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Get personal with a pit boss
Sharing personal details strengthens client relationships and builds trust.
Early in my veterinary career, I was in Las Vegas for the Western Veterinary Conference and I asked a pit boss why all the casino employees had hometowns on their nametags. He told me, “Simple. It's a conversation catalyst. People want a personal connection with those they interact with. For the casino and the hotel, familiarity breeds confidence and confidence breeds spending.”
Uncover life stories with a “bio board”
Capitalizing and expanding on that powerful phenomenon when I returned home to my veterinary practices, I had new nametags ordered with hometowns listed, but also bulletin boards that were behind the front counter, with smaller versions in each exam room. These “bio boards” had all of the veterinarians' photos with their pets and showcased where they were born and what their parents did for a living as well as where they went to undergraduate and veterinary school. The details followed with family, pets, hobbies, favorite books, music and TV shows and special interests as they related to veterinary medicine.
The bio boards proved to be a big hit, not just with clients, but with people who worked at the veterinary hospital who also didn't know this stuff. This encouraged us to feature the life history of a different employee at all-clinic employee meetings until we'd gotten to know more about everyone.
‘6 degrees of separation' is too conservative
Frigyes Karinthy, the Hungarian writer who first wrote about six degrees of separation, was too conservative. In practice, we rarely found a situation where someone didn't have a connection with someone else via a town, a school or a hobby. Whether it was a first-visit icebreaker or 10 years into a family-pet-veterinarian relationship, these newly discovered personal connections helped create a richer, deeper relationship that helped the professional connection.
We'd talk about how the fishing was, whether the skiing was good, what vegetables they were eating out of the garden, and on and on. The conversations were broad-and deep.
Put yourself out there-online
While I still think a bio board behind the counter or in a three-ring binder in each exam room is a good idea, it's now so easy to share personal stories and details on your practice website. Like the pit boss preached, familiarity breeds confidence and confidence leads people to say “yes” to spending money with you and to agreeing to your recommendations on what's best for their pets.
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.