I have a general question for the sitters among you.
In my application, I usually offer to visit the HO’s house beforehand. This usually increases my chances and the HO’s trust in me because they have the chance to get to know me beforehand.
However, I now realize that this costs me a lot of time and money. I just visited a house where I’ve only been sitting for three days. I didn’t really think the time and effort was justified because the session was so short. For the HO it’s a matter of 20 minutes, for me it’s much longer with the travel and so on.
So my question to you: Who of you visits the HO beforehand? And do you think it’s necessary?
Thanks for your opinion!
Honestly, don’t think it’s necessary to do a visit and you’re right @Lena_Ria, it’s costly. We always do a video call before accepting/confirming but that’s it. Nearly all are sits aren’t local and are often overseas so that also plays a big factor We’ve only ever done it once and really, we’d confirmed already and it was simply to collect keys on the way to another sit. For long, complex sits we think there’s more value in doing an overnight stay with the animals & HOs before they leave on their trip. PS We get about 90% of the sits we apply for to caveat that method.
Not necessary. Just do a video call
We did it when we were new and didn’t have reviews on this platform and the sits were local.
We also like to do video calls before confirming a sit as they save everyone time .
Have had virtual handovers on video call too (when we would be arriving after the owners had left ) …the day before they did a walk round their home on video call showing us where things are . It’s very helpful in conjunction with a thorough welcome guide and I’ve suggested this to future homeowners where we will be arriving after they have left .
I have never done that. So far, I have not done a sit in the country where I live (Sweden).
It is not even always that I had a video chat with pet owners.
But when I sometimes read here horror stories about sitters in unsanitary conditions… well, that kind of thing should be taken care of by previous sitters writing feedback on the site.
Unfortunately, the feedback cannot be trusted in such cases. (A blind review system is not going to have a major effect on that, I am afraid. Even fewer will write that the place was filthy.)
We have visited all our sits in the weeks before but that was because we have been mainly doing sits in London and we have been lucky that we have been able to make a visit whilst in the local area, each time on a sit and visiting the next although they are not back-to-back. I don’t think though I would spend a lot of time and money on travel to do this as there are other ways such as a video call. Having said that they are useful - whilst a video call can provide an opportunity for a very helpful exchange of information actually having a tour of the house, understanding its quirks etc really helps and means the owner doesn’t have to spend so much time with us whilst they are getting ready to go away and most importantly of course meeting the pet(s) in advance.
We only do it if we are already in the area (walking distance from sit to sit) and even then we get out of it exactly the same as we do on a video call.
The positives, I think, are that the home host gets complete confidence that you will arrive on time and also, if you are competing against some tough competition for the sit then it will definitely get you an extra brownie point if it’s possible to meet in person.
As a HO: I live in a city. I can choose my applicants. Usually, if we are going away there is some specific plan for when we need to leave the house. I use keys, not a door code. If I can’t meet with the sitter in advance, I have to have a neighbor help them with the keys. I prefer not to do that unless absolutely necessary. Because leaving involves rushing and its own stresses, I prefer if sitters are in town and can pick up the keys in advance so I’m not fretting the day of. Even with a guide and demo videos of feeding etc I’ve found sitters always had questions. So my preference is sitters I can show around and give the keys to directly at least a day or two before the sit. HOWEVER, if the best person for the sit won’t be able to stop by before or before we leave, I have on occassion left the keys with a neighbor.
As a sitter, it’s very nice to do an in person handoff. I don’t sit all the time so I don’t see this as a big time suck. My handoffs have all been the same day the HO was leaving. I have also done all of this remotely with a door code and it worked fine. All my sits so far were cats. I only have cats now. If I had a dog or was sitting dogs, I might feel differently.
I will always try and meet the owner before they leave even if we have had a long call and everything is simple and clear. Since I use THS to travel (crazy idea I know) this means ensuring I arrive before they leave and if needed the night before. However the sit would be agreed and accepted without travel.
When I was starting I did local sits and offered to meet them beforehand for a handover or to get keys. For some really close sits where it was very short journey and I had no reviews I went to meet them as part of the ‘selection’ process but I will not do that now as I have enough reviews that they should know I’m capable and trustworthy.
I once traveled 3 hours round trip to someone who had a high needs cat and insisted on it only to find out 2 days later they were still ‘deciding between me and another person’. That person didn’t even live in the same hemisphere so couldn’t do this so why was I being made to do it and why was I still being strung along days later. I cancelled it very quickly.
In short to get some reviews do this for very local sits. Definitely try and meet an owner before they leave so you’re not getting keys from a neighbour. If this isn’t possible make it clear beforehand.
We offer to visit in person for local sits, say up to an hour’s drive away. For other sits we either have a phone call or a video call. I’m sure meeting in person has helped us secure some sits, especially early on when we didn’t have many reviews.
Are you making the offer to visit in person, or are the homeowners requiring you or asking you to do that? Because if you don’t want to, there are many homeowners who are fine without such. Personally, I’d avoid homeowners who seem demanding or anxious.
I’ve done nine sits since March and have flown in for all (and have other such sits booked), so the most I’ve done are video or phone calls.
In one case, a homeowner invited me unsolicited, before I’d done any sits on THS. At the time, I didn’t have any reviews or recommendations, so they just went off my profile. It turned out to be a lovely sit, including a car and a comfortable and clean home in a beautiful U.S. coastal city. Very sweet dogs, easy to care for.
With THS sits, I’ve accepted a couple without any video or phone screen. One turned out to be my best sit ever, in the U.K. The other hasn’t happened yet.
In work life, I hire many telecommuters, whom I don’t meet in person. We use video. Have done that for many years and it works fine. I’ve also accepted senior-level jobs that way. I mention that, because increasingly there are people with such experience and their comfort levels rise with video screening.
I don’t think it’s necessary, but if you are sitting for a pet that has some “issues” than visiting ahead of the sit can go along way towards forming a bond with the pet and giving the HO piece of mind.
We have a sit coming up with a puppy mill rescue, lived entire life in the mill. So, we are making an effort to see the dog ahead of the sit.
I’ve only visited one house before the sit, it was a local sit and my first one. All of my other sits have been international so it’s not possible, but I don’t think it’s necessary, a video call does the trick just fine.
We have, a couple of times, popped in for a pre-sit visit to meet the hosts & pets but only if we were already in the area and only if we would not be meeting the hosts on arrival. The one and only time we did a pre-sit visit before confirming the sit was in our early days and it was a disappointing experience. We were in Australia and we made a 200km round trip to visit a host who had enthusiastically invited us over. This was pre 5 app limit and the host was on 4-7 apps & had not chosen a sitter so we assumed this visit was just a formality & the sit was a done deal! But after all that driving, and an hour long visit, we were ready to confirm the sit. But the hosts then announced they’d let us know later as they had another couple coming over in half an hour!! We felt immediately deflated & let down & as soon as we got in the car we cancelled our application. This lack of transparency was disheartening but we learnt from it. Now we would only do a pre sit visit, if absolutely necessary, and only for a confirmed sit.
So I would say now, after more than 80 sits, that a video call is usually more than enough. If you have time to overlap for a personal handover- great. If you are invited to overnight the night before for a more relaxed handover -also great. For an unpaid exchange like we do on THS you need to weigh up the pros and cons of a pre-sit visit.
E.g for a short sit do you really want that extra effort and cost? Maybe find an easier way- you can always do a video call and ask for a video tour of the home & meet the pets virtually.
For a longer sit- say a month or more- it could be advantageous to make a pre visit- if it is not too much action to get there- as we’re talking about precious lifetime here- and unless its completely clear its a heavenly sit you may want to check out certain things e.g the bed situation (we have had some less than desirable mattresses!!)
But we have also confirmed many sits overseas when a pre sit visit was not possible. In fact our very first sit was 1 month over Christmas in another country and we only had a phone call! This was in 2018 when video calls were rare! But it all worked out perfectly.
The more reviews you have the more hosts should rely on your experience & reputation without needing a pre-sit visit. Let your experience speak for itself!
@Lokstar Good grief, can’t believe that HO had you make such a trip to “interview.”
I’ve never visited beforehand, so apparently don’t think it’s necessary. Video calls are the way to go.