Fun facts to keep your veterinary clients coming back

Add some "tee hee" to your TLC, and use your humor and intellect to strengthen your relationship with veterinary clients.
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Apr 01, 2014

I may not be the greatest medical mind in the veterinary field, but I bet some of my clients think I am. Why? Because I always pay attention to their perceptions.

For example, I took the advice of my first partner, Dr. Bill Strobel, and always wear a shirt and tie to work. I dress the part of a medical professional with a lab coat and a stethoscope. My smocks are freshly laundered and feature the slogans "We Care for Pets ... and People" and "We take the 'pet' out of petrified."

In an exam, I "start with the heart" and then move to the head, engaging the owner's emotions before intellect. My mentor, Dr. Ross Clark, taught me something that I still use: rehearsed spontaneity to have a little fun and a lot of impact. If the patient is a Dachshund, I'll say, "We say these dogs are two dogs long and a half a dog high." And it's "Chew till they're two, shed till they're dead" for Labs.

Clients love this banter because it shows your fun side and gives them a new way to describe their pet to others.

Fun facts are another powerful tool to help make clients think of you as a brainiac who can crack any case. A wirehaired Fox Terrier named Igloo went to the Antarctic with the explorer Admiral Richard E. Byrd. For Japanese Bobtail cat owners, I'll explain that one of the favorite colors in their country of origin is "mee-kay," meaning "three-fur," which is what we call a calico.

Great Pyrenees were guard dogs for chateaus in France during the reign of Louis XIV after he installed one at the Louvre as a watch dog. Great Danes were featured in 4,000-year-old tombs of Beni Hassan in Egypt.

This trivia has little to do with medicine and everything to do with strutting your intellectual stuff and building a rapport. While first-class CE is important for keeping pets healthy, a little "tee hee" helps keep relationships healthy.

Dr. Marty Becker, Veterinary Economics Practice Leadership Editor, is a well-known author of 21 books, including The Healing Power of Pets: Harnessing the Amazing Ability of Pets to Make and Keep People Happy and Healthy. He practices at North Idaho Animal Hospital in Sandpoint, Idaho.