Get clients on board

Simple steps to client compliance.
Jan 01, 2009

Q How can we get clients on board with new or changed practice policies?

Brian Conrad
If clients view a policy change as negative, it may be because they're unaware of the reasons behind the change. To help make a smooth transition for everyone, explain the practice's motives for modifying a procedure or implementing a new plan, says Brian Conrad, CVPM, practice manager at Meadow Hills Veterinary Center in Kennewick, Wash. Be sure to mention any additional benefits the new procedure offers pet owners or patients.

For example, with the increased threat of identity theft, many businesses require ID with check or credit card payments. Veterinary clinics are no exception. While a practice may start carding to protect its clientele, the clients may see the move as a personal attack, especially if they've been with the practice for years. To avoid alienating these clients, Conrad offers the following script: With the rise of identity theft, we want to protect all of our clients as best we can. That's why we've started writing driver's license numbers on all the checks we accept. I know you very well, Mrs. Robertson, and appreciate having you as a client. But to stay consistent with our system, could I please see your ID? Thank you for understanding.

Posting notices of new or changed polices in your newsletter, on your Web site, or around the practice are also helpful. Of course, before making a drastic change, you should take the time to evaluate it from all angles and viewpoints, Conrad says. Look for a proposal that accomplishes the hospital's agenda while maintaining satisfied customers.

Ask yourself:

1. Will this change benefit both the clinic and the clients?

2. Will this change alienate any existing or future clients?

3. Are we making this change only for the convenience of the clinic? Can we make it convenient for the client?

"Spending extra time in the early stages will save time in the long run," Conrad says. Also, make sure the entire staff is on board and understands the strategy for the new policy before putting it into practice.