Whether it's our veterinarian, pet sitter, or groomer, most pet parents are somewhat trepidatious about medical or service providers until they have proven themselves. Yet, we are often forced to trust strangers with our pets' care before we're ready to trust them. It's no different from a mom dropping her infant off at daycare. She knows it's necessary but, boy, is it hard!
Today, we want to discuss trust and the importance of getting to know your pet sitter before hiring them. A professional will ensure that you and your pet are a good fit for their business just as you ensure they are right for you and your pet.
Getting to Know Your Pet Sitter: Trust the Process
It's only natural to want to be sure about your service provider, especially if you're letting them into your home and giving them access to your beloved pet(s.)
Finding the right pet sitter is a process. You'll want to interview a few options, check their credentials, search their business name online for reviews and/or complaints, and browse their social media platforms. The discovery process should help you narrow down the list of potential pet sitters to a few that you'll next want to contact but research alone doesn't yield trust. Getting to know your pet sitter is a process.
Familiarize Yourself with their Services & Pricing
Once you've narrowed down your list, check out the services each pet sitter lists on their website. Is it what you're looking for? Does it appear flexible? Do you or your pet have special needs or schedules that they can accommodate?
Find a pet sitter that does what you're looking to hire. Familiarize yourself with their services and only contact companies that meet your and your pets' needs and, obviously, your budget.
If you find a professional pet sitter that doesn't list pricing on their website, that's okay. Contact them as follows and start the conversation with a pricing inquiry. Many pet sitting services price according to the length of visit, number of visits, and number of pets therefore speaking directly with them is the best way to gauge if they are within your budget.
Send an Email or Contact Form
Once you've narrowed down your list of potential pet sitters that offer the services you need, send an email or a contact form on their website with the following information:
- Your name and address
- Your pet's names and ages
- Any special needs such as insulin injections, leash reactivity, or arthritis
- Desired services and start date
- Number of visits per day if applicable
- How you heard about the company
Once you provide this information, you will have given the pet sitter enough information to know if they can or cannot accommodate you. If not, go back to the drawing board and find someone that covers your area and has availability. Always plan at least 2-months out to ensure you aren't going to have limited options due to delayed requests.
At Hearts at Home, we make this step very easy! We created this new client form in which we compile relevant information to ensure we are the best bet for your pet and your pet care needs. Once we receive it, we will be in touch within 24 business hours.
Note that most professional pet sitters spend a lot of time on the road and out of the office therefore a same-day response may not be possible. Follow up if you don't hear back within a couple of days. And, check your bulk folder to make sure you haven't missed communication from them.
Register on the Software
It is my personal opinion that the best professional pet sitters and pet sitting business owners use scheduling software to track their schedules, employees, and payments.
Those of us that use pet sitting software usually ask our new clients to register themselves and their pets on our online system once we have determined that the client and pet are a good match for our team. The goal of having clients register themselves is to avoid errors that could occur over phone communication.
Our scheduling software, Time to Pet, asks specifics about your pet, their diet, medical history, etc. It also asks for emergency contact information and inclement weather contacts. It lists our policies, procedures, services, pricing, and more.
If you've spoken to a professional pet sitter on the phone and know they can accommodate your request, don't delay in registering on their software. While you wait, another new client could snatch up your desired dates.
Using online scheduling software prevents scheduling errors, centralizes information, and seamlessly coordinates communication between you and your pet care provider during visits. Scheduling software is an added layer of security and should help further develop your trust factor.
Prepare for the Registration Meeting
The registration meeting or in-home consultation is a key moment in your relationship with your professional pet sitter. At this point, you are likely still developing trust for the company and its members. The registration meeting or consultation allows you to meet a representative of the company, often the owner or your primary pet sitter, during the consultation.
Prepare for the in-home consultation the same way you would any interview. Have questions written down, list concerns, and observe the representative's interactions with your pet(s.)
If, at any time, you feel uncomfortable with the pet sitter or their approach, let them know. The point of the in-home consultation is for both parties to determine if the relationship is worth pursuing. You may need to meet with a couple or a few companies before you find the best option for your pet and your family.
Trust Your Gut, Your Pet, and *Most* Online Reviews
After following the steps above, you should have an idea of what company stands out to you in your search. Trust your gut, trust your pet's behavior in the presence of the company representative, and trust *most* online reviews. If you're looking at a company's reviews and see that most are very positive only to stumble upon what appears like a disgruntled client, take the bad review with a grain of salt. If, however, you see more than average mediocre reviews, stay away. When hiring a professional pet sitter, you can't take any chances with mediocrity because a subpar sitter could present a safety issue for your pet and your home.
At Hearts at Home, we work with pet parents of all kinds. Some pet parents trust us immediately because they were referred to us by a friend or neighbor. Some come to us because they had a bad experience with another pet sitting company. And, most have a bit of fear associated with handing a stranger the keys to their home. Yet, we provide such high quality care and customer service that our clients and their pets quickly become part of our family and, often, we become an extension of theirs.
To learn more about our in-home dog walking, pet sitting, and home care services, submit a new client questionnaire here. For more information, visit our website or contact us by email at Hello@HeartsAtHomePetSitting.com or by phone at 757-745-9868.
Our service areas include Yorktown, Poquoson, Newport News, and Hampton, Virginia.