Practice Management News and Views from around the World – January 2019

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Why Job Candidates Are Standing You Up and How to Put a Stop to It

From an article by Rieva Lesonsky and published in the Small Business Trends website

If you’ve tried to fill a position at your business lately, you know how challenging it can be. With a record low unemployment rates, it’s suddenly an employees’ market. Unfortunately, some job candidates are taking advantage of this fact by “ghosting” potential employers— or even companies that have offered them jobs.

“Ghosting,” for those not hip to the lingo, usually refers to a situation when after an exchange of texts or even a few dates, a potential love connection suddenly disappears. No more text, no more calls, no response to your attempts to make contact — just radio silence.

In the workplace, ghosting can take many forms, including:

  • Not showing up for scheduled job interviews
  • Not returning calls or emails from the potential employer
  • Receiving a job offer and never responding
  • Accepting the job, then never showing up for work

As a small business owner, you put a lot of time and effort into hiring new employees — so it can be devastating when someone you thought was the answer to your problems disappears into thin air. What makes job candidates ghost?

There are many theories. Some say young, entry-level job applicants are simply repeating the habits they’ve learned from texting-based relationships in the workplace. Others see it as job candidates thumbing their noses at the employers who, during the Great Recession, didn’t bother to acknowledge their resumes or return their calls. Still others just chalk it up to rudeness.

But the fault doesn’t lie all at the feet of the job candidates. Many employers are equally guilty of bad behavior when it comes to potential employees — and in today’s economy, employers need to be on their best behavior.

How to Prevent Candidate Ghosting

How can you reverse the trend of job candidate no-shows? Here’s some advice.

Honesty is the best policy.

Candidates sometimes ghost when the job they hear about in the interview doesn’t live up to the job as advertised. (Almost 20% of candidates Clutch polled ghosted because the job “was not a match.”)

Don’t try to sugarcoat the job requirements or duties; be upfront about what the job demands so that candidates have realistic expectations.

If multiple people are involved in the job interview process, make sure everyone is on the same page about job duties, responsibilities, and what you are looking for in a candidate. Encourage the job candidate to ask questions during the interview process, and answer them honestly. Finally, let them know you won’t be offended if at any point in the process, they decide this job isn’t right for them — you just want them to keep you informed.

Create a welcoming environment for job candidates.

Coming in for an interview is stressful at best, and can be especially intimidating if the workplace seems unwelcoming and the future coworkers are unfriendly. Make sure your office is prepared when potential employees come in for an interview. Have someone greet them and make them comfortable; offer coffee, tea or water; give them a quick tour of the office. Today’s job candidates have a lot of choices, and you need to woo them a little bit.

Define communication roles.

Maybe your admin arranges the interviews, you conduct them, and each of you assumes the other is following up with the candidates. At a busy small business, communication can easily fall through the cracks. Specify who is responsible for communicating with candidates and in what time frame. Create standardized emails and voicemails that politely thank the candidate for their time and inform them whether they’ve made it to the next stage of the interview process.

Set expectations.

At the end of the interview, be specific about how candidates can expect to hear from you and how soon. For example, “We will be interviewing candidates for the next two weeks, and will email you the week of the 15th to let you know the status.”

What if the employee search drags on and on? Sometimes you interview dozens of employees without finding “the one.” If you know that Candidate A is definitely not the one, be nice and let them know so they can cross your company off their list. (Some 36% of job seekers in the Clutch survey say the last company that rejected them never responded at all.)

What’s the best way to communicate with job candidates? Just 21% of job seekers in the Clutch survey got rejected via phone call; 13% were rejected via email. When a job is at stake, calling and emailing is the considerate thing to do — and also helps ensure the candidate gets the message.

After the Acceptance

You’ve made a job offer and the candidate has accepted. Now you’re golden, right? Wrong: Nearly 1 in 10 job seekers (9%) say it’s OK for job candidates to ghost after accepting a job offer. To boost the odds that the person you hired will actually show up:

  • Keep “selling” them on working for your company even after they’ve accepted the job. You need to get them excited about coming to work for you.
  • Try to get the new employee to start work as soon as possible. If you assign a start date two weeks out, they might find another job in the meantime.
  • Make your employee onboarding process as simple as possible. Have everything ready for the new employee to start work on their first day. Email them paperwork in advance so they can complete it ahead of time.
  • Welcome the new employee on the first day. Take them out for a departmental or company lunch (depending on how big your business is). Assign them a “buddy” to show them the ropes.

Don’t burn your bridges with your runners-up, either. A new hire at one company I used to work for went to lunch on his first day . . . and never come back. You never know when you may need to turn to your second or third choice. Let top candidates know they were high on the list and that you’ll contact them if the job opens up again.

What if you get ghosted despite all this? Be sure to document ghosting in the job applicant’s file so you can avoid wasting your time interviewing the same person again in the future.

You can click here to visit the Small Business Trends website

A new way to price-shop in practices

From an article by Sarah J. Wooten, DVM published in the dvm360.com website

Vetcove could be an industry disruptor and change the inventory management game by providing Trivago-like comparison price shopping to veterinary hospitals.

The person doing the ordering in a veterinary hospital is often also a technician or manager, and the time they spend “doing inventory” takes them away from patient care or building the business in other ways. Most of the time, ordering is done in a rush with no time for price comparison—you just go on whatever the rep said about giving you the best price because there’s no time to investigate.

The online Vetcove platform could change that, creating more price transparency and increasing convenience and efficiency of ordering. Vetcove is an online purchasing platform for veterinary supplies from all the suppliers you already use where you can buy what you need all in one place. It’s like Trivago for inventory, but instead of comparing prices on hotel rooms, you’re price-shopping amoxicillin or Normosol.

You set up an account, log into your suppliers through the platform and start shopping. All products available are listed for price comparison and the shopping cart keeps a running total in the sidebar, which is nice because it allows the shopper to budget and/or add to the cart to meet minimum order requirements.

Here are a few reasons I’ve enjoyed trying and using it:

  • Alerts for any promos, so you already know what deals are before your sales rep hits your hospital. It also lets you know who has what in stock and whether something is coming from a different warehouse—which is helpful if you’re waiting on something in particular.
  • Ever wind up with too much of something in the hospital because of staff communication breakdowns? Vetcove has a feature that tells you the last time something was ordered by hovering the cursor over the product. That’s nice, especially if more than one person is doing the ordering.
  • It’s free for individual hospitals. Larger chains pay for additional features for multi-hospital groups.

You can click here to visit the DVM360.com website

You can click here to visit the VetCove.com website

4 Pillars of Effective Client Engagement

From an article by Carolyn C. Shadle and John L. Meyer published in the Veterinarians Money Digest

No doubt you recall the long hours you spent mastering medical procedures, understanding modern technical equipment, and studying the indications and adverse effects of various medications.

But while we think of veterinary medicine as a service, we must admit that it is a business, too, and what drives your business are your clients—not your patients. A client who leaves your clinic feeling good will return to your practice in the future.

Client satisfaction begins and ends with effective engagement. Consider the following 4 pillars of effectively engaging with your veterinary clients.

Be Silent.

Listening requires that we be silent. Silence is sometimes awkward, and most of us tend to fill it with questions or statements. But truly engaging with clients requires the veterinary staff to perfect the art of silence, letting the client fill the void. Say nothing. Maintain silence until the client begins to talk. You may be amazed what you will learn!

Speak With Your Body

Being silent need not mean that you are not communicating. There are many ways to communicate nonverbally. Maintain eye contact. Lean toward your client. Nod as he or she speaks. Position yourself at the same level as your client. If your client is sitting, you should sit; if your client is standing, you should stand. Indicate with your physical position that you want to work in partnership with your client. Don’t let a desk or exam table stand between you and the client. Instead, position yourself at the end of the exam table so that you and the client are next to each other, symbolizing how you will work together to maintain the pet’s health.

Listen for Both Feelings and Content

If your client shares feelings by saying, “I’m really concerned because Fluffy isn’t eating as much as normal,” be sure you hear “I’m worried” in addition to the fact that Fluffy isn’t eating.

More often, however, clients share facts or experiences but don’t identify their feelings. Describing feelings is often difficult. Some people are either unaware of how they feel or are uncomfortable putting their feelings into words.

Your challenge is to “hear” the feelings being conveyed by the words. You might discover it in your client’s tone of voice or maybe in his or her facial expression. Based on working with this client and others, you might just be able to make a good assumption.

Respond to Both Feelings and Content

Engagement begins when you have recognized both the words and the feelings behind the words and can let your client know that you have heard both. It’s a skill worth developing. “I see that Fluffy’s recent eating behavior is worrying you.” Then return to silence and let your client tell you more.

Dialogue begins. Engagement is happening.

You can click here to visit the Veterinarians Money Digest website

The struggle is real: Navigating client communication

From an article by Eva Evans, DVM, MBA, CVMA published in the dvm360.com website

Getting into vet school is hard. Getting through vet school is harder. What they don’t tell you at graduation is that it gets even harder outside the walls of structured academia.

I remember being fresh out of school at my first job in private practice; I was excited to learn and do and make my way in the world. I assumed that vet school had prepared me well with the mantra, “You don’t have to know everything, you just have to know where to find the answer.”

What I didn’t realize is that the real world does expect you to know everything, and it also expects you to navigate toxic work environments, use mindreading skills, foresee the future and prevent all bad things from happening—all while making a profit for the practice and serving up every client interaction with a smile.

No wonder veterinarians struggle with stress, anxiety, feelings of doubt and personal inadequacy, not to mention high rates of suicide!

I’m here to tell you that being a recent graduate is tough, and I’m also here to share some hope, inspiration and a few pieces of great advice to help.

Talk is cheap, but small talk is priceless

Learning the nuances of subtle intrapersonal communication is tough (especially for us introverts who hate small talk), but it’s a skill we need to succeed in private practice and business. We have only a few seconds to make a good impression and only a few minutes to gain the trust of a complete stranger. No pressure, right?

During my many communication failures early in my career, I had a patient with a very peculiar name and I curiously asked, “How did your pet get her name?” My client’s eyes lit up and a smile spread across her face as she eagerly told me the backstory, laughing the whole time. That was the moment I realized the power of small talk to build trust and connection. These days, I ask my new clients where they’re from, about their favorite sports team and upcoming holiday plans, and what life is like with their pet. When they tell me about themselves, I can almost always find a similarity in my own life. Those few moments of shared experience can set the whole tone for the exam going forward.

Don’t be afraid to connect with your clients over hobbies, common experiences or even the fact that it’s Friday and you’re both ready for the weekend

Your job is to make people happy …

Oh, you’re a private practitioner? Welcome to the service industry! In school, we’re trained as data-driven scientists, but our ability to provide excellent customer service and make our clients feel good is just as important as being able to diagnose Addison’s disease. My first job was full of doctors appalled that they had to discuss information such as basic nutrition, normal behaviors, grooming and *gasp* the use of coconut oil.

Your clients don’t care if you graduated in the top of your class if you can’t have a conversation with them free of judgment and shame. If you can’t address and resolve their concerns (no matter how small or seemingly insignificant), they won’t be back. Doesn’t sound so bad, right? Until you read the Google and Yelp reviews …

Veterinarians charge money to provide a service, and what we are not taught in school is the scope of that service. Yes, some clients just want a diagnosis and treatment, but many also want reassurance, education, additional information and a two-way conversation on their options. They want to know that you can put your money where your mouth is in terms of diagnostic and treatment recommendations. They want value.

I’ve found that most of my clients who come in wanting to discuss using coconut oil as a flea medication will nearly always leave my practice with an isoxazoline and the understanding that coconut oil provides medium-chain triglycerides that can help brain function in older pets but isn’t going to be effective for their flea infestation. It’s never our job to judge or shame our clients and remembering that owners truly want what’s best for their pet can help you connect with them. Once clients feel comfortable, appreciated, heard and understood, they often value our recommendations.

We want to help pets, and we can only do that if we’re on the same page as our clients. An unhappy client will never come back, but a happy client will return for their pet’s care even if they decline your recommendations the first time. Practice revenue aside, making people happy is beneficial to personal and professional fulfillment.

… but you can’t make everyone happy

A wise friend once told me, “You can be the juiciest peach in the world, and there’s still going to be someone who doesn’t like peaches.” This simple phrase reset my professional mindset. Instead of being worried, sad or angry when a client was upset despite me doing everything right, I learned to let go. People have bad days.

Sometimes clients are angry and mad. When clients are difficult, I do my quick check: Did I smile and welcome them to the practice? Did I efficiently get into the room or apologize if I was late? Have I shown them kindness and respect? If I messed up, did I own up to my mistake? If yes, then I don’t take their negativity personally.

We can’t please everyone, and a bit of grace and forgiveness goes a long way in these situations. If they truly are nightmare clients, chances are no one can make them happy and they won’t be back no matter what. If you’ve done your best, don’t take someone else’s negativity personally.

Know when to cut your losses

It’s important to know the difference between an anxious, stressed, difficult client having a bad day and an abusive client. My first job handled abusive clients by giving them “Gold Star Status” and catering to their every threat. I always stress to my staff that professionalism is always expected of us no matter what. However, in order to keep my staff safe, I have a zero-tolerance policy for abusive clients here.

Clients who engage in threats, yelling, cursing or any unwanted advances are grounds for termination from our practice. Those clients will make you miserable and suck the life out of you and your staff. Don’t be afraid to fire an abusive client! Do your best, know your worth and focus your energy on bonding with clients who want a connection with their veterinarian. Not all pet owners want that bond, but building relationships with clients who do will bring professional fulfillment beyond measure!

You can click here to visit the DVM360.com website

4 Habits of All Great Bosses

From an article by Sammi Caramela, and published in the Business News Daily website

Anyone with experience or credentials can be a manager, but not everyone can be a good boss. To earn that title, you must do more than delegate responsibilities and keep track of your team.

"A great boss contributes to the growth of [their] company and [their] people," said Ora Shtull, International Coach Federation-credentialed executive coach. If you want to be a great boss – a true leader – practice these four habits.

1. Work with your employees.

You might be used to having full control over your workload, but becoming a boss will force you to give up that control and delegate some responsibilities, said Shtull.

"If you don't break the addiction to doing it all, you won't have the capacity to step up and do more senior stuff," she said. "Letting go involves delegating. But it's important to note that delegating doesn't mean deserting the team or sacrificing accountability."

You deserve to be a respected manager with less daunting responsibilities than an entry-level position, but you should still get your hands dirty. Working with your employees builds better relationships, and helps you learn about the strengths and weakness of each team member. Your employees will also trust you more if they feel you're working with them rather than above them.

"By choosing to lead by example and demonstrating that [you] are an expert at what [you] are asking employees to do, it will often result in more respect and productivity," said Sacha Ferrandi, founding partner of Source Capital Funding Inc. "It's impossible to deny that the work ethic of a boss is contagious – if you work hard for them, they are more likely to return the favor and work hard for you."

2. Give credit where it's due.

Good bosses recognize their employees and express their gratitude whenever possible. Employees want to feel appreciated and have their work noticed. When you credit them for a job well done, it motivates them to keep working hard.

"Simply put, great bosses pause frequently to praise others and promote the positive, rather than harping on shortcomings and mistakes," said Shtull.
If you fail to give positive feedback, employees think their work is unnoticed and will start caring less.

"If you want more employees to be loyal to you, be loyal to them first by recognizing their accomplishments," said David Long, CEO of MyEmployees. "Everyone wants significance. Give it to them, or you'll lose them to someone who will."

3. Be a good communicator.

Great bosses are transparent. They set expectations and effectively communicate with team members to ensure everyone is on the same page while allowing their employees to operate in a way that works best for them, said Andrea Fredrickson, president of Revela.

"This keeps employees focused on the results without dictating the process," Fredrickson said. "Employees can find the best ways of meeting expectations and [creating] improvements to processes."

It's important to have individual chats with team members to strategize and deliver criticism and praise. Regularly check in with team members to ensure they are happy and feel challenged in their role. Communication is not one-sided; you must listen as much as you talk.

"Leaders who don't listen will eventually be surrounded by people who have nothing to say, nothing to add," said Shtull. "In addition to giving up control of all the work, as a boss, you'll also have to break the addiction to being right all of the time. Don't always promote your own view. If your own ideas sound set in stone, your team members won't want to offer theirs."

4. Coach your team.

To create a valuable, dedicated team, you'll have to advocate for them. Like good coaches, bosses should keep employees motivated and passionate about the work they do. This will help your team avoid burnout and enjoy delivering their best work.

"Effective managers coach by asking questions, empowering their team members to think deeply and generate solutions," said Shtull. "In turn, team members gain confidence and grow, and, ultimately, become amazing bosses themselves."

Let employees know you care about their future and career. Provide them with the training and knowledge they need to succeed in the workplace.

"An effective boss works hard on training their employees early on so they can then give [employees] the autonomy to work through their roles in their own way," said Lionel Marsanne, CEO of CimAlp. "You can be there for them when they ask for help, but make sure to coach and guide them instead of taking over."

You can click here to visit the Business News Daily website