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Does your veterinary practice have an alumni network?
Staying in touch with former veterinary team members is a smart, easy way to boost your practice's image and keep good employees coming back.
Keeping in touch with valued team members who have voluntarily left your practice makes sense on many levels. Companies that maintain an alumni network include Harrah's, Microsoft, and Deloitte. Here are four reasons to start an alumni network at your practice:
1. Former valued team members can lead you to other potential employees—especially when you're looking for specialized positions such as credentialed technicians or employees conversant with electronic medical records. Employees tend to associate with others in their field, which gives them access to those with specialized talents.
2. If the new job doesn't work out or they end up moving back to your city, these team members may come back and work for you again. And if they do return, chances are they'll be more loyal and hard-working than ever.
3. If you're short-handed, you can call up these former employees to fill in on an emergency basis.
4. Fostering long-term relationships with these employees promotes a sense of identity that will encourage them to become clients at your practice. They'll also be more likely to recommend your practice to their friends and family.
Staying connected with former veterinary team members is easy with technology tools such as Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, blogs, e-mails, and e-newsletters. When an employee leaves, appoint one of his or her friends at the practice to be a liaison. Then have that veterinary team member contact the former employee two or three times a year to keep him or her in the loop.
Some practices have periodic get-togethers mixing current and former team members. These events include summer picnics, holiday parties, and luncheons at a local country club or hotel. Needless to say not everyone you've employed over the years will respond to these efforts, but you may be surprised by how many will enjoy staying in touch with the practice.
Veterinary Economics Editorial Advisory Board member Bob Levoy is the author of 222 Secrets of Hiring, Managing, and Retaining Great Employees in Healthcare Practices (Jones and Bartlett, 2007).