If you offer house sitting, drop-in visits, or dog walking, you’ll not only be taking care of someone’s dog, but—in one capacity or another—you’ll also take care of someone’s home. These services all have their own little nuances, but following these tips will help you succeed at offering any one (or all) of them. The most important thing to remember: You’re running a business, and taking care of someone’s home requires its own set of customer service skills.
How to balance multiple clients
If you’ve offered dog boarding in the past, you may be used to taking care of only one client at a time. With dog-walking and drop-in visits, you could have several clients in a given day—luckily, there are ways to make balancing multiple clients go smoothly.
- Be transparent with your clients. Make sure every client knows what your schedule is like, and the exact services and times you’ll be providing them.
- Always ask permission before walking multiple dogs together or bringing a helper to walks.
- Ask the info you need. Ensure you have care instructions, owner contact information, and emergency contact information for every stay, and that it is easily accessible to you, but kept confidential.
How to keep someone’s home and dog safe
We recommend taking a bit of extra time before you leave to make sure everything’s secure, nothing’s been left out, and the dog has what they need before you (or their owner) comes back.
- Always check fence gates before letting a dog outside. You may not be the only one helping take care of an owner’s home while they are on vacation, and gates may be left open by lawn mowers or house cleaners.
- Always lock the doors, and make sure you don’t step outside without the key, just in case the doorknob is the type that can lock behind you.
- Do one last check. Particularly with walks and drop-in visits, dogs spend a good amount of time alone in the home. Walk through the area the dog will stay in and check that all trash can lids are locked, no food is on the counters, and that any gates or crates set up are secure.
- Give yourself some spare time between each client. Have a backup plan in case something happens to your car, or your bus is late.
Customer service tips: Make your clients feel secure
Remember the first time you entrusted someone with your key? There are a few small things you can do to earn the trust of pet owners.
- Suggest that the owner leave the keys in a lock box. You can’t forget a key if it stays at the owner’s home. If you have lots of clients, this way you don’t need to try to keep the keys organized.
- Suggest that they give you a key labeled with “do not duplicate.”
- Treat every home as though it has security cameras. We know this might sound a little strange, but it’s a great way to make sure you’re delivering the best possible customer service. There’s nothing wrong with watching a bit of Netflix on your computer (or the owner’s TV if they said it’s okay), but make sure all your care tasks are taken care of first.
- Always leave a home in the same or better condition than you arrived in it. Little touches can really help earn that 5-star review: washing the dog’s bowls, taking the trash out on your way out, or leaving a thank-you note on the counter on the last day of the stay. Little gestures = big impact.
Even if you’ve been dog sitting for a long time, transitioning to offering services in someone’s home is a bit of a learning curve. But if you put these tips into action, you’ll be on the fast track to earning yourself more loyal clients.