Over the last two to three years (and particularly since moving into the new premises last year), we’ve experienced major growth in our practice. This growth has allowed us to improve our client service in several ways including the following:
- We’ve improved our facilities (the building speaks for itself, I think)
- We have upgraded equipment levels
- Our staff are undergoing constant advanced training in their different areas of expertise.
Whilst this growth would generally be considered a good thing for any business, it’s not without its challenges. Most important of those challenges is that we’ve had to add significantly to staff numbers to meet that level of growth and to provide clients with the kind of service they expect from us. Over the last two years alone, we’ve added the following staff:
- 3 veterinarians
- Dr Alyssa Duffield – Lys also spent 3 years with us in a part-time capacity while she completed her veterinary studies
- Dr Luisa Panetta – Luisa works on Saturdays for us but we hope to have her more involved in the coming year
- Dr Wendy Hamood – Wendy worked for me for several years previously and is also helping us out on Saturday mornings now
- 4 receptionists
- Lauren Di Girolamo (started out as Lauren Mueller – don’t get confused!) – Lauren runs the show out on the front desk.
- Sally Earle – most of Gawler already knew Sally so she never felt like a newbie to any of us
- Carena Work – fantastic addition with many years of nursing experience previously
- Lauren Calandro – yes, another Lauren! Comes with an extensive background in client service and the ‘new kid on the block’ but settling in amazingly quickly
- 4 nurses
- Bailey Bartlett – Bailey has a lovely calm nature and has taken on a role as hospital co-ordinator. She keeps us all grounded!
- Bethany Smeaton – Beth started out as Beth Wright until 2 months ago and came from a university background initially. She’s now involved with our consulting nurse crew and loves the client contact
- Amanda Pain – our one and only trainee, Amanda turned down a place in the veterinary medicine degree course to pursue a career in nursing so we’re very lucky to have her – wise before her years!
- Nikki Pelz – our other new kid on the block, Nikki has just joined us and is raring to go in all departments.
- 2 Veterinary Students
- Emma Hoolihan – Emma is just about to start her final year at the University of Adelaide. Initially very keen on equine work, she’s now realised that small animals are the way to go and is going to be a superstar when she graduates!
- Josephine Montalto – just entering her fourth year at Roseworthy, Josephine is learning the ropes with us and taking on all aspects of practice
- Sadly, our students stay for 2-3 years before graduation takes them on to the next step in their careers. We only take on what we feel are the top students and we’re very lucky to have their services whilst they work towards their degree. Although only with us for a relatively short time, they’re a great addition to our team.
Occasionally clients will ask us who we’ve replaced, on the assumption that someone has left the practice. The simple truth is that almost all of the staff that worked at the old Gawler South Small Animal Hospital when I took ownership in 2010 are still here! Actually, that’s something in which I take a fair degree of pride as I’d like to think we look after staff very well (just as we try to do with clients, I should add!).
Of course, we’ve had our fair share of absences due to maternity leave – that’s a function of having a large group of mostly female staff! To date, all of those staff have returned afterwards, although a couple are off on a second round of childcare duties at the moment.
Why is any of this a problem, you ask? Well, simply put, clients like to feel valued and that’s hard if they don’t recognise the staff member who’s greeting them. More importantly, it’s a problem if the staff member doesn’t recognise the client! In a practice that prides itself on the level of client service we provide, that’s something we’d really like to avoid!!
Ok, what are doing to combat this problem?
- Each time a long-standing client comes in, our established staff are making a point of introducing that client to any new staff members
- We’re adding notes onto our appointment bookings to ensure our front-desk staff know all about the clients and pets on the schedule.
- At our weekly staff meetings, we discuss cases that we’ve seen in the preceding week so that everyone is aware of current issues for individual pets and their owners.
- Our reception team members hold regular meetings to help develop and improve their client service approach
- We provide ongoing specialised reception training to improve our client experience – reception is a role we take very seriously at Gawler Animal Hospital
How can you help with this as a client?
- Firstly, understand that a new face doesn’t mean a replacement and doesn’t mean they don’t know anything about you
- Feel free to introduce yourself and get to know the person behind that new face – they’ll be looking after you in future and we’d like you to know them well
- Give us feedback – if there’s anything we can do to improve your client experience, we’d like to know about it.
Please be assured that growth hasn’t affected our promise to provide you with the highest level of client service. Although we may have added staff, those new team members all understand that you and your pets are our absolute first priority. Next time you come in, please make sure you have time to chat to the receptionists and get to know them a bit better. They’re here for the long haul and we’d love to think they’ll be looking after you for a long time to come! If you have any questions or feedback, please give us a call on 8522 3500 or feel free to contact me directly at firstname.lastname@example.org.