As a veterinary practice owner, I’m constantly trying to find that happy balance between being a veterinarian, and being a businessman. If I had my druthers, I would love to just practice veterinary medicine and devote myself 100% to the cats, and not have to worry about hiring and firing and inventory and revenue and marketing. But I’m also a control freak and I like to be in charge of my own life, and the only way you can really do this is to be your own boss.
Whenever I read business magazines, they’re always talking about “exceeding your customers expectations” as the key to a successful business. It’s a phrase that’s been overused to the point where it’s become a groan-inducing cliché. I always felt that this phrase didn’t apply to veterinary medicine the way it applies to other businesses, like a bank or a restaurant or the air conditioner repair guy. With veterinary medicine, the expectations are already set very high: you’re expected to be able to diagnose what is wrong with the patient, and then prescribe the appropriate treatment so that the cat hopefully gets better. Clients don’t come in thinking you’ll have no clue what might be wrong with their cat, and then are pleasantly surprised that you figured it out. It doesn’t work that way in veterinary medicine. Usually, the exceeding of the expectations occurs at the front desk, where the receptionist goes out of their way to fit you into a busy schedule, or in the treatment room, where the technician agrees to cut all 50 tablets into quarters to make it easier for the client. When it comes to the medical part, the expectation, especially at a feline specialty practice, is that you’re the experts. If you can’t figure it out, then no one can. It’s a heavy responsibility, but it’s what vets (the motivated ones, anyway) thrive on.
Last week, however, we had two instances where expectations were exceeded, but this time, the expectations happened to be mine, and the exceeders were some members of my staff. Perhaps it’s cheesy to toot our own horn, but what happened last week was cool, and it’s my blog, so I’m sharing.