Create a blueprint for your veterinarian-pet-client relationship
When I see a puppy or kitten in the exam room, I think of one of the most impactful books in my life, The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People by Stephen Covey. One of the seven habits is to begin with the end in mind, and Covey poses the question, “What do you want to be when you grow up?” The question may appear a little trite, but think about it for a moment. Are you doing what you always wanted to do, what you went to school to learn, where you can contribute the most to pets, people, your practice and the profession?
With puppy and kitten patients, I channel Covey, planning with the end in mind for both pet and pet owners at the embryonic stage of this unique bond between families and pets and their veterinarian. What education and steps will help this pet to live a happy, healthy, full life? How do I want my relationship to develop with pet owners and what do I want them thinking-and more important, feeling-as the pet draws its last breath?
My goals for the pet
Starting with the end for the pet involves educating the pet owner about optimal nutrition, weight control, lifetime parasite control, daily oral care and semi-annual wellness visits, at which time we give any vaccinations that are needed. With these ideas cemented into the pet owner's mind and actions that start with the first visit to the veterinarian, we can ensure fewer problems and more benefits and longevity.
My goals for the pet owner
For pet owners, I want them all to be our favorite clients. That means we gain their respect and trust so that they take our recommendations. They bring their pet in regularly for wellness visits. They are on time for appointments, pay their bills with a smile, are serial referrers and know us personally. To end up with another favorite client requires actions on our part, starting day one to include really listening and displaying empathy and complete honesty. It also includes personal touches, such as giving them your cell phone number to call when their pets are sick and treating them like they're No. 1 at every visit.
This habit is based on imagination, the ability to visualize what you currently can't see. Covey says it's based on the principle that all things are created twice. There is a mental (first), and a physical (second) creation. The physical follows the mental just as a building follows a blueprint. If you don't make a conscious effort to visualize who you are and what you want-from a career or a family/pet/veterinary bond-then you empower other people or circumstances to shape your career or an exam by default.
Connect with your own uniqueness and define the personal, professional, moral and ethical guidelines within which you can most happily and productively express and fulfill yourself. To begin with the end in mind means to begin each day, task or project-like a new puppy or kitten exam-with a clear vision of your desired direction and destination, and then continue to flex your proactive and passionate muscles to make the blueprints turn into something incredible.
Veterinary Economics Practice Leadership Editor and CVC speaker Dr. Marty Becker is author of The Healing Power of Pets: Harnessing the Amazing Ability of Pets to Make and Keep People Happy and Healthy. Dr. Becker also practices at North Idaho Animal Hospital in Sandpoint, Idaho.