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  • How To Handle A Negative Comment and Turn It Into A Positive Trait

    Posted March 19, 2012 By in Pet Sitters With | No Comments

    Where do you draw the line with a potential client’s demands?

    One of the things my pet sitting business prides itself on is
    availability. Being accessible to clients and potential clients.
    I’ve learned early on that the pet sitting industry is highly
    competitive, especially in New York.

    I say especially in New York because unlike a rural or suburban area
    where the client homes are spread out in driving distance from each
    other, New York is so dense that you are competing with at least a
    dozen other companies and sitters who can all be at the client’s home
    for the initial meet and greet within 10 minutes.

    I know the importance of making sure each client gets a live person on
    the phone when they call in because they are literally going down a
    list of the first ten Google results of pet sitters in New York.

    If they call and have to leave a message, they are moving on and very
    well may have a conversation with pet sitter #2 and decide to go with
    them and their search is over. If I call them even five minutes
    later, chances are they will not be open to hearing what I have to

    Side note: There are plenty of responses you can give to a potential
    client you call back that says, “Oh, I’ve already spoken with another
    sitter. I’m all set now. Thanks anyway for getting back to me…” but
    that’s for an entirely different blog post.

    I was manning the phones recently and received a call from a potential
    client who was calling around for more info. I was in a meeting and
    had some errands to finish up so I was forced to send this call
    straight to voicemail.

    By the time I got back to my desk ready to return the call, no more
    than 3 hours or so had past. I call the woman back and one of the
    first things she says to me is, “I’m surprised it took you this long
    to get back to me. I called you earlier this morning.”

    On one hand, I was flattered. Flattered by the idea that from just
    visiting our pet sitting website, this woman had already given us the
    benefit of the doubt that we are a professional business, running it
    in a professional and efficient way.

    On the other hand my thought was, “My goodness, this woman is a tough
    cookie.” She wants what she wants when she wants it. Apparently, 3
    hours was a bit long for her to be waiting for a return call. And her
    travel dates were NOT just around the corner.

    Here’s the thing… she’s the potential client. She has every right to
    make the rules.

    Now, I do not mean that she has every right to make the rules on how
    we run our business (quite the contrary) but she does have every right
    to set the rules through her expectations.

    She decided that she wants and expects the pet sitting company she
    hires to call back immediately and/or be available immediately.

    We as the business owners have to play by her rules (expectations) if
    we want her as a client. This is not to say that we have to expose
    ourselves and be a whipping post for every potential client that comes
    our way.

    There are plenty of times a client is expecting too much or becomes
    too difficult to deal with that we feel it best to pass and send her
    on her way. But the woman who expected a call back before 3 hours
    passed is not in that category. We can deal with that.

    So where were we? Oh yea, the phone conversation… she just expressed
    her surprise that ‘it took that long’ to get back to her.

    What do you say in response to her?

    “Sorry, I was in a meeting all morning?” “I was running errands?” “I
    was busy?”

    You could, but it won’t get you very far. Why? Because she’s not
    looking for an excuse.

    She’s looking for a response. She’s testing you to see how you handle
    such a question. If she’s going to establish a long term relationship
    with you and trust you with the care of her beloved pet, she needs to
    get inside your head a bit.

    A drab, even honest, short response won’t do the trick. You need to
    be clever and creative and turn the tables back her way – while still
    being honest.

    Here is the gist of what I say:

    “As you know, I put the words ‘Call Anytime’ on our website because we
    are available to potential new clients and current clients anytime day
    or night.

    “However, being consistently reliable and accessible 24/7 can backfire
    on us at times. My clients are spoiled with total undivided attention
    whenever they need it, that the minute some time goes by and they
    haven’t heard from us, they start to worry.

    “I understand having the reputation of always answering the phone and
    providing unparalleled service to our team can sometimes get me in
    trouble on those rare occasions someone catches me in a meeting.

    “My motto is this: I like to give each of my clients my undivided
    attention and, when you first called, I was in the middle of a first
    meeting with a new client and I didn’t want to be rude to pick up the
    phone at her place. We were going through the instructions, step by
    step, of how to best care for her dog while she’s gone.

    “You, too, can be sure that when you become a new client of ours,
    you’ll be receiving the same undivided attention so we can do the best
    job possible while caring for your pet during your absence. And I’d
    never interrupt a call or meeting of ours by taking another call.”

    Obviously that reply is long-winded but I hope you see the point.

    I didn’t give her an excuse or simply state the reason why I couldn’t
    answer the phone, I turned it around and showed her how it would work
    in her favor.

    There are ways to turn a potential client’s negative comment into your
    favor. Remember, the goal of any phone call is to establish trust,
    display expertise and build rapport.

    So, how would you respond to a potential client saying 3 hours is a
    little long to be hearing from you?

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