Today's Veterinary Business

OCT 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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Page 58 of 67

57 October/November 2018 • TODAYSVETERINARYBUSINESS.COM waiting? Should the next couple of appointments be asked if they want to arrive 10 minutes late or reschedule? Most importantly, apologetically communicate the delay to waiting clients so they can adjust their schedules accordingly. Let Me Contact You After Hours When I am up with the baby at 2 a.m., scrolling on my phone while I wait for her to fall back asleep, I do my best thinking. If it dawns on me that my pet is past due for an ap- pointment or prescription refill, give me a way to take care of it while the need is fresh on my mind. Online scheduling and portals are great, but even emailing or texting would be sufficient. Likewise, ask me how I would like to be contacted for a fol- low-up. I am much more accessible via text or email, and I would bet many of your clients are the same. Minimize My Homework I feel relatively successful when the day is done and our family has managed to twice feed Marlie, keep her water bowl filled and not hear from the neighbors that she slipped out unnoticed and is at their house again. Unlike human medicine, our industry has managed to retain our laboratories, pharmacies and even retail space that can provide one-stop care for our clients. Let's hold on to that and take things a step further by remembering to offer convenience services, such as long-term, hospital-administered drugs to prevent having to medicate at home and combining fragmented wellness reminders to prevent errant vaccine booster visits. Leverage support staff to handle paperwork like insurance claims, microchip registrations, travel documentation and coupon redemptions. Give Me Clear Instructions Too many times I have left one of my children's many specialist appoint- ments and tried to un- pack the verbal barrage of information oddly presented in some wandering metaphor sprinkled with sarcasm and medical jargon I don't fully understand. During this time I am trying to wrangle my toddler and answer his thousandth "Why?" of the morning. Let's be better communicators at veterinary visits. Speak in bullet points. The client should walk away with marching orders: a basic understanding of what was done, what happens next, a specific timeline for completion and their role in the process. Don't Condemn Me Mom guilt is real and ever- present. Don't add to it. Even if you had the best intentions, the clear instructions you gave at the last appointment will not always be followed. When clients sheepishly call to schedule an overdue well- ness visit, giggle nervously when their dog weighs in at an extra 20 pounds or say they are considering rehoming the cat because they are at their wits' end due to inappropri- ate urination, embrace them. Thank them for contacting you. Congrat- ulate them on choosing to take the moment to prioritize veterinary care. Show clients that you care, you understand and you are willing to help in whatever way you can. Adjusting to the needs of fam- ilies with children doesn't end with the paying customer. In the next issue, I will offer tips for how your practice can successfully employ moms and dads of little ones. Take Charge columnist Abby Suiter is practice manager at Daniel Island Animal Hospital in Charleston, South Carolina. H.R. Huddle columnist Dr. Charlotte Lacroix is founder and CEO of Veterinary Business Advisors Inc. She serves on the Today's Veterinary Business editorial advisory board. might be able to quickly explain Instagram to a baby boomer. If, though, the same millennial is help- ing the baby boomer transition to a telecommuting role, the mindset evolution can take time and energy. Multiple Mentors Sometimes Make Sense Some companies pair a mentee with a primary mentor and then are open to introducing informal mentors so that the learning experience becomes diversified. Using mentors from different demographics — whether age, gender or something else — can be helpful and even enlightening. Being exposed to different points of view from thoughtful members of the practice can be beneficial. Provide Guidance Rather Than Strict Requirements. Your practice will create an overall structure for its mentorship pro- gram and, yes, participants should follow the structure. But a mentor is not there to enforce rules or lecture. Rather, a quality mentor might spend more time asking questions and listening to answers than speaking, and offering advice rather than rock-solid answers. Mentees should be encouraged to listen closely to a mentor and then carefully evaluate how the message fits into their life and career path. Mentees Should Ask Questions The best mentoring relationships are two-way streets, with the mentee being an active partner. Passive listening will go only so far in helping a mentee develop skills and gain knowledge. Instead, an engaged mentee should share what has been helpful, what gaps exist in her knowledge base and skill set, and so forth. In a sense, being mentored should empower the mentee to pass on knowledge to the next person in the practice who needs assistance. Focus on Relationship Development Near the beginning, I shared how modern mentoring resembles coaching, at least more so than in the past. But at its core, mentoring has been and should remain relation- ship-oriented. The mentee should feel safe and nurtured as she learns professional skills through mento- ring. Although this knowledge will likely enhance the mentee's ability to perform tasks, mentoring is not as task-oriented as coaching. Mentoring should help em- ployees at your practice become more self-confident and be able to juggle a work/life balance. While coaching can be performance-driv- en, mentoring focuses on develop- ing the employee, both to improve her skills and knowledge today and to prepare her better for the future. Start a Mentoring Program Be clear about what you want to achieve in your mentoring pro- gram and have a plan in place to measure its effectiveness. Deter- mine who can participate as men- tors or mentees. Can someone, for example, volunteer, or will you select her? Decide how formal or informal the program will be, how often you expect partners to meet, and so forth. Explain the program to your team, adding specifics to the em- ployee manual, and strategically pair mentors and mentees. Invest enough resources to allow the program to succeed, be available to mentors if they need guidance, and use the program to develop your team in a way that dovetails with the practice's goals. 4 5 6 7 8 Continued from Page 55 Leverage support staff to handle paperwork like insur- ance claims, microchip registrations, travel doc- umentation and coupon redemptions. 4 5 6 7

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