Ask Shawn: Shine light on a moonlighter
For the past few years, our practice's kennel business has been declining. I recently learned that an employee pet-sits for clients on the side. The other day a client approached me in an exam room asking if I was the employee who offered pet sitting. When I told him we board pets at the clinic, he said, "Oh dear, I hope I don't get someone in trouble." In fact, the moonlighting employee gave him a tour of our kennel just last week. I realize some people want a more personal approach, but the fact that the pet sitting is a secret going on behind the owner's back bothers me. Help! —Blindsided by boarding
The solution is simple: Bye, bye, employee. In my opinion, this is worse than stealing. This employee is using your practice's business model to line her own pockets.
It is acceptable for an employee to approach the practice owners with a business plan for a petsitting business for the practice's clients and offer to share the rewards with the practice. It's the fact that she's doing business behind your back that causes a myriad of other problems. For example, if other employees know about the business, this puts them in a double-bind—they may not want to snitch, but they may feel their ethics are compromised.In this case, I urge your manager to pull aside the employee in question at the end of the day and hand her her walking papers. The manager should also inform this team member that if she continues to pilfer clients through the practice's business, the owners will seek legal channels for compensation for the damage done to the business.
Next, follow up with a letter to clients apologizing that they've been put in the position of being offered personalized home care without your knowledge and explaining you're willing to explore offering this service through legitimate channels at your practice.
Finally, it's important for practice leaders to call a practice meeting to explain why it's unacceptable for employees to offer a service that feeds off the practice without the owner's permission. Develop a script together for how you'll answer questions from clients about the ex-employee and the boarding services she offered. As a team, you'll need to focus on rebuilding the practice's legitimate boarding services. —Shawn
Got a question? Ask Shawn.
Maybe you're tired of babysitting your team members. Perhaps you're looking for strategies to beat a bully. Shawn can help. Shawn McVey, MA, MSW, is a member of the Firstline and Veterinary Economics Editorial Advisory boards and CEO of McVey Management Solutions in Chicago. Email your question to firstname.lastname@example.org