A happy, healthy office environment doesn’t just appear out of nowhere. It blossoms through collaborative effort and is carefully nurtured in order to maintain it. As much as you’d like to focus solely on medicine, it’s important to ensure you monitor employee morale and cultivate a positive workplace.
Unhappy employees will affect your clients in a negative way. You can make a difference by simply listening to them. Do they want to take on a larger role or learn new skills? Investing in your staff can increase office efficiency, expand services and enhance profitability. Employees will appreciate their value if you are willing to invest in their skills and long-term contributions to the practice.
Here are a few ways you can cultivate a happy, healthy work environment:
- Prioritize attitude over aptitude. Skills can be learned. A good attitude cannot.
- Prompt open communication. Eliminating gossip deters drama.
- Promote staff involvement in team meetings. Rotate assignments and expect thorough reports.
- Locate the complainers. Keep the toxic people out of the office.
- Keep your ears open for exclusive language. If you hear “they/them” as opposed to “we/us,” there may be a problem among the staff.
- Continue to evolve. Keeping your practice up-to-date instills pride in the staff.
- Socialize. Involve your team in fun activities outside of the office.
- Cultivate an emotional culture. Support each other in times of personal difficulties, as well.
Corporate veterinary clinics vs. independent practices
Corporate culture is not common in the veterinary world. It is “estimated that 85-95 percent of U.S. veterinary clinics remain independently owned.” Consolidation can translate into streamlined business models, established standards of care and access to resources. However, there can be benefits to remaining an independent practice. Some corporate veterinary clinics have been criticized for implementing protocols that take some elements of decision-making out of the veterinarians’ hands, which is arguably not always in the best interest of the animals.
Corporate clinics may offer more convenience for customers. Today’s clients are more knowledgeable and want to be involved in treatment decisions. The most important consideration is whether you have enough time to dedicate to your clients. Ultimately, vets must decide which route provides the autonomy and opportunity to best serve their patients.
Keeping clients happy, healthy and coming back
All it takes is a little civility to make your practice stand out. Here are a few tips to help keep the clients that you attract:
- Hire a friendly office staff that personally greets clients when they come in.
- Keep the waiting room, exam rooms and restrooms clean.
- Don’t keep the client waiting. Give them your undivided attention and include them in treatment decisions.
- Make sure you schedule their next appointment before you leave.
- If the pet has been in the clinic all day (or overnight), give a free bath before sending them home.
- Be available (within reason) for clients to call with questions or concerns about their pets.
- Offer ongoing educational content to your clients through blog posts, newsletters or email campaigns. An educated consumer knows what they need to do to keep their pets healthy.
Value added services to build profit potential
There are a multitude of services you can offer your clients that can generate revenue, build stronger relationships, as well as provide preventative care. For instance, market annual wellness packages to encourage ongoing preventive care. Wellness plans encourage more frequent visits and benefit both your practice and the animals.
You can offer a specialty service such as orthopedics, dentistry or exotic animal care. Providing your clients with affordable routine dentistry services promotes dental health awareness for your clients and provides an essential marketing opportunity for your practice.
Keep your office up-to-date in practice management software that seamlessly can track scheduling, billing, integrate inventory, client health records, digital imaging and more. The more organized you are, the more successful and well rounded your practice will be. Here are a few other services you can add to your list:
- Grooming, bathing or boarding
- House calls
- In-house lab work or X-rays
- Toys and/or special nutritionals
Build good will in the community
Marketing is an essential part of any business, but if your practice’s customer care, pricing, location and hours are not meeting the needs of your community, your reputation will hinder growth within your practice. Focus significant energy on building good will within the community. Host special events such as spay/neuter or microchipping clinics. Collect food, blankets and toys for a local shelter or rescue group. Implement a referral program or partner with local pet-friendly shops to generate positive B2B relationships. Here are a few basic marketing promotions and tips that you can use to spread the word about your practice and what you have to offer.
Here is a great Q&A (applicable to all specialties) about marketing your practice.
Firstline offers 10 tips to make dentistry urgent for your team members and clients.