People have a hundred decisions to make every day: from what time to get up, the route to take to work, and what they'll focus
on for the day to how and where they'll spend their hard-earned money. Many veterinary practice owners assume that clients'
buying decisions for veterinary services are fairly logical. The client adds up the cost and benefits of one practice, compares
it to another, and chooses the practice with the better score. However, people don't always make wise and rational decisions
based on an analysis of costs and benefits. If clients don't choose a veterinary practice based on objective criteria, how
do they choose?
Many veterinary practices think clients are buying expertise, but most clients can't truly evaluate your knowledge or skills.
What clients can tell is if the relationship is good and phone calls are returned. In fact, clients are experts at knowing
whether or not they feel valued. Owners in Well-Managed PracticesSM tell us that clients most appreciate their quality of care, personalized touch, compassion and friendliness, and convenience.
According to this year's study, Well-Managed Practice SM owners, associates, and staff members all agree – better communication strengthens the effectiveness of their teamwork and
their ability to enhance the client's perception of value.
Tap into every opportunity to validate clients' decision to spend money in your practice. Be sure they choose you because
you've exceeded their expectations every single time. Well-Managed PracticesSM work hard to provide value where clients expect to find it, but especially where they don't expect it. Take a look at Figure
1 for suggestions to enhance your clients' experiences. The following items are just a small sampling of what clients really
want from you. Work on these and then graduate to the areas that come up in your conversations with clients.
Figure 1 – Enhance the client experience
Friendliness – Smile! An old proverb says, "Don't open a shop unless you know how to smile." Everyone in your practice can apply this advice.
The fastest, cheapest, and best way to market your services is through your employees. Teach your staff members that the practice's
success depends on their actions every day in every client and coworker interaction. See Figure 2 for ways to wow clients
with your effective team. And keep in mind that you need to walk the talk. Model the behavior you're seeking from your staff,
or your words to them will have no impact whatsoever.
Figure 2 – How to improve team effectiveness
A relationship – Become a wholehearted listener. Truly hear what people tell you, both in words and with body language. It's a talent many
people don't take the time to develop, but those who do invariably find success, whether in business or relationships. People
who learn to listen create rapport that can last a lifetime. The most precious gift you can give to each patient and client
is your engaged presence. It simply can't be said enough: You're selling a relationship, not your expertise.