Reward your all-star clients


They may be tiresome, but high-maintenance high rollers are worth the price.

Meet your all-stars. Every veterinarian has them. A select set of clients who make your practice successful but also make you late to every parent-teacher conference you've ever had. You know who they are. Most likely, your whole staff knows who they are and are on a first-name basis with them. That's because these caring pet owners are your best—and most demanding—patrons.

These individuals can have egos, be eccentric, and be hard to manage alone or in a group. All-star clients are kind of like the big-name basketball players who win the games but not the fans. You still want them on your team. But unlike any of those self-entitled celebrity athletes (no names need be mentioned) calling for fatter paychecks, all-star clients are the ones who call you with a so-called emergency every day five minutes to close.

Dr. Andrew Rollo

They're also the ones who always have to speak to a doctor no matter how qualified the staff or how simple the answer may be. And they won't talk to just any doctor. It needs to be their doctor. If need be, they'll insist on getting the doctor's home phone number and calling him during dinner to hear the same response a technician just gave five minutes earlier. Of course, the client will give no indication of the expletive tirade she just unleashed on the receptionist in order to reach the doctor. Yes, all-star clients can be off-putting—if not downright rude—to support staff. And, as mentioned earlier, they can be inconsiderate of your time too.

The (patient) records show that all-star clients often run their appointments into overtime. No matter what they came in for, you know you'll wind up spending an extra 10 minutes—at least—discussing their bowling score, the weather, or the new spot in the backyard where their pet pooped that morning. Is it any wonder that you find yourself giving your receptionist excuses you haven't used since trying to get out of a date in college to avoid an all-star's call? My all-time favorite excuse is, "I'm relacing my shoes."

Your own little group of all-stars is no different from those in other professions: music, sports, you name it. And just like record producers and coaches, sometimes you just need a breather from the big-shots' less-than-ideal behavior. So before you consider benching these all-star clients, take a time-out to remember that they're the major names that make up your organization. They bring in money and, most of all, they're dedicated to their craft, which happens to be your craft, too: taking care of loved ones.

So the next time one of your all-stars walks into your practice, hand him or her a trophy. No trophies? Then maybe just give an extra five minutes of your time.

Dr. Andrew Rollo is a Veterinary Economics Editorial Advisory Board member and an associate at Madison Veterinary Hospital in Madison Heights, Mich. Please post comments on the Community message board or e-mail

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