n Make it easy for a client to follow your recommendations. That sticker that goes on the calendar to remind an owner to give
the monthly heartworm preventive was a good idea, but the pill or topical still needs to be administered. Give the client
some options: would it be simpler for them to come in every six months for a heartworm injection? Apply a topical? Give a
flavored tablet? Do they want you to send them one pill every month? (Remember that the online pharmacies will do this for
them. Perhaps it is something for your hospital to offer, too.) If you find that someone is not successful in following the
plan the two of you have formulated, gently try to find out why. It could be that the person who brings the pet in is not
actually the person the family considers the owner. This is commonly true if the pet is a hunting dog or belongs to the children.
The spouse that hunts or a child may be the one expected to provide the homecare compliance, not the person to whom you have
n Ensure that they understand the value of the service. Although we all recognize that it is less expensive to prevent than
to treat, the reality is that if we don't have the funds now, we often feel that tomorrow will just have to take care of itself.
What can you do to help in this situation? The solution will be different for each hospital and client, but the important
thing to remember is that an answer can usually be found. The first thing to do is to explain the benefits of compliance.
It takes a lot of practice to be able to do this without preaching or sounding like a used car salesman. The practice is worth
it, though. Some veterinarians, especially new ones, have become accomplished at this by taking a course on salesmanship or
communication skills. The Dale Carnegie course is well recognized for its success in helping professionals learn how to dialogue
with clients/customers and colleagues. Local colleges often have excellent courses, too. If you don't have the compliance
record you want, consider that it may be partly your presentation and start to acquire improved communication skills!
n You must believe in what you are saying and your staff has to, as well. It is amazing to me to see how quickly a client
will agree to purchase a product I have recommended because I have used it successfully with my own pets. The difference is
merely that if I use it, I love it. This confidence translates into my demeanor and verbal tone. This attitude is contagious
and the client can't help but think they, too, should be using the product. Of course, to forestall buyer's remorse, it is
wonderful when your staff supports your recommendation by reassuring the client that they made the right decision. They, too,
have to trust the product so that they can absolutely exude enthusiasm to the client. This also translates to the price you
charge for products and services. You have to sincerely believe that you and your team deserve your salaries and that your
clients deserve a nice facility staffed with educated, caring people. If you truly trust that you are charging fairly, you
won't show any signs of apology when you recommend treatments, diagnostics or pharmaceuticals to your clients. Your clients
are then more likely to perceive the recommendations as worth the price and are, in turn, more likely to accept them.
Compliance is something we will always have to monitor because it doesn't come easy to any of us. It is wise to be keenly
aware of your own compliance dilemmas, as well as that of your staff. Doing so will make you additionally aware of just how
difficult this issue is and how easy it is to relax your standards. It may also encourage you to be more gentle and compassionate
when working with a client's less than stellar compliance performance.
Dr. Randall is a diplomate of the American Board of Veterinary Practitioners (Canine and Feline Practice) and owns Cloverleaf
Animal Hospital in Medina, Ohio. She is a graduate of The Ohio State University College of Veterinary Medicine, and of the
Executive Veterinary Program, Small Animal Management, a two-year Master's level course at the University of Illinois. She
can be reached at: firstname.lastname@example.org
or at (330) 948-2002.