Our society is addicted to reality shows, but have you ever thought about what would happen if someone showed up at your practice with a camera rolling to film a new show called “Vet Practice Uncut?” Would you be thrilled by the opportunity or would you panic and have the incredible urge to hide under your desk? If “hide under my desk” is your answer, consider that whatever that camera crew would see is exactly what your clients and potential clients see every time they pull into your parking lot and enter your practice.
Internal marketing is all about consistently increasing clients’ loyalty by exceeding their expectations every time they frequent your practice, then appearances (and odors) are the very core of successful internal marketing and have a tremendous impact on the success of any business. In fact, sights and sounds stay with us far longer than words, which is important to remember if you think that a fabulous, outgoing receptionist is enough to make up for peeling paint and pee stains on the floor mats.
As an owner or practice manager it is your responsibility to walk through the front door of your practice every day as if the camera is rolling. Your hospital doesn’t have to be the Taj Mahal to look, smell and feel good. Get started by pulling into the client parking lot:
- Are the parking lines still visible or does it look like a vast expanse with weeds growing between the cracks?
- Are there garbage or cigarette butts on the ground?
- Is there an area where dogs can relieve themselves? Is it cleaned several times a day? Is there a garbage can and plastic bags so that clients can clean up after their pets?
- Are the hedges neatly trimmed and the front entrance swept? Are there flower pots to brighten the entrance?
- Are there letters or light bulbs missing from your sign?
- Are there foot prints and dog drool on the front door?
Now step inside:
- Did hairballs fly up when you opened the front door? Are the floors vacuumed and mopped? Check under the furniture and in the corners, especially behind and under the scale.
- Does it smell clean, or like a combination of wet dog and dirty litter box?
- What about the walls – do they need wiping down or really need of a fresh coat of paint?
- Look up – if you have ceiling tiles are they still white? Are all the light bulbs working?
- If a client were to pick up a bottle of something from the shelf would there be a big white circle underneath? Would they have to brush off the dust just to read the ingredients?
- Are the counters clean and neat or are they loaded with cardboard displays and material? Keeping things on the counter to a minimum is an excellent way to improve the overall appearance of professionalism and organization. Consider having a vase of fresh flowers instead.
- What about the staff at the front desk – do they look clean and neat, or does it appear that they may have slept in their uniforms and rolled out of bed?
While a long-term client may forgive a bad odor or hairball every now and then, sooner or later they will question whether the lack of attention paid to appearances has permeated far more than just the air. This can lead to becoming more critical of other things as well, the “biggies” being price and wait times, and suddenly they are considering making their pet’s next appointment at the new practice that they happen to drive by on their way to work.
Keep this from happening at your practice by simply walking through the front door every day and seeing the practice through the eyes of your clients, or even better, through the eyes of a reality show host. Doing so shows true commitment to the greatest priority of any internal marketing program – continued client loyalty and satisfaction.