Sending Post-Visit Updates

Communicating with your pet parent clients is key. Here is how to send a great post-visit update!

Sending Post-Visit Updates

Maintaining a good relationship with your clients is one of the most crucial aspects of running a successful dog walking or pet sitting business. A lot of time and energy can go into these relationships, as providing excellent care and service to their pets is usually only the tip of the proverbial iceberg. While being away from one’s pets is always difficult, it can be particularly taxing on a client if they are a first-time pet parent or have never worked with a professional pet care company before. In these cases, having the ability to put your clients at ease and give them peace of mind is critical. Without honing this particular skill, you may never win a client’s trust and could risk losing their business altogether.

That is why, in today’s lesson, we will cover the importance of post-visit updates. A well-put-together visit update can do a lot of the legwork when it comes to reassuring your clients, so knowing the key elements of what makes up a good update is vital. We’ll also review what not to include in your updates.

Note: Time To Pet offers a Visit Report Card feature through our platform that will elevate your team’s post-visit updates. Not only can you customize them to fit your business, but when enabled, they are a required part of your staff’s visit completion process. We recommend taking a look at our help documentation for more information on how to enable and create these reports for your company here: Visit Report Cards.

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What Is The Key To A Solid Post-Visit Update?

Before going over some of the more specific do’s and don’ts to keep in mind when sending post-visit updates, it’s first essential to understand what each post-visit update you compose for a client should contain at a minimum. Some things no visit update is complete without include:

  • A note to the client that summarizes the events of the walk/visit. Be sure this note contains some details or anecdotes specific to the visit.
  • Did the pet use the bathroom? If walking a pup, you should be sure to indicate if they went number one, number two, or both on your walk. If visiting cats or other small animals, let the client know what you picked up.
  • If you notice anything unusual about a pet’s behavior or observe something off about a client’s residence, be sure to mention that in your report. Include photos or a video for the client to review.
  • Does the pet need to be fed or medicated during the visit? If so, be sure to confirm that you have done so.
  • If you do anything else, such as giving the pet a treat or playing with them, etc., that doesn’t hurt to indicate to the client either. Extra attention and care are always appreciated!
  • Photos, photos, photos! A pet parent loves nothing more than receiving a sweet picture or funny video of their pets.

While the way you present this information to your clients may differ, each successful visit update contains all or a mixture of the items listed above. Neglecting to include items from this list can be a quick way to sour a client’s perspective on how visits with their pets are going and can leave them with questions or a desire for more information. This can lead to dissatisfaction or clients reaching out with panic or concern if they feel like their pet isn’t receiving the correct care, especially in cases where a pet needs medication or has an anxious disposition.

DO: Be detailed in your reports.

Details are important to a pet parent. They want to know that their pet is safe and happy while with you or your staff members, and it can be hard to be convinced of that when they can’t witness these things for themselves. While photos and videos are the best way to convey that a pet is having a blast, how you communicate in your reports can also significantly impact a client’s perception of how things are going.

Being detailed doesn’t mean you have to write your clients a novel. What it does mean, however, is that you are specific in the information you relay. If you are scooping a kitty’s litter box and the smell seems off, mention that and try to describe exactly how it smelled or how far away you could smell it. It may not seem like such a thing would matter, but you would be surprised!

Providing a vague update that you and Fido “had a great walk” with no other information can be a hard pill to swallow. If you send that same update over and over again during a series of visits, a client may begin to think you aren’t very friendly or that you don’t care enough about their pets. Once such thoughts start to take root in a client’s mind, it can be almost impossible to remove them altogether. While it won’t always be possible to send a varied message each day, especially if you walk a client’s pup daily, it doesn’t hurt to mix it up as much as possible and mention a little something that happened on that particular walk. This shows a client that you’re paying attention.

These details don’t have to be anything big, either. Sometimes, it can be as simple as noting the change of colors in the leaves or the increased sniffing a pup exhibits after a rainstorm. Little gestures go a long way, and effort is something that comes across very clearly to clients, even if you don’t realize it. By failing to leave a note about your visit with a pet beyond what business they did outside, you aren’t giving a client much to go off and can leave them wondering.

DON’T: Send the same update.

As we have already touched on, it can sometimes be a challenge to come up with a good visit note, especially if you see the same clients frequently. Not much may change from one day to another, and that’s perfectly okay! What isn’t okay is to send the same message verbatim day after day. It shows a lack of care and can become frustrating for a client, especially if you don’t include any photos or videos from your visits. Take the time to consider the position your client is in, especially if they are out of town and you are staying overnight in their home with their pets or if you are visiting their kitties daily. If it were you, wouldn’t you worry about how your pets were getting along without you and want solid proof that they’re doing well?

While your furry clients should be your number one priority, the other critical part of being a successful dog walker or pet sitter is the bond you establish with your human clients. Without them, you wouldn’t have any furry friends to look after in the first place, and if you miss out on connecting with them, it’s more likely than not that they’ll seek other services the next time they need a walk or plan to go out of town. With all that in mind, carefully consider the updates you’re sending to your clients and how you would feel if you were on the receiving end.

DO: Include a lot of photos.

When you become a pet care professional, you have unwittingly taken on the mantle of an amateur pet photographer. Photos and videos are one of the most vital aspects of an excellent post-visit update and can make or break a client’s satisfaction with your reports. Even if your reports aren’t terribly detailed, if several photos or videos are included, that can do a lot to assure a client. After all, who doesn’t love a goofy photo or video of their pet? Especially if it’s an Instagram-worthy shot they can share with their friends!

While tone and meaning can become misconstrued through text, a picture speaks a thousand words, and a video can say a million more. Photos and videos provide visual evidence of a pet’s welfare and can even demonstrate the bond you’ve built with them to their owners. Even if you have poor cell reception and can’t send them at the exact moment you’ve finished the visit, be sure to let the client know you’ve got some to share and send them as soon as you possibly can.

For some tips and suggestions on being the best pet photographer you can be, see our Academy Article on the subject here: Taking Better Pet Photos.

DON’T: Lie to your clients.

This may seem incredibly obvious, but one of the top things you should never do in a post-visit update is fudge the truth. We all have off days where we get stuck in traffic, our alarm doesn’t go off, or a pet gets sick and requires additional attention that throws off the rest of the day’s schedule. This may mean you’re late to arrive within a client’s visit window, or perhaps you forget to latch the gate to the kitchen where a pet stays while their owner is at work. Regardless of the situation, if you make a mistake, don’t try to cover it up. Be forthright and honest about what happened. There may be consequences, but communicating proactively with your clients can make a huge difference. Most of the time, people are incredibly understanding and will work with you toward a solution.

Sometimes, they may not be as understanding as you hope or may request a different team member moving forward. Whatever the result, it will almost always be more favorable than lying to a client. If you attempt to fudge a visit’s duration by reporting false arrival or departure times, or you try to displace blame off of yourself if something goes wrong in the home, the truth will come out eventually. Whether through GPS route tracking, the client having cameras, or having a security system that logs your coming and going, things will come to light, and the fallout will be much worse.

DO: Be professional and upbeat.

When composing your post-visit update, it is important to consider how your words may be coming across to your clients. While tone and meaning can be subject to interpretation regardless of what you write, and misunderstandings are always possible, being mindful of what you say is a great starting point for avoiding them. While honesty is always the best policy when dealing with your clients, as we have previously discussed, there are times when one can be too blunt.

For instance, if you’re visiting a cat who has a bit of a surly disposition, you might think to mention that they weren’t happy to see you when you arrived. While you may mean for this to come off as a joke, it is entirely possible that your client may not see it in the same light. While that’s not to say you can’t joke around with clients or poke some fun at a pet’s behavior, you want to be careful in how you tread that line. This goes especially for clients who aren’t familiar to you and with whom you don’t already have an established rapport.

Regardless of how well you know a client, you should always strive to maintain a professional and positive demeanor in your updates. Emojis are a great way to convey an additional meaning when updating your clients and can help to soften certain statements, especially if you are saying something in jest. While you shouldn’t go overboard, this is just another layer of communicating to your clients that you’re happy to be here and are having a good time looking after their pets. Doing your best to stay upbeat and courteous with clients will also leave clients with a good impression, and they are more likely to have a pleasant experience receiving your updates.

DON’T: Focus on the negatives.

This goes hand-in-hand with our last point, but we felt it was important to emphasize it as it’s essential to building a good connection with your clients through your post-visit updates. When composing your messages, even if you need to convey some unpleasant information, such as a pet having an accident, you should be careful in how you frame certain situations. While you want to keep your clients apprised of any potentially worrying situations, if a pet throws up and is otherwise acting as usual, ensure that you aren’t adding unnecessary worry to the mix.

You also want to be sure that you aren’t making possibly inflammatory comments about a client’s personal life, their homes, or how they care for their pets. Even if it’s something you don’t like or personally agree with, you should never say that directly to a client, especially as a throw-away comment in a post-visit update.

If you have concerns about their pets, bring it up with your management team. Or, if you are a solo sitter, let your client know that there is something you would like to discuss with them. Be fair and diplomatic with how you approach your client, especially regarding a sensitive subject. While you should never feel like you have to stay silent on something genuinely concerning, it is also important that not everyone will agree with how everyone else does things and that sometimes it is best to take a step back from the situation and examine your biases.

For many dog walkers and pet sitters, face-to-face communication or conversations over the phone with their clients may be few and far between. This is because most pet care companies now communicate with their clients primarily via written communication through texts or an in-app messaging system. That makes it vital to brush up on and refine how we speak through these channels in order to make a good impression on our clients and clearly express what we want to say.

When a post-visit update is a client’s primary means of communication with you or your company, sending a good post-visit update can make a huge difference in a client’s experience. They are much more likely to leave good reviews and express appreciation to sitters who leave them detailed notes with lots of photos. When they feel as though you care as much about their pets as they do, and it is supported in the way you talk about your visits with them, clients are bound to feel reassured. Feeling at ease helps clients entrust their pets to your care and allow themselves to focus on their work or enjoy themselves if they’re away on vacation.

The ability to cultivate that trust within a client can make or break a client’s decision to return to your business for future services or recommend you to their friends and family. Thus, a must-have for any dog walker or pet sitter is learning to compose a solid post-visit update.

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