Bracing for the big one


The final chapter of the Firstline Challenge prepares you to build strong bonds with clients by providing excellent service and education.

In the last two weeks, our Kansas office has been hit by three major snowstorms. As luck would have it, the third fell right on top of our deadline for this issue. To avoid treacherous travel, some editors and designers left early, arrived late, or stayed home altogether. The sparse staff meant we had to do some fancy juggling and call on other team members to pitch in and finish the issue.

Kerry Hillard Johnson

Disruptions like these, while unplanned, are expected. The same is true in veterinary practices. You never know when the weather will close your hospital, a team member will get sick, or a pet owner will derail your schedule.

Luckily, you can prepare for these so-called unexpected events, especially when clients are involved. This month's cover story lists five questions pet owners are likely to ask. Rather than be caught off guard, you can outline your responses ahead of time. Of course, giving a canned answer might sound contrite. But establishing the basic reply beforehand allows you to focus on customizing your comments to the individual client's situation.

As you probably know, talking to and educating pet owners is one of the most important parts of your job. Why? Because caring for a pet is like driving in the snow. It seems easy until the car starts skidding. To keep your clients from crashing and burning when it comes to their cats and dogs, complete the final segment of the Firstline Challenge: client education. When you visit, you'll find a list of activities that will help you break through to clients, and, in turn, help keep their pets healthy.

As the challenge ends, so do your chances to win* an iPod Touch. Enter by posting a blog about how you've improved your client education skills—or how you've grown in terms of team building, patient care, or your career goals. (Visit for entry details.)

I sincerely hope the Firstline Challenge has inspired you. But most of all, I hope it's helped you prepare so that even the crazy days aren't so crazy.

*No Purchase Necessary. Open to legal residents of the 50 U.S. & DC, 21+, who are credentialed technicians, practice managers, receptionists, and assistants working in veterinary practices in the U.S. Void where prohibited. Contest ends Feb. 15, 2010. For full rules, see

Kerry Hillard Johnson, Editor

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