As a pet sitter it’s hard to take time off. Mostly because I’m needed here to watch everyone else’s pets while they go on vacation. My holidays aren’t during normal holidays, they are usually celebrated the week before or after. So, what DO I do when I need to get away?
I’m super blessed to have a wonderful staff that can not only take care of business, but whom I also trust caring for my own dogs when I go away. This year my husband and I took a week long vacation to visit family and I had one of my very own pet sitters take care of my dogs. You know what I came home to? Well adjusted, happy dogs…
Sure they were happy to see us. But they weren’t all frantic like no one had been around in hours. We get a more frantic greeting by our dogs when we leave them for a couple hours during the day. My pet sitter, the one who stayed with my dogs while we were gone, was awesome! I got the picture updates, just like our clients do. As a worried mommy myself, I contacted my sitter a couple times during the first few days I was away, just because I missed my kids so much. I just wanted to check in a time or two extra and my sitter was totally fine with it.
This time we decided to have a sitter live in our house while we were gone. Last time we went on vacation we had a sitter spend the night every other night. I must say, experiencing this for myself, there is a HUGE difference in my dogs adjustment and behaviors when someone is living with them than when someone is just stopping by or spending the night every other night. It was as if we never left home. This was such a great experience for me that I am totally sold on the live in services of my own company :).
Thinking of using a professional pet sitter for most visits and supplementing other visits with friends or neighbors? Here are 5 reasons why that is a BAD idea.
1. Generally, there is no communication between the professional pet sitter and the friend.
You have a contract with the professional pet sitter so they are going to communicate directly with you. If there are details that need to be communicated with the friend, you will be responsible for making that communication. The last thing you want to do on vacation is play the middle man between the two entities you’ve decided to use to care for your pets.
2. Pet sitting for you is not your friend’s priority.
So, if something else comes up, they figure the professional is coming anyway, I don’t NEED to go. Believe me. I’ve experienced this.
3. The friend doesn’t think to ask pertinent questions, like, when should I come? When is the professional sitter coming?
The first time I ever agreed to share a job with a client’s friend during the meet and greet I was told the friend would be coming also. I asked when the friend was coming and the client didn’t know. I mentioned it would be good for me to know that way I don’t show up when that person is here and the dog doesn’t end up without a potty break for more than 12 hours at a time. Regardless of our conversation, the friend ended up not coming at all and the dog was without a potty break for more than 20 hours 2 days in a row. I had no idea the friend wasn’t coming. The only clue I had was the dog would go out and pee for 5 minutes when he finally had the chance to go. Poor dog! Another time, the friend showed up just before me and would take the dogs out for a walk, then I would be there with no pets to care for! What a mess and waste of time.
4. Who’s to blame if something comes up missing?
The professional, of course. I’m sure your friends, neighbors, co-workers are great people. This has happened in the past as well. We had a client who came home from vacation and a couple days later realized a decorative bottle was missing. They asked their friends and anyone else who had access to their house and they all denied taking the bottle. They then placed blame on the pet sitter. They had been a client for years with no problems. But of course the client believed their friends. The particular pet sitter in question, by the way, had done live ins for months on end for a client and does most of our overnight visits and has NEVER been accused of even taking a bottle of water.
5. Late returns.
What happens if your flight is delayed? Who do you call to check on your kids one last time? The friend or the professional pet sitter? Most likely the professional pet sitter because you don’t want to BURDEN your friend. If you don’t want to burden your friend when an emergency arises, your best bet is to just hire the professional for every visit and leave the friend out of it.
Another piece of advice:
If you occasionally ask friends to care for your pets exclusively and also utilize a professional pet sitter for other occasions…
Don’t call your professional pet sitter to do a late night visit because your flight is delayed when you’ve been having your friend care for your pets all weekend. Call the friend that’s been taking care of them while you were gone.
Don’t plan on telling your professional pet sitter that a friend will be stopping by? Not a good idea. The pet sitter always knows when someone else has been in the house. This will scare the pet sitter. You will get called that someone has been in the house. Also, if your sitter arrives when the friend is there, the police will most likely be called.
Did your pet sitting quote come out to be more than you expected? Not all pet sitters are created equal. Here is one BIG reason you may pay more for your service.
I recently spoke to a new potential client who’s current pet sitter is moving out of state. This potential client needs to find a new live in pet sitter for her 7 dogs. As we were speaking about price and value, we came out to be $58 more per day than the last company she worked with. As I was “selling” her on our services she flat out stated that we don’t provide any different service than her last sitters who were cheaper. So she wanted to know what she was getting EXTRA to validate the additional cost.
Sometimes it’s difficult to explain how we are different. Yes, we provide similar services as other companies, we may appear to be exactly the same, but sometimes you need to experience the difference to understand what you are paying is worth every penny. We could use the car analogy:
“When you are test driving a Nissan and a Lexus, they both get you from point A to point B. They both essentially DO the same thing. But once you’re in it, driving it, THEN you understand what the difference is.”
We are providing overnight services for a couple who are taking a long overdue honeymoon. The last thing we want to do is call them with any emergencies. We just want to take care of everything so they can relax. However, Murphy’s Law says, “If it’s going to happen, it will happen when the pet sitters are in charge.”
We unfortunately had to call the dad and tell him his A/C went out. He is working with a home warranty company (which never moves as quickly as you want them to) and it’s going to take 3 days for them to come out and evaluate the system. In the mean time, we have 2 dogs and a kitty stuck in the home with no A/C. One of the dogs isn’t friendly with other dogs and all our sitters have dogs of their own so we aren’t able to bring them to one of our homes (which I would do in a heartbeat). Our only option is to keep the pets as comfortable as possible.
Mom and dad have ceiling fans, but no floor fans. It’s still too warm out to open up all the windows to catch a breeze. So, we brought our own floor fans, bought dog cooling pads for their dogs and brought a portable A/C unit to their house. Although the house is a little uncomfortable for a while, with the additional fans, cooling pads, portable A/C unit and extra water the dogs are going to be just fine. We’ve made additional visits to the house to check on the dogs (at no additional charge).
Is the extra money worth it?
I’ll let you be the judge. We are here for our clients and their pets. We do everything we possibly can to make their pets comfortable and to alleviate any stress this whole circumstance has produced. We will be waiting at their house from noon to 4 pm to let the A/C repair company in. All of this at no additional charge.
These are things that can’t be explained on the phone. It’s a service you just have to experience for yourself to understand. This may not happen to you, but something else could and we will be there to do whatever it takes to make sure your pets are taken care of and to help alleviate as much stress as possible.
Will you be paying for that consultation? Or will you get to meet your potential pet sitting company for FREE?
We are often asked if our pet sitting consultations are free. There are many businesses, not only pet sitters, that charge a fee for coming out to your house whether you use their services or not. Some companies may credit that fee toward future services if you decide to use them, some don’t. So how does a company determine if they will charge for the consultation, use that toward future services or not charge a fee at all? It all comes down to beliefs of the company. I can tell you how we handle the consultations…
Our first consultation is FREE. We don’t charge a nominal fee and credit it towards future services and we don’t charge a fee and keep it, 100%, not crediting even if you use our services in the future. Some people would argue, “You are a business. People won’t see you as professional if you don’t charge a fee. Your time is money. If consumers don’t see this, they aren’t your customer.”
We look at things a little different than most pet sitting companies that do charge a consultation fee.
You see, I wouldn’t hire someone to come into my home, when I’m not there, without meeting them first. There is a trust factor that most people have to overcome when hiring a pet sitter. I also hate being charged a trip charge for coming out to see if I trust the person coming into my home. I feel the face to face consultation is a part of doing business. My clients want to meet SOMEONE who is representing our company and our sitters need to get to know our client’s pets before we accept a new client. It’s a two way street. I am also very confident in my company and the employees I hire to represent themselves in a professional manner and win over any potential client that is serious about hiring an in home pet sitter. Some companies started out not charging a consultation fee, then decided to implement a fee because they were going on so many “interviews” and not winning them that they started to feel like their time was being wasted.
Do we have the occasional customer that wants to meet us before they make a decision on whether they will use us or not? Sure…but it happens so infrequently that I’m okay with it.
The sitters that go out and meet the clients for the first time face to face are getting paid for their time. If there is a need for a second meeting, prior to the client’s departure, we do charge a normal visit rate. We do this because, #1 our time is valuable and #2 this second meeting is taking a sitter away from providing services to a paying client.
So to truly answer the question…it really depends on the company. Everyone runs their company different. You just have to ask.