Put yourself in a pet owner's shoes for a moment. They're about to give house keys, alarm codes and the care of a family member to a complete stranger. So how do you build trust with a new customer? Here are some tips to help you build trust and grow your business.
I don’t have enough fingers and toes to count clients that choose Walk It Like A Dog because the competition was late or didn’t show up to the meet and greet. Over the years, I have had the opportunity to ask clients directly, "Why did you choose us?" Almost everyone I ask says something like, "You called me back quickly, and showed up on time." This feedback is supported by a 2014 study showing the relationship between punctuality and increased "social cohesiveness" along with lower levels of perceived corruption. In other words, being on time makes people think you're more trustworthy. This is a great opportunity to show a new client your company will show up on time for their pet’s appointment.
- Show up ten minutes early to every meet and greet. Take a moment to gather your supplies and read your notes.
- Set alerts. I set 3 alerts on my phone's calendar at two hours, one hour, and thirty minutes before each meet and greet. When my thirty-minute alert sounds, I’m already on my way.
When you're taking care of a customers pet, it's important to them that you communicate everything that happens during a walk. In a 2012 paper published in the Journal of Business Studies Quarterly, researchers studied factors that contribute to trust. They found that open two-way communication positively influenced trust and led to effective collaboration. Scout provides a number of communication tools, such as the report card, but the meet and greet is your opportunity to show the customer that you're competent and that you take communication seriously.
- Make a policy and procedure packet. I review every aspect of how our service works including, but not limited to, pricing, cancellation, dangerous weather, and pet medical emergencies.
- Research shows that having a signed contract influences a buyer's perception of trustworthiness.
- Savvy clients research questions to ask during the interview process. There is no better feeling than a customer struggling to think of a question. When this happens, you’ve sealed the deal.
- Make sure you ask questions. People love talking about their pets. Not only is it a great way to break the ice, it’s your opportunity to find out if this client is a good fit for your company.
Professionalism is important
Research shows that being professional is a direct factor in gaining consumer trust. So what does it mean to be professional in the pet care industry? I've touched on a few things already, such as timeliness. Here are a few more proven factors that can help you put the "professional" in the title Professional Pet Sitter.
- Make eye contact. It has been proven that making direct eye contact can improve trust between people.
- Dress the part. I try to show clients that I'm going to be active with their dog. Modest activewear is appropriate, but don’t be disheveled.
- Reputation matters. I always bring my carabineer with some keys on it. It shows the customer that you have other clients and you can demonstrate how you label their keys. (Check out our recommended gear.)
- Show you're an expert. Have you had clients ask you basic behavior or puppy care questions? Coming armed with common tips and tricks will show you know what you're doing and build a trusting relationship.
Find A Connection
Another way to build trust with a customer is through personal relationships. The most effective form of relationship building is to have a common acquaintance or referral. Absent a referral, having a common interest can help build an informal relationship.
- Take mental notes. During the meet and greet, I try to find a common interest with the client. Maybe you see pictures of them on a mountain biking trip. Let them know you love to mountain bike too. I play fantasy football. When I see football related items around someone’s house, I’ll strike up a conversation about my running back who plays for their team.
Do you have any tips? Let us know in the commentsSources:DiPietro, William R. “Time Punctuality and Social Cohesiveness.” International Journal of Business, Humanities, and Technology Vol. 4 No. 1; January 2014, p.36Shpëtim ÇERRI "Exploring Factor Affecting Trust and Relationship Quality in a Supply Chain Context" Journal of Business Studies Quarterly 2012, Vol. 4, No. 1, pp. 74-90