Teach your team to reinforce your recommendations


Our team members aren't salespeople. How can we teach them to reinforce our recommendations to clients?

There are many reasons why team members fail to reinforce the veterinarian's recommendations when they speak to clients, says Karyn Gavzer, MBA, CVPM, a practice management consultant in Springboro, Ohio. Sometimes they're not well-trained in communication and don't feel confident speaking to clients. Other times they're so busy that they don't have time to talk to clients. Training and scheduling are the answers in these situations.

But often the problem is that there are no clear standards of care—written statements of the care that doctors believe is best for their patients—to guide staff members' conversations. Without these standards of care, team members are afraid to suggest anything for fear of contradicting a doctor. For instance, what if one doctor believes in annual heartworm testing and one doesn't? The staff members will be wrong half the time, no matter what they say to the clients. When doctors don't agree on standards, staff members usually say nothing at all to avoid trouble. Creating practice-wide standards of care is the solution.

In other cases, team members sometimes simply don't know how to make suggestions. They feel like they're being pushy or that they appear to care only about money. In situations like these, it helps to teach staff members that most clients have limited knowledge about animal health and that they appreciate the staff's knowledgeable suggestions. Also think about giving staff members tools such as educational handouts and brochures to get conversations started and make it easier for them to start a dialogue with clients.

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Angela Elia, BS, LVT, CVT, VTS (ECC)
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