The Ultimate Guide to Mastering the Pet Care Meet & Greet

Time To Pet
Time To Pet January 2, 2024

Meet & Greets for pet care, dog walking, and pet sitting services allow new clients to get to know you and your company. Learn more in our Ultimate Guide to Mastering the Meet & Greet—updated for 2024!

Mastering the Client Meet & Greet is an essential aspect of any pet care business. In many instances, these consultations will be the first (and sometimes only) chance that you or your staff members will have to meet your clients face-to-face. For that reason alone, knowing how to leave a lasting impression on your clients and conduct yourself with them, their pets, and their homes is critical. In this post, we’ll go over in detail how to prepare for a Meet & Greet, outline everything you should take care of during the Meet & Greet, and provide some tips on what you should do if the client turns out not to be a good fit for your company.

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Before The Meet & Greet

Before you schedule or attend a Meet & Greet with a client, there are a few things that you can do ahead of time that will save you time and help things go more smoothly.

How Would You Like To Conduct Your Meet & Greets?

Historically, Meet & Greets took place in person at a pet parent’s residence. This was optimal, as it allowed clients to meet the people who would be taking care of their pets face-to-face, pet sitters had the opportunity to interact with the pets firsthand, and all of the required information, supplies, and questions needed for a pet’s care could be captured and reviewed. While this is still the norm for most pet care businesses, the onset of COVID-19 in 2020 caused many companies to permanently alter how they carry out their Meet & Greet process. That is why, nowadays, it isn’t unusual for some companies to conduct their Meet & Greets virtually.

But how would you like to meet with your clients and get acquainted with them initially? Would you like all meetings and information-gathering to happen 100% in person, or would you want everything to happen virtually? Or will you approach things from a hybrid perspective, with office team members meeting with the client virtually to capture their information and go over company policies while the team members assigned to the visit meet them in person? Will you allow the client to choose the option that works best for them?

Consider your options carefully and choose the process that best serves you, your clients, and your company. You should decide fairly early on how you want to conduct Meet & Greets for your business so that you can keep your website and appropriate promotional materials up to date. This can help establish client expectations and make the onboarding process run much smoother.

Initial Phone Call

Regardless of whether or not you will conduct your Meet & Greet in person, we strongly recommend setting up a phone consultation with your clients before you schedule anything else to ensure you have a chance to screen all prospective clients in advance. Doing so can save you a lot of time later, as you’ll have the opportunity to catch early red flags and determine if the client is a good fit for your business. That way, you’re hopefully only scheduling Meet & Greets with people who would make good clients and are serious about utilizing your pet care services.

During the initial phone conversation, ask your prospective clients several questions to get a good feel for their pets, needs, and expectations. Consider gearing some of these questions toward getting to know them better as individuals and ascertaining whether or not they have worked with a professional pet sitter before. You can also return the favor by telling them a little bit about yourself, your history in the pet care industry, and an overview of some of your company’s most fundamental policies and procedures. You should be sure to review your company’s pricing for the services your potential clients are interested in, how your company carries out these services, and ascertain whether or not they have any particular requests or special needs for their pets or homes to determine if it is something you or your team is comfortable doing.

After you conclude the initial call with your potential client, it is important to have follow-up items. You may want your clients to provide information on themselves or their pets in an online portal (see below) or to book the day, time, and location of your in-person or virtual Meet & Greet with them. You should also consider who will be a good fit for the services if you have staff members and begin contacting them to make arrangements.

Client Fills Out Forms Having prospective clients sign your company’s Service Agreements and fill out all of their personal details, pet information, and access instructions for their residence before your Meet & Greet is set to take place can potentially save all parties a lot of time when it comes time to the actual meeting. Rather than spending a lot of time on the logistics of onboarding with your company, you and your client can devote more time to going over any questions you may have for one another, and you’ll have more time to interact with the pets and gauge how you’re likely to get along with them.

Requiring your prospective clients to fill out this information before your Meet & Greet can help further indicate how serious they are about using your pet care services and aren’t just shopping around for the best deal. If you use pet sitting software like Time To Pet, clients can quickly and efficiently fill out all of their information online and have it accessible in one centralized location should they need to make any changes or updates. If you don’t have pet sitting software, consider emailing your client any required paperwork beforehand. Once they have completed everything and you have reviewed it, you can contact the client to schedule the Meet & Greet. This way, you have ensured they have completed everything necessary to receive services from you and your company before meeting with them.

Pet care meet and greet in living room for pet sitting or dog walking

What To Bring To The Meet & Greet

Depending on how your business handles onboarding new clients, the following items may be helpful to bring along with you to Meet & Greets. However, if your Meet & Greets are happening virtually, what you need to have can look slightly different.

  • Print-out Of Client/Pet Information - If you require that your clients fill out forms online prior to the Meet & Greet, consider printing them out and bringing them to the meeting so that you can review them with the client. You should review the paperwork yourself beforehand and highlight/make notes on anything you’re unsure about or if there’s something you would like more details on from the client. If you are a paperless company, you can also bring a tablet or laptop to the meeting and review questions that way. On the other hand, if your Meet & Greet is virtual, you may want to share your screen with the client to review their information and make clarifying notes together.

  • Forms/Contract - If you didn't have your client fill out all of the information or Service Agreements you need them to sign online, then be sure to bring your paper forms or contract to the Meet & Greet. For more information on creating a pet sitting contract just right for your company, see our excellent blog post on it here.

  • Something To Take Notes With - Whether or not your Meet & Greet is taking place virtually or in person, you will want to take additional notes during the meeting, as the client may supply new details or clarify instructions they have already provided regarding their pets and their care. You can do this with traditional pen and paper, or you can do so using a mobile device of your choice (such as your phone, tablet, or laptop). Creating custom client or pet fields within your pet sitting software can also be an excellent tool for this purpose. For more information on creating custom Client and Pet Fields within Time To Pet, please see our help article here: Client And Pet Fields.

  • Key Tags - If you'll be collecting keys from your clients to keep on file at your office or with your team members, bring along some key tags so you can immediately label and attach them to the keys. If you are completing the visits yourself or the staff member assigned to them attends the Meet & Greet with you, this makes it especially simple as you have the keys tagged and ready for the client’s visits and can go straight onto their key ring. If you're conducting the Meet & Greet virtually, remember that you will need to schedule a later date/time to pick up keys if they are required to access that particular client’s residence. For more information, please see our blog on key management here.

  • Treats - Most pets love treats and will warm up to you more quickly if you have some. As long as the pets don't have any food allergies, issues with food aggression, or other dietary restrictions, bring some treats to share with them and enjoy the happy tail wags or contented purrs!

  • Business Cards - Bring a few business cards. The client may want some to hand out to their friends with pets and one to keep for themselves. For more information on creating the perfect business card for your company, see our great Academy article on the subject!

  • Presentation Booklet - This is an entirely optional promotional material you can make to present to our clients, but it can be an effective way to introduce clients to your company. In essence, a presentation booklet is a collection of materials intended to show and tell a client about your company. Commonly, pet sitters will include information about the types of services they offer, their prices, company policies, any professional certifications or memberships they may possess, proof they have of being bonded and insured, pet first aid or other related training certificates, client testimonials, and photos of themselves or their team members taking great care of their furry clients. While you don’t need to include any or all of this, anything that can be used to help familiarize a client with your business that demonstrates your professionalism and communicates what you and your company stand for is a great item to include in this informational booklet. To make things easy for you and your clients, you can compile these materials in a three-ring binder that you can take from one Meet & Greet to the next.

Steps To Conducting A Great Meet & Greet

Before the Meet & Greet even happens, confirming the day/time beforehand is incredibly helpful. We've all been in situations where you arrive for a Meet & Greet and the prospective client had their days mixed up.

What to bring for a pet sitting or dog walking meet and greet

1. Look Professional

When first meeting new clients, you’ll want to present a clean and professional appearance for yourself and your staff members. While you don’t need to show up in your Sunday best and may be coming from another pet sitting event when you meet with your new clients, it’s vital that you don’t have dirt, mud, or other stains on your clothes, as it doesn’t allow for the greatest first impression. You never know what kind of messes you’ll encounter while caring for pets, though, so if you know you’re going to be doing a Meet & Greet after some walks or visits, be sure to pack an extra set of clean clothes with you as you complete your route for the day just in case. You might also want to wear a shirt with your company’s logo if you have one, especially if you sell them and they are available to your clients. They’re an excellent way for clients to assist you in advertising your business!

2. Be Punctual

Being on time for the Meet & Greet is a simple but essential step that can easily demonstrate your reliability to the client you’re meeting. Plan your route ahead of time and, depending on your method of transportation, do what you need to do in order to ensure that you arrive on time. If you have to take public transit, for example, make an effort to take the earliest bus or train you can so that, even if a delay occurs, you may still have enough time to arrive on schedule for the Meet & Greet. Having extra time can also help to account for any time lost to traffic if you’re driving or if they live in a difficult-to-find building. If you find yourself running late, though, call the client as soon as possible to let them know and apologize for your tardiness. Accidents and unforeseen circumstances can always arise, and clients are much more likely to be understanding if you keep them informed of the situation and do your best to estimate when you will arrive.

3. Greet The Client And Their Pets

In households with friendly pets, they will likely be at the door to greet you alongside your prospective client. It gives clients peace of mind to know that their dog walker or pet sitter loves their pets, so if they’re there with tails wagging or exuberant meows, bend or kneel down to greet them with the same enthusiasm they’re giving you. Be sure to greet the client as you do, but in most cases, they won’t be put off if you greet their pet first, and you may even find it to be a huge positive in your favor! Showing interest and excitement for their pets off the bat is a great way to begin a Meet & Greet and can do a lot to reassure clients.

If the client has more reserved pets, respect their space and don’t force yourself on them. Assure the client you’ll give the pet a wide berth and let them come to you when they’re ready. This consideration for their pet’s specific needs and temperament is also a quality that pet parents will be sure to appreciate, especially if they have pets that struggle with strangers or have additional needs regarding their handling.

Pet parents also love to hear compliments about their pets, so make sure to mention how good-looking, well-behaved, or clever their pet is, and that you’re looking forward to getting to know them. Being fully engaged and attentive with a client and their pet is critical to establishing a bond of trust between them and your company, and it’s a very easy thing to do during your first meeting.

4. Review Information And Instructions

After introducing yourself to the client and their pets, it’s a good idea to sit down and verbally review the information and care instructions they submitted through your online forms or, if you didn’t have them fill out anything ahead of time, provide them with the forms they need to fill out and give them some time to fill them out here. You may also want to consider filling the forms out yourself and using them as a means to ask the clients questions and get the information you need while allowing conversation between you to flow rather than waiting for them to fill everything out on their own. After you get the necessary information you need from them, you can ask them to provide any signatures your Service Agreements require.

As mentioned in the previous section, you should have note-taking tools ready to capture any additional details the clients may provide. If they filled out their information before the meeting, use this opportunity to ask for clarification or more information on details or instructions that weren’t explicitly clear or raised questions for you or your staff members. Understanding exactly what a pet’s needs are and what the client expects for each visit is important, especially when it comes to information regarding medications and how much a pet needs to be fed at each meal. If a pet has any special needs or health issues, getting any details wrong can be catastrophic, so take special care when noting these specific care instructions.

5. Show And Tell About Your Company

Once you and the client have reviewed everything you need to know about their pets and their care, it’s time for you to tell them a little bit more about yourself and your company. While we mentioned it as an optional endeavor in our list above, a presentational booklet about your company can be handy here. If you have one, this is a great place to turn the information over to the client and briefly discuss what is on each page. If you don’t have a presentational booklet, prepare some talking points ahead of time so you can go over who you are, how their sitter came to be with your company (if you aren’t the one assigned to the visits), and how your company operates.

You should also tell your client about how you started your pet care business and why. Pet parents love to hear such stories and learn about the passion pet care business owners have fueling them and how they got to be where they are. If you haven’t told your story to any prospective clients yet, practice with some friends and family members so that you can get really comfortable explaining why you love what you do,

You should also review some of your company’s policies and protocols. They may have already signed your contract, but they may have only skimmed it and did not take the time to read through it and ensure they understood everything. There’s no need to review the entire contract with them, necessarily, but you should still highlight your company’s most important policies, such as scheduling, cancellations, payment process, what happens in inclement weather, and what the rules are on having visitors aside from your staff in their home while they’re away. That way, your clients will have a good understanding of the process of going into their first round of pet care services with your company.

6. Do A Home Walk-Through

After you’ve gone over all of the information you and the client both need, request that the client take you on a tour of their home to show you where all of their pet supplies are located. You will want to know where their food, leashes, medication, litter boxes, crates, and toys are, but you should also ask what utensils and dishes should be used to prepare food or medications, as the clients may have particular preferences for such things. If you are looking after a kitty and they get wet food or their litter box uses liners, you should be sure to inquire where objects like can covers or litter box liners might also be. Cleaning supplies locations and disposal instructions for pet waste are also paramount.

If you’re staying overnight at the client’s residence, be sure you understand where you are expected to sleep, where you should shower, what rooms have doors that should remain shut, when the trash should be taken out, and what (if any) food or utensils the clients are okay with you using in the kitchen. There are other details you should be sure to go over, as well, but those are some of the bigger ticket items you want to ensure you cover. Again, bring along something to take notes with so that, as they show you around, you can make additional notes or take photos/videos of what you’re being shown to refer to later so you can ensure you know where everything is or how to prepare a pet’s food or medication.

7. Test The Keys

Whether you’re keeping the client’s keys on file for your team’s use or using a lockbox for upcoming services, you should always test any and all keys you receive at the Meet & Greet to ensure they are working properly. You also want to be sure you have a key for every lock and that there is a plan in place should you need an extra set.

If you are keeping the keys on file with yourself, a team member, or at your company’s office until they are needed, tag them immediately so you can remember who they belong to. You should always be sure to bring along key tags to the Meet & Greet or have the supplies on hand to make because misplacing keys or getting them confused with another client’s keys can lead to grievous future errors. If the client is using a lockbox, ensure it’s already set up so that you know its location, and test the combination to ensure you know how to operate it and that it’s fully functional.

8. Closing Out

Before you leave the client’s residence or sign off of your virtual meeting room, be sure that you have addressed all of the client’s questions and concerns. If you have any follow-up questions or points you want to cover with the client, double-check that you have covered each of those. Once you’re sure you have covered everything, let the client know what the next steps are.

For example, if you have pet sitting software and clients are able to book or request their services online or if they need to pay in advance or make a deposit for their services, be sure they are clear on how to do so and that they will need to complete those steps before services can move forward.

Once all the logistics have been dealt with, say goodbye to both the pets and the client when you leave, and let the pets know you’re looking forward to seeing them again soon.

9. Update Client And Pet Information

As soon as possible after the Meet & Greet, update any existing client and pet information you have on file with the new information you gathered during the consultation. Include as much detail as possible (and photos or video where appropriate) so you don’t need to rely solely on your memory during the visits. This is also important so that if another staff member will be doing some or all of the visits or if an emergency arises and someone needs to take your place, they’ll know exactly what to do.

10. Follow Up

After the Meet & Greet, email the client, thanking them for their time and letting them know how nice it was to meet them and their pets. If you have pet sitting software that supports communication with your clients, such as Time To Pet, send the message through that channel as a way to help your new clients get accustomed to how they’ll be receiving updates from you and your company moving forward. If you have already scheduled their services, confirm the booking and, if not, remind them of the next steps and how they can request services from your company. To close out your follow-up with the client, tell them how they can reach out to you if they have any questions or concerns, and let them know how much you’re looking forward to caring for their pets.

Infographic showing a checklist of what to do during a pet care Meet & Greet

Who Should Go To The Meet & Greet?

If you’re a solo pet sitter, the answer is easy – you’ll be the one attending any and all Meet & Greets with new clients. However, if you have a company with employees or independent contractors, you will need to decide whether or not you want to conduct Meet & Greets yourself, if you want to have your team members do them, or if you want the staff member(s) doing the visits to accompany you so the clients can meet you in addition to their assigned pet sitters. As your business scales, you may even have a dedicated staff member or an Office Manager who handles all consultations with clients new to your company.

While it may not be possible, depending on the scope of your business and what you already have on your plate, going to Meet & Greets yourself is always a good idea. As the business owner and face of your company, attending the meeting will allow you to establish a personal relationship with your new client and evaluate whether or not they are a good fit for your business. If you don’t assign staff members to work until after the Meet & Greet has taken place, you can also use your attendance as an opportunity to determine who on your staff is best suited to care for the pets and will meet the client’s needs. Deciding to handle Meet & Greets yourself also saves you from having to pay your team for completing them and avoids any travel or gas expenses the trip may have procured.

If you have staff members and you won’t be the one providing services for a client, it can make more sense to send the staff member who will be performing the visits to the Meet & Greet instead. That way, they can get acquainted with the client, meet their pets, learn about their routines, and see where everything is firsthand. The client may also prefer to meet with the person who will actually be in their home caring for their pets rather than the business owner. Though you will need to pay your staff for their time and travel, delegating Meet & Greets to them can have its benefits by allowing you to focus on other business aspects that may be a more valuable use of your time.

If that is the case for your business, you should train your staff extensively on how you would like Meet & Greets for your company to be conducted. If you do not have pet sitting software or require the client to fill out any forms or sign any agreements before the Meet & Greet, for example, and the staff member will be expected to capture signatures or client and pet information, be very clear with them on what details they need to gather and how they should be taking notes. If they need to collect keys from a client, make sure to outfit them with key tags or the supplies to make them in advance and advise them to test out any keys or lockbox combinations they are given.

If multiple staff members will be completing the visits, be sure to communicate this clearly to the client and decide whether or not all team members assigned to the visits will be in attendance.

You can also use a hybrid approach to decide who attends your company’s Meet & Greets. For example, you and the primary staff member responsible for carrying out the visits for a client can perform the Meet & Greet together. If you have a dedicated office team or senior team members who help you to train new staff or handle emergencies in the field, you can also consider teaching them to conduct Meet & Greets to ensure that an experienced member of your team is capturing all of the necessary information and putting forth the best impression of your company possible.

Another option is that if more than one staff member is assigned to a client’s events, you can require all of them to attend the Meet & Greet. By having more than one staff member attend a Meet & Greet, regardless of the situation, you will have two staff members who have met the client and their pets and are familiar with their routines and residences. This can be helpful in emergencies if something happens with the primary sitter and a backup staff member is needed for the visits. Having multiple people attend the Meet & Greet can also help clients understand and get comfortable with the fact that they are hiring a team of pet sitters, not just a single person.

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Should You Charge for Meet & Greets?

Many pet sitters wrestle with whether it’s right to charge clients a fee for a Meet & Greet. On one side of the argument, you must recognize that your and your staff’s time is valuable, and it makes sense that you should be paid for it. You are taking time out of your days and putting money and resources toward traveling to a new client’s residence and capturing all of the necessary information to provide care for their pets. While some believe that the pet care company itself should bear the brunt of those costs, you are still providing a service to clients by allowing them a chance to meet with you and your team and taking the time to ensure everyone is comfortable, that all the information has been covered, and that your company policies and protocols are understood. While some believe a Meet & Greet should always be complimentary, it’s always easy to see where it makes sense, and it is entirely fair to charge clients a fee for their Meet & Greet.

However, this can be a deterrent to some clients, and some may feel that having to pay to meet a pet sitter they haven’t even decided to hire may make them look at other options. On the other hand, pet sitters who do charge for Meet & Greets often report that those very clients that the fee deters are usually the exact kind of clients they don’t want to be serving. Their ideal clients are those who have no problem paying for a Meet & Greet and are serious about hiring them. Those who are just shopping around or don’t value their team’s time aren’t suitable for the clientele they are looking to serve. That is something you should be sure to take into account as you decide your own company’s policies on the matter.

If you are concerned about weeding out unsuitable clients throughout your onboarding process, charging for the Meet & Greet isn’t the only way to discourage non-ideal clients from following through with using your services. By having a phone consultation (or, at the very least, a conversation) or requiring clients to fill out their information or sign your company’s service agreements prior to the Meet & Greet, you should be able to avoid the majority of troublesome clients whether or not you decide to offer your Meet & Greet as a free service or charge for it.

Other options also exist between charging clients for a meet-and-greet and offering them as a complimentary service. Some pet care businesses charge a fee for the Meet & Greet but then credit that amount toward future services the client books. Others don’t charge for the Meet & Greet itself but instead charge a registration fee to clients who decide to sign up with them. Even still, some pet care companies with a team of staff members will offer a free Meet & Greet with the business owner with the option of paying an additional fee to meet with the primary sitter assigned to their visits.

There is no one-size-fits-all solution to this quandary, so it is important to carefully consider your business, its priorities, and what you feel will work best for you or your team. If your chosen process isn’t working down the line, it’s never too late to make changes and update your policies!

Dog sitting on sofa couch

What If A New Client Isn’t A Good Fit?

As we have already discussed, arranging to do a phone consultation with all prospective clients inquiring about services with your company before meeting them in person or having them provide all of their details and pet information in advance of the Meet & Greet, you should be able to spot red flags more easily and screen out clients who aren’t going to be a good fit for your company. Depending on your onboarding process, you may be able to discern this well before the Meet & Greet is set to take place. However, some situations will crop up, no matter what measures you have taken, where such a client slips through the cracks. Whether it is because they have downplayed something, forgot to bring it to your attention, or even outright lied about something during your pre-screening process, some issues may not make themselves known until you arrive at the Meet & Greet.

If you have a Meet & Greet with a prospective client and discover something that makes you uncomfortable or renders you unable to provide service to the client, it is important to take steps to protect yourself, your team, and your company from further complications. Maybe you realize their pet has severe behavioral problems that could put you or your pet sitters at risk, or perhaps you discover their home is unsanitary, or they want their pets cared for in an unsafe way or against your policies. Whatever the issue, cutting the cord and refusing service to a client you have just met with can be an incredibly uncomfortable position to find yourself in. Regardless, you can’t let that deter you from doing what is right for yourself and your business.

While in some cases you can afford to be more blunt about the root cause of the problem, such as if a pet’s behavioral needs go beyond your team’s experience level, there are some situations where it’s better not to give prospective clients a specific reason as to why you won’t provide them services. This might occur if a client has a poor personality or you feel the state of their home is unsafe. In such cases, it’s perfectly all right to simply tell the client, “I don’t feel that my company is the right fit for your needs.”

However, you might want to provide more context depending on the situation. If you’re feeling stuck, here are some ways you can tell a prospective client your company won’t be able to provide them services:

  • “Our policy is that …”
  • “For health and safety reasons, we don’t…”
  • “I am not comfortable doing …”
  • “We don’t accept pets who display _____ behavior.”

Typically, it’s best to tell the client as soon as possible once you realize you cannot service them so they aren’t wasting your time or theirs by continuing with the Meet & Greet or next steps. However, if you feel that a client might become aggressive or are uncomfortable having that interaction in person, you can wait to do so via email or a phone call following the Meet & Greet. For more tips, see our incredible Academy article on How To Say No to your clients.

Now that you have the knowledge to master the Meet & Greet, it’s time to get out there and meet some pets!

Make sure to check out our Time To Pet Academy and Blog for more great resources.

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