guest post by Nicole Gustas, December 31, 2018
In Part 1 of this article, I provided an introduction to housesitting. In this second part, I'll look at:
- How to approach potential homeowners.
- Starting local, going global.
- What you'll need to know about your sit?
- How to ensure you get a good review.
How to Approach Potential Homeowners
If your profile is the equivalent to your resume, your initial message to a homeowner is the cover letter. Make sure to review their ad carefully. See what specific needs they have and what jobs need to be done. Then focus on what you can do for them, as well as any unique skills or knowledge you bring to the table that fits with their ad.
It was my unique knowledge, in fact, that paved the way to my first housesit. In the ad, the homeowner specified that they kept kosher and that housesitters couldn’t bring pork or shellfish into the house. I messaged the homeowner and mentioned that since I was a vegetarian I absolutely wouldn’t break any kosher laws, but that if they kept separate plates for dairy and meat, as some Orthodox Jewish families do, I’d be happy to stick to the dairy plates. They were so excited that I understood kosher laws and considered them important that they immediately booked me.
If the homeowners contact you for an interview, try to do it over video call. The Skype interview is just as important for you as it is for them. 99% of housesits are amazing, but a recent discussion of worst housesitting experiences on a private Facebook group led to stories about filthy homes and poorly cared for animals. (It’s not just on one side: homeowners had their share of nightmares too.) The unifying theme: “I never did a Skype call before I accepted the sit, and boy did I regret it!” Remember, you’re checking them out too, and you have as much power as they do. If something seems off, just say no.
Start Local, Get Global
You may be dreaming of a free six-month stay in a mansion on Ibiza, but it is unlikely that will be your first sit, or even your sixth. If you want to dip your toe in the waters of housesitting and build up a positive review history, start by applying for sits in your local area. There are often sits that are posted last-minute, with a week or less to go. Those sits have far less competition.
I’ve watched some last-minute sits, even in prime locations, go begging. As I write this, I’m on Cape Cod just after Memorial Day, and I’m going to a gorgeous local home in a prime waterfront location morning and evening to take care of their cat. They could not find a sitter, knew that I was local and asked if I could stop in. Let me repeat: Waterfront location. Cape Cod. June. And they couldn’t land a sitter.
What You Need to Know
Make sure your homeowner tells you everything you need to know, in detail, before you start your sit. Trusted Housesitters has an excellent home guide format that they ask homeowners to fill out.
Pet things you need to know include:
- When and what are they fed?
- What is the contact information for the veterinarian?
- Do they need any medications?
- Do they have any unusual habits?
- Do they need to be played with? Any favorite toys?
- Do they seek attention and affection?
House things you need to know include:
- Are any rooms off limits to the pet? To you?
- What’s the wifi password?
- Do you need to take care of any plants? If so, what is the watering schedule?
- Do they need you to take in the mail?
- When does the rubbish go out?
- What are the contact numbers for handymen if an emergency arrives
Ensure You Get a Good Review
Go the extra mile with your housesit to ensure you get a good review:
- Email or text a photo of the pet(s) every day so they know how their furbaby is doing.
- Follow the pet care rules diligently. Pets need a routine, and some will have severe digestive problems if their food is switched up in any way.
- Keep the house tidy, and make sure to do a round of cleanup before the homeowner returns. If you can make it a little cleaner than it was when they left, all the better! Take out the trash, wash the sheets, do the dishes, etcetera. (Demineralizing the showerhead or sharpening the knives may be over the top, but my partner has actually done this.)
- Restock the cabinets with any food you consumed during your sit.
- Many housesitters make a meal for their homeowners’ return, leave behind baked goods for them, or buy them flowers. Imagine what would make your life better if you came back from a long trip, and then do that for them.
- And always, always leave a thank you note.
Happy New Year.
Nicole Gustas help's tourism businesses solve marketing problems. Nicole describes herself as a nomad, bookworm, scribbler, research junkie, street art fan. Follow Nicole at twitter.com/rednikki, linkedin.com/in/nicolegustas, instagram.com/rednikki