Never waste a good crisis…

3 mins

Five tips for success during a crisis

Like everyone else, you started 2020 with new ideas and grand plans. However, you barely had a chance to break your resolutions, when around mid-February it became clear that this was going to be a completely different year. In March, the ‘crisis’ started, and all plans went overboard as the country went into lockdown.

In our history, ‘crises’ have come and gone, but since the 2nd World War, we’ve not seen something with such impact – so big that it has a direct effect on daily life and your practice. Yet a crisis can have a positive impact.

Switching from one routine to another requires a lot of creativity and adaptability. It is often impossible without a catalyst – in this case – COVID-19. Probably you have already faced creative challenges, or have invented or implemented things that, without this situation, would not have seemed possible previously.

In this article, we give five tips for success during a crisis.

Tip 1: Ask for help

When you ask entrepreneurs what helped them overcome problems the most, their tip will invariably be: “Don’t be stubborn – let others help”.

It sounds straightforward, but it can be challenging to ask for help. Perhaps it’s because (re)inventing the wheel yourself can give much satisfaction and help gain new insights. However, there is a good chance that someone has already found solutions to the obstacles you encounter. Ask others for advice and support so that you can change gears faster when needed. These days, help can be found from friends and peers, suppliers, internet forums, or Facebook groups.

Tip 2: Stay in touch

Staying in touch with your customers is very important right now. After all, you are the mouthpiece for your patients. As a veterinary professional, you are also an acting lawyer and interpreter for the health and welfare of animals. Staying in touch with pet owners sounds self-evident, but it doesn’t remain easy. You will have questions like: “How often should I inform someone?” “Is it okay to send emails twice a month?” or “Is the information I want to share relevant?”.

A peek into our kitchen: asking around our colleagues here at IDEXX, we found most staff wanted regular information from their vet but didn’t receive it. Is that a problem? Not necessarily. If a pet owner does not need care, there’s no need to inform them about COVID-19 measures in your practice or revised opening hours – it can quickly become too much.

Nevertheless, you can involve pet owners in your practice in a different, active and passive way. Think, for example, of questions related to the pet. A cat owner will undoubtedly have some Coronavirus questions, so you can help preempt these questions before they clog up your switchboard.

Tip 3: Measuring is knowing

Of course, you want to know if the changes in your service or workflow will also work out well for your practice. What impact will cancelling walk-in consultations, or extending appointments by five minutes have? In other words: Will 5 minutes more consultation time also increase your Average Transaction Fee? What is the reason for this, and where are the other opportunities? Measuring is knowing. Make use of the reports you have, and make use of reporting tools such as Animana Pulse. Take the time to discuss results and (intended) changes with the team. Try and find out what works for you and your clinic.

Tip 4: Adjust and make things fit

The fall-out from COVID-19 is expected to last several years, and be a continuous period of adjustments and changes. As the months go by, you, your colleagues and your customers will learn how to deal with new situations. Adaptability and success measurement (see tip 3) will be crucial.

Tip 5: Stay focused

Now that you’re reading it, it probably makes sense. Nothing is as fatal as losing focus. At this moment (June 2020), schools are (kind of), open again, and the catering industry can (almost) serve food and drinks again. But you can probably remember some moments in the first period of the crisis when it was less visible and the days all looked different. It is easy to lose focus in a new situation, particularly when the future is not defined.

If you find it challenging to stay focussed, reserve a moment every day for ‘focus’. Also, try going through the day with colleagues and discussing the events – this can be very insightful.


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