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Dr. Kevin Fitzgerald: Practice Makes Perfect--June 9, 2008
This week, Dr. Fitzgerald talks about building your client base by getting involved in the community.
Recently, at our local veterinary society luncheon, a new graduate asked me what tips I could give him to help build his client base. His question caught me off balance (and I had a mouthful of burrito) and I did not know quite what to say. (Besides, no one sounds knowledgeable with a cheek full of guacamole.) I must have looked bewildered because the young doctor said “Finish your lunch and we'll talk after.” Sadly, I had to dash back to the hospital and we did not get the chance to visit.
Initially, his question put me off balance, but, oh, what I should have told him. I should have said to get involved in the community: school visits (such as career days, judging school science fairs, etc.), sitting on boards or giving time to a local non-profit group, or perhaps volunteering for a local charity. Donating time to the local or state veterinary society is another great way of staying connected and giving something back. Serving on local veterinary society boards or committees is a tremendous learning experience for young veterinarians and teaches them camaraderie, fellowship, cooperation, and understanding. It reminds us of the valuable lesson that together we are strong and that everyone benefits by our involvement in organized veterinary medicine. It is also our obligation to stay involved and serve on local, state, and national veterinary committees because if we don't stay engaged and help to regulate our own profession, someone else surely will. This type of involvement creates a network of people you would not normally meet and provides you with a new level of visibility in the community and a reputation for giving something back.
In the hospital, the new graduate can make himself or herself more available by viewing client phone calls as a potential opportunity to help an old client or obtain a new one and not as a nuisance. So much can be achieved just by making yourself available to people. If they are worried enough to call, we have to be worried enough to see them. We build clients one at a time through trust, word of mouth, a conscientious work ethic, and being a good listener. So stay involved, be thankful for what we get to do, stay clean, and, oh yes, get a hobby. I have your back.
See you next week, Kev