#1 Piece of Advice for New Pet Sitters
Caring for animals is second nature to Jordan Di Marco, owner of Dogma Catma Pet Sitting in Boulder, Colo., and PSI’s 2011 Pet Sitter of the Year™.From spending summers on her father’s ranch in New Mexico as a child to working in veterinary clinics, doggie daycares, and at PetSmart, she has been around pets—both personally and professionally—her entire life.
Since she began pet sitting in 2004—and started her own pet-sitting service, Dogma Catma Pet Sitting in 2006—Jordan has learned many business lessons as she followed her passion for pets and entered the professional pet-care industry.
In a recent interview, PSI asked Jordan to share the #1 piece of advice she would give to new pet sitters, as well as some of the most important lessons she has learned as a professional pet sitter over the last several years:
1. What is the #1 piece of advice you’d give to brand new pet sitters?
Contact other local sitters just to chat over coffee or join a network. I can't tell you how much that has helped me, not only in a "how do I handle this situation?" but also if I am booked or a client is outside my area. It really pays to network!
2. What advice would you give to more established pet sitters?
Take time for you! Clients will understand if you need a few days "off the grid"!
3. What has been your most successful marketing/advertising tool?
Personal referrals! I give a free visit to clients who refer my services. I give a referral fee (equal to the price of one 30 minute sit) to my sitters when they bring in new clients, whether or not they are the assigned sitter for the job.
I also have a close relationship with a pet-supply store. The store has a great reputation and lots of fun treats for critters! The store staff refer my services and in turn I put a coupon for their store in my new client packets.
4. If you could go back to when you first founded Dogma Catma Pet Sitting, is there anything you would change (given the knowledge and experience you have now)?
Oh yes! The part of the business I am least competent in would be the bookkeeping and tax part. I taught myself a lot of the operations because I thought I couldn't afford to have someone else do it for me. Later it was more stress and it ended up being something I procrastinated on! I would happily go back and have someone help me right off the bat.
5. Do you have any tips or advice for keeping clients happy? Is there anything you do to go above and beyond to keep clients happy?
Mistakes happen and no one is perfect. When you make a mistake with a client, address it right away, apologize, and ask what you can do to make it right. That puts the scenario in their hands and makes them feel listened to and valued.
I really like to make sure everything is tidy when I leave a house, even if it was kind of messy before I got there. I will often vacuum or sweep up and make sure everything is arranged before the client gets home.
6. Have you been able to find a work/personal life balance—and if so, what advice would you give to other pet sitters?
I will admit, it took me a while to get a good balance and I occasionally struggle with it still. I would advise to have clear policies in your business and stick to them, such as having set hours you answer the phone. Clients will understand and frankly if they don't, you don't need the hassle. Schedule time off with friends and family, find time between sits to catch up with a friend over lunch or lounge in the park, whatever gives you a little time to yourself.
Thanks to Jordan Di Marco for sharing her experiences and tips! Stay tuned for a future blog post where we will share Jordan's experience with disaster preparation and her tips to help pet sitters and their clients prepare for disaster.