Why veterinarians should be more like a Louisiana shoeshiner

Why veterinarians should be more like a Louisiana shoeshiner

If my veterinary clients feel half as good as I did after visiting the 'Michael Jordan of shoeshines,' I'll be thrilled.
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Jun 30, 2014


GETTY IMAGES/PETER GARBET
"Fashionable" is not a word anyone would use to describe me. The technicians I work with recently staged a black shoes/brown pants intervention for me, and I'm only allowed to dress my 2-year-old daughter because my wife and I can conceivably explain her "style" by pretending she insists on dressing herself.

As a fashion Neanderthal, I've never really been tempted to stop at those shoeshine booths you see in the airport or big hotels ... until one day, when I had time to spare (and shabby shoes) in the airport in Baton Rouge, La. I have to say, it was a fantastic experience. Not only because I can now amuse myself by looking at my reflection in my shoes, but also because I learned a lot about how I can raise my game in the exam room when I get back to the clinic. Here's how my shoeshine visit went, along with four reasons veterinarians need to be more like the guy with the rag and polish.

1 Confidence is magnetic

Mr. Cleo, the owner and operator of the airport shoeshine stand, was reading a newspaper when I walked up and sat down in his chair. He immediately put the paper down and hopped to his feet. "You've made a good decision!" he said. "Did you know that I am the Michael Jordan of shoeshines? I'm going to show you something today!"

I was immediately captivated by this person. I was genuinely excited to see what he would do. He was obviously very confident, and he felt strongly that I would see the value in his services. At this point, as long as my shoes looked better than before I sat down, I was going to tell people that I'd had my shoes shined by the Michael Jordan of shoeshining. I believed that he was the Michael Jordan of shoeshines. Why? Because I wanted to believe it. We all want to believe that we've found something special. We want to believe that we have the best person, technology or information at our personal disposal.

When pet owners bring their loved ones to you, do you make them feel like they have come to see the Michael Jordan of physical examinations? When was the last time you walked into an exam room, looked into the eyes of a pet owner and thought, "You are going to love this. I'm going to show you something today!" Maybe not recently, right? You have probably thought, however, "Boy, I hope you think this is worth your money and time." That's a common thought that passes through most of our minds as we run our hands over pets, doing what we do best but worried that our clients may not understand or appreciate the value. This thought is rooted in insecurity. My shoeshine fellow had no doubt about the value of the service he was going to provide, and I was thrilled to have found him.