A 'blood' test for client service

A 'blood' test for client service

What makes a great veterinary team member? This isn’t complicated ... it’s back to basics, people.
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Apr 18, 2018

Buy fake blood. Discreetly place a single drop somewhere on the floor in your facility ... (Shutterstock.com)As practice managers, we expect a lot from our team members: get here early, stay late … be compassionate … defuse tough situations … uphold standards of care … support your team members … do more paperwork than humanly possible … Forget about lunch—we’re busy, keep your chin up and, hey, smile, won’t you? 

And sometimes our employees’ most basic traits get lost in the fray. It’s our fault, really—we overlook them or ignore them in favor of bigger picture things.

But we shouldn’t.

Chris, a mentor of mine, taught me something about first impressions that I'll always remember and have shared with others through the years. He relayed a story about one of his first interviews after college at a computer technology company. He stepped out of his car in the parking lot of their corporate campus and immediately noticed a piece of garbage blowing around on the ground. He stomped on it with his foot, picked it up and deposited it a garbage can. Then he grabbed his folders and coat from his car and headed into the building.

“We truly appreciate people like you. You’re not a blamer, you’re a doer. I can tell.”

The interviewer greeted Chris with a firm handshake and a “thank you.”

He looked puzzled at the corporate suit, who followed up with, “I saw you pick up some trash in our lot. We truly appreciate people like you. You’re not a blamer, you’re a doer. I can tell.”

Chris got the job. The hiring manager wanted people like him on their team. Sure, his resume checked out too, but it was his character that counted the most.

Is your team made up of doers, go-getters and above-and-beyonders? Here’s a test to find out …

Is your team made up of doers, go-getters and above-and-beyonders? It should be. If you’re not sure, here’s a test to find out. Buy a pack of fake blood capsules from your local party supply store or grab some online. Discreetly place a single drop somewhere on the floor in your facility. Now watch the “blood drop,” but don’t sit in a chair three feet away and watch it—be casual. If you have an in-house security camera system, use it. Otherwise, ask a trusted staff member to keep an eye on it for you, or do so yourself. Then wait and see who spots it and cleans it up.

Kudos to the team member who puts on gloves, cleans up the spot and whips out the “Wet Floor” sign. But honestly, kudos to the team member who actually does anything about it, even if it’s just someone who’s too busy to clean it but tells a less frantic manager or a team member about it.

Remember, it’s not just a “job thing,” it’s a pride thing. Your team members should take pride in where they work. They shouldn’t rely on your nighttime janitorial service to handle a drop of blood that could truly disappoint a customer. They should recognize that tiny drop of blood as a big problem they need to deal with right away.

First impressions are lasting, but a customer of 10 years may think your practice isn’t clean if they notice that single drop of blood today.

At your next staff meeting, praise the team member who handled the situation—or give a surprise gift card in a mug with a hilariously embarrassing photo of him or her on it (you know you have one). Their fellow team members will see this achiever as “the person I should be at work,” and you should see a lot more effort going around.

Brent Dickinson is practice manager at Dickinson-McNeill Veterinary Clinic in Chesterfield, New Jersey.