Dealing with Growth

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

Leave a comment

Les and Gillian Lee

3 months ago

The service has always been brilliant, we have been clients for a number of years, with all of our dogs, and have always been impressed with the level of service and attention. An example of this service was when we rushed our Tenterfield “Stella” in after her being stung by a bee. We went straight in and she was treated immediately upon our arrival. We don’t know if the service supplied by all has changed in any way as it has always been first class and it is hard to improve on that. Keep up the good work.

Nicole cannon

3 months ago

Feedback only: I have been going to your practice for many years and have moved with you to the new premises which was warranted, I don’t even live in Gawler!
Change is a challenge, without change comes with challenges also. I’m just happy that the practice continues to bend over backwards for clients and that the delivery of care is personal. Follow up is also important and validates integrity of the practice. Thanks again for your help now and the future.

Margaret gague

3 months ago

All of you never fail to amaze me. Every tn d j have been there j feel like “one of the family” and little Squirrel always gets first hand treatment and care. Keep up the good work everyone. I would not go anywhere else.

James thomas

3 months ago

Myself and Brooke think you do a great job in looking after our kids and us. Your all very friendly and kind to us. We could complain a bit about largeish vet bills. But saying that, going to any vet isnt cheap. So we say keep up the good work. You will always have us as valued customers.

Elizabeth Keogh

2 months ago

We have received nothing but the best service, in all the time we have going to Gawler Animal Hospital . Thru good and sad times the professionalism has shone through. With the loss of a fur one, the staff respect and empathy made it easier to accept. So Keep up the great work.

Debbie Kite

2 months ago

I came from TTG Vet in March when we moved from Houghton to Gawler. Our dog Archie became quite sick in late May and Dr Alyssa performed miracles and brought our dog back to good health. We came in again today for Archies yearly check and the staff were excellent. Great service and excellent advice. Thankyou guys for being such caring gentle and understanding Doctors, nurses and receptionists.
I know Nikki personally and she is a cheerful lass who will fit your practice perfectly. Congratulations Nikki.

Elisabeth {Liz} Spykstra

2 months ago

Fabulous blog full of information. So good to keep us updated. Love your great service and and caring Vets and all staff. Happy new year to you all. I can not recommend you highly enough.

Leanne Cooper

2 months ago

Is Alana Potgieter still there?

Kind Regards,
Leanne Cooper

Dave MacPhail

2 months ago

Hi Leanne – yes, Alana is still very much here and part of the furniture!

Meg Prince

2 months ago

No wonder I am prepared to travel a long distance to attend Gawler (South) Vet Hospital !!
I am always impressed with the dedication and attention one receives when having to visit these great new premises. It is a rare occurrence that visits come without outcomes that don’t scare us spitless for our fur members of the family so i really appreciate the Hospital Staff to look after every aspect of our visit. Thank you so much for allowing me total faith in the treatment my precious Will receives. And the way it is delivered.


2 months ago

We are long term clients to your practice and have moved with you to the new premises.
We moved to the city quite some ago and continued to travel over an hour. because customer service had always been amazing.. However, the last time we arrived with our new puppy and another dog, we found the new receptionist to be quite inappropriate in her approach. As our puppy was making noise in the reception area. SO EXCITED ON HIS FIRST VISIT. The receptionist told us to remove the dog because she was on the phone.

It wasn’t that she told us to go outside, as we would have if we thought it was excessive, it was the way we told.
Obviously we did wait in bad weather outside and never made a big fuss about how we were treated in front of others, who also had noisy dogs.

So yes perhaps customer service needs attention, especially the new receptionist, who managed to change our AAA rating of your practice.

Word of mouth built your practice and many travel long distances to get there.
We hope this brings light to the new staff to maintain the high standard of the old staff.

We hope this helps management understand the customer experience we had after driving 1 hour to get there.
Also the receptionists bad attitude to the customer more likely has been experienced by others.
Perhaps they are not comfortable to put it in writing and also may just move on to another vet. We certainly did.

Dave MacPhail

2 months ago

HI Michelle

I’m sorry you had a bad experience with us and that’s something I’d really like to talk to you about. I’m not sure of the timing of your visit but we did have a short-term locum receptionist who perhaps didnt meet up with our normal expectation. I’d be very surprised if any of our current staff would have treated any client in that fashion. We certainly understand that puppies get excited and that they can be noisy. That’s part of the fun of practice for us! I’d really appreciate if you could contact me directly – either phone the main number on 8522 3500 or email me directly on and we can chat about this. Kind regards
Dave MacPhail

Gawler Animal Hospital

Your full-service, high quality, locally-owned veterinary practice.

Offering a wide range of pet-care options from vaccinations up to complex medical and surgical treatments.

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