Eric D. Garcia
Socially Acceptable columnist Eric D. Garcia is an IT and digital consultant who works exclusively with veterinary practices and speaks at veterinary conferences around the world. He founded Simply Done Tech Solutions to help veterinary practices improve their services and marketing communications efforts. He is a member of VetPartners, an association for veterinary practice development. He was named Practice Management Speaker of the Year at VMX 2020. Learn more at ericgarciafl.com
What we convey to pet owners via our website and social media accounts speaks volumes about us. The truth is, the majority of pet owners will “meet” you online before they ever see you in person. A quick Google search will return dozens, if not hundreds, of results about you and your veterinary practice.
This month, I want to emphasize why having the right biographies on your website is an imperative part of converting casual web browsers into repeat clients. Your “Our Veterinarians” page is most likely the first or second most-visited spot on your website outside of your homepage.
By analyzing metrics and conducting hundreds of independent website reviews, I see the same patterns time and time again, which reinforce the importance of biographical pages. What this tells me is that the first thing pet owners want to know when looking for a veterinarian is that the people who will care for their pets are caring, trustworthy individuals. Pet owners crave information that will instill trust and give them peace of mind.
All this is normal human psychology. Even if you’re a veterinarian, you likely conduct similar searches when preparing to visit a doctor or dentist for the first time. You look for someone you can trust.
Scrap the Template
The problem I see with most veterinarian biographies is that they are constructed almost exactly the same way. For example: “Dr. Garcia was born in Tampa, Florida. He graduated from the University of Florida in 2000. Dr. Garcia has an interest in dermatology. He has two dogs by the name of Elvis and Penny. Dr. Garcia is excited to meet both you and your pet!”
To summarize that biography: I went to school. I’m a real veterinarian. Don’t believe me? I’ll name the school. I’ll even let you know when I graduated and that I’m a pet owner, too!
I’ve found that veterinarian biographies are often so dated that the pets listed aren’t alive anymore! I think that shows how perfunctory biographies can be.
Now don’t get me wrong. Yes, listing credentials, such as where you attended veterinary school, is an important part of your bio, so I encourage you to include it. However, it shouldn’t be the crux of your bio. After all, you’re not solely defined by going to vet school. There’s much more to you than that.
Reflect on Your Past
So, the question becomes this: How do we make biographies stand out in a way that humanizes us and bonds us to pet owners looking for genuine connection? First, I recommend that you answer a few simple questions. Your biography will be a lot stronger if you reflect on them.
- Why did you first decide to become a veterinarian?
- Did something occur at one point that made you want to become a veterinarian?
- Did a role model influence your decision-making when you were growing up?
- What motivates you to go above and beyond basic pet care given the services and approach you provide?
- When you enter an exam room, what is the most important thing you’d like to accomplish before the client leaves?
Here are two examples of my favorite biographies, which do an incredible job of utilizing the points mentioned above:
Elizabeth Callahan, DVM, of Veterinary Medical Center in Easton, Maryland
“Veterinary medicine is simply put, awesome! After all these years, I still am always learning and improving my ability to help animals. As a practice owner, I can assemble a team that all feel the way I do about our patients and our clients. What better way to spend your life than doing something you love with people who all feel the same way! I think though, the absolutely best part of my profession is that it allows me to make a difference. Whether it is preventative health care to keep animals healthy, helping a new life enter the world, or assisting an old friend to pass with peace and dignity, I get to make a difference every single day. That’s why I do what I do.”
Dr. Callahan elaborates further and talks about where she went to veterinary school, her accolades and her decades of experience. Note, however, that her biography doesn’t start with those facts, and they’re not the bulk of the information communicated. Bonus: Her biography page has photos of Dr. Callahan smiling, engaging with horses — she sees large animals primarily — and on the job, doing what she does best.
Jill Lerman, DVM, of Jonesville Animal Hospital in Newberry, Florida
“For 15 years, my first dog, Oliver, was my best friend. He was the one I turned to when I was sad, scared or just needed a hug. Even at that young age, I understood the connections that people have with their pets. So, it was no surprise that at eight years old I already knew that I wanted to be a veterinarian. During my high school years, my passion to help animals and advocate for their needs grew stronger. I found myself drawn to animals in need and was happiest when I could rescue an injured bird or search for a lost pet and return it back to its heartbroken family. I loved the sciences and was intrigued by the challenges that medicine presented. Thus, began my pursuit to become a veterinarian.
“I am grateful to have achieved my lifelong dream and honored by the trust placed in me, not only by my patients but also by the people that love them. I treasure the long-term relationships that I develop with my clients as we work together to ensure that the pets they love receive the best care possible and are always treated with kindness, compassion and respect.”
Of course, Dr. Lerman lists where she went to school and provides details about her pets and hobbies, but her biography begins with information far more heartfelt.
Show and Tell
The key thing to note is that to some degree, reading a well-written and personal bio bonds us to the veterinarian immediately. It helps us to better connect with the person behind the profession and understand that a deeper connection to animals is what ultimately motivates the veterinarian.
I recommend that at the end of your bio, don’t just list your pets. Instead, share a few great photos and a story about what your pet means to you. When potential clients see you sharing a strong bond with your pet, you’re telling the pet owner you care deeply about animals and you’re showing them directly. It also implies that the care you provide pets is the same level of care you’d provide for your own. Pet owners take this into consideration as one of the most important factors when deciding which veterinary practice they’d like to visit next.
Regarding details about your credentials and schooling, put them at the end of your bio. I’d recommend a bullet-point format for this information. I’d leave out the year you graduated veterinary school as that fact can lead to stereotypes like, “You graduated so recently that you must not know anything” or “You graduated so long ago that you must practice outdated forms of medicine.”
If you have decades of experience, it’s a powerful thing to note.
Team Bios Have Value, Too
Now, what about team biographies? First of all, your page should use the word “team” instead of “staff” to imply unity and a healthier practice culture.
Are team biographies or a team page absolutely critical? No. However, does having them help to successfully communicate to pet owners the values and feel of your veterinary practice? Yes.
Because I’m realistic, I say team biographies aren’t as critical as veterinarian bios. Some practices have so many team members who come and go that collecting a meaningful bio on each individual is almost impossible. If you work on a few bios for weeks, a worst-case scenario could find the team members giving their two weeks’ notice before the bios are posted on your website.
The exception is when you have a small, close-knit team. In this case, showcase great retention by creating a page of engaging team member biographies.
Some effective team member biographies can address questions like these:
- What made you decide to pursue a career working with pets and animals?
- When you engage with a client, what is your ultimate goal?
- What part of your job makes you excited to wake up and go to work every day?
- Who makes up your pet family at home and what type of relationship do you have with your pets?
Keep in mind that being genuine and heartfelt is important when you connect with pet owners, your primary audience. By making small, yet crucial, changes, you’ll stand out from the local competition.
Get to the heart of who you are as a person. Your unique connection to animals and pets ultimately will keep clients coming back to you time and time again.