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3 curbside takeaways veterinary teams can take into the future

As a management consultant, I’ve been amazed at how veterinary teams have adapted to the changes brought about by the Coronavirus pandemic. Now that vaccines and declining risk are letting us return to a more normal workflow, let’s keep the positive aspects of curbside care. Here are a few to consider:

  1. Say ‘I’ll try’ instead of ‘I can’t.’

In an effort to protect team safety, some practices unintentionally sent a message of “Keep out! You’re not welcome!” When I called one clinic, the receptionist immediately said, “Just so you know, we’re not letting you in the building.” This lack of warmth and welcome does not strike clients well, and many switched to practices that worked with them to meet their needs. These will be the hospitals that thrive going forward.

The fact is, successful practices have always prioritized relationships with pet owners. While good medicine is important, it’s not at the top of the list for clients. First and foremost they want to sense your personal hospitality. It all starts with people.

  1. Keep the efficiency gains—and the personal connection.

During the pandemic, I saw many practices ramp up their use of technology in ways that offered outstanding client service and streamlined workflow. Two-way texting, automatic reminders and QR codes to access contactless payment are all efficiencies we can keep.

Say a client calls for a medication refill. The practice texts her an invoice and a link to pay, texts her again when the product is ready, and runs it out to her car when she arrives to pick it up. This innovation would not have happened without Coronavirus, but there’s no reason we can’t keep doing it. In fact, I think curbside care should remain an option permanently: it’s great for elderly and disabled clients, parents with kids in tow, and so on.

At the same time, we can’t be so focused on efficiency that we lose our personal touch. When clients come into the building, we chitchat in ways that build relationships. We must find ways to maintain that connection, because it’s what makes people trust us—and trust is everything.

  1. Protect your team by setting boundaries and checking in.

Veterinary teams are TIRED. They’ve had to adapt to immense change, run back and forth to vehicles, and care for patients whose owners suddenly started saying “yes” to everything. To care for these team members, we need to give them a good work environment. Let’s let them go to lunch. Let’s close the practice on time. Managers, let’s walk the floor and check in to find out how they’re really doing. Owners and team members, check on your managers—they’ve had a tough year too.

If we take care of our staff and serve our clients using the strategies we’ve learned in the tough times of Coronavirus, we set ourselves up to achieve greater success in normal times. I’m looking forward to seeing how practices will do this in the days, months and years ahead.

By Debbie Boone, CVPM; 2 Manage Vets Consulting; Myrtle Beach, South Carolina

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