Let me start with a question for my fellow veterinarians. How many of your clients tell you they love how you decorated your clinic? Do they tell you how at ease they feel? Do they say “even my pet loves it here”?
You really do want and need to hear these compliments. Why? Simple. If your clients’ perception of your clinic evokes a comfortable and happy feeling, their anxiety will be lower; in turn, their pets’ anxiety will also be lower. Minimal anxiety and happy feelings in both the owner and pet makes a veterinarian’s job that much more pleasurable and less stressful. As well, clients are more likely to make return visits.
Creating a wonderful experience for your clients can be easily achieved before you even speak a word.
Choose the right color for your spaces
Many studies have proven the impact of color on mood. Do you want your clients, employees and yourself to have positive feelings while in your work space? Why not enhance your walls with colors that will bring out the best in everyone? You can find several resources for enhancing mood with color. If in doubt, choose the colors of the seven chakras, or a rainbow. Interestingly, changing colors from room to room will help keep the office stimulating and improve workflow (see table on next page for some examples). If choosing colors is overwhelming for you, hire a professional if you have to: it is that important and I promise you won’t regret it.
Keep it simple and comfortable
You can put wonderful colors on your walls, but to enhance them you must let the beauty show. Try not to cover your wall spaces with flyers, announcements or posters. Always frame everything you put on your walls, as clients will be uneasy seeing papers taped and tacked. Choose frames that match the theme of your clinic. Use metal for a modern streamlined look or wood for a homelike feel.
You want to convey a professional and orderly presentation in the office at all times. Therefore, if you are running a special or have an announcement, it is best to place these papers at the front desk, not on your walls. Realistically, clients will be much more likely to see them when checking out, and will have a dialog with your receptionist for further impact.
Always provide comfortable seating for your clients. Although you probably do your best to stay on schedule, they will be much happier waiting in attractive, easy seats.
Clearly, humans feel more comfortable in a neat, tidy, orderly and aesthetically pleasing environment, but what about our furry companions? How do you think they feel about getting up on a slippery metal table? Simply adding a rubber-backed carpet square to your exam table can make a huge improvement in your patients’ comfort. Do the old dogs in your practice slip and slide on the floors? Purchasing easy-to-care-for runners will really help them walk much more comfortably and confidently through the clinic. I guarantee your clients will see and appreciate your efforts to spoil their pets.
Let your art speak positively
Your clients do not want to view posters that illustrate parasites, cut open hearts or gastrointestinal innards. Veterinarians love this cool stuff, but our clients do not want to see it. We think it is educational, but they think it is grotesque and creepy. You need to communicate to your clients that you love animals and honor their bond with their beloved pets. Often, a painting of an animal portrays a beauty we cannot describe in words. There are hundreds of beautiful paintings and artistic photos of animals to choose from. These can range from realistic to very artistic and at a cost to fit your budget. You need your clients to see that you adore animals as much as they do! Choose art that fits you and your personality. Hang the images you want to share with your clients and staff. Then, about every three months, rotate your art to add a whole new look to your clinic. Surprisingly, the variety will help clients and staff maintain their interest in the practice.
In addition to your art, hang your diploma, your personal mission statement, and the Veterinarian’s Oath to illustrate your professional lifelong commitment to the health of animals. Your clients will love viewing something that comes from your heart. However, do not feel the need to hang every certificate from every CE you attend. People will get bored of this even though we think it is cool. Why not place your CE certificates in a photo album and place it in the waiting room, if you would like to share your achievements?
Most states require the display of several documents in your waiting room. Placing them all in one large frame with glass looks very neat and satisfies the inspectors. Remember, no tacking or taping to the walls.
Lastly, be careful of the bulletin board. Selling puppies, kittens and cars is not your profession! Bulletin boards are often an eyesore that clients take over for their personal agenda and business cards. Take charge of what you want displayed and give your clients a business card album and separate “notices” album that you keep in your waiting room for reference. As veterinarians, we feel for our patients and clients very deeply at times. The experience your clients have at your clinic translates to how they feel about you. A relaxed, clean and inviting environment, along with your exceptional care, will evoke such a wonderful feeling that your clients will enjoy their visits, and you’ll keep seeing them again and again.