Practice Management News and Views from around the World – October 2016

Life is Better with a Dog

4 ways to break veterinary clients' Dr. Google habit

Stay positive and steer them toward more legitimate information.

From an article by Kathryn Primm published in the DVM360.com website

The Internet is a staple in most homes these days, and clients have access to medical information—both genuine and quackery. The trouble is that they have no training to discern the good from the bad. Here’s how you can communicate with clients who come in armed with information from Dr. Google:

1. Focus on the positive.

If your client is asking you, then all is not lost. Even though it’s frustrating to have to “unexplain” everything they think they have learned online, you’re getting the chance to right the wrongs, and the pet will benefit from it.

2. Don’t roll your eyes.

But you can certainly poke fun at Dr. Google. You can jokingly say, “Well, if you see it on the Internet, it must be true,” and most clients that trust you will respond favorably. Deep in their hearts, they know that they need to filter Internet information, and that’s why they asked you. You can laugh together about the wildness of the web and cement your relationship.

3. Point them in a better direction

So much of what’s online is aimless wondering and attention-seeking junk. People instinctively know this, and if you’re calm and assured about the information you counter with, your credibility will shine.

4. Keep it real.

Remind them that if the post wasn’t written by a veterinary professional, it might not based on actual science. Point out that when reputable veterinarians share something that they submit their professional credibility to scrutiny. Veterinarians are more likely to make sure that experts agree with what they share and write.

Don’t die on the Dr. Google hill. Yes—it’s not worth losing the client and having the pet go untreated to assert your superiority. Listen to what the client has discovered online and try to find a tiny portion that you can validate so that the pet owner doesn’t feel silly or attacked. For example, if your canine patient has otitis and your clients have treated it with ear mite medication from the farm supply store, you might explain that ear mites are very real and you can see how they might have thought it was worth a try. Explain how glad you are that they’ve pulled you in to start more appropriate management.

As the pet’s advocate, you can make sure that the owner knows that you’ll be a resource anytime they need you. Point out that you know the pet and can make recommendations that are personalized and specific.

The Internet is not going away. We can’t beat ’em, so let’s redirect them so all roads lead to us.

You can click here to visit the DVM360.com website

Let’s make our team WANT to come to work

From an article by Emma Pearce and published in the VetBusinessUniversity blog from APL Accountants

I listened to an interview with Simon Sinek yesterday – the guy who did a famous TED talk on ‘why we do what we do’.

What he said struck a chord: ‘I want to create a world where people want to go to work’.

Just the previous week at one of our client workshops in Brisbane we felt a similar vibe in the audience of veterinary business owners when we discussed team engagement. For over 4 years we have been encouraging practices like yours to address intrinsic motivators in your team by doing fun things at the office like running quarterly themes, but the number of practices who have been brave enough to do this has been but a handful. However, this year we could see a slight spark in your eyes that perhaps this was not just a time consuming, ‘touchy / feely’ thing and that it could actually work!

As many of you also realise, one of the key topics at the AVBA this year will be about mental health in the profession to address the high incidence of mental health problems many employers are seeing.

The book ‘Mastering the Rockefellar Habits’ strongly suggests ‘themes’ in a business to engage the team, give them a common goal and make the workplace look fun. We have been doing this at APL Accountants every quarter for the last 3 years, and would never go back.

The technical part of having themes is pretty simple and loosely follows these rules:

  • You need a quarterly strategy – for example promoting more dentistry. You need to be able to measure any improvements in this area of your business over the next 3 months.
  • You give everyone in the business a $15 budget to buy decorations for the office that are in ‘theme’ with your strategy. In this case it could be pictures of smiling animals, fluffy toy animals dressed as tooth fairies or anything else your team can think of.
  • The office gets decorated and stays decorated for a whole 3 months. Every day when each team member arrives, they are reminded of the key focus for the next 3 months.
  • About once a week at one of your team meetings, progress in the strategy is discussed.
  • At the end of the quarter, if success is achieved and the practice is performing more dentistry, a ‘celebration’ is held. It can be a meal out with everyone, an evening at the movies or any other fun activity. The amount you spend on the celebration can be linked to the degree of success

As you can see, it’s really simple – so why do so few businesses do it? Instead we leave our veterinary practices looking clean and clinical. Very few even have a staff room or private area due to space constraints. Our team has to think on their feet and appear to be cheerful to Mrs Jones when they just euthanised Mrs Smith’s pet 5 minutes ago. Then we are surprised they don’t like coming to work?

Having a theme in the office addresses 4 of the 6 intrinsic motivators – certainty (I know what the focus is for 3 months), belonging (encourages a feeling of ‘team’), variety (the office has different decoration every 3 months), praise (there is a celebration at the end). So in terms of ‘bang for your buck’, there are few other things that would address motivation on so many fronts.

Come on guys! Let’s shake things up a bit and theme it up every quarter! Here were some theme ideas that came up at the workshops:

  • Dentistry: Pictures of smiling pets, fluffy toys dressed as tooth fairies
  • Vaccinations / Follow ups / Repeat consultations: Boomerangs
  • Increasing Active Clients: Pictures of people and pets exercising, community, growth
  • Improve billing accuracy: Targets and dart boards, netball hoops
  • Increase in house cytology: Bugs, ears, microscopes and magnifying glasses
  • Telephone conversions: Telephones, megaphones, magnets

In fact, we are so determined that veterinary businesses are going to do these things that every time our members send us a photo of ‘something fun’ in a veterinary practice we will buy a tree for an Orangutan in Borneo.

You can click here to visit the VetBusinessUniversity Blog

The small business branding tool you do not know about

From an article by Lee Biggins published in the Small Business website

Make sure your branding is clear when recruiting

There has been no shortage in the debates surrounding employer brand, and what it means for your company. Should you invest in your branding? Will it help you to attract new talent? The answer is undoubtedly yes. And while investing in your brand, targeting the right audience, and promoting your great company culture are all key parts of strengthening your business’s reputation and winning the top talent, the truth is that you should also be using the recruitment process to strengthen your overall brand.

Recent CV-Library research reveals that one in ten people would be put off a company if the recruitment process was dragged out, while a fifth admit that an unclear job description would put them off applying for the role altogether; if you’re looking to attract the top talent, it’s important that your recruitment process is the best it can be.

Although the initial application and interview process is primarily used as a way for businesses to source candidates and determine whether they’d be a good fit for the company, many candidates will also use this process to decide whether or not the business is right for them. And as candidates are increasingly sharing their experiences online via sites such as Glassdoor, it’s essential that businesses offer the best experience possible.

There really is nothing more off-putting to a candidate than hearing about a company that’s great to work for, only to find that the recruitment process is long, complicated, or worse of all, unfriendly. As soon as your branding has a candidate hooked, you need to make sure that it’s there at every touchpoint.

So, if you’re working to boost your employer brand as a whole, it’s important that this trickles through to the recruitment process too. The good news is that there are some easy areas to focus on, and once you’ve changed these, the rest should easily fall into place.

Do you target the right people?

If you’ve got job roles to fill, a great way to advertise these is through using targeted eShots or social media platforms. But if you’re not targeting the right audience, you could be doing your company more harm than good. Marketing your business and its roles to the wrong people could ultimately damage your brand, as job hunters increasingly look for the process to be more personalised to their individual needs; by coming across as ‘spammy’, you could be causing potential employees to turn off, which could lead to you losing talent. By getting this first stage of the recruitment process right, you should be on the right path to a strong recruitment brand.

Is the process friendly?

Ultimately, a friendly recruitment process can make or break your employer brand; even if you offer the best perks going, if word gets out that your interviews are tough and that your hiring staff are unfriendly, you could find yourself in trouble. By making candidates feel welcome from the minute they enter the building, and by ensuring that they’re treated fairly throughout the process (whether they’re unsuccessful or not), you’ll be one step closer to boosting that all-important employer brand.

What questions do we ask?

Do you bombard your candidates with questions, or do you let them take the stage and quiz you on life at the company? And more importantly, what types of questions do you ask? While some companies may prefer quirky questions that force candidates to think outside of the box, there’s a limit on how outlandish you should be. If you’ve spent time and effort strengthening your employer brand, there’s nothing more damaging than disgruntled candidates talking online about how ridiculous your questions are.

Do you offer feedback promptly?

If you’re looking to attract talented candidates, it’s essential that your recruitment process is smooth and efficient; if it’s taking you weeks to feed back to talented applicants, you’re likely to find that they’ve upped and gone elsewhere. And even if you’ve decided not to offer an interviewee the job, or you’ve received a CV that isn’t right for the role, you should make sure that you give these candidates an answer; nobody likes being ignored, and this rings particularly true for job hunters.

Essentially, your branding goes well beyond the public perception of your company, and you have to be sure that your recruitment process is giving candidates the right first impression. If your application process is longwinded and leaves applicants to fend for themselves, it doesn’t matter how great your company culture is once you’re through the door; it’ll put talented applicants off from the get-go.

You can click here to visit the Small Business website

Ten Things I Know About You

With acknowledgement to Tom Catanzaro DVM

  • 1) You are reading this.
  • 2) You are human
  • 3) You can't say the letter ''P'' without separating your lips.
  • 4) You just attempted to do it.
  • 6) You are laughing at yourself.
  • 7) You have a smile on your face and you skipped No. 5.
  • 8) You just checked to see if there is a No. 5.
  • 9) You laugh at this because you are a fun loving person & everyone does it too.
  • 10) You are probably going to send this to see who else falls for it.

Tom says - 'You have received this e-mail because I didn't want to be alone in the idiot category.Have a great Day. Laugh, and then Laugh and sing it's a Beautiful Morning even when it's not'.

"Do not regret growing older. It is a privilege denied to many."

Live, Laugh, Love and be happy.

You can click here to visit Tom Catanzaro's website

3 Ways to Take Client Service to a Higher Level

From an article by Amanda Donnelly and published in her online newsletter

I’m one of those people who live to eat as opposed to someone who eats to live. I really enjoy eating out whether it is at a fancy restaurant, a local chain restaurant or a dive. Recently I dined at a local upscale chain restaurant that has 4 locations in the Tampa area. I ordered the salmon which was to be served with jasmine rice and snow peas. My dinner arrived and looked beautiful but I was struck by the fact that there were only 4 snow peas on the plate-each laid out in 4 directions on the plate.

My initial impression was…gosh that’s not very many snow peas. Then after tasting one, I was a bit dismayed because they were the best snow peas I’ve ever tasted!  Did I mention I live to eat?

So, the next time the waitress comes by, I comment on the meager portion of snow peas and she says “well they’re really just a garnish.” To which I responded - they really should serve more especially since they taste so yummy. A short time later, she comes to the table with a small bowl full of snow peas. I was surprised and delighted!

Great customer service, right? Well, yes and no.

While it’s true that I left the restaurant quite happy because of getting the extra snow peas, I would have preferred if I had been served a reasonable portion to start with. And I would have been more impressed if the waitress had said “yes, that is a small portion. Let me go get you some more. I’m glad you like them.”

Here’s what we can learn about client service from this experience:

1. Client perception is everything.

It’s your clients’ views that matters. The restaurant viewed the snow peas as a lovely garnish while I wanted a meaningful portion of veggies. At your practice, encourage a mindset of always seeing things from the pet owner’s perspective.

2. Exceeding expectations and surprising clients builds loyalty. 

What’s your equivalent of giving more snow peas? Perhaps it’s agreeing to have a prescription ready right away or coming in early to admit a patient. Maybe it’s offering to take a rowdy child on a tour of the hospital so the client can talk to the doctor without distraction.

3. People love empowered team members.

Is your team trained to respond positively to pet owner requests and comments? Are they empowered and encouraged to take action to please clients? For example, if a client grumbles about the wait time as they’re escorted into the exam room which response is likely to be said by your team:

  • Bad: Silence. This is a common response when employees don’t know what to say.
  • Bad: “We’re really busy today. Dr. Smith is running behind. We had an emergency come in.”
  • Good: “I’m so sorry you’ve had to wait. I’d be frustrated too. Your nurse, Jill will be right in to take Sophie‘s temperature and weigh him. And I’m going to go tell Dr. Smith right now that he’s ready to be examined.” This response is best because it conveys empathy and lets the client know you’re taking action to assist them.

You can click here to visit Amanda Donnelly's website