1. Failing to show passion. Sometimes we become too robotic, and we fail to let our passion shine through. To combat this trap: Treat every patient and
client like they're the most important ones you'll see today. Don't rush through the appointment, especially at the end. Take
the time to clearly explain your reasons for what you're recommending.
Marty Becker, DVM
For example, when a client brings a patient in for a spay, don't just say, "We're going to get some blood work done." Instead,
explain to your client that a blood sample will help you to see how internal organs are functioning, especially the liver
and kidneys, which will be most affected by the anesthetic. Another good rule of thumb: Explain procedures clearly enough
that clients could go home and repeat them to their significant others—because they will.
2. Speaking a foreign language. The quickest way to loose a client's attention is to use terms they don't understand. So explain conditions and procedures
using common language. Then test your communication skills and your client's comprehension by having your receptionist ask
the client what you said. Bonus: The client will retain the information better after repeating it back to your receptionist.
Cross-stimulating the senses is another tool for increasing comprehension. Show clients a model or a picture so they can see
better what you're explaining to them. If there's something they can hear, let them hear, and the same for the other senses.
When clients understand you, they'll feel more comfortable, and if your clients feel comfortable, they'll ask questions. But
you need to engage them in the conversation and give them opportunities to speak. One tip: If you find you need to prompt
clients to get them involved, stay quiet long enough for them to respond.
3. Stealing from family or personal time. If you spend too much time making your practice life match your vision, you won't have time to fulfill your dreams and obligations
at home. And how often do you hear retired people say, "I wish I would've worked more"? In fact, most people wish they would
have spent more time with their families.
The lesson: Work more efficiently and delegate more responsibilities, so you can take time off. You'll feel energized and
work better. And when you see burned-out doctors or staff members, encourage them to take a long weekend or push them to learn
an exciting new skill.
4. Violating clients' or staff members' trust. You command power because of your training and experience. Use it wisely. Recommend everything your patient needs, and only
what it needs. Also, be upfront about what the patient will go through.
One of my pet peeves is when veterinarians don't warn owners that their pet might be in pain. Imagine yourself as the patient
in such a situation. How would you feel if the doctor yelled out to a technician, "Come hold Marty down; we need to yank out
this ingrown toenail." You would lose trust and respect for your doctor.
If you examine a cat, and it cries out or hisses or bites, your client is thinking you hurt his or her pet. A better route:
Tell the client this could be painful for her cat and that if the cat shows any indication of pain, you'll stop and tranquilize
the animal so you can exam it more thoroughly.
5. Viewing equipment as an investment and team members as an expense. The best practices are more willing to invest in good people and training than in a new ultrasound or laser. I see so many
articles about poor employee performance and high turnover, and part of the problem is that most practice employees don't
make living wages. Owners: Give your team members a career path and compensate them well to follow that path with you. You'll
be making a long-term investment that will pay off for both of you.