'Vacation reports' communicate value to clients


Fill clients in on their pets' activity during boarding by offering vacation reports.

A boarding client walks in, sets his cat carrier down, and opens the door. Socks sticks his nose out, trots over to his usual condo, and settles in for the weekend. Yeah, right! Truthfully, you and your team are probably more familiar with Monster Kitty. This cat clings to both sides of the carrier and swipes sharp claws at anyone who dares to get too close. "We board some cats that would happily bite our arms off every time we feed them," says Cheryl Waterman, CVPM, practice manager at the Cat Clinic of Johnson County in Lenexa, Kan. Most cats don't like being boarded and most cat owners don't like leaving their furry children behind—even if they're headed for a relaxing beach vacation.

One way to ease clients' concerns about leaving their pet with you is to offer a full report on the pet's behavior when they return. Boarding reports—or "vacation reports," as the Cat Clinic calls them—clue clients in to their pet's behavior, disposition, and activity level while they were out of town. This not only eases their concerns and helps them feel good about their decision to board, it also conveys value and shows you care about the pet.

At the Cat Clinic of Johnson County, the team hatched the idea for vacation reports during a brainstorming session. "We thought it would be great to have something to give clients that included appetite, activity, disposition, and litter box information all on one little card for clients to take home with them," Waterman says. The reports are written from the cat's perspective with comments such as "I demanded lots of attention," "I missed you terribly," or "I napped a lot."

Each condo has a card attached to it so that the patient care coordinators can track certain items during the cat's stay. They monitor food intake, stool and urine output, and attitude, and write additional comments. At the end of the cat's stay, before the client comes to pick up the cat, they fill out the vacation report using the information from the card on the condo. And the patient care coordinators work humor into the report with handwritten comments such as, "Rosie is a lovely cat, and we'd love to be closer to her, but she says 'back off!' We welcome her back anytime, regardless." The reports are a huge hit—clients love them.

"Our clients want to know about their cat's demeanor while they're gone," Waterman says. "This form gives them all that information." Waterman and her team do what they can to make the boarders' stay as comfortable as possible, and the vacation report is proof—clients see that the team knows what's going on and doesn't just stick the cat in the cage with some food and water. Clients can tell by looking at these reports that the team knows the cat's personality, and that goes a long way in making boarding a less stressful experience for clients.

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