As Mrs. Goodins checks out at ABC Veterinary Hospital, she asks the receptionist what type of treat she should feed her dog, Scooter. The receptionist replies, "It doesn't really matter—as long as you don't give too many." Mrs. Goodins is confused. The doctor recommended a nutritious, low-calorie treat available in the lobby. "I suppose you're right," Mrs. Goodins says. "Scooter, that means one less goodie a day for you." And so the receptionist unwittingly undermines the doctor's recommendation and another dog fails to benefit from a healthier lifestyle change.
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When team members contradict each other, clients lose trust and often seek guidance elsewhere. To support your team's message, you need to know your practice's philosophy and protocols. And the quickest path is through consistent team training, written protocols, role-playing, and testing.
Get everyone on the bus
Imagine you're alone in an exam room with a client. Are you prepared to handle the client's questions? What will you say, and how will you present it? At that moment, you become your practice's ambassador. Training on your practice's protocols and policies is just as important as training on patient care and technical skills.
So what techniques can your team use to ensure everyone shares the right information with clients? First, doctors must agree on recommendations for preferred diets, heartworm and flea and tick preventives, vaccinations, and reproductive surgery. And your team should create policies for identifying obese and painful pets and handling potentially divisive situations, such as requests for convenience euthanasia, clients who can't or won't pay for services, and abandoned pets. Without clear guidelines, doctors and team members may handle situations differently, confusing clients and creating conflict among team members.
This isn't to say everyone must agree on every topic every time. But you do need to agree on the message you'll present to clients. So put your policy in writing and present a copy to all new team members during their initial phase training. And when you change your team's guidelines, redistribute your policy to all team members. By reinforcing the doctor's recommendations, you'll help clients understand their importance, and they're more likely to comply. And you'll feel confident making care recommendations knowing doctors will support your advice.