February 4, 2015 – “Who are you, pet sitter?” During your first phone call, your prospective client might not be so blunt, but they will have questions. And so they should. With only a few minutes on the phone and a few more at their home, you expect them to hand you access to their house while they’re not there, and to look after their prized possessions.

Some questions will arise during the phone call, others at the meeting, and if you’re prepared, you can even sprinkle some of the information to them throughout your conversations so they don’t have to ask.

Here are a Few Questions Clients Ask of Their Future Pet Sitters

  • How long have you been in business? (Unasked…Are you just picking up a few hours here and there? Do you know what you’re doing?)
  • Do you have to take training of some kind to do this? (Unasked…can you handle an emergency?) Now is the time to mention your pet first aid course or background in animal services. Don’t worry if you aren’t a vet tech. While you might be asked if you are, not all vet techs are meant to be pet sitters. They are excellent at the clinical end – and most love animals to do this – but many are also pet sitting along with or while waiting for an opening in their field. You’ve chosen pet sitting as a career path.
  • What are your services? My requirements might change. (If you offer vacation coverage or boarding, now is the time to mention it.)
  • My dog doesn’t like to go for a walk. Would you just play with him…or keep him company? (Elderly dogs, especially, go out to do their business but might not want to walk (though many do.) Instead, they’ll love to spend a little quality time with an arm around them or a shoulder beside them in the sunlight for a half hour.)
  • Are you bonded? Do you have insurance? (Most people wonder about bonding – some don’t realize there is such a thing as pet sitter insurance. If you are covered for theft with your insurer, it’s good to mention this also without going into details unless they ask. How the company pays out is much easier on the client if you have theft coverage as well as or instead of bonding.
  • Who will have access to my home? (If more than one of you will do the route…such as in our case where it is my husband and me…we both try to attend the upcoming meeting. Otherwise I’m clear that I will be at the first visit my husband takes so I can introduce him to the animals.) Only people insured with your company may enter the property and only if you have got the owner’s permission.
  • What is your schedule like? Do you work weekends? (Try to get an idea of what other plans they might be thinking about.)
  • Have you worked with rescues? (If you have, say so, and ask what it is about their dog or cat they are concerned about.)
  • How would you handle an emergency? (Try not to go into great detail but as a rule of thumb, this is a good process. Whether the emergency has to do with the animals or something has happened to their home, ensuring the animal’s immediate safety is always number one, followed by trying to get in touch with the clients, followed by their emergency contact. Now is a good time to direct them to contact their veterinarian to give them your names as care givers and leave a credit card number with them. It’s so much easier to work with a vet who has your name on file.)
  • How many other clients do you look after? (Do you have sufficient time to have a leisurely visit, or will you be rushing in-and-out on a time clock, they mean. We’ve spoken with people who had to fire their pet sitting company because of this. Even if they did technically stay the full half-hour, the dogs were so stressed by the sitter’s tension to get everything done that they’d still be worked up when the family came home.)

These are just a few of the questions that pop up during the first call and into the meeting to understand more about who you are. I’d be happy to hear more if you’d like to share! Just leave me a comment!

This is the 35th day of the year and we’re in our last week of quiet before things get hectic…only the multi-dog family here today and our regular lunchtime visits…or a total of 10 dogs and two cats!

Until next time…have fun out there!