What's a pet-sitting "Meet and Greet" all about?
When we think of "meet and greet" events we usually think of them as an opportunity for fans to meet their favorite celebrities after a concert. That's true, but the term is being used more widely these days and it applies to pet sitting too.
In the world of pet sitting, a "meet and greet" is something that happens in the form of an appointment where pet sitters meet future pet sitting clients at their homes to gather information about their pet sitting needs and to discuss and firm up pet sitting services and dates. It is usually scheduled after the initial contact is made (please see my previous post on the initial contact) between the sitter and a potential client.
What happens at a pet sitting meet and greet sets the foundation for a positive, and hopefully, long term connection between a pet sitter and client. This is where all the necessary pet and home care information is gathered, house keys received and tested out, and agreements (a.k.a. contracts) are signed so pet sitting services can begin, and of course, the pets get to meet their pet sitter for the first time and vice versa. If you are new to pet sitting, either as a sitter or client, you might be surprised about how much information is gathered at a meet and greet.
I've heard of pet sitting services that do not have an in-person meet and greet and everything is done via the internet. That was, and would never be, something I'd be comfortable doing, but some people are fine with it. Personally, I don't think setting up pet sitting services via automation is necessarily the best way to go in this type of relationship but to each his own. (Please read my post on pet sitting as a Lifestyle business). I believe it is crucial for people to meet face to face in the client's home.
Most of the time meet and greets end with a pet sitting agreement and arrangement. Some clients, however, like to meet a few pet sitters in person before choosing a pet sitting service, and this is fair. Clients will be trusting their homes and pets to someone they don't know, so I actually think it is wise for a potential client to check out different pet sitters.
When I first started my pet sitting business my meet and greets were about 45 minutes long. I was a newbie and gathered basic information. As I became more experienced in the field, attended pet sitting conferences, and learned more about business and "all things pets", the meet and greets became anywhere from one to one and a half-hours in length. This was partly because my growing experience as a pet sitter taught me to ask additional questions so I could better meet the needs of my clients.
The length of a meet and greet can be longer or shorter depending on how the pet sitter conducts the interview and how much a potential client shares about their pets. Some people can talk for hours about their pet's cuteness, likes, and quirks, and that is helpful to a pet sitter, but it is the pet sitter's job to make the interview run as efficiently as possible. Sometimes the potential client needs to be gently brought back to the main questions at hand for the sake of gathering the pertinent information and not taking up too much of either party's time. There is always time in the future to share stories! Often a pet sitter is doing a meet and greet between pet visits and so they are often mindful of the time.
When setting up the meet and greet appointment I would let the potential client know "I need about one to one and a half of uninterrupted time in order to gather all the information I need". In other words, this is a gentle reminder to the client to treat this as a serious meeting and to curtail answering phone calls, cooking dinner, or interacting with other family members during this time. These interruptions are more common than one would think and I believe it is due to people not seeing the seriousness of a meet and greet. It is truly a business meeting and the pet sitter is a professional gathering needed information to perform an important task for a client. Constant interruptions make the meeting go longer than needed.
Part of being ready for the appointment entails the pet sitter letting the client know in advance some of the things they'll be asking so clients can gather that information in advance. Some of the info you'll need from them is the basic vet information and health history, but also emergency contact numbers, house repair people (snow plowers, plumbers), and your trip information (including flight numbers). The pet sitter want to ask other information about the house. For example, does the client also want the mail taken in, the lights alternated, curtains opened and closed so the house looks lived in? When I began my business I had one sheet of questions. After almost 16 years of pet sitting, I had a four and a half page questionnaire, and all of the questions were important.
The length of the meet and greet also depends on how many pets are in the home because, as we all know, each pet is unique. Some pets have medication or behavioral quirks that need some added attention, and there can be different types of food involved too, so keep that in mind when setting up a meet and greet.
Keep in mind that each pet sitter runs his/her business according to their experience, gifts and talents, so each meet and greet will be different. I'm sharing what worked for me in hopes that it will help pet sitters and potential clients.
In next week's post, I will be giving you the one tip that, hands down, regularly helped me secure a pet sitting contract over other pet sitters in my area, and resulted in great word of mouth recommendations and new clients.
In the meantime, keep calm and bark on!