Practice Management News and Views from around the World – October 2018

Rock that Swing

4 simple rules for hiring the perfect veterinary team

From an article by Jay Goldsmith published online in the DVM360.com website

Write these down, stick to them and watch your dream veterinary team come together.

The very first day I opened the doors to my practice, my excitement was unbearable. My wife was my receptionist and I’d made my first real hire as a practice owner: a technician with no experience and no self-awareness. Being a start-up practice, I knew we wouldn’t be busy, so I figured I could train her myself.

Unfortunately, three of the four patients I saw on that first day were for euthanasia, and my new technician gave big, long, inappropriate bear hugs to all of them. I let her go two weeks later, and soon realized she had also been under the influence of alcohol while she’d been working.

Since then, I’ve hired more than 60 team members and, thankfully, there was nowhere to go but up when it came to my hiring skills. From all of that, I’ve learned four simple rules for the hiring process that have dramatically improved my success.

No. 1: Don’t hire in a hurry

Ashley, your superhero client service representative of four years, tells you on a Friday afternoon that she’s moving to a new city and gives you her two weeks' notice. So you find the first person who can breathe and, in turn, settle for the wrong person so that Ashley will have a week to train her before she leaves town.

We all get caught making this mistake, because we all often panic in these situations and don’t go through a hiring process at all.

Cross-train your entire team if you have less than five team members, and cross-train at least a few key people if you have a larger team. This will help you make adjustments to scheduling and prevent freak-out mode when someone leaves unexpectedly.

No. 2: Don’t make a decision after a single interview

One interview is unlikely to give you time to really know a candidate and evaluate skills and true personality. Perform at least three interviews.

At my practice, we start with a phone interview where we determine if they’re good communicators and ask basic questions that guide us to see how they’d fit with our workplace culture. The second interview is in-person, where we ask easy and difficult questions, review the job description and discuss the job in detail, including our expectations for the position.

If that goes well, we conduct a job-shadowing interview where they come in for two to four hours and we evaluate their skills and their interaction with the team, clients and patients.

No. 3: Don’t skip calling references

This is a common mistake, because candidates come to our practice for the in-person interview and seem simply incredible. So, we think we need to hire them immediately before they take a job at another practice. I’ve made this mistake more than once—and I’ve been burned more than once because of it.

Make sure to call references every time. The information to be gained from a previous employer who’s managed them for only six months can be telling and can prevent a poor hire. I’ve had references share with me a candidate’s poor work ethic, inability to be on time or tendency to gossip. Some of these candidates I’ve hired anyway, thinking that I knew them better than the reference after my three interviews.

Later? Filled with regret. References don’t usually want to say anything negative about a previous employee, so when they do, you’d better listen.

No. 4: Don’t skip the detail

Often we get excited about candidates and move to talking to them about their soon-to-be schedule before discussing things like policy and pay. This is a big mistake that can give both you and your potential hires misgivings about the job and what it entails.

Review the details of your holidays, dress code and business hours before making a job offer. Miscommunication about pay or piercings can get things off to a rocky start.

When it comes to hiring veterinarians or key leadership positions, we also ask our candidates to fill out a personality profile (like the DiSC or Myers-Briggs) to help us understand how well they’ll integrate with our team.

Last (but not least!), make sure to write out your hiring process and follow the entire thing every time. Simple rules of hiring will dramatically improve your success in creating the team you dream of working with every day.

You can click here to visit the DVM360.com website

How to win new clients with telephone calls

From an article by Stephanie Vaughan-Jones published on the VetDynamics website

How often have you heard someone say ‘I’ll just answer the phone’? There is no ‘just’ about it though. For any business, it offers a pivotal opportunity to convert callers into clients, especially for veterinary practices where excellent customer service is so crucial.

Of course, in a busy reception with a long list of administrative tasks to juggle alongside the needs of pets and their owners, it’s easy to forget the importance each call could have and lose sight of the bigger picture. As the first impression a potential client will often have of your practice, however, presenting it in the best possible light is essential; and the skill involved shouldn’t be underestimated.

The aim is to ensure each caller feels like they are speaking to ‘the’ leading practice in their area. To convey that their pet will receive the best possible care in your hands. That you are professional, compassionate and committed to high standards at all times. The same as if they were to visit your website or step foot into your reception.

Always have in the back of your mind that the goal of any call is to wow callers – be it an existing client or a new enquiry – and consequently increase client numbers to help your practice grow.

Choose the right team

Firstly, look at who is representing your practice. For some people the drive and ability to provide exceptional service is innate. It’s like they’re born with a magical ‘can-do’ approach to life and make everything a little better and brighter. These people are worth their weight in gold and will naturally transform callers into patients –as well as keep them happy in the long run.

 In contrast, those without this natural passion for people could be losing opportunities before they’ve even finished their conversation. It’s important, for these reasons, to make sure everyone who is answering the phone understands how precious an enquiry is.

Moreover, accept that no matter how well you think the service is, there’s always room for improvement. We are continually looking for ways to enhance the service that we offer here at Moneypenny and last year invited Geoff Ramm, renowned customer service and marketing speaker, to come and inspire our 600-strong team.

While here he raised the question: do you treat every customer in the same way we would if an A-list celebrity, say, Brad Pitt, was on the phone? Ask yourself this same question. The answer for most people, if they are honest, is probably not and often without even realising it.

Applying this mindset to every call, however, can focus your approach to what excellent service honestly looks like and set the bar high.

Take the lead

A few years ago there was a story in the papers reporting that airline passengers felt more reassured flying with pilots who had a ‘posh’ accent. Why? It instilled them with confidence in the pilot apparently, which in turn developed into trust.

Funnily, this illustrates an important point to consider when it comes to winning new business over the phone – but forget about having to be posh. It’s not about the accent. It’s about being confident.

Confidence is infectious, and countless studies have shown that it is a critical element in converting potential customers into real customers.

 I’ve lost count of the times I’ve called a company and been told ‘we’ll try’ or ‘if we can’ and have put the phone down feeling unconvinced in their abilities.

Usually, I’m proven right. It’s up to us, as the business, to convince callers that we CAN be trusted and displaying the right telephone manner is essential.

Be polite, efficient, professional and assured, and let them know that you’re listening. Subtle changes to your language can also help. Saying ‘when we see you’ or ‘when we treat you’ for example, rather than ‘if we were to treat you’.

By taking the lead and setting the tone of the call with positive and affirming language, you are reassuring callers that their custom is important to you and that you ready to start working with them right away.

Capture their heart

You may be familiar with the famous quote from American civil rights activist Maya Angela: ‘I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel’.

For me, this sums up perfectly the power that great customer service can have. It also demonstrates the potential that veterinary practices who excel in this aspect have to be one (giant) step ahead of their competitors.

The key is putting yourself in your customers’ shoes. Think about what would impress you if you called a practice for the first time. Take a genuine interest in the caller. If they are upset, sympathise with them and tell them that you’re sorry they’re feeling that way.

If they are calling because they’re unhappy with the current practice, lend an understanding ear and provide the reassurance that they need. The aim is to establish a connection and develop a relationship that you can nurture and build on in the future.

Remember that you are speaking to a real person too. No one wants to feel like he or she are being spoken to from a script; especially when it comes to discussing a much-loved pet. It’s this personal connection that will ultimately turn leads into lifelong customers.

You can click here to visit the MoneyPenny.com website

You can
click here to visit the VetDynamics website

Helping Them Heal: What to Say, Do for Grieving Clients

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

Helping clients through the grieving process after the loss of a beloved pet can bond them to your practice. Here’s what to do (and not to do).

The death of a beloved pet can be devastating. Because pets are considered members of the family, it is important that veterinary teams are adept at communicating with clients who have lost a pet.

What Not to Say

When people share their feelings about the loss of their pets, they are not usually looking for levity, advice, or a story about another person’s loss. Too often, however, the best-intended responses miss the mark. Consider these common responses:

  • Oh, I don’t want to hear such bad news!” While intending to offer sympathy, this response shuts off further discussion and may make the pet owner feel guilty for confiding.
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    That’s terrible! I know exactly how you feel. My pet had the same sickness.” The chances of duplicating the feelings of others is not likely. Moreover, this response moves the attention away from the grieving pet owner to the speaker.
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    Well, it was God’s will to put Fluffy out of his misery.” Besides the fact that Fluffy’s owner may not agree with the responder’s religious view, this response tends to minimize the pet owner’s grief and explain it away
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    .“I know the perfect place to replace Fluffy with just the cutest little kitten!” This positive, well-intentioned suggestion for quick action is likely to be rejected and, perhaps, resented. People need time to grieve before they can consider a replacement for their lost love. In fact, it’s not possible to replace Fluffy. A child is likely to put it frankly: “I don't want a cute kitten. I want Fluffy back.”
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    “It’s going to be OK. Thank goodness you have other pets.” This attempt to put a positive spin on a sad moment minimizes the pain of the pet owner’s loss.

Healing Words and Actions

What can be said at a time of loss that will be helpful? Consider these suggestions:

  • Be silent. Actually, it’s OK to say nothing at first. It’s wise to give the grieving pet owner time to talk or just to be present in silence. Chances are the bereaved party is processing strong feelings. While some people may shrug off their loss, others may become depressed to the point of emotional and even physical sickness. Being present as a good listener is valuable at this point.
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    Offer a hug. If it’s appropriate, ask, “May I give you a hug?”
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    Express your feelings. Verbal responses are most helpful if they reflect feelings. Consider simply saying ”I’m so sorry for your sadness and loss,” “You are feeling a big loss, aren’t you?” or “I can see Fluffy’s death really hurts.”

Getting to the Other Side of Grief

In order words, it’s most helpful to avoid religion, suggestions, advice, and moving attention away from the grieving pet owner. Instead, be present, focus on the pet owner, and share their feelings of loss. Grievers need to be sad in order to get to the other side of grief.

You can click here to visit the Veterinarians Money Digest website

Cx Congress 2019 - shaped by you for you

Now into its fifth year, Cx Congress 2019 takes place in Nottingham on Friday 14th and Saturday 15th June 2019

In response to delegate feedback, the format of next year's event has been structured differently, with Friday featuring a full day's 'deep dive' into a core Cx topic, end of life care.

Dr Mary Gardener DVM, of US veterinary hospice and in-home euthanasia practice Lap of Love, will share practical tips and valuable advice on managing this most difficult aspect of veterinary life. As she explains, "Helping families say goodbye to a beloved pet is a difficult yet important part of the human-animal bond.

Creating a loving and nurturing environment for both pets and owners is instrumental in helping them to find closure at such a difficult time."

The second full day of Cx Congress 2019 will be kicked off in style by opening speaker Linda Moir - leader of the phenomenal customer focused 'Games Makers' team at the London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games, and ex-Virgin Atlantic customer service director; responsible for the brand's successful 'Brilliant basics, magic touches' initiative.

The day will feature a wide range of customer experience case studies, presented through a number of different streams; allowing managers, clinicians and customer care teams to choose the sessions most relevant to their roles. Topics will include:

  • Dentistry
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    Mediation skills
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    Cx web chat
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    Rabbits
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    Customer accessibility
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    End of life care
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    Customer touch points

Cx Congress managers Jane Johnston and Sophie Dainty are already taking bookings for 2019, at Early Bird rates. More details and booking information can be found at http://cxclub.care/cx-congress.

Based on feedback from our delegates this year, we're expanding Cx Congress into two full days for 2019 and beyond. We've added a networking dinner and social for the Friday evening, and hotel rooms at the De Vere East Midlands Conference Centre can be booked at delegate rates for those attending both days.

Cx Congress is always a fun, relaxed but informative event and 2019 promises to be the best yet - we hope to see you there next June!"

For more information on Cx Congress, or the associated Cxclub, please contact Sophie or Jane on: 01476 565 343 or email hello@cxclub.care

You can click here to visit the CxClub website

What Is a PEST Analysis?

From an article by Jennifer Post published in the Business News Daily website

As an entrepreneur, you can try to predict how your products or services will resonate with the public. However, there will always be factors outside

PEST is an acronym for political, economic, social and technological. It's a way of understanding how external forces impact your business. It was created by Harvard professor Francis Aguilar in 1967. It should be included in every business plan, in addition to a SWOT analysis, as it is part of risk management and strategy design.

P – Political Environment

The political environment is an analysis of what politics is doing to the business world.
Government regulations and legal issues affect a company's ability to be profitable and successful, and this factor looks at how that can happen.

E – Economic

The economic factor examines outside economic issues that can play a role in a company's success. For this analysis, look at interest rates, exchange inflation, unemployment, gross domestic product, credit availability and rise and fall of the middle class.

S – Social

With the social factor, a business can analyze the socioeconomic environment of the given industry's market to understand how consumer needs are shaped and what brings them to the market for a purchase. Among the items that should be examined are demographics, population growth rates, age distribution, attitudes toward work and job market trends.

"We look at what changes in culture and society are taking place. The drive to eat healthier, the drive to care for the environment, baby boomers staying in the workforce longer, adults have fewer children later in life. All of these impact how consumers buy houses, cars, etc.,"

T – Technology

Technology plays a huge part in business, and it can impact it either negatively or positively. With the introduction of new products, new technologies and services, a certain marketplace can have a tough time adjusting so it's important to assess the technology from all angles.

Specific items that need to be scrutinized include, but are not limited to, government spending on technological research, the life cycle of current technology, the role of the internet and how any changes to it may play out, and the impact of potential information technology changes.

Other factors

A similar and related analysis, called PESTLE, includes two more factors: Legal and Environmental. For the legal factor, a company should examine how legal changes and interpretations could impact a company, directly or indirectly, according to Daniel

For the environmental portion of the analysis, look at environmental evolutions and regulations to determine how they could impact a business. Look closely at ecological regulations and restrictions as well as endangered species.

Each of factors, including the original PEST factors, should be measured against the following grid:

  • Potential impact: low, medium or high
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    Time frame: immediate, short term or long term
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    Type: positive or negative
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    Direction of impact: increasing or decreasing
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    Relative Importance: high, medium or low

Benefits of a PEST analysis

There are numerous benefits of conducting a PEST analysis, which can reap dividends for your business. The more significant benefits include:

  • A greater understanding of your company
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    More effective long-term strategic planning
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    Heightened attention to potential threats and dangers
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    Insight for valuable business opportunities

You can click here to visit the Business News Daily website