Today’s VetGirl guest blog is by Dr. Alex Molldrem, emergency veterinarian extraordinaire at Animal Emergency & Referral Center in Minnesota.

Business is stagnant. You’ve tried a new sign, a new ad, and even did some charity work. Nothing seems to help.

You don’t have a marketing problem, you have a service problem. All the marketing in the world may not be able to solve your service problems.

So, what do you do?

Take marketing off the agenda for a while. Don’t waste more time and money on what isn’t working. Instead, focus on the basics. Start with person-to-person interactions. This includes doctor-to-staff, staff-to- staff, doctor-to-client, and staff-to-client interactions.

A negative work environment translates to negativity in all aspects of the practice. Are you demeaning to your staff? Do you demand more from them, yet pay them less? Do you treat staff as lesser people? Take a step back and listen to your tone of voice when talking with staff. (Check out Dr. Justine Lee’s blog on veterinary bullying). Take a second and ask your staff how their days are going. Do you know at least one thing that is important in their lives? Do you know the names of their spouses, children, or significant others? Do you have fun when you work? If you make the effort to create a positive work environment, staff morale will improve, interpersonal interactions will improve, productivity will improve, and ultimately your bottom line will improve.

How do you and your staff interact with clients? Are you short with your clients when you’re frustrated? Do you smile directly at them? Do you look your clients in the eye? Do you take time to listen to why they are there? We’re in the service industry and if we want to make an impression on a client, just smiling is not enough. Being friendly is not enough. If you want to stand out and be a remarkable clinic, you need to deliver outrageously awesome customer service. Let me give you an example.

I recently bought an auto part online. It happened to not fit and I had to return it to Amazon. The auto part company saw I returned it to Amazon, emailed me and then called me to help me figure out the right part. Ok, that was nice. But they took it a leap beyond what I expected. They didn’t just say they could help me with it, they said, “I’m really sorry the part didn’t fit. It would be my absolute pleasure to help you get what you need. I’m so happy to be able to help you figure this out.” They were being ridiculously friendly, over the top, beyond what was necessary. They had a remarkable service. Do you think this company had any advertising? No, I’d never heard of them. Do you think I’d buy from them again? You bet. In fact, I’m acting as their advertisement by telling people about them.

If you focus on improving interpersonal communications, creating a positive work environment, and providing outrageous customer service, I can guarantee that you will see these changes translate into increased productivity and profits. It can be as simple as that.

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