Regardless of your political affiliations, I think that we can all agree on the fact that this Presidential Election has changed the landscape of politics as we know it. Many, many lessons are being learned, and the old way of doing things has effectively gone away forever. The biggest change is simply transparency. Candidates, voters, everyone now knows that there is nothing to hide anymore, that the super digital, superfast, super machines of the 21st century will always be working to give clarity to voters that in the past would not have been attainable. These change will bring more accountability, and more clarity to so many times in our lives that we now have to adjust and assume that if someone or something really wants to see thru the smoke, it will happen sooner or later.
Can you see where this is going in relation to your practice, staff, clients and community? The reality is that we need to apply the same principals of transparency to our hospitals each and every day. The faster a practice can show their true colors, the better chance that it will attract the right kind of business. Explain, you say Dan….
It’s like this: no ONE business is perfect, and no TWO situations are ever, EVER the same when it comes down to it. Whether it is a bad review correctly or incorrectly assessed that lives forever in cyberspace, or a service that you may not provide or feel comfortable providing, or in a more likely scenario, that client that is just not working out, the quicker you can get to the truth, and offer an honest explanation, good or bad, the better off. Information moves just too quickly these days, and bad info ever faster. Don’t be afraid to say “no” if the answer is NO. But always be prepared to back up a “no” with a reason. Even if a client or employee or whomever does not like the reasoning given for why the practice would prefer if they took their dog somewhere else, or that the employee needs to put a limit on the time spent on the phone during work hours-whatever the case may be, be clear and be quick to get to the point. You will sleep better at night and be able to have closure on the spot without letting feelings or thoughts of how you should have handled a situation continue to nag at you long after the fact. In the moment, it may feel very uncomfortable, but as soon as you are transparent with the situation and hit it head on 100%, not 60& not 75% not 99%, you can move on and not waste any of your valuable time and energy constantly glancing in the rearview. You can just drive straight down the transparency highway and maybe even crank up the tunes!
Thanks for joining me....share your thoughts.
It happens in every business, in every industry, in every country, and who knows, even maybe in other universes. Each and every independent business owner thinks that their business is different. And you know what, they are right. That is, in part, what drove that particular individual to be in business for themselves in the first place. That feeling that they could bring a different perspective, approach, vision, model to a particular industry that also has others trying to do exactly the same thing.
And I agree. The spirit of the business owner is unlike any found anywhere else. Pioneer, visionary, do-er- all holy grail compliments to someone in business for themselves.
So it should come as no surprise to you that practically every Veterinary practice that I visit all initially have the same kind of response to what we offer for the independent practice. It goes something like this: “Oh but that won’t work for us because our practice is DIFFERENT!” Again, not gonna argue with that. They are right in what they are saying, but there are 3 sides to every story, opinion etc. Yours, mine and the TRUTH. And the truth is that all of these “differences” have “similar” re occurring themes. Before I get too much further, it’s important to recognize what kind of courage it takes to be in business, any kind of business, for yourself. And because of that, business owners have a heightened sensitivity to all things relating to their business. It is difficult to hear that a business that one feels has so much of their own personality and self invested into could have generic similarities to others, but it is the case,. And that is a good thing!. It means that you are not alone, your business is not alone, and that, because others are having similar issues, that there is a market for what you do, and good, honest, unbiased help for any areas that may need attention in that business. Admitting that your business has some of the same issues as others in your industry can actually make it much more individual because you recognize that to keep it special and all yours, you need to address some areas that thankfully there is help available for, BECAUSE some other business owner has also experienced the same issues at some time, and done the heavy lifting already for you, to help you keep your business, practice, as unique as I already know it is! It’s why good parents often say “Never be afraid to ask for help”.
And it’s like I always say, “ Do you want to be right, or do you want to be rich!?!”
Thanks for reading and keep at it.
The title of this may seem so obvious, right? The client sees the Vet 1st, yes? NO, and nooooooooooo. Possibly one of the most common clichés is that you “NEVER get a second chance to make a first impression.” Guess what, either does your practice. And believe it or not, as good as you, the Veterinarian or practice manager may be in that practice, you could be in serious danger of creating a bias against it without ever even getting to make that 1st impression. Why? Well very simple: someone else, someone that YOU pay a good salary to, may have beat you to it. I’m talking about the FRONT DESK, the face of your practice, and maybe the only chance that you have.
Do you know why, in 38 seconds of walking thru the hundreds of practices that I have been to, I can, with 98%, tell what kind of practice it is? The answer is: YOUR FRONT DESK. Now, that is slightly oversimplified, but it’s mainly true. My other senses come into play, including SMELL and SOUND, but really it is about that 1st impression that whoever is there to greet me, gives off.
Ideally, the folks that work at the front should be BETTER than you could ever be yourself in that position. When was the last time that you quietly listened to the action up front? How clients are greeted, how they are treated in less than ideal circumstances? Your clients are already quite vulnerable when they walk through your doors. Even if they are there for a scheduled wellness check-up, vet visits are just as stressful, in most cases, for the owner as they tend to be for the pet. Your clients are on guard when it comes to bringing in their pets- what other animals will be in the waiting room, how long will they have to wait, is Fido acting strange since he walked in? Pet owners channel a lot of what the pets feel. If they are aware that the animal is stressed, they will be stressed, very similarly to how we would react if our young child was feeling something, good or bad, that they couldn’t quite express. We are their guardians.
With that in mind, I believe that the real test is if your staff gives that kind of consideration and thought to each client and pet that comes in every appointment, every day, or if they are there just doing the job, more or less, and running thru the motions? Let me tell you that even for the best staff members can pitfall over time. It’s natural, and quite normal, frankly.
I am not revealing any secrets or anything that you don’t already know or suspect. My goal with this article is to motivate you to check back in up front and take an honest look. Think about if you were a client in your own practice. Is that impression that you are getting when you walk in line with your own perception of your practice, or have you settled for just being grateful to have the help, and lowered the bar? I would be very interested to hear your feedback. It seems all very obvious, I know, but since it is such a critical moment, isn’t it worth another look? It could be the difference between seeing that client again or not…
Like it or not you ARE a retailer…
Whether you want to believe it not, your practice is really very similar to any retail store front on Main Street USA. In fact, some of the gripes that practices have regarding “that particular client” are probably more the norm than the exception in the “traditional” retail store. In most cases retailers (brick and mortar store fronts) will tell you that just when they think that they have seen it all, they see something new! But for some reason, Vet practices are often surprised that they are not immune to the windfalls of being open to the public, just like a café, clothing store, bank etc. etc.
So why not embrace this and look at some of the upsides of having a storefront open to joe public? Let’s take a quick look at the top 3 advantages of having a “retail storefront” embedded in your practice. *Note that
One of the resounding experts in the field and what really is a science of merchandising and product display, is Martin Pegler. His series of books aptly titled: “Visual Merchandising and Display” (Fairchild) is considered by most who are “in the know”, as the holy grail of VM. I had the honor of having a private lunch with Mr. Pegler about 6 years ago, and his passion and spirit and truly innovative mind for that industry was truly remarkable. I would highly recommend picking one his books up and I guarantee that you will have a newfound outlook on your own front retail space, no matter if you have 5 sq. ft. or 500 sq. ft. to dedicate to product. Pegler can show you a few of the basics that will revolutionize this part of your business, and you may just find your inner marketing spirit in the process!
I will save the story of how my copy of his book found its way to me for another time! Let’s just say that even though commercial stores are very and far between in Nantucket, they did somehow manage to put a mall in Madaket…….
Substitute “Veterinarian” for “Architect”......
Just like every other business owner and operator, I am B-U-S-Y. Each day challenges me and I it to make improvements in an effort to deliver a valuable service while earning the income deserved, and set new goals and ways to achieve them. But when a colleague sent me the link to the article below, I had to stop what I was doing right there, share it. Starting this blog has been on the lingering ‘to do’ list, but when I saw the link to this article entitled “ Architects are Facing a Silent War- the Business of Architecture”, I knew that my blog would be born and off and running. Take the same test that I did, and substitute the word ‘veterinarian’ where you see ‘architect’ and tell me if any of this sounds familiar, if you would on the following link:
One of the main drivers to start ‘DVM Profit Zone’ was to do my part in helping veterinarians earn the income that they deserve, but rarely achieve. It has been a reality in the profession since practices came to Main St USA many years ago, and it has bothered me tremendously since I was a boy, and saw firsthand this unjust disparity. It just never made any sense to me that my dad didn’t make more money for all that he did and knew. Years later, when I finally had the means to do so, I decided to do something about it and came up with a simple tool that will help solve this unjust income crisis By getting much more out of the clients that a Veterinary Practice already has, and utilizing a cost effective, done for you marketing system that drives frequency of client visits, increases client lifetime value by keeping them loyal and longer, and building a stronger referral based practice, Vets can earn more money without being necessarily busier, or even getting a flood of new clients. It really can be as simple as it sounds and I will honor that commitment to positive income growth in the Veterinary Profession as long as I possibly can. Marketing is really simple if you just think of it as communicating. But communication is nothing without consistency, and that’s the real secret to effective marketing. There are no secrets to marketing, but there are basic formulas that, when followed correctly, bring great successes. Thanks so much for reading and reacting. Talk to you soon!