Your hospital makes no SENSE

April 7, 2016
Alex Espinosa

Alex Espinosa is the practice manager of Clarkesville Veterinary Hospital in Clarkesville, Georgia.

The five senses, that is. Touch clients in pleasant, calming, friendly ways by focusing on smell, sound and even taste.

Even great veterinarians, technicians and receptionists can ignore bad sights, smells, sounds and everything else in a busy workweek saving pets' lives. You can fix that: Take a step back and use your senses to experience what your skittish and sensitive pets and pet owners might experience in your practice. (Images Getty Images)Our five senses can affect everything about our attitude, our perceptions, and in the case of a messy, loud, smelly building, how likely a pet owner is to come back to a veterinary hospital. But most of us just focus on how neat and well organized our practices are and ignore the other senses. Big mistake. Your four-legged patients don't and neither do their two-legged owners.

Pretend to be a client one afternoon. Park your car out front. Sit in the lobby and exam rooms. Visit the client bathroom. Here are some modest changes you could make to please your clients' other senses:

Cool candles

“Too clean” or “too dirty” are both problems: A way-too-strong disinfectant smell is no good, and neither is the poop. So we sometimes burn a specially scented, pet-odor-masking candle in our lobby or treatment area during business hours (away from the reach of any animals or clumsy humans, of course). Do the same, and you'll smell the transition from hospital to home right before your eyes (or nose, rather). Pro tip: Make sure your insurance company doesn't have an issue with open flames.

Quiet barriers

Sometimes we might not notice the background noise of dogs being dogs, but clients do. And boarding facilities can be particular offenders. Take some time out of your day while the boarding dogs are being fed and walked, and position yourself where clients sit. (Deaf to the noise? Try this veterinary checklist to kick-start your auditory skills.) If the barking is bad, invest in some noise-reducing items:

> Replace entryways into the kennel with thick steel doors

> Install noise-absorbing pads on the walls in your kennel.

Caring coffee

Clients love carts or counters with single-serving-pod coffee machines, and our receptionists find them relatively easy to maintain. Offer a wide selection of coffees, teas and hot cocoa. In addition to pleasing clients' palates, time spent waiting in the reception area will go quicker when folks get to relax and drink.

Alex Espinosa is practice manager at Clarkesville Veterinary Hospital in Clarkesville, Georgia.