I spend a lot of time trying to fit in. I want to be noticed but only a little bit. My best friend Kristin doesn’t share this problem. When she walks in the room, everyone notices. She is the funny one, the cute one, the bubbly one, the one everyone enjoys being around. But, for me, I feel incredibly awkward if I stand out too much. I prefer to stand NEXT to Kristin and not be too noticed. I don’t do well to be the only one hanging out there to sink or swim on my own. I prefer the “buddy system” in nearly every occasion.
When I started Vet2Pet it was pretty evident that my life strategy of “fitting in” wasn’t going to help me create a successful company. If I wanted to make a difference in my profession I was going to have to stand out. So, I put on my big girl underwear and started sharing my ideas….at corporate meetings, in the boardroom, at conferences, at dinners where I didn’t know a soul. It’s still awkward for me but I am starting to see what it is like to be Kristin and there is something to be said for “not fitting in” and to be viewed as someone special in the crowd.
Nothing can be more true for our clients. While the bulk of our clients are not asking to be front and center for attention, they still enjoy being noticed. It feels good to think there is someone on the planet thinks you’re special.
The key to building a successful practice is finding a way to make each of your clients feel special. And it’s much easier for us than say a dentist…because each of our clients are attached to cute little animals. If you can harness in on this, I have no doubt your client loyalty will increase.
Here are a few ideas to help you make your clients feel special:
- Paint a wall in your lobby with chalk paint and write the names of each pet coming in for surgery that day on the wall.
- Use an app or a text messaging service to send special updates to your clients when their pets are in the hospital.
- Make notes about your patients in your medical record like “what is their nickname” and “what is the weirdest thing they like to do”, then use that in conversation when they visit you.
- Send a “Get Well Soon” bone or toy to your patients after a major surgery or dental
- Prepare your kennels for surgery and drop off patients by decorating a nameplate, have a cozy fuzzy blanket and stuffed animal waiting for them.
For a number of years, I have cared for around little tabby cat named Sheba. She is simply adorable (as my 10-year-old niece says about every cat she sees!). She was adopted as a young adult from the local shelter many years ago. She had been in the shelter for a while and had taken to mothering a new arrival, a little 12-week old kitten named Bandit. She cleaned him, slept with him, and shared her food bowl with him. I guess she preferred the buddy system too. When my client visited the shelter for a new cat, she found Sheba….and her sidekick. She took them both.
Later in life, Sheba developed Diabetes and had to get insulin shots twice a day. She had to visit me regularly by herself for bloodwork and rechecks, something she didn’t particularly enjoy. But, I learned she dearly loved being combed and eating Royal Canin treats. Before each visit, we would get the comfy mat on the table, get the comb out and have a pile of her favorite cookies waiting for her.
Sheba died a few months ago at the age of 17. Bandit is having to find his way as an only cat now but I’m sure being spoiled rotten by his owner. I miss seeing Sheba, but it makes me smile to think that maybe we made her feel a little bit like my best friend Kristin when she walked into the room.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org.