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…