How to handle reference requests in professional pet sitting
It really is as easy as pie.
Cat Caption: "Mom, make sure you get a reference. I need a great pet sitter!"
Many, if not most professional pet sitters acquire clients through word of mouth most of the time. A friend, tells a friend, tells a friend. But sometimes....
Sometimes people need a pet sitter and they don't know anyone who has pets to ask for a reference or they don't know their neighbors well enough to ask. This is where a pet sitter needs to be prepared and ready to provide a reference.
Pet owners look for advertisements about pet sitting businesses in their area if they don't have anyone in their lives to ask. Perhaps they pick up a few business cards stuck on the bulletin boards at the local supermarkets, and they start calling pet sitters. They settle on one or two and give them a call to get info and possibly set up a Meet and Greet.
There were many times in my business years when someone called me after picking up my business card in the various local places I left them. Either before the Meet and Greet or at the end of it, the potential client would ask me if I could provide references. I was happy to do so.
This was my process for providing references.
I would be proactive and already had a list of clients who were willing to be a reference.
I asked some current clients if I could use their names in the future as a reference. I would ask the clients I thought knew me well enough and had already verbalized that they loved my services or spontaneously offered to use them as a reference going forward.
I'd keep a small "go to" list at home, but I would never give the potential client the list on the spot. Why? Well, because I wanted to give the clients offering/agreeing to the reference advanced notice. When someone expects a call asking for a reference, it makes it easier for both people:
Expecting a call gives clients a chance to think about what they will say and, especially in today's world, they would be prepared that someone (I'd give the potential client's first name only) would be calling them for a reference. In short, I didn't want them to be blindsided. I thought of it as a courtesy, and they appreciated the heads up.
Usually, if there was a rare potebtuak client that was still hesitant after the Meet and Greet, the positive reference sealed the deal.
I'd usually give two reference first names (to protect privacy) and phone numbers and I would try and match the reference request to the need. What I mean by that is if the potential new client had a dog, I'd give her a reference of a dog owner. If someone had a cat, I'd provide a reference number of a client who had cats.
Providing references is an easy thing to do, but I always thought it was important to show both parties the courtesy of confidentiality of last names and locations. If the two wanted to share that information between themselves during the reference phone call, then that was between the two of them.
After the fact, you can:
* Give the clients who gave the positive reference a percentage off their next pet visit
as a thank you.
* Or send a thank you note in the mail or leave a little pet gift the next time you are
pet sitting for them with a note.
So, this is how I handled giving out references. I hope this information has been a help to you.