You may only see your patients a couple times a year, but these visits are what keep these pets healthy, so they can enjoy a long life with their owners. This puts you in a place at times where you may feel like a therapist, as your clients have to deal with their pets’ health issues all at once. How do you empathize with your patients while still retaining a professional distance and keeping your sanity?
Avoid Us vs. Them
The veterinary industry has helped promote the idea of pets being part of the family, and that has increased the stakes when making important medical decisions. It’s easy to get frustrated about problem clients, but you must remember that deep down they want the best for their pets, and everyone should be treated with kindness.
Instead of taking your frustration out on your clients, approach your relationship as a partnership. Emphasizing the owner’s role in the health care process will make them feel like they’re not at your mercy, and they won’t feel like you’re to blame if they don’t get the results they want. Taking a little time to work out a care plan together shows you really care, even if their pet’s outlook isn’t what they’d hope for.
Showing some compassion can also make life easier for you down the line: if your clients know you have their pets’ best interests in mind, they’re more likely to be flexible with scheduling and treatment options.
Planning Can Make a Huge Difference
There’s nothing “regular” about a work day at your clinic, and when you’re pressed for time, you won’t be able to give your clients the time they deserve.
Plan for at least 20% of your time to be unexpected medical care from walk-ins, same day appointments and emergencies. Have a set protocol for dealing with these surprise visits that includes everyone on your staff to avoid confusion and make sure you’re always delivering the same service to all your clients.
You should also have a plan in place for emergencies. What can you do to make it easier for your medical staff to drop what they’re doing and respond to a medical crisis? Do you have access to a pet ambulance if an animal needs to be transported to a hospital? How do you work with clients whose appointments will be bumped? Planning things out now will make it seem like everything is under control, putting your clients at ease when they’re faced with their pets’ health emergencies.
Know Your Limits
Work/life balance is hard to achieve in this line of work. As a business owner, you’ll have ups and downs which can feel like you’re always either overworked or at the verge of having to shut down your practice. It’s easy to chase new revenue streams to shore up your practice and offer more to your clients, but not everything is going to be a good fit. Make sure you’re considering more than the bottom line when you plan for your clinic’s future: Are you offering services that are taking a disproportional amount of time and effort? Can you reduce your hours and refer your clients to 24-hour care facilities? Even slight adjustments can make a big impact on both your quality of life and how well you’re able to cater to your clients.
Taking Care of Yourself
Dealing with sick pets and the owners who love them is emotionally draining. Learning how to make time for yourself should never feel unnecessary: if you’re handling your stress well, it’s a lot easier to keep your staff and clients happy.
Know when you’re getting too stressed out and plan accordingly. It’s OK to take a vacation. Skipping occasional time off will leave you exhausted and more likely to make mistakes.
Get away from vet work: you may be used to being in the veterinary world 24/7, especially if you just graduated. Getting into a hobby or activity unrelated to animals will give you the break you need to feel fresh with the start of each work week.
Focus on success: It’s easy to concentrate on one failure or tragedy, but these are rare compared to the number of successes you have each day. When you feel yourself getting down, take a moment to reflect on the good you’ve done.
Let Us Make Your Job a Little Easier
Positive Impressions, LLC has products that can make it easier to build relationships with your clients. Want to keep in contact? We have cards for every stage of pet ownership from welcome cards for new clients, holiday and birthday cards to help your clinic be a part of a pet’s life, and sympathy cards to show you care about the loss of a pet. Want to make visits feel special? We have pet-themed bags for goods and prescriptions, and even stickers for the kids. Want to add a personal touch? We offer custom printing services for many of our products. Visit our website for the latest specials and most popular products this month.