Make 'em stick

Make 'em stick

Feb 01, 2007

Mark Opperman, CVPM
ONE OF THE THINGS I LOOK AT DURING AN ON-SITE consultation is clients' bonding rate. I want to know how likely they are to return to the practice after the first visit. Most practice owners can tell me how many new clients are coming in, which is important. But it's just as important—and maybe more important—to know how many of those clients stay. This shows your team's success rate.

Better teams enjoy better success rates. And that relates to practice bonding, too. Do you keep good team members around? This is also a success factor for your practice.

Veterinary practices don't typically pay team members the highest salaries, which is unfortunate. But while money can affect employee retention, it's not the main reason people stay or leave. The main factor is job satisfaction.

Really, you're fortunate; the people who come to you want to work with animals and make a difference in their lives. And you should capitalize on that! After all, keeping those good team members around should improve patient care and client service—and minimize your headaches.

According to consulting firm Bliss & Associates, for every employee an organization loses, it spends up to 150 percent of his or her annual salary recruiting and training someone new. Clearly, it's imperative to keep turnover low. So check out these 15 proven strategies for enhancing employee retention. Incorporating them into your practice could be the first step toward greater success in every area of your hospital.

1. Ask team members for feedback

Whats important to your team?
One of the easiest things you can do to increase retention is simply to ask your employees what's important to them. For example, at your next staff meeting, try giving each employee a list of job traits, and ask them to rank them in order of importance. Then try to enhance the work environment you offer.

2. Quarter your compliments

Here's another simple but effective idea. Place four quarters in your left pocket every morning. Every time you offer a genuine compliment to a team member, move a quarter from your left pocket to your right. The goal is to have all four quarters in your right pocket every night when you go home. (No cheating by spending the quarters!) This simple strategy reminds you about the importance of positive reinforcement and helps you remember to use it.

3. Involve your team in decisions

Whenever you decide to incorporate a new service or change a policy, solicit the input of as many team members as possible. If appropriate, you might even form a committee to research your idea and report back. You'll see much greater acceptance and support for new services and policy changes if you involve your team in the decision-making process.

4. Celebrate!

Did you have a highly successful dental month? Did you increase your number of new clients or average per-client transaction beyond expectations? Did a client send a note or gift or say something nice about an employee? Take this opportunity to celebrate. Order pizza for lunch, bring in a cake, or pass out gift certificates to a favorite restaurant. You can also celebrate team members' anniversaries and accomplishments such as graduations or engagements.

5. Set clear expectations

Satisfied team members know what's expected of them. And mind readers are few and far between. So you must tell members what you want if you expect results.