There, I said it. Everyone really knows it but for some reason veterinarians are held to some standard to treat everyone the same. The problem with this is that it is exhausting. Some clients are so awesome…they are kind, empathetic, aware of medical limitations and the fact that veterinarians don’t possess a crystal ball. Other clients though are “awesome- challenged”…they have unrealistic expectations generally based in the fear of losing something they love, financial constraints, lack of trust, inability to listen well and sometimes don’t they like their spouse and you have to run both sides. Exhausting.
I have been a veterinarian now for 20 years next month and what I have learned is that not every client is equal. And the more time I spend spinning my wheels in scenario #2, the less rewarding my day is as a veterinarian committed to helping every patient in my path. In the beginning of my career I based the definition of a “good day” on how many animals I saved. While that is obviously important, I now realize that doesn’t contribute to a good day as much as working with clients that “get it”. This is called #VETsquadgoals (see here: http:// www.urbandictionary.com/define.php?term=Squad+Goal)
Have we, as a profession, contributed to this? Is it the philosophy that we need to constantly be recruiting new clients to offset those that are leaving in order to maintain a healthy business without regard to the kind of clients we are recruiting? Maybe an alternative approach is to stop the bleed of clients leaving. Or even better, just focus on the big bleeds and stop those. The veterinary practice of the future is approaching this the same way we master a splenectomy or major surgery…don’t worry about the little bleeders, ligate the big ones and you’ll be fine.
It’s time to think about a new approach aimed at identifying squad goal clients and delivering an ultimate client experience so they would never consider leaving your practice.
Here are 10 tips to make sure clients never leave your practice that you can apply as needed to create a VIP feeling:
- Create a loyalty rewards program so clients can receive perks for being big spenders at your hospital
- Take a photo of the pet and post it on your FB
- Have a “surprise toy box” in your cupboard and let the pet pick out their favorite surprise (Tip: hide some CET chews amongst the stuffed animals and most pets will pick the food keeping your costs down and generally resulting in a purchase of CET chews!)
- Send a bone or mouse toy in the mail after an illness or big procedure as a “get well soon” gift
- Allow pet parents to be with their pet during blood draws, nail trims, and sedations
- Invite pet parents into the “back” when they are dropping off or picking up a pet. This is a very VIP feeling to get to go behind closed doors. (Tip: Have a fluffy blanket and stuffed animal in each pet’s kennel for them so the parents will see this)
- Give them your cell number
- Text your client personally the next day to check on their pet after a big procedure
- When a pet dies, have a tree planted in their name or a garden rock made with their pet’s name engraved on it.
- Remember the little things by being a good note keeper. For example, I know that Sheba (my 13 year old diabetic cat patient) loves to be combed on the cheeks and eat Royal Canin treats during her exam so these things are waiting in the room for her prior to her arrival for an appointment.
Dr. Stacee Santi, CEO/Founder Vet2Pet
Dr. Stacee Santi is a 1996 DVM graduate from Colorado State University and the founder of Vet2Pet, a technology startup that builds personalized custom apps for veterinary practices. With over 20 years of clinical experience in small animal and emergency practice, Stacee brings an “in the trenches” approach to innovation and solutions for veterinary teams. She has also served as a medical advisory consultant for NVA for 5 years, medical director for a general/ER practice in Colorado as well as current President of the Colorado Veterinary Medical Association. She can be reached at email@example.com.