Originally published on the Petfinder Blog
Guest blogger, Joshua Cary, runs a successful pet sitting business in New York and is the co-creator of PetSittingOlogy, a site devoted to giving pet sitters the tools, guidance and resources they need to become responsible, caring and much-appreciated pet sitters.
Finding a professional and reliable pet sitter you can stick with for life shouldn’t be as nerve wracking as a visit from your in-laws.
Each day, more pet sitters are taking to the web as potential clients search online for their perfect match.
Here’s a checklist of what to look for — and what to look out for — when doing your initial research online.
First Impressions Count
Your first impressions really are everything. Trust your gut and listen to your instincts. How do you initially feel when you arrive at a potential pet sitter’s website? Ask yourself questions like, “Is the company presenting themselves professionally? Did I easily find the information I was looking for?” The way you initially feel about their website can be an indication of how you might feel about the pet sitter.
Many pet sitter websites forget to provide the simple basics that allow you to make an informed decision. Make sure you can find an email address, phone number, contact form, service area, a list of services offered and a list of (at least general) service fees to minimize your time. In my experience, how professionally a pet sitter runs a website is indicative of the amount of professionalism you can expect from his or her service.
You wouldn’t allow a total stranger to watch over your child, would you? The same approach should be taken when finding the perfect pet care solution. Does the potential pet sitter reveal enough information about herself? Does she provide a full name? A photo? A history of past experience? A business location and a phone number? How open and upfront the pet sitter is on her website can somtimes directly correspond to the integrity of her work ethic.
Most businesses in the service industry are members of the Better Business Bureau to give an extra level of confidence to their potential customers. In the pet sitting world, the two big affiliation players are Pet Sitters International and the National Association of Professional Pet Sitters. Look for either of these logos on the pet sitter’s website for an added level of security. Adding levels of accountability is a small thing a pet sitter can do to help win your trust.
Testimonials are perhaps one of the strongest motivating factors consumers use when researching a product or service. Big sites like Amazon and eBay harness the power of community through user reviews and ratings. Any successful pet sitter will do the same by listing feedback from past clients. Look for the testimonials page and feel free to ask to speak directly with past clients for their input. What someone else says about a pet sitter is ten times more powerful than what she says about herself.
Any responsible pet care provider will prepare for the worst and hope for the best. Many pet sitters are professionally trained by the Red Cross in animal CPR and first aid and have a relationship with a veterinarian ER. Look for the seal on the pet sitter’s website or ask her directly if she has any special training when it comes to emergency pet care. Too many pet accidents and deaths could have been avoided with a simple emergency plan.
Media and Press
Some pet sitters have gained local, regional and/or national recognition for the quality of their work. Look for any links to press or media coverage from the pet sitter’s website. A local celebrity may be booked early for the major holidays. Call well in advance to get the ball rolling.
Awards and Achievements
Awards come in all shapes and sizes. The two big pet sitting organizations mentioned above give out annual ‘Pet Sitter of the Year’ awards. You can also keep an eye out for any website badges of honor highlighting charity work, website design or effective blogging skills. All can speak highly of the pet sitter’s work ethic. Be sure to check out the source of the award for a complete picture of achievement.
There You Have It
Understanding what elements to look for when searching for your perfect pet sitter will help weed out the amateurs and make the process go that much smoother. Any good pet sitter should understand that your pet is part of your family. Develop a relationship with a pet sitter who demonstrates professionalism in everything she does, and you — and your furry friend — will have a reliable friend for life.
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