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It’s All About Trust

Thank you, Today’s Veterinary Business, for the diversity of thoughts on ways to run a veterinary practice. I enjoy columnist Dr. Ernie Ward’s perspectives, especially on social media topics. They are spot on.

I would like to share a different perspective on the question about a team member’s forearm tattoo and Dr. Ward’s response [April/May 2021]. I stumbled across these two concepts:

  • Stephen Covey’s “The Speed of Trust” explains that for every interaction we have with people, we either make a deposit or withdrawal in the “bank of trust.” Every interaction.
  • The Pareto Principle states that 80% of your income comes from only 20% of your clients.

In my solo practice, the top 100 clients generate 75% of our gross income. We email newsletters to keep clients informed of clinic happenings, but some of our older clients “don’t do that email thing,” so our top 25 clients without email receive a snail mail version of the newsletter every month. Those 25 clients generate 40% of our gross income.

While the veterinary team might be comfortable with the questioner’s tattoo, will the clinic be making a deposit or withdrawal from the bank of trust with clients? Maybe a deposit with younger clients, but with clients who don’t email and provide 40% of your income, the likelihood is that you are making a withdrawal of trust that the practice now has to overcome.

In my view, the tattoo was not the main problem. What would be more frustrating to me as a manager is not “what” the tattoo was but that the questioner had a “new” tattoo, knew the policy, went against the policy anyway, and then was upset when asked to keep the tattoo covered.

Dr. Ward was asked whether the manager was “being a fuddy-duddy” or the questioner was a “misunderstood millennial.” I took that to mean either that the office manager was to blame or that “People misunderstand me.”

You knew the rules and broke them, so you are free to go elsewhere if you don’t like them. You are certainly free to express yourself, but also realize that at a place of business where trust is so critical to the work we do, the boss makes rules that should be followed to support the culture of the practice. The staff member broke the trust and then tried to blame management for enforcing the rules. I wonder what other rules the questioner would want to ignore.

Dr. Ray Ramirez is the owner of Lakeview Veterinary Clinic in East Peoria, Illinois, and a 1986 graduate of the University of Illinois College of Veterinary Medicine.