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Say good riddance to your bad clients


How do I convince a doctor that sometimes it's OK to fire clients?

Q: How do I convince a doctor that sometimes it's OK to fire clients?

"The bottom line is, someone has to fire clients," says Barb Clingman, practice manager at Small Animal Hospital in Milwaukee, Wis. "Difficult clients cause a lot of damage. Other clients witness their behavior and may become defensive. The difficult client gets immediate attention and draws the focus away from other clients. And good clients may begin to question the quality of care their pets will receive."

Barb Clingman

When you encounter clients who use foul language, insult the team, continually complain about your services, or regularly fail to pay, it's time to approach the doctor about firing them. Clingman suggests using this sample script: "Dr. Jones, Mrs. Smith's behavior was extremely disruptive again this afternoon. She was confrontational and belittled our receptionists in front of other clients. If Mrs. Smith doesn't change her behavior, I think it's time to suggest that she'd be more comfortable at a different clinic. Do you agree?"

Let the doctor know the manager or owner will fire the client. This way the decision doesn't appear personal—and the doctor is more likely to agree if he or she doesn't have to do the firing.

This tough discussion is worth it. "Once management fires a problem client, the relief is incredible," she says. "It builds confidence and empowers the doctors and team members."

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