instead of yanking him along to finish his walk. You stayed with him.

You’ll find all kinds of opportunities to show how well you are getting to know and love their dog by dropping small lines like this now and then. “Showing” rather than “Telling” we say in the writing world.

The pet sitting note not only helps build a great relationship with your client, but it’s instrumental in passing along little health issues you might see, and from a business perspective it helps lay the ground work for client referrals.

Until next time, keep those notes flowing!