EVER wondered how people get repeat house sits? What people who invite house sitters into their homes are looking for? What they most appreciate about house sitters? How do they get that all-important worry free experience?
There are so many great reasons you might want a repeat house sit.
We have been house sitting full time since August 2018. We’ve completed more than 40 sits so we have a long list of five-star reviews from our hosts. As a result we’ve learned some things along the way about what’s important to them. Our reviews tell us that there are seven main factors.
1. Connection, confidence and security
One of the most consistent things that our hosts have mentioned is a good feeling they get from us. This is one of those intangibles that is created when we make the effort to prioritise our hosts’ and their pets’ needs — really listening to them, communicating well, being available and flexible and confirming our understanding.
For many hosts leaving their pets and home in the care of others is a very emotional experience. Combined with the feelings associated with a long-anticipated holiday or visits to family and friends, it can verge on overwhelming. There are many circumstances that can exacerbate those feelings:
Our hosts often comment that their pets feel comfortable with us and that we like their pets. If hosts don’t get the feeling you are comfortable with their pets they will worry about how well you care for them. And if they worry they will not be happy with you as a house sitter.
2. Like and be able to manage their pets
The stories we’ve heard about house sitters who just didn’t prioritise pets have been surprising to us. Sure, location and the comfort of the home are important. But these things must come second to an affinity for and capability with pets. After all, their pets are the primary reason people seek the help of a house sitter.
It’s important you consider before you apply for the sit the pets you’ll be caring for and whether you like and can handle them. For example, if you’re a single person applying to care for big strong dogs that need lots of walks, consider whether you are physically capable. If you’re a dog person and really don’t like cats (or vice-versa), don’t apply for a house sit where the dog or cat likes lots of affection.
Hosts know their pets’ little idiosyncrasies and how to deal with them. Some house sitters have special skills or knowledge they can share with a host. For example, they might be a dog trainer. If you have those skills by all means share them with the host but, if not, stick to the hosts’ routines and systems. After all, you might be there for only a few weeks and you don’t want to upset any long-established habits and customs.
Communication is critically important to a successful house sit and getting repeat sits. Many hosts who are new (and not so new) to house sitting might, understandably, feel some nervousness about leaving their homes and pets in the hands of complete strangers. How house sitters communicate with them online and in person can transform their whole outlook.
Communicate well so they can enjoy their holiday with peace of mind, know everything is under control back home.
Sending photos and videos is one of the most tangible and effective ways to communicate. To see a happy, lazy cat having a cuddle on the sofa or a beloved dog playing with a ball says so much. As the saying goes, a picture is worth a thousand words. Take snaps on your phone or camera and send them every other day. Your hosts will love it!
4. Be organised
Hosts want to know that they can rely on you, that you’ll turn up when you say you will, that you’ll be able to communicate with them, that you’ve got your travel arrangements sorted and that you’ve got a realistic understanding of what you’ll be required to do while at the sit. They don’t need you to ring up at the last minute to say you’ve missed your flight or have lost their address.
Keep a checklist and make sure you’ve got everything organised that you need to do the sit.
Some things will make a mess of even super-organised travellers but you’ll keep potential disasters to a minimum if you keep and update a checklist.
5. Special touches
We think this makes a big difference and our hosts have commented on it. We try to do something that we know our hosts will appreciate. It’s important to listen to your host and ask the right questions so you know what’s important to them. You could leave a really nice photo of their beloved pet, a thank you card or a small plant or flowers. If you find something that’s easy to do that your host would appreciate, do it. We’ve collected mail, tidied cupboards, made dinner and various other little touches.
The only caveat is to not do anything your host might find intrusive. We would never, for example, enter and tidy a private space such as a bedroom.
6. Arrive early
We try to arrive a day or two early for nearly all our house sitting assignments. This is frequently requested by hosts so that we can meet them before they leave and familiarise ourselves with the house and pets. It’s also our preferred way of starting a sit because we want the opportunity to ask all the questions that inevitably arise. This is particularly true when we haven’t met the hosts and their pets face to face. We usually stay with our host in their home. When hosts don’t have enough room, we book AirBnB or other accommodation nearby and visit the host and their pets.
Again, this is one of the most common things in our reviews that hosts appreciate. It means they can leave knowing that we are confident and well informed about their home and pets.
7. Take the load off the host
When people return from a holiday or a family event they don’t want to clean up after you, wash your sheets, make their bed or have to prepare a meal late at night. It takes very little effort to make sure these things are done before the hosts arrive home. We always check with our hosts how they want the house and our room to be left.
This seems an obvious one but, surprisingly, can be missed by house sitters. Your hosts will leave their home at the standard they expect it to be returned. We aim to leave homes the way we find them or better. This means cleaning and returning everything to its rightful place and dusting, airing and vacuuming the house.
All our hosts have commented on the cleanliness and order of their homes when they return.
And finally ...
These are all the things that our hosts have told us they really appreciate. But every host, every pet and every house sitter is different. Always talk to your host about what’s important to them and to you. They’ll ask you back time after time.