12 Sep 2020
Covid has changed everything we do. However, during this whole crisis, my clinic has managed to stay open. We implemented policies on the fly, changed things day by day as we learned more about the virus, stayed open, let clients come in (with masks), and are thriving! I feel bad saying that last part, knowing that some other types of businesses have shut down completely… but it’s the truth of what’s happening for us! Apparently, the wine delivery people are doing great as well (I heard this from a client)!
Anyways, the point of this blog is to actually convince those of you that are not yet allowing clients into your business, to do so! Here’s what your missing:
Most of my clients are very upset that they are unable to go into the vet clinic with their dogs. Their comments: “Enough is enough, we know how to work with this virus now.” “Mandate masks. I’d be okay with that.” “Human practitioners that actually ‘touch’ people are obviously allowing patients in the doors. That has been deemed safe with precautionary measures!” “I want to be there. I want to ask questions and give information as the vet is looking at my dog. A phone conversation is not the same.” “It’s no different than taking a child away from their parent for an assessment.” I chose the word ‘upset’ in the first sentence of this paragraph, but if I choose not to ‘sugar-coat it’, they are getting angry! They are vet shopping. Not all vets are keeping clients out, and they are finding those that will let them in.
What about the ‘less friendly’ dogs? I have a handful of patients that I would never, ever, ever see without their owner. One client said to me about her male Rottweiler, “What if he needs healthcare? I can’t hand him off to anybody? He’s not that kind of dog!” Very true! He would have to go without… or maybe I would be without my arm. One or the other! I know, if you’re reading this, you’re likely a rehab practitioner, but let’s talk about emergency veterinary medicine. This is another area where not letting clients in, is doing a HUGE disservice to the animal and animal owner. Three times through all of this, I’ve heard of clients asked to make a choice about treating or euthanizing a dog without first being able to SEE their pet (which could help with the decision making). Yes, if they chose to euthanize the dog, then they are allowed in… but they are asked to make that decision in an emergency situation without actually seeing their pet. That one hurts my heart!
A client that was just in this past Saturday recounted his dog’s last vet visit. He was in for his annual check-up and the owner told the vet that he wanted her to look at the new lumps his dog had acquired. It took 4 phone calls back and forth with the vet. V: “I can’t find the one on his leg, it must be gone.” O: “No. It was there this morning. It’s at the front of his thigh.” V: “Are you sure you mean the right hind leg? I’m not finding it.” O: “Yes right thigh.” All in all, the vet finally found it. But the owner told me. “He also has one in his mouth, but after all of that I decided it wasn’t worth it to even mention that one!” ACK! I’d be way more concerned about a lump in the mouth! So now, this dog’s well-being is compromised because of faulty communication due to curb side pick-up veterinary medicine.
It’s not just about holding their dog for you. Yes, that’s a huge help. I don’t have assistants to hold dogs for me, so I need owners. Plus, they’re free labour in that department! Additionally, having the owners present give you the opportunity to ask questions as you are going through the assessment (i.e. What kind of flooring do you have? How are his bowel movements? Does he have a command or hand signal for ‘back up’?). Having the owners present is also imperative for educating them! You may need to tell them about what you’ve found and what the means. Prove to them that ‘here’ is where it hurts. Show them exercises. Modify those exercises based on feedback. Have them practice the exercises in front of you. Discussion is key to creating a solution tailored specifically to the individual pet-human duo… especially in rehab!
Now, the next point to bring forth is one that I tried so very hard to get across to the students I taught coming from the veterinary industry back when I was teaching core curricula canine rehab courses. Owners matter. Owners are your biggest advocates. Owners that believe that you care about them = continuance as a client. = more referrals. = better compliance to your advice. = trust. = respect. Read all of that again! Read the part where I say that owners want to know that you care about THEM! THEM! Yes, you care about their dog. (You had better, that’s why you got into this area of practice in the first place!) You need to care about the owner as well. You need to get to know the owner. You need to find ways to like the owner. Sure, some will be harder than others to like, but ‘learning to like the person’ is a trick I learned back when I did physiotherapy on people. Find what you have in common with someone. Find out what makes them interesting. Everyone is interesting somehow… you just have to find that thing, and it will make all of the difference in the world! Compliance elevates and results even elevate when you make a human connection! Owners matter to your business in more ways than just being the chauffer and wallet for their pet! Your business is missing out if you don’t tap into the potential that a relationship with the client can bring.
So, consider this my plea on behalf of all of the dog owners out there. They want in! There are ways to keep everyone safe. Wear the damn masks folks! It’s time to start ‘living’ in the new world order!
Tags: Covid-19 , Covid , Curb-side vet medicine , masks , what owners want , safety ,
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