Every complaint is not a lesson

December 24, 2018
Brendan Howard, Business Channel Director

Brendan Howard oversees veterinary business, practice management and life-balance content for dvm360.com, dvm360 magazine, Firstline and Vetted, and plans the Practice Management track at all three Fetch dvm360 conferences.Brendan has proudly served under the Veterinary Economics and dvm360 banners for more than 10 years. Before that, he worked as a journalist, writer and editor at Entrepreneur magazine and a top filmed entertainment magazine in Southern California. Brendan received a Masters in English Literature from University of California, Riverside, in 1999.

dvm360, dvm360 February 2019, Volume 50, Issue 2

In the middle of learning to be a better person and a better doctor or veterinary team member every day, dont fixate too much on how youre not satisfying everyone. Drs. Mary Gardner and Andy Roark shared with a packed house at Fetch dvm360 in San Diego why you shouldnt let the unsatisfied client unravel your passion and workday.

A good veterinary conference sets the tone with a keynote. A great conference sets the tone then sends you home with inspiration too. That's why high-energy speakers Drs. Mary Gardner and Andy Roark attracted just as packed a house at Fetch dvm360 in San Diego last week near the end of the conference as the opener did.

And while it's impossible to send you off with the same energy-don't they say, “Ya had to be there?”-here is one lesson from two smart speakers-Dr. Gardner, a former-tech-industry-exec-turned-DVM-and-entrepreneur, and Dr. Roark, the founder of an online veterinary community.

Ready for it? You've heard it before … but do you believe it?

Don't let one difficult case or one difficult client change the way you practice good medicine and help good clients.

“I hear from people, ‘We don't give hugs in our hospital because someone got upset,'” Dr. Gardner says. “Or, ‘We don't give out paw-print impressions after a euthanasia because one person didn't like it.'”

It's human and natural to focus on the negative and seek the problems to fix them, but you need to remember some subset of cases and clients can't be fixed. Don't flex to the one squeaky client wheel and ignore all the good, happy, satisfied clients you serve, she says.

“You're trying to be all things to all people,” says Dr. Gardner. “If you start to think that, you're setting yourself up for disappointment.”

Dr. Roark doesn't have the data, but he says he's got the personal proof in his day-to-day life to prove the power you're on the right path.

“Eighty percent of your income comes from 20 percent of your clients, I can show that,” he says. “But I believe 80 percent of your happiness comes from 20 percent of your clients.”

Don't let a single complaint or a negative online review or a tiny subset of perpetually unhappy, unsatisfied clients turn you away from what you and your team love.

“You will not make everybody happy, and you will not save all the pets' lives,” Dr. Roark told the audience. “You should care about the things you control. Was I kind to that person? Do I continue to learn and find passion in my work? Am I better than I was a year ago?”

Lessons like these are small, and maybe you've heard them before. But did you hear them right now? And do you need them right now? Then speakers who care like Drs. Gardner and Roark will continue to share them, and Fetch dvm360 will continue to showcase them.

They say, “Ya had to be there.” Maybe next time?

download issueDownload Issue : dvm360 February 2019