Today's Veterinary Business

AUG 2018

Today’s Veterinary Business provides information and resources designed to help veterinarians and office management improve the financial performance of their practices, allowing them to increase the level of patient care and client service.

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59 August/September 2018 • TODAYSVETERINARYBUSINESS.COM can be tighter than others. Top veterinary practices use personality tests to ensure that a new employ- ee will fit the culture. They make sure that employee personality traits are as good as their skills. Mul- tiple personality tests are available, from DiSC and Myers-Briggs to the Culture Index and StrengthsFinder. As the saying goes, you can teach aptitude but you can't teach attitude. Make sure your potential recruit will fit in before you say, "You're hired." Fire Quickly Is there a weakest link on your staff? Might you have some- one on your team who weighs down the rest of the crew? Top-shelf employees will not tolerate forever being dragged down by others who break the rules or don't pull their weight without consequence. They would rather find a team where the other members work as hard as they do and their work is rewarded. Con- sider cutting the weaker member loose and allowing your top em- ployees to continue to shine. A classic comment that manag- ers and practice owners hear after they finally fire someone is, "I wish you would had done it sooner." Celebrate There are countless opportu- nities to cheer good news: • Personal accomplishments, such as finishing a marathon, having a baby or getting married. • Professional milestones, such as earning a degree or certificate, learning a new procedure or completing all assigned employee reviews. • Business successes, such as a new hire coming onboard, a work anniversary or reaching a certain production goal. You don't have to break the bank every time somebody has a breakthrough. Depending on the employee, a simple mention, a standing ovation during a staff Dr. Phil Zeltzman's traveling surgery practice takes him all over eastern Pennsylvania and western New Jersey. He is Fear Free certified. Kat Christman, CVT, contributed to this article. meeting, a thank-you note, a funny award or a small gift certificate are nice gestures that show you care. Supervise Your Supervisors Sometimes, a valuable employee leaves not because of you or your practice but because of a direct su- pervisor. Whether they embark on ego trips, take all the credit or treat their underlings as dirt, supervisors can knowingly or unknowingly drive people to quit. Don't Remain in the Dark Few practice owners or managers conduct exit interviews. Although these sessions can be painful when an employee shares an uncomfortable truth, exit inter- views can reveal problems in your practice that you might not be aware of. If you hear the same com- plaint several times after "good people" quit, believe what they say. Maybe they can't stand the office manager, your temper tan- trums, a colleague or a supervisor. Believe them. As a traveling surgeon, I hear all kinds of complaints, big and small, shared by anesthesia tech- nicians. Grievances are strikingly similar from practice to practice: a lack of appreciation, micromanag- ers, bullying by a supervisor, lazy teammates, toxic employees. One recurring theme is a lack of trust. Some of our veterinary col- leagues don't allow their creden- tialed nurses to place IV catheters or intubate patients. If your turnover is high or you feel unhappiness among your staff members, use the suggestions above to prevent or stop the hemorrhaging. 10 9 8 7 What I would have liked to hear from my veterinarian's recep- tionist is this: "Ms. Klein, I expect the technician to be out in about five minutes to bring you into an exam room. Will that work for you and Thurston?" That statement would have given me time to take him for a quick walk or send a quick work email. There is nothing worse than starting a draft email and not being able to finish the thought. When checking for alignment, be ready for verbal affirmations or indications of concern. Also watch for positive nonverbal cues that the client agrees with you (eye contact, an affirmative nod, a smile) or doesn't (a glance downward, a weight shift, fidgeting with car keys). Modify as Needed Most clients understand that emergencies happen, and they appreciate that your practice would do whatever is needed if their pet needed supplemental or sudden medical care. Giving clients the opportunity to respond and to be part of a solution upfront can lead to increased loyalty. It's not uncommon for clients to become more loyal when the veterinary team helps a pet owner successfully move through a challeng- ing customer experience. Don't look at delays, cost concerns or small mistakes as dissatisfiers but as ways to solve problems together and improve the client relationship. One theoretical solution in my case could have been this: "Ms. Klein, we are running about 15 minutes behind due to a surgery that took longer than antic- ipated this morning. I apologize for the delay. If the new timing doesn't work for you, I can reschedule you for tomorrow, or you can leave Thurston here for a few hours, we'll look at his ears and you can pick him up and meet with the doctor at 4 o'clock. What works for you?" The client has been offered a choice, the decision is back in her hands and your recep- tionist and practice are viewed as helpful and flexible. A common an - noyance — waiting room delays — has turned into a loyalty-driving experi- ence for the client. Exceed Expectations Setting expectations clearly, check- ing for comprehension and being willing to modify the circumstances will promote positive outcomes in all kinds of situations. Your practice likely does this when communi- cating the cost of more expensive services and medications. Why not do this with general services as well? Consider calling or texting pet owners before they arrive to communicate schedule delays or changes and to offer flexible solutions, even if you are only a few minutes behind and anticipate catching up later in the day. Over- delivering and exceeding expecta- tions is never a bad thing. The veterinary team can take the same approach when setting expectations with each other. For example: "I'm heading back soon to clean out the supply closet and do inventory. I'll be gone for about 45 minutes. I have about five minutes now if anybody needs something before I get started." Being conscientious and deliberate about communicating expectations with clients will create a more positive experience and generate more loyalty and referrals. You'll experience fewer misunder- standings and develop a smooth- er-running practice. 3 Veterinary industry veteran Jennifer Klein owns the Portland, Maine, consulting firm Imbolc LLC. Continued from Page 57 Watch for positive nonverbal cues that the client agrees with you ... or doesn't. 4

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