Just so you all know, my daughter was constipated and not inoculated with H1N1. Being grateful that my kid is constipated is a first in this household. Pass the Miralax!
We had a new client today- well, let me rephrase. Potential new client. He made it clear to the receptionist that he has interviewed 4 veterinarians already to see who he would choose to spay his dog, and I quote, “none were up to his exacting standards.” He was here for a consultation to maybe do the spay with us. Gratis, of course.
After telling the technician he had no questions for her, only the doctor would do, he kept me in the room for 45 minutes asking me questions about a spay. How long, exactly, is a fast? 8 hours? 12? Is 9 ok? What are the elements of your pre-op bloodwork and what is each component looking for? Is pickup at 4, 5, or 7 pm? What are all the possible complications? That night, can they eat? Half portions or full portions? What percentage of dogs need e-collars? What is our emergency place and what is their consultation fee if the dog is sore at midnight and what are the chances of that happening?
Now don’t get me wrong- I am happy to answer clients’ questions. That being said, he’s not even a client yet. He refused to talk to my technician, who could have answered the vast majority of his questions, and tied me up for 45 minutes while my other clients with appointments had to wait. If he really has been to 4 other places, he would have heard most of the answers already. I went into the room ready to make a great impression and share how proud I am of our clinic and our protocol, but while I was sitting there being interrogated I started to think that maybe I would be happy if I did not fit his exacting expectations either. I mean, if he thought monopolizing me was a reasonable thing to do before he even committed to us, while using a free exam coupon, imagine how he would be after bringing his pet in? I’m having nightmares already.
I think it is reasonable for a person to come in and want to get to know us, to try and find out if we offer what they need and want in a veterinarian. We don’t really get to pick our clients, they pick us. Regardless, we try and keep in mind what personalities we work well with and which doctor in the practice might be the better match for them.
There are also some red flags that might pop up. Some are like little post-its sitting demurely in the background, while others wave like big red PADI flags snapping in hurricane winds. Someone who announces before setting foot over doorstep that none of the other docs in town (good places, too) pass muster is the type of person who will most assuredly have you on the phone for 3 hours each day for the week after the surgery, and will probably find fault in something. Or 5 somethings, since we already know he is like that. I won’t be able to make him happy.
I know in this economy that we need to be grateful for everyone who entrusts us with their pet’s care. This is true. It is also true that there are some people who wind up being more hassle than any amount of money could ever make up for. For that very reason, when he said he would think about it, I breathed a silent sigh of relief. Then he asked if we did surgeries on Fridays, so he could be home on the weekend to monitor his dog. Then I breathed an even bigger sigh of relief because THAT’S MY DAY OFF. Yes, I told him, Fridays are an exceptional day to have surgery.
Good day to you, high maintenance-potential lawsuit-medical board complaint waiting to happen man. I appreciate your thoroughness and determination to get the best care for a pet who is truly a sweet and adorable dog, so please forgive me when I say I hope I didn’t impress you that much.
Just to make sure, if he did call to schedule something I’d tell him that you’re all booked up that day! Yikes!
LOL, Dr V – “Fridays are an exceptional day to have surgery.” Frustrating when people won’t talk to techs – they are very knowledgeable about protocols and know when to ask the vet.
Yay for Fridays, huh? 😉
(Whew – Glad your daughter is OK too.)
My boss has a maxim that he adopted from *his* boss back when he was a resident: “Charge until you feel better about it.” Which is brought out specifically for cases like this. When a client is *that* much trouble – more trouble than they’re worth, make it worth your while. Either the troublesome client decides they don’t want your services, or you’re getting appropriately paid for your effort.
Truthfully though, even with the difficult clients, we don’t often do this (even if we dreamily think about it).
Anthony Holloway says
This guy did you a favor. He gave you an opportunity to say no. I am not sure if you can charge enough for a client like this. Actually I am sure you can not. Is any amount of money worth the negative word of mouth, complaints to medical board, or law suit that end up doubling you insurance premiums? When you know in advance you can not give satisfy the client just politely say no. This is one you should be happy to give to your competition.
Dr. V says
I just direct them to my boss. He’s pretty good with high maintenance, and for whatever reason it never seems to be a problem for him. He knows the drill. lol!
Let me let you in on a little secret… teachers often feel the same way about parents as well. I enjoy talking with parents and I’m thrilled when they’re involved in their child’s education, but when I spend 30 minutes to an hour per week on the phone/email with a parent of a single child, that’s time that it’s taking away from all of my other students. That’s one of the reasons I love my job now–I only have 17 students. When I was at my old HS and had 180 students, that’s a lot of time to take away from all the rest of the kids.
So yeah, I totally feel your frustration, and your relief. 🙂
Dr. V says
You’re even more stuck, I would imagine. While I could probably come up with some way to make it not worth their while, you can’t really hand your students off to someone else.
That’s another thing I like about my school. Since it’s a charter, they don’t HAVE to be here. Parents who don’t like their student’s teacher can request a change to a different teacher… but we’ve done the math, and 50% of those transfers end up leaving the school (not necessarily dropping out–sometimes just finding a different school) before the end of the semester. That’s already happened to me once this year. I had a parent who accused me of “losing” her daughter’s homework repeatedly for weeks in a row. We actually aren’t supposed to take any student work home, since it becomes part of their permanent record since it’s independent study. So the farthest it goes is from my desktop to my desk drawer. In other words, I didn’t lose it–little snowflake (who is, incidentally, 18 years old, not special education, and her mother still packs her backpack for her) didn’t do it.
After a not-fun parent meeting w/ her, me, the kid, and my boss, the mom switched her to another teacher. She lasted two weeks with that teacher, and then pulled her daughter out of the school. Eh, whatever. Our enrollment is still up 200 students over where it was at this time last year, so obviously we’re doing something right. :-p
We had a person in our rescue group who was pissy with our vet because when he spayed the dogs, you could see a scar after they had healed. Get a life! For a $45 spay, I don’t care that there is a scar. In fact, I like a scar because then there is no question, ‘Is she spayed?’. (The exceptions are the yorkies/chis who have to have c-sections, but if you’re opening up a dog that small to deliver puppies, save your money and spay her.)
The newly minted vet is similar to Charles Winchester, the third on MASH. She takes a long time to do the surgeries, but it’s because she’s doing everything very precisely. All of her sutures are internal and she glues them.
Dr. V says
I had someone freak out on me right after I graduated because her Maltese was not spayed with a “bikini line” incision like they do in people.
Oh my. I think we have the same client. Except in my case he needs something designed and printed and he’s upset that the number “7” is .003″ inches larger than the number “5.” Because that’s totally noticeable. Especially when our margin of error in printing is 1/64th NOT 1/256th.