There are many reasons why team members fail to reinforce the veterinarian's recommendations when they speak to clients, says
Karyn Gavzer, MBA, CVPM, a practice management consultant in Springboro, Ohio. Sometimes they're not well-trained in communication
and don't feel confident speaking to clients. Other times they're so busy that they don't have time to talk to clients. Training
and scheduling are the answers in these situations.
But often the problem is that there are no clear standards of care—written statements of the care that doctors believe is
best for their patients—to guide staff members' conversations. Without these standards of care, team members are afraid to
suggest anything for fear of contradicting a doctor. For instance, what if one doctor believes in annual heartworm testing
and one doesn't? The staff members will be wrong half the time, no matter what they say to the clients. When doctors don't
agree on standards, staff members usually say nothing at all to avoid trouble. Creating practice-wide standards of care is
In other cases, team members sometimes simply don't know how to make suggestions. They feel like they're being pushy or that
they appear to care only about money. In situations like these, it helps to teach staff members that most clients have limited
knowledge about animal health and that they appreciate the staff's knowledgeable suggestions. Also think about giving staff
members tools such as educational handouts and brochures to get conversations started and make it easier for them to start
a dialogue with clients.