9 Ways to Make Sure Your 1st Reservation is Amazing!
Congratulations! You’ve received your first reservation request. You may be wondering, “Now what?” and we are here to provide you with some helpful tips to make your first reservation purrfect. From chatting with a client about their cat's needs to coordinating the meet and greet: We have you covered!
#1 Responding to all requests and messages in a timely manner
Ping! Could it be? The sound of your first reservation? 🎉 Whenever a client reaches out to you or sends over a reservation request, we want to be as prompt and professional as possible. Starting off on the right paw is the purrfect way to set the tone for you and your client’s experience. Remember, reservations auto-expire after 12 hours if they aren’t accepted or declined, and can negatively impact your sitter account!🙀
As many of us know, being ghosted 👻 never feels good, so keeping in communication with your clients is one of the easiest ways to build trust, instill confidence, and create a stellar 1st impression.
In addition to this, many times, cat parents reach out to more than one sitter, so if you happen to be the most responsive one, you may be their first choice over another sitter.
#2 Preparing for the Purrfect Meet & Greet
At Meowtel, we offer a complimentary Meet & Greet with each reservation. It’s a great way to connect with your new kitty friend and cat parent client, and to get all the details and instructions you’ll need to feel prepared for your upcoming visit. These can be done in person or virtually (though we recommend in-person when possible.)
Before heading off to meet your new furrtastic kitty friend, take a moment to make some notes about what information you need to have the best first visit possible. This is also a great way to put the cat-parents' minds at ease. Showing you are prepared, polite, and confident is a great way to ease any anxiety a cat parent may have about leaving their furry child alone with a new hooman. Jot down some notes on a notepad so you won’t forget, and take them to your meeting. Add your Meet & Greet time to your personal calendar, and be sure to be on time. ⏲️ If any issues arrive and you’re running late, be sure to keep your client informed as soon as possible. For more tips and ideas about what to cover or ask during your Meet & Greet, check out this comprehensive guide which has a great list that you can pull from.
#3 Accessing your new client's home successfully
One of the most important things to do at your Meet & Greet is to cover how you will access your client's home. Do they have exterior gate codes? Does their door have key entry or a smart lock code pad? Do they have an alarm system? One of the most stressful situations we, as sitters, can find ourselves in is being unable to access a client's home when they are away. 🙀(Trust us, we know from experience!)
If you are exchanging keys at your Meet & Greet, we highly recommend placing the key in your own keyring, keeping it with you at all times, and always testing the key before leaving. Often cat-parents have just created a new key specifically for you, and sometimes new keys can have issues if they weren’t cut purrfectly. This way, you can be sure you’ll be able to access the home when you arrive for your first visit.
Always, and we can’t stress this enough, always put the client's key on your own key ring. It’s much easier to keep track of one set of keys together than several separately. If it’s a busy week and you have multiple reservations and keys to keep track of, try using small stickers on the keys that can be easily removed so you can remember whose are whose.
#4 Communicating with your client
It may sound obvious, but communication is one of the most essential parts of any reservation. It can be good to get expectations of what sort of communication your client would like before the start of a reservation. Most of our clients love a thorough update and lots of cute kitty photos. Simply saying something like, “I love to send an update of how the visit went with lots of cute photos and videos while you’re away, does that work for you?” is an easy way to find out the client's preference.
To ensure that everyone has the same record of events, try to keep the majority of your communication and updates through our Meowtel chat. If you ever have to text or email a client, just be sure to hold onto those messages should we ever need copies of them (if there were ever a complaint or insurance claim that we have to investigate.)
Leaving our kitties with someone new can be scary. So hearing the steps you have taken to ensure their kitties are happy and healthy while they are gone helps build a circle of trust between you and your client. This is a great time to reference any instructions your client has left you, notes you have taken, and confirm you’ve completed all the expected tasks.
In addition to letting them know that you have completed basic tasks, it is also best practice to send them a message when you have arrived and when you are leaving. It may sound silly or weird, but taking before and after photos of food and water bowls, litter boxes, etc. is a great way to not only keep the clients up to date on the health of their kitty, but is also a step you can take to protect yourself as a sitter. Having documentation that you have completed all the tasks asked of you is super impurrtant. It also helps ease any anxieties a client may feel while away from their fur children. For more about what a purrfect update looks like, please check out this article.
#5 Smile! You’re on Camera! 📸
As technology changes and home security cameras become the norm, it is best practice to assume that every client has a camera in their home. We should always be on our best behavior as sitters, but this can be an extra incentive to behave as professionally as possible. This means not engaging in any potentially embarrassing behavior (nose picking, etc 🙀) and ensuring that your time spent at the client's home is devoted to the care of the kitties.
We know that you will occasionally run into some scaredy cats on your visits who don’t want any pets or to play. In those situations, take care of the general tasks that your client expects you to complete, and then make yourself available to the kitty. If permitted, you can always try a few treats or some slow blinks to show that you are their friend. If kitty still doesn’t seem interested, sit somewhere that is neutral so that kitty can come to you. Since this may all be taking place on camera, just be sure you’re communicating this with your client so that they understand you aren’t ignoring their adorable fur child, you’re just giving them some space so they feel safe and comfortable approaching you. Most clients know if their kitty is a social butterfly or a shy guy, but it’s always best to keep them informed.
#6 Keeping things tidy
It may seem a bit obvious, but when spending time in a client's home, we want to be sure to leave it as clean, if not better than we have found it. A little extra effort goes a long way and helps you stand out as a top-notch sitter! Sweeping around litter boxes, cleaning up accidents, and tidying around food bowls are all part of the service we offer as sitters.
This is particularly important when taking on overnight visits. Check-in with your clients during the Meet & Greet about house preferences, rules, etc. Changing any sheets you have used, and tidying up any areas you used, such as the bathroom, kitchen, etc., are all common courtesy when staying in someone else's space. In addition to this, our furry friends can sometimes be a bit sneaky when their parents are away, so checking to ensure that there are no accidents around the litter boxes, on the floor, or on beds, is also best practice. Lastly, it’s never best to assume that any food or drinks in the fridge are yours to have without the client clearly stating so.
That being said, we know that not every client shares the same standard of cleanliness, so some homes may be a bit more well-loved or disorganized than others. Please let us know if you ever feel that a client's home has gone beyond messiness and has headed into an unsafe space for either you or the kitties. For more information about this, please review our fit for service policy.
#7 Triple checking your work
They reminded us about it in school, and it still holds true now: triple checking your work. Before ending each visit, put your business cat hat on and take a moment to review your instructions one last time. It ensures that you’ve done everything correctly and hopefully puts your mind at ease that you’ve accomplished everything on your list.
Double-checking alarm codes is also super important! Though you may think you have it memorized, it is always best practice to reference any notes you have just to be sure. (Again, trust us; we know! 😹)
Keep an eye on the clock. Ensuring you stay for the entire duration of the visit (but not excessively longer) is another excellent way to ensure a successful visit.
Always be sure to look around the area of the door before exiting. Some kitties are stellar escape artists just waiting for the right moment to make their move! Once you’ve made sure you’re in the clear, double check the door is locked by testing the door handle, and always ensure you have any keys before heading out of the house. If you ever find yourself in a situation where you have been locked out of the house, this is a great article to guide you on steps to take.
#8 Coordinating the key return
So your reservation is ending? You’ve had all the kitty cuddles, scooped all the litter, and taken all the adorable furry-friend photos. The clients are on their way home, and it’s time to return their keys to them. Talking about this during the Meet & Greet is helpful, but not every client will be able to provide an exact date/time for you to return the keys before the reservation starts.
Be proactive and inquire about the key return at your final visit. It can be helpful to offer some days or times that work best for you to return the keys, and see if any of those line up with the client's availability.
If your client ever requests that you leave a key somewhere, such as under a doormat or plant, use caution. It is best practice to respect the client’s wishes. However, if it is in a busy space (such as an apartment complex) or a building that is close to the street or other businesses, it may be best to kindly offer to return the key to them in person to avoid any potential issues such as stolen or missing keys. In these situations, it can also be helpful to document where you have left the key with photos, so you have documentation.
#9 Politely asking for a review
Did you know that when we surveyed our cat parents, they told us that reviews are the 2nd most impurrtant factor they consider when choosing a sitter? Were your clients delighted with their reservation with you? If so, it can be helpful to encourage them to leave you a review.
Though we send out an automated email reminder, we, as sitters, tend to find that more of our clients remember to do so when asked politely by us at the end of the visit. People get so many emails these days that it’s easy for clients to miss our reminder nudge.
It’s always best practice to thank your clients at the end of the visit. Writing a brief note about how much fun you had with their kitties and thanking them for trusting you with their furry children is the purrfect way to close out an excellent reservation experience. As you wrap things up, saying something like, “Once you’ve had a chance to relax from your trip, if you wouldn’t mind leaving me a review, I would really appreciate it.” To make things as easy as possible, provide them with this link: https://meowtel.com/account/reservations, so they can leave you your first pawesome 5-star review!
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