How our veterinary practice handled a construction crisis


When road construction almost shut our practice down, our community rallied around to support us.

A major county road construction project at our veterinary practice's intersection recently shut down our roadway for a full month. We were granted limited access via one of the four approaching roadways, but the detours made people drive, on average, about 10 minutes around and out of the way to reach us. Our practice was plagued with people showing up late for their appointments-or not at all-filling our waiting area with frustration. Customers ranted about the county spending their tax dollars and about the hassle the construction created in our (formerly) small farm town. 

One thing that never happened: Our customers' loyalty and kindness towards our practice and team never died. In that month, we had clients offering to call the county board of freeholders to voice their opinions and loads of people sharing our social media posts about our road closures and our desperate “we're still open!” notifications. We had a gentleman we've never met enter our practice to tell us he was sorry about what was happening, and that we're really tough people. 

The whole situation put a lot of things into perspective for me. Our practice has been in operation since 1978, and our customers have always been an extension of our family. We see them at the grocery store and ask how Matilda is doing since her ACL operation, and they nearly hit the floor because they can't believe we remembered their pet. They stop in with farm fresh eggs and cantaloupes they grew in their yard, just because they're thinking about us. 

It wasn't until the roadway shut down that we started to see people fighting for us, just like we were members of their family. I realized that loyalty goes both ways. People fight for us because we keep their pets healthy and don't charge them an arm and a leg. But most of all, they respect us because we've always done the same. Point is-sometimes it takes a step to the side to see things from the best angle. We are a respected industry, and I hope we all take on the future with that in mind. 

The next time you roll out of bed and think to yourself “I don't want to go to work today,” think about the customers who want to go to your practice because they'll enjoy a good experience. Think about their pets and what they mean to them. Remember that you are their lifeblood, just like their business is to you. It's so easy to overlook the good and focus so on the bad. But with the right attitude, you can do anything. 

Brent Dickinson is the practice manager at Dickinson-McNeill Veterinary Clinic in Chesterfield, New Jersey.

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