Build better trust and rapport more quickly with your veterinary clients

I’ve just wrapped up my 3 day workshop on marketing for veterinarians and what an amazing ‘go getter’ group of vets and practice managers that attended!

One of the biggest ‘aha’ moments was the discovery of how Facebook lives can grow your reach. I talk more about this here on my Facebook page
Anyway, on with the newsletter…
In last week’s newsletter I shared three strategies that help build better connections with clients – and build them FAST.
I hope you’ve been practicing them.
This week I’m sharing one more simple strategy for you to use.
Read how this one strategy increased the Average Transaction Fee in the ‘test’ practices by between $4.00 and $5.00.
Let’s do the maths…..
A one vet practice doing 15 consults a day x 5 days a week x say 250 work days a year….
$4.00 x 15 x 250
Implementing this strategy can improve your profits by $15,000.
In a two-doctor practice – $30,000.
Not bad for something that’s going to take you 30 seconds.
Go for it…..

Click Here to listen to the Podcast of this episode

See below to read the Transcript





Hey, welcome back. It’s Diederik Gelderman here in Week Two of Better Communication.

Now, I’m going to test you today.  I’m going to test you by asking you to do something that’s probably going to be outside the comfort zone of most people watching this video… 

And why do I say that? Because this is something I talk about again and again and again with veterinary practitioners, and they eventually do what I suggest, and once they do it, they would never stop. But, getting them to step outside their comfort zone and actually do this is something that takes a lot of oomph and gumption on their part.

So, what is it that I’m talking about? I’m talking about the handshake. 

  • Let me give you the theory behind this for a start, and then we’ll go back to the practicalities. 

Again, we’re talking about getting better trust from the client to you, more liking, more respect, and once you get all that, they will more likely to take up your recommendations and therefore you’ll be more able to treat the pet or they’ll take up more of your recommendations. 

With better connectedness, you’ll be able to treat the pet more effectively and therefore there will be better patient outcomes. That’s the end result, better patient outcomes. 

But, you’ve got to get past that gate keeper, you’ve got to get past that client and getting them to like, trust and respect you is the way to achieve that. 

I shared three strategies last week, this is the fourth one to add in to your arsenal, and as I said, it’s the hand shake. 

Last week, we talked about eye contact causing oxytocin release in both you and them, well, the hand shake does exactly the same thing. Studies show that a handshake is WORTH thirty minutes of one on one conversation (with respect to creating connectedness). 

Remember, oxytocin is called the cuddle hormone, and as I said last week, I don’t expect you to cuddle the client, but when you make a handshake, you build connection. A handshake is worth—listen to this and these are the studies…

….we are veterinary scientist, and therefore, we should base what we do on science…..

….and the science shows that a handshake, a correct handshake is equal to 30 minutes—5, 10, 15, 25, 30—30 minutes of conversation. So, a handshake is equivalent to having a 30-minute conversation with that client with respect to building trust, liking and respect.

Now, I’m not saying that you should shake the hand of that person every single time that they come in. If they come in every week for a repeated injection, or every second day to have fluorescence stain on an ulcer, etc., you know you’re not going to share their hand every time, but certainly, the first time you meet them, you’re going to shake their hand and you’re going to rapport, build that connection. 

And then if you don’t see them for another 12 months, they’re back for the next annual health check or whatever, I’d suggest you do the same thing again – shake their hand

Now, let me give you some ‘private’ studies on these areas. 

I’ve worked with many new and younger graduates that have had challenges getting the communication happening with the client and the respect and trust from the clients, and this is something that I’ve asked them to do – the handshake. 

And as I said in my introduction, this can be really challenging. I know when I started this, I was petrified, I was scared stupid, especially when doing this with a lady, but I now do it standard with every single person I meet. I’ll even do it with the kids and make it a bit fun, and boy, does it change the game. 

So, these newer graduates, when they can get out of their comfort zone and shake the client’s hand, their ability to get better patient outcomes just escalates unbelievably. 

So, oxytocin release, better connection, more liking, trusting and respect. And ‘the handshake’, this may not be the norm for women, but I’m very much going to suggest that you do it—whether you’re a woman, a lady listening to this, or whether the client that is with you is a woman and you’re a man, 

I suggest that you do this anyway, and just make it as part of your introduction. “Hi, I’m Diederik Gelderman. Call me Diederik, call me Dr. Gelderman,” whatever it happens to be, and make that part of your introduction. You’ll find you’ll get so much more respect from the client. 

This is especially true if you’re younger person, or especially true if you’re female and you’re talking with an older man or older gentleman. I know it sounds sexist, it’s not meant to be, it’s just the way it is.

Now, in plenty of practices that I’ve worked with where the practice owner said, “Look, Diederik, I respect what you’re saying, but I’m not a hundred percent sure you’re correct despite the science and despite the studies. Let’s test this.”

So, what we’ve done in these practice is we split the vets into two group, and we get one group of vet to shake the clients’ hands, and the other group to not shake the clients’ hands.

Key Point

Then we’ve looked at the average transaction fee between the two groups, and we’ve typically seen the average transaction fee go up with the group that’s shaking the client’s hand by as much as $4-$5 per transaction.

Now, just multiply $4-$5 per transaction or per consultation times the number of consultations that happen in your practice every day, multiply that by 250 days for the working year and just do the math on this and you may be shocked at how beneficial this is to your practice – in financial terms. 

The ATF goes up because the client trusts you more and therefore accepts moire of what you recommend. So the increase in ATF is reflective of their connectedness to you!

And, one last thing that I’ll say, there was a study done on waiters and waitresses—so this is non-sexist — this is waiters and waitresses with both male and female patrons. 

What this study did was they looked at what happened when a waiter — and I’ll call them all waiters now, so I’m talking about men and women — when waiters touched the arm or the hand of the patron, when they handed the bill over, or put the bill on the table (at the end of the dinner) versus when they didn’t touch the client when they put the bill on the table.

What happens was that there was a 42% increase in the dollar value of the tip at the end of the evening. 42% increase in tipping just because the waiter or the waitress managed to touch the patron on the hand or the forearm when they put the bill on the table. Incredible, isn’t it? And it’ll be exactly the same for your practice.

 Now, I know you don’t get tips, and that’s not what I’m talking about in your practice, but you will get better patient outcomes, more uptake of recommendations and therefore have a higher average transaction fee. 

Something to practice until we get together again next week. 

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