Anatomy of a Pet Sitting Visit - Part 4
Updated: Jul 15, 2020
Once we merge into Part 4 of a pet sitting visit, we are starting to wind down our services for that particular visit. This part is where a sitter should communicate to the client what services were provided and how the pets are doing. This can be done in several ways.
How we communicate to the owner at the end of a pet visit depends partly on what the client prefers but also depends on what the pet sitter can provide. Because each sitter runs his own business differently, communication will be different.
If a particular pet sitter is someone who only uses technology to communicate with clients, have a Plan B because if you do lose your device or have to deal with a power outage, you should have a backup paper notebook and pen available to jot down a log note for the client. Sometimes technology fails.
For the clients I've had who've requested daily e-mails or text messages, I would tell them that if they don't hear from me on any particular day is because the technology wouldn't work and I will get them a message asap. I tell them this so they don't worry because technology does weird things.
One way to communicate the services that were provided during a visit is with a paper log. The log can be as simple as a handwritten notebook entry. This is the most "old fashioned" way of doing things, but for some, it works totally fine. Some sitters will write just a few lines like "Fido did well today. Eating and pooping fine. Happy." Other sitters will write longer entries. It depends on the sitter. For some sitters, writing takes up a lot of time, while others can write up a beautiful note with good penmanship in a minute or two. I would always take just 2 - 3 minutes to write up a log note at the end of a visit.
A sitter should spend more than a couple of minutes with Part 4 otherwise the emphasis of the visit will be writing and not pet care and/or make the sitter late to their next visit because they spent extra time at the previous home writing.
Some pet sitters are not that technologically savvy and that is okay. The important thing is that communication in some form takes place, so don't stress out if a sitter is not of the generation that uses technology for everything. Sometimes simple is better and you don't have to adjust your method of communication (end of visit notes) if there is a power outage or a lost device, then that is one less thing to stress out about.
Usually, once a pet sitter is in business for a while, they develop their own style of communication. Some clients prefer a quick text at the end of each visit, while others don't want their vacation interrupted with such things, and so a sitter can leave a physical note, as stated above.
Even if a client is sent a text message or e-mail, I am of the mindset that it is important for a sitter to leave some a short note at the client's home with at least the date and time they were there. It is physical proof that a sitter was there.
Some clients prefer an e-mail note every day or every few days. Some sitters will also send photos of their pets because a visual is very effective in letting clients know that their pet(s) is doing fine. Some will send short videos.
Some sitters provide a combination of communication methods. However the method used, I recommend that it be discussed and decided with the client at the Meet and Greet.
In cases where clients prefer no communication unless it is an emergency, then a sitter should always leave, in my estimation, a written log of some sort for the clients to read when they arrive home. I came from a heavy human services background and so documentation is very important - and in a pet sitting situation - welcomed and helpful.
I had a unique idea for a log and it worked well for me. I created a form on my computer and half of the page was a check-off list of tasks that happen at every visit, like "fill water bowl", "dog walk", or "took in the mail". Just checking off an item was a lot quicker than writing it out at each visit, and the list also served as a reminder for me to double-check that I accomplished everything I was supposed to during the visit. Sort of a self-accountability section. On the other side of the form was a blank space for additional comments. Plus the date and time were noted at the top of each page, and I always signed the bottom.
As the years went by I personalized the forms so the tasks were specific to each client's home and pet, and I'd even try to put a clip art of the type of pet at the top of each page. The pages were printed the day before pet sitting was scheduled to start and stapled together. I'd bring it the first day of pet sitting, leave it on the kitchen counter ( or another place designated by the client ) and each day I'd fill in the form.
As a fun note, I had some clients tell me that when they returned home, they'd sit and read the logs with a cup of tea or coffee to see what their pet was up to during the visits. I had two clients tell me that they saved the logs as a memory to be revisited someday way in the future when their pets had passed away, or as a special memory for their children of the pet(s) they once had.
Each part of a pet sitting visit is important and the more care and love a pet sitter puts into it the better. It is all part of the experience for the client, and all true pet sitters want their clients - the human ones and the animal ones - to have a great experience with their business and to know that their needs have been met. Do this, and your clients will hold you close to their hearts and promote you to their friends, co-workers, and neighbors.
NOTE: Anatomy of a Pet Sitting Visit - Part 5 will be posted on July 29, 2020.
Questions for pet sitters:
What type of communication log do you provide for your clients? Can it be improved? How?
What sort of feedback have you gotten from your clients regarding your communication methods?
What are the pros and cons for you regarding using technology for pet sitting?
Are you a sitter who has progressed from simple handwritten logs to something more technological? How is it working for you?
Questions for pet owners/pet sitting clients:
Are you satisfied with the way your pet sitter communicates with you regarding pet sitting visits? If not, have a conversation with them. They aim to please!