Start a tradition and get together for a meaningful outing.
A clinic that joined our group about seven years ago hosted a huge annual end-of-heartworm-season celebration for its employees. The owner felt this was a good way to show his appreciation and thank the staff for the long, hard summer of work. How could we take this away from the team when he sold us the practice? We didn't. Instead, we tweaked it.
We opted for an end-of-summer staff appreciation party. We've thrown a lot of different types of appreciation events—picnics, half-day boat cruises, bowling, and most recently, a nice lunch for each of our hospital teams. If you're close with a sales rep or two, invite them along. Who knows, he or she might help sponsor part of the event.
Lunches or dinners are great because they're intimate and give your team bonding time outside of the practice. At our gatherings I tell the story of how we started the appreciation event. We go around the table and share what we appreciate about the hospital and each other. And often tears are shed.
I thank the team for the great care they give our patients and clients. As an absentee owner, the fact that I sleep well at night and don't worry about our hospitals is something I appreciate and want them to know.
Ultimately, this celebrates the bond on a number of levels: the bond amongst our team, the bond with our profession, and of course, the human-animal bond. This is a great tradition for our team and if you're not doing something similar, give it a try. Have fun with it. This year we let our teams decide—within reason—how they wanted to celebrate. One of the only rules is that I have to attend. It's selfish on my part, maybe, but I want to celebrate with them.
Dr. Jeff Rothstein
Veterinary Economics Editorial Advisory Board member Dr. Jeff Rothstein is president of The Progressive Pet Animal Hospitals and Management Group in Michigan.