How To Find a Great Veterinary Receptionist

Stats show that practices with excellent / dedicated receptionists are more profitable than practices without one
I’ve been using this ‘foolproof’ method to find GREAT receptionists since 2007.It’s yours with my compliments – enjoy


Diederik (receptionist hiring guru) Gelderman


How To Find A Great Find Receptionist

Hi, it’s Diederik Gelderman here. Welcome to another Turbocharge Your Practice video. 

Today, I want to talk about why you’ve got to have a receptionist at reception and not a veterinary nurse and how to find a GREAT receptionist. 

If you look at the behavioural studies and the psychological profiles of nurses versus receptionists, it’s a very, very, very different skill set.

Nurses are fantastic out the back. They love working with animals, they’re great putting slides through the Idexx machine, holding animals, putting them on drips, taking bloods, assisting the vets, etc. 

But a lot of nurses, a lot of vet techs, are not actually really people people, if that makes sense. 

Yes, they will work with people and serve clients and all those sorts of things (when necessary), but it’s not there their love, it doesn’t ‘juice’ them.

Their love is being out the back and caring for the patients. 

Now, a receptionist is a very different creature indeed. A receptionist is a person who loves people, loves being out the front, can handle three or four people in front of them and answer the three phones that are ringing and keep everyone happy, and at the end of the day, still be cool calm collected and everyone who came through the practice or rang the practice has had a great client customer service experience. 

Receptionists and nurses are very, very different creatures indeed. And they both require a very, very, very different mindset, skillset and every other set.

Is this important to you?

  • Studies that show that practices with dedicated receptionists, specialized dedicated receptionists, are much more profitable than practices that have nurses transition through reception or working at reception. 

The other thing is that when you get your nurses off reception and allow them to do what they love out the back, they will really thank you for putting a dedicated receptionist in place. 

So, receptionist at the front, nurses out the back, and your practice will be much better off and your clients and patients well much better off. 

Where do you find a great receptionist? 

In my model of the world, you find them out in in people land. 

You’ll find ladies that have worked as receptionists for doctors, dentists, lawyers, car mechanics, they’ve worked at the juice bar, whatever it happens to be. 

They are people who have worked in a client service type role, arena, and they love that. 

They’ll come and work in your practice, they won’t know vaccination schedules or worming stuff or why or when a dog need to be desexed etc.

BUT they’ll be able to say to a client, “Hey, great question Mrs. Jones, that’s not my skill set let me pass you to Jody. She’s the lead nurse. She’ll be able to answer that question.” 

What a receptionist needs to do is to say, “Oh Mrs. Smith, that sounds terrible. I know the doctor will want to see her straightaway. Come right on down, I could fit you in.” 

Your nurses like solving problems on the phone, giving clients great advice. And that’s a problem.

Receptionists, they don’t have the knowledge to solve the problems like your nurses and vet techs do. That’s fantastic because they make more appointments for you.

Let’s talk specifics

I’ve done this with many, many, many practices where we’ve placed an ad in a local newspaper — yeah, the old print magazines. We don’t get nearly as many good results when we go to seek on one of the online job forums as we get when we go to a local print magazine, local community newspaper. 

Do you want a copy of the VERY Successful ad I’ve used since 2007

I’ve got a whole document on how to do this so if you want to get this ‘receptionist wanted document’, email me or hit reply on the email and we’ll send you a copy. 

This receptionist wanted ad that you put in the local newspaper would read something like this—now, this is the original ad that I started using back in 2007 and it was written by a practice manager, and we’re still using it because it still works so well—

Receptionist required. 

  • If you have excellent communication skills and you’d like a challenging job working closely with people.
  • If you’re able to multitask in a busy environment. 
  • If you have a keen interest in helping others.
  • If you are reliable and willing to work in a team orientated business, then this job is for you. 

We’re looking for someone with a cheerful personality and a great attitude. If the above sounds like what you are looking for—the job that you’re looking for—we’d love to hear from you.

Notice that nowhere does it say pussycat, puppy, dog, hugs, cuddles or veterinary practice. This is what I call a ‘blind’ ad. 

Then the ad goes on to say…..

‘please ring” and then there’s a phone number, Monday or Thursday and you give a particular date and time – for example between 1 and 2 p.m. 

You put a phone number in there that’s a silent phone number – NOT the practice number…..

that the ‘potential’ receptionist will ring.

No one’s going to answer the phone “ABC vet practice” or something like that. 

Instead – someone’s going to answer it and say “Hello” and that person that’s ringing to take that job or be interviewed for that job would then have a conversation with that person answering the phone. 


What happens here is that potential receptionist that’s ringing in, if I’m answering the phone to her, it’s exactly like I’m ringing her if she were the receptionist in the practice. 

My first impression of her when I’m talking on the phone to her in those first five or ten or seconds is exactly the same perspective, exactly the same opinion that your clients are going to form when she answers the phone to your clients in your practice.

That’s why this works so well. 

Now you ask her some questions and after she’s answered three, four, five QUICK questions then you might tell her “Hey look, I’d love to have you in for a second interview. By the way, you need to know that this job is a receptionist position at a veterinary practice. You’ll be the face of the business, you will not be required to hold animals etc.”

Now, this strategy works really, really, really well. 

Extra thoughts

If you say to ring on Tuesday and Thursday between one and two, if someone rings up at five minutes to one, you automatically say “Hello, thank you, the position is taken.” 


Well, if she can’t listen to instructions, the instructions were to ring between one and two on this particular day, if she’s ringing up and saying “I wanted to get in early because I really wanted the job,” well if she can’t listen to instructions before she’s taken the job, she sure as heck won’t be able to listen to instructions after she’s taken the job—well she won’t listen to instructions at all in fact. 

If she rings after two o’clock, then you don’t want her either if she can’t fit in with the rules, then don’t apply. You don’t want her. 

We find when we run this ad that in a one-hour period, we’ll typically get thirty to sixty applicants and sometimes more, so you’re really triaging them fiercely –  bang, bang, bang, bang, these phone calls are really, really, really quick and you get a great first impression, a real first impression as to whether you want this person or not. 

The other questions that you could ask her if you wanted to during this very quick interview is “Do you have excellent communication skills, give me some examples,” “Do you have a keen interest in helping others, tell me some examples.” 

I’ve got a lot of things here on this handout, so it’s really worthwhile just hitting ‘Reply’ and saying ‘Pease, send me the sheet’.

A couple more things 

Be VERY strict or aware of in your head with respect to ‘she doesn’t sound quite right’. 

If you have ANY ‘she doesn’t sound/feel right’ thoughts then say; “Sorry, thank you for ringing, the jobs taken.” 

Cull your list down to about four to six people, and then you get them to send in their resume. 

Rather than — you know what most people do is they’ll advertise on Seek or one of the online things, and then you get a hundred and twenty resumes that you’ve then got to read and vet. 

I want the right person FIRST – the person who sounds good and who ‘feels right’ on the phone and then I can vet their resume.

I do not want to read 120 resumes nor do I want to hire based on a resume.

I want to base my hiring on a person’s the way I feel about them, do I like them, trust them and respect?

And I can judge that in those first five or seconds on the phone, and then I’ll have a resume that will back up that data and then I’ll start making phone calls with respect to references and referees and all that sort of thing.

After you’ve culled those four to six potential receptionists down (based on their references and based on their resume), get two to three to come in and work for you for half a day or a day at reception, and see whether they mesh with your team, see whether they’re a cultural fit and those sorts of things. 

And yes, I would say pay them because that is morally and ethically the right thing to do. You don’t want them working for nothing, that’s not right—again that’s my model of the world. 

Then talk to your team to see what they thought of those candidates and then make your selection.

And lastly you’ll get them in to hire them, induct them, and give them a letter of understanding which lays out their job roles, etc. 

One last thing – maybe even the most IMPORTANT thing

I’ll leave you with one last thing, and it may be the most important thing on this document. 

When that person rings you when you’re answering the phone, and as soon as he or she says anything to you at all, ask yourself these three questions: 

  • do I like this person, 
  • do I trust this person, 
  • do I respect this person. 

And you’ll be able to answer those questions within two to five seconds of opening that conversation. 

If you can’t say yes, yes, yes, then that person should NOT be on your list to come in to send a resume in or to come in for an interview. 

  • You should cull that person immediately. 

I know it sounds tough, but I’ll bet you when you do that; do I like, trust, respect this person, yes, yes, yes, your decision-making on getting the right team member will go through the roof!!

See in the next video.