"To bring our practice to the next level, we adopted a major hotel chain's steps for providing excellent client service," says Angie Hartin, the bookkeeper and assistant practice manager at Hawthorne Animal Hospital in Glen Carbon, Ill. "Of course, we aren't in the hotel industry—but we are in the hospitality industry."
With the guidance of the hotel's materials, the practice's management team developed an employee booklet that includes steps for exceptional care, as well as the hospital's mission statement, employee promise, core values, and definition of the "Hawthorne experience." The book also addresses accountability, responsibility, employee empowerment, and etiquette.
"Now, our expectations for team members are easily accessible and understandable," Hartin says. "Every team member has received a booklet, and our managers incorporate quiz questions about the booklet into our regular team meetings to ensure everyone understands how serious these issues are."
The practice's managers place a lot of responsibility and accountability on the team. But team members don't feel burdened. Instead they're excited about exceeding clients' expectations rather than just meeting them. For example, one team member offered to develop a maintenance log to ensure defects in equipment are reported and repaired in a timely manner. Another team member volunteered as an OSHA coordinator, and the team recently voted on the practice's new dress code.
"Around the holidays, the abundance of cards, gifts, food, and other goodies from clients are a reminder of how much we've grown and how successful this program has been," Hartin says.