Social media: Building practice communication inside and out

Social media: Building practice communication inside and out

As practice manager, I could see that both interdepartmental interaction and veterinary client marketing were suffering. Social media to the rescue!
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Dec 05, 2017

Shutterstock.comWhen I became practice manager at Avon Lake Animal Clinic in Avon Lake, Ohio, it didn’t take long for me to see opportunities for better communication. First, our department heads were siloed, facing their considerable challenges without support from the rest of the team. And second, our social media presence with pet owners was nearly non-existent. Here’s how we addressed both issues.

Tearing down the silos

Molly LautzenheiserOur business is spread among three buildings and seven departments, with a staff of more than 160 employees. Each day brings new challenges, and I soon realized our managers were facing them alone. There seemed to be no time for connection between departments and managers.

I reached out to our talented managers one by one and learned that they were eager to learn from one another. Despite our busy schedules, we agreed to set our first department manager meeting to keep each other abreast of changes, needs and developments.

It was a success! Communication and creativity sprang up and collaboration ensued. We have since started recognizing more opportunities for cross-training and promotion from within, encouraging our current staff to seize the chance to learn aspects of the business outside of their daily assigned department duties. I also now present on a different HR topic at each meeting, allowing for continuing education and group discussion.

Finally, we enlisted a social media tool to help us stay connected. I created a group in Slack, a workplace collaboration app, for our management team. This app allows us to stay in touch about needs, meeting dates and announcements. I am proud to say that our managers have become a cohesive group that excels at collaboration and communication.

Building a social media presence

Our campus—which includes our clinic, our canine rehabilitation business, a grooming salon and boutique, and our resort with doggie daycare—did not have a strong online presence. When I came into my position, I took what the clinic had started and built it into a multichannel, high-functioning outlet for communication. All four of our business entities are now present in a variety of channels, including Facebook, Pinterest, YouTube and Twitter.

First, I created a team with a representative from each business entity, and we met monthly to set up a marketing schedule. When a few staffing changes were made, the group dissolved and I took over the task in its entirety. A few months later, I learned that one of our client service representatives had an interest in the social media realm and had a flair for design. After meeting with her, we formed a new team—I enlisted the assistance of a member of our canine rehabilitation team as well as our salon and boutique manager to get a fresh perspective of our campus needs as a whole.

We now meet semiannually and work together on a marketing plan for the campus. Through the use of Canva, a design app; Hootsuite, a scheduling platform; and Slack, which helps us stay in touch, we have successfully completed our goals and exceeded our own expectations in areas of brand awareness and client interaction online.

We also pull the messages back in-house through the use of bulletin boards and signage in our facilities that’s consistent with our themes and messages online. Though these steps, I believe our team is well-prepared to handle constantly changing marketing trends.

Molly Lautzenheiser is practice manager at Avon Lake Animal Clinic in Avon Lake, Ohio, and a top 10 finalist in the dvm360/VHMA Practice Manager of the Year contest.