How do we get our very busy receptionists to consistently "market" products and services?
To "market" in this context means to convert more telephone shoppers into clients and/or to inform and educate current clients about wellness care or other seemingly elective services. Simply pushing products or services without sincerity will not have a positive, long-lasting effect. But having a similar message delivered or supported by multiple members of the team will demonstrate your practice's true intention and desire for pets to receive the best care possible.
First, determine whether your staffing levels are appropriate for your receptionists to do this. These conversations take time. Staff must have the ability to listen well and be focused without interruption. A good place to start is to review the job description for this position and determine whether it is realistic to expect your frontoffice team to handle this task effectively. If so, is this detailed in the job description with clearly defined expectations? The size of your team will undoubtedly dictate how much multitasking is required by each role. Have you considered designating a specific person or persons to do this job?
Understanding how booking more appointments and bringing new clients into the practice will affect the practice's revenue and therefore its ability to provide quality care can go a long way toward motivating the team. Incentives can help, too. Consider creating a collective goal for the team to encourage the staff to work together to help build business so more pets get better care.
Staff who handle these types of calls need to be the right people with the right training, who believe that the products and services are in fact important to your clients' pets' overall health.
How do we get the doctors who determine the health care protocols to actually follow them? (As an example, after a support staff member has made a recommendation to a client, the doctor tells the client the pet doesn't need it.)
Once again, as is true for so many behavioral standards of a practice, the solution to this problem comes down to philosophy, guidance, and accountability. As the owner of a practice, you have a duty to hire and mentor associate veterinarians who share your vision for the type of care you want your practice to deliver. Many new graduates have an idealistic view of medical care, however, with little practical experience in dealing with pet owners, staff personalities, and managing expenses, and need to be taught how to follow protocols. These protocols should align with your vision but provide some flexibility based on the wishes of clients and the true cost of delivery. An associate who has a broad-based view of care that falls within the guidelines you've established for the practice can be taught how to communicate and deliver care that serves both the practice and the pet. The big "but" is that if you fail to provide adequate training and mentorship, most associates may not meet expectations, may become frustrated, and ultimately may succumb to early career job-hopping, a common occurrence.
The same theory is true for other members of the team. The bottom line is that everyone on your team needs to know how you want the best care to be determined, and then you need to create systems that support delivery of a consistent message and care. Making sure the whole group is working in synch will ensure greater harmony and satisfaction among staff and create more loyal clients who know their pets' health is your primary aspiration. Conversely, not being united in the goals of the practice or how to accomplish them will only fracture your team and confuse your clients.