In this month’s article, we are going to take a little turn. I have been asked for a Top 10 list of traits in a perfect client. Some may find they feel they are lacking in some areas. This list is not to make anyone feel bad, it is more about enlightening you as to what helps make an equine veterinarian’s job easier in my opinion. The list is in no particular order. Let’s get to it!
1.) Being organized. Clients that have their animals ready for us, their questions ready, a list of what they want done and their history ready help us get our job done eﬃ ciently and thoroughly. If we are out trying to help catch animals, do not know what needs to be done or know nothing about the animal, it makes it more challenging for us to do our job well.
2.) Be on time and ready to work. This really goes for any service professional. If we are not working, we are wasting time. Most service professionals are in high demand and want to try to get to everyone that wants their service.
3.) Follow directions for aftercare. Aftercare is extremely important to a favorable outcome after many procedures. Changing bandages, hand walking, stall rest, etc. These types of things are not to give you busy work. They are to strive for the best possible outcome, and without them, a good prognosis can turn bad quickly!
4.) Please don’t be afraid to ask your questions. Client education is part of our job. We know clients that are seasoned professionals and those who are new to owning horses. It is easy for us to take for granted that you might not know as much as our last client, so speak up!
5.) Clients that take great care of their animals and the animal’s environment. When we visit a horse and the horse is brushed, feet are picked out and the stall is clean, it demonstrates good care of your horse. If there is four day’s worth of manure in the stall, the mane is knotted up and there is dirt packed like concrete in your horse’s feet, it may give us pause about how well things will be taken care of after we perform a procedure.
6.) Minimize the use of Dr. Google. I love educated clients. I love it when they want to know about the disease process or surgical process. When clients go searching every website to ﬁ nd out about an ailment, they receive way to much misinformation. Or sometimes, they see the worst case scenario, when there’s is the best case. All of this can lead to unnecessary worry. I see this all of the time. A client thinks their pet is doomed because of what they saw or read on the web—social media is really bad with this—and in the end, it was no big deal.
7.) Beware of the add-on. When you have called out your vet to look at one thing on one horse, and when they get there you ask them to look at six horses, this is not fair. We have schedules and want to provide you the best possible service. If we booked you 30 minutes and it has turned into three hours, it causes undue stress about taking care of your needs and getting to the next two appointments that we are now horribly late for.
8.) Respect our personal time. Veterinarians have lives outside of medicine too. All too often a client will contact us on our cell phones at odd hours. I have been sent texts in the middle of the night, called on weekends, holidays, after hours, on vacation, you name it. We strive to give you excellent customer service, but too many people take advantage of our good hearts. Keep it reasonable and keep it to normal business hours.
9.) Administer medications as directed. All too often, clients get the desired eﬀect from a medication and then discontinue. If it is an antibiotic for an infection, this can lead to a return of an infection. If the medication is for some other treatment, it can lead to treatment failure. Please, follow the directions.
10.) Be prepared to pay for services at the time of service- This is a big one. As veterinarians, we did not get into this profession to be business people. Most of us are here because we want to help animals. There is very little business training given to us in school. Trying to collect money is very uncomfortable. Clients will also try to tug at our heartstrings to let them pay over time. I do not feel there are too many other ways that are quicker to make a veterinarian not want to help out your situation than to not pay for services rendered. We all get into a bind at one point or another in our lives. But, let’s let the banks be banks and the vets be vets!
Well, hopefully this gives you some good ideas on how to be a great client. We do not live in a perfect world and no situation is perfect. We can all strive to do better and make each other’s lives easier!
Got a question for Dr. Grove? Send your inquiries to email@example.com, and it could be answered by Dr. Grove in a future column. Dr. Grove is based at West Coast Equine Medicine, headquartered in Falbrook, Calif., where he lives with his wife Kristen.