Last night my wife and I were out for dinner at a local favorite. It is considered a fine dining restaurant. We know what to expect when we go there; relaxing ambiance, attentive service and great food. Well, when we walked in last night we saw that the restaurant was packed. “Good for them” we thought, since the economy has been brutal on restaurants everywhere. Unfortunately, instead of the quiet murmur of couples and friends talking, all we could hear were the shrill screams of a distressed baby in a very small room. Definitely not what we were expecting, and we weren’t the only ones feeling that way either. What was the effect on the restaurant? The wait staff was anxiously flitting about knowing that other patrons were having a very poor dining experience. Other patrons were looking distressed as well. This was not the quite romantic dinner they were looking for. You could sense the underlying thought was why would you bring such a young child to a place like this? After 15 straight minutes of crying and screaming you had to think that the group might have suspected the rest of the people in the restaurant had to be impacted, not to mention that their child was obviously distressed and not coming out of the episode any time soon. The end result was that the owner of the restaurant asked this table of 10 to leave. She comped them their drinks but explained that the baby was a distraction everybody in the restaurant. They left with a few grumbles. Maybe they will never come back but the remaining patrons enjoyed a relaxing and enjoyable evening. The restaurant staff returned to their cheerful and attentive selves. Everyone had the night they were expecting.
Why am I bringing this up in a blog on equine veterinary practice management? This was proof that firing a disruptive client sometimes has to be done for the greater good. Think about your worst, most ill-behaved clients. They abuse the staff verbally and they demand a lot of energy and attention but contribute minimally to your bottom line. The frustrate and demoralize the staff and doctors, and once this client is through with them the rest of their day is ruined. Most importantly, the way they are able to interact with other great clients and staff becomes compromised. The necessary demands of top-shelf clients become forgotten because so much time is being spent with the ogres. Why bother?
Identify the clients that leave you drained, who take up so much of your time, yet give nothing back to the practice. Take these names to the rest of your vets and staff and ask if their life be would be better without having to deal with them. If everyone agrees, then fire that client. Don’t be mean or vindictive, just tell them politely to go elsewhere- remember this is not about venting your spleen, it is about preserving the spirit and dignity of your practice. We have done this in the past and it is amazing how the morale improves and how much better we are able to deal with the great clients we have. Sales-wise, we have never noticed a dip because we were free to be more available to other clients.
Don’t compromise your vets, staff and great clients. Get rid of the bad apples that bring your practice down.