From Drill Bits To Practice Philosophy

A properly staffed practice makes all the difference when it comes to customer satisfaction.



Finding the right drill bit for a very special job was not an easy task. At first, I visited the usual suspects: Home Depot and Lowes. Nothing.

Then I went to Sears. Here is how the experience went. Since I didn’t find the right size drill bit on my own, I spotted a Sears employee between the “paint” and the “tools” sections.

Me: Hello, do you work in paint?

Her: What?

Me: Do you work in paint?

Her: Yep.

Me: So is your colleague the only one in Tools?

Her: What?

Me: Your colleague over there looks pretty busy, is he the only one in Tools?

Her: I’m in Tools, too.

Me: OK great. Could you please help me find a longer drill bit than this 3/32nd bit?

After I showed her the size I needed—same diameter, just longer—she walked with the energy of a snail with myasthenia gravis over to the drill bit display and handed me a long 3/16th drill bit (i.e. much bigger). And she proudly declared: “There you go, that one’s longer!”

I was speechless. What would you have told her?

This surreal experience eventually led me to a store for professionals, a tiny shop in the middle of nowhere. I explained my needs to the gentleman behind the counter. He understood what I needed, went “to the back” for a minute, and came back with the exact drill bit I needed.

Turns out that the founder emigrated from Eastern Europe in 1953. His three kids now run the show.

The drill bit wasn’t cheap, but I bought it on the spot without any hesitation. And the next time I needed something unusual (a special wrench), I didn’t hesitate one second and drove to the store for professionals, where my needs were understood and met on the spot. Interestingly, the wrench cost immensely less than what I expected.

What’s the moral of the story? Strangely enough, is applies very well to veterinary medicine. Think about it:

• If we throw untrained, careless, passionless people in front of clients, they will deliver untrained, careless, passionless advice. This can happen over the phone, at the counter or in your exam room.
• Some people are offended by bad-mannered, semi-comatose or sloppily dressed people when they walk into a professional establishment and expect professional advice.
• If clients don’t find what they need at your veterinary practice, they may leave without an explanation and find a more caring or professional setting.
• Once clients find a properly staffed, compassionate veterinary practice, where they feel respected and they trust the staff, they are likely to stay, no matter what the fee structure is.
• And every once in a while, clients who dislike their “old hospital” and love their “new clinic” will tell their friends and family members, whether it be in person or via the Internet.

And you never know which client or customer might end up writing about their experience in VPN.

Dr. Phil Zeltzman is a mobile, board-certified surgeon in Allentown, PA. He is the co-author of “Walk a Hound, Lose a Pound: How You and Your Dog Can Lose Weight, Stay Fit, and Have Fun Together.”

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