The secret that will make your clients love you1st September 2016
Keeping in the good graces of your clients is a must when managing your veterinary surgery. To pet owners, their animals are more than just pets, they’re an important part of their family. As such, they want their animals to receive nothing short of the best care available. To ensure that they return to your surgery for future check-ups and emergency care, fostering strong relationships is key. However, where do you draw the line? At what point can such relationships become a hindrance to the operations of your practice?
“Veterinarians must learn to manage pricing and communicate the value of regular care to avoid deterring pet owners from making annual visits a priority,” said Ron Brakke, in a report for Brakke Consulting. “Veterinarians can take specific actions to grow client traffic and improve pet care. As a profession, veterinarians need a consistent message about the importance and frequency of veterinary care. It is likely that the trend can be reversed, if the proper actions are taken.”
Have your staff agree upon a consensus outlining your practice’s dedication to providing the highest quality animal care and transparency. Ideally, this should be written up and hung inside waiting areas, reassuring clients. Staff should also memorise key points so to avoid contradicting each other during consultations.
If your medical supplier decides to increase their prices or your current revenue stream isn’t sustainable, raising the cost of treatment becomes a necessity. Though clients are never happy about price hikes, they’re more understanding if you explain that it’s necessary for maintaining high levels of quality care in the long run.
“On one level, it can be such a positive for the practice when clients bond with a specific doctor,” reveals Oswego Veterinary Hospital’s administrator, Jessie Merit. “But there must be consistent standards of care in place and a culture where doctors, and the entire staff for that matter, always support one another and show solidarity.”
“When clients sense or experience disagreement or contradiction among colleagues, it can become toxic on so many levels,” Merritt continues. “In that situation the client may not only form a positive bond with one doctor, but harbour negative opinions regarding the others.”
Picking favourites threatens the harmony of your practice. If clients can’t see their favourite vet it could lead to them arguing and slandering the performance of other veterinary staff to coerce their way into their schedule. Clients may also run down staff to other animal owners, recommending the services of a particular staff member. This embroils your surgery in a toxic atmosphere where staff smile at each other through gritted teeth.
If not managed properly, it can affect your finances too. Under pressure from their clients, your staff may feel the need to offer reductions. You must ensure that each vet fully understands the financial impact this causes and why your prices are what they are. Explaining the financial needs of your surgery can make them less likely to cave to client demands.
Although familiarising yourself with a client’s situation is important, it’s important that you educate staff on where to draw the line. They must understand the routine of their client’s animal and their existing conditions to create targeted treatment plans. Though vets can sometimes feel the need to go the extra mile, you must make certain that they know where the boundaries stand and must be aware of when to intervene should they cross it.
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