Do clients call all of the shots?

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I read Brian Conrad's article, "Are You Chasing Off Clients?" (July/August 2006), and he makes some valid points. In the same breath though, you must set limits or clients will run over you as long as you let them.

I read Brian Conrad's article, "Are You Chasing Off Clients?" (July/August 2006), and he makes some valid points. In the same breath though, you must set limits or clients will run over you as long as you let them.

I've worked at a veterinary clinic for six years now. The clients who show up at closing time are annoying, I will admit, but if the sign says we're there until 6 p.m. then we need to be there until 6 p.m. Even a little after usually isn't a problem, because we don't get to leave on time anyway. The ones who drive me up the wall are the clients who argue over the phone about immediate appointments for toenail trims when you have six people staring at you in the waiting room and a cesarean section in route. I understand that they need attention, too, but they can wait. If they come in they'll complain about waiting, and if you ask them to schedule for another time, more complaining.

I'm going to say what every person who read this article was thinking: We have a life too! Now, having stepped off my soapbox, I honestly try to give every client who comes in my best effort every time, because that's also part of my job. I don't want to sound heartless or mean, but where is the limit?

Wade Day

Veterinary Assistant

Green Meadow Veterinary Hospital

San Angelo, Texas

Brian Conrad responds:

You raise some good questions. It’strue that there will be times when youcan’t completely accommodate clients.This is when you’ll place clients in controlby offering several alternatives.Show your sincere concern. Perhapsthe client’s dog needs a cesarean sectionand you don’t have the resourcesto safely perform the procedure.Explain the problem and take the initiativeto contact an emergency serviceor the doctor on-call to ensure a seamlesstransition for the pet and theclient. For non-emergencies, you mightoffer preferred scheduling for the followingday. Or maybe you can arrangea phone call fromthe veterinarian to alleviate clients’immediate concerns. Each case is different.But when you work with thepet owner to find a solution, you’lldeepen the bond between the clientand the clinic.

Unfortunately, there will be clientswho will never be satisfied no matterhow hard we try. But happy clientsoutnumber grumpy and unappreciativeones by a large margin. Giveeach client your 110 percent effort.There will be some clients who needto leave the practice so you can focuson the clients who truly love andappreciate you.

Be inspired by Lee Iacocca, whosaid, “We are continuously faced bygreat opportunities brilliantly disguisedas insoluble problems.” If you continueto improve, clients will notice.

At the same time, if you’re feelingoverwhelmed and overworked, talkingto your boss about reorganizing yourschedule and increasing your staffingmay help. Perhaps your practice needsrevamped doctor and team schedules.Or maybe you need a new part-timereceptionist. Good luck!

Brian Conrad, CVPM

Practice Manager

Meadow Hills Veterinary Center

Kennewick, Wash.

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