Practice Management News and Views from around the World – February 2008

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This month’s important statistic from Onswitch

Which make of car do you drive? Results of a recent survey of UK veterinary surgeons

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Six Steps to Remarkable Service

by Kevin Stirtz

We get a lot of advice about how to deliver great customer service. Many of the tips are reminders of what we already know (but we occasionally forget). And these are useful. But sometimes, we need more than a reminder. Sometimes it’s helpful to have a system or, at least, some steps to follow.

Here is an easy yet valuable road-map I’ve taught in many of my customer service seminars. It’s easy to understand but it can be effective in keeping us on track so we consistently deliver what our customers want from us.

  • Connect with your customer This is critical. This is where you establish rapport and begin a relationship with your customer. Connecting means you’re building trust that runs both ways. Do this by engaging your customer. Start by giving them your name and asking theirs. Be interested in them and what they want. Ask questions. Listen. Respond appropriately. Have a conversation with them. Be genuine. People know when you are genuinely interested in helping them or not. If you are, they are more likely to respond positively to you and to develop trust with you. If you are really not interested, they’ll sense it and you’ll have a much harder time developing the trust you need to help them.
  • Discover what they want If you have a genuine conversation with your customer, you will discover what they want. They don’t always know what they want. Or they might have trouble expressing it. Often people know what they want but they’re unsure how to get it. That’s where you come in. By asking pertinent questions and paying attention to the answers, you can discover a lot about your customer. You can help guide them to getting what they want. That’s the role you fill and that’s how you keep customers coming back.
  • Know what you can do We can’t always give the customer everything they want. Sometimes they want what we can’t do. Other times, it’s something we choose not to do. Every business has a niche to fill. That means doing what the business is best at doing for the customers it can serve best. This step is about “picking your battles”. It’s about choosing the customers who best fit what you can do well by knowing what you do best.
  • Do it This sounds easy and maybe it should be. But it’s where many businesses fail. They fail because they don’t manage the process of planning, doing, measuring and monitoring well. To execute well you need to be able to measure what’s important. What gets measured gets done. So, convert your customer’s wants into actions you can measure. Then setup a system to measure the outcomes and the actions that produce them.
  • Follow-up For customers, this is icing on their cake. It’s true for you too because it’s easy to do yet it pays huge dividends in customer loyalty. As you plan your execution phase, make sure you plan a follow-up contact. Follow-up by phone, email, letter, visit, whatever works. The more direct and personal the better but make it work for your customer and your company. This thrills customers because very few companies do it consistently.
  • Thank them This often gets forgotten. Or it gets treated lightly. Too often when I hear a “thanks for doing business with us” it sounds phony, forced or robotic. People often say it out of habit but they put no feeling or authenticity into it.

So, when you thank your customers, be real about it. Make it genuine. Thank them in multiple ways, not just once. make sure they know you are grateful for their business.

Follow these six steps with every customer and you’ll find your level of customer service will increase dramatically. Coach your employees to understand and work through these steps (every time) and you’ll see your customer loyalty and customer retention go through the roof.

Kevin Stirtz has developed a unique concept called “Blow Up Your Business.” He speaks to groups of professionals and business owners who want to attract more customers and put more money in their pocket.

click here to visit Kevin Sirtz’s website for further details

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Motivation At Work: How To Recharge Your Work Mojo

by Lyndsay Swinton

Austin Powers, the fictional movie spy said,

“I’ll go back to the 60’s, recharge my mojo to beat Dr. Evil and be back in time for tea.”

If it was only that easy to regain your motivation at work! Sometimes your work mojo gets so low you think it’s abandoned you forever. Here are five ideas on how to recharge your work mojo and fire up your work motivation.

Five ways to max-up your motivation at work (Definition — mojo (mowjow) — magic charm or spell.)

  • Keep your ambition in check The desire to work hard is strong when the incentive to impress and prove yourself is high. However, mismanaged ambition will erode your passion to work hard and burn you out.

Manage your ambition by being smart about whom you impress and how you impress them. Balance effort with payback by making sure your actions are low effort to you and high value to them.

  • Find out how to get from A to B Fuzzy, unclear goals are a major drain on work motivation. Force your boss to delegate not abdicate work. Get clarity on how to get from A to B, and when. What exactly is the expected end result? Is this achievable? Do you need help? Planning your route in advance will keep your work juices flowing.
  • Get experience Who do you aspire to be like? Do you think they know how to do everything themselves? If you don’t know how to do something, find someone who does and copy him or her. Use all resources to hand — websites, books, colleagues, relations, friends, TV characters, and professionals. Save time and learn from their mistakes, not yours. Or better still, get someone else to do it.
  • Set boundaries If the work is taking too long, you’re either doing too much or not doing it right. And wait a minute — was it your job in the first place? Whether you take work upon yourself or have it dropped from a great height, set boundaries in your work life.

Be strict about when you arrive and when you leave work, and all the breaks your body needs in between. Be strict about time to build relationships and time to work and time for all the important stuff in your work life. Be strict about what is and isn’t your job. We’re all one great big team at work, so make sure the ball is passed around ALL players. You can’t be player of the match every game.

  • Push your limits Sometimes we get so busy nurturing and developing others, we forget to develop our own skills. Treat your own development like you would treat your team’s or friend’s or partner’s. Take time to discover what you want to do with your life and plan your personal development.

Use these tips to regain your motivation at work – recharge your work mojo, beat Dr Evil and be home in time for tea!

click here to visit Lyndsay Swintons website

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Seminars at Sea 2008 – A Week of Alaskan Adventures!

21-28 June 2008, round trip out of Seattle, WA

Tom Catanzaro has announced details of his latest series of seminars at sea. He says “This year, we selected a cruise time that would be compatible with family vacation plans; a time to build common memories with your kids before it is too late. The Holland Cruise Lines Oosterdam is a very large and new ship, so there are activities for all age groups”

The agenda and itinerary are posted on our web site, and we do have some returning faculty. Dr. D. Tim Crowe was “earth shaking” on the Australia-New Zealand Seminars at Sea 2007; he brought surgery and urgent care down to the level of the participants, sharing many great ideas for improving the cutting edge of urgent care at the general practice level.

We also have Dr. Karen Koks discussing wellness care, her presentation was beneficial even to emergency practice doctors in the audience; she used wellness care to break an 18 month liquidity plateau in a small practice in a economically depressed community with 5 competing vets within 5 miles of her front door – yet she increased her gross 43% in the first year and had doubled her gross by the end of the second year (and we never touched her prices).

Our faculty architect, Vickie Steppler, is associated with the respected Gates, Hafen, Cochrane veterinary architect group, Animal Arts, and brings her veterinary technician understanding to her AIA credentials, providing us a unique look at architectural trends. For attorney expertise, we have Ed Guiducci & Deb Guiducci, two of the most respected veterinary transactional attorneys supporting the veterinary profession today.

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