“Veterinary medicine: Because people are gross.” 

“I became a veterinarian because I don’t like people.”

We’ve all heard—and probably laughed at—quotes like these. And, while they can bring laughs in a room full of veterinary professionals, I would argue that they can also damage our profession.

When asked why you decided to get into the veterinary field, one of the first reasons you list is probably “because I love animals.” And, that’s great. You should love animals if you work with them every day. But, you know who else you work with every day? People. You work with people every single day.

We are in the people business. Until your patients have the ability to call your practice, speak with your client service representatives to schedule an appointment, physically get to your hospital, open the front door and walk inside, check in at your front desk, tell your team what’s ailing them during the exam, agree to the diagnostics and treatments your team recommends, and then pay for it all using actual money, we will be in the people business.

To be a good veterinary practitioner and successful business owner, you must take care of the people behind your animal patients. To take care of the people behind your animal patients, you must provide top-notch care for your animal patients. It’s a circle, and all parts of the circle must be cultivated, otherwise it will all fall apart.

Here are four ways you can show your clients love and foster healthy, long-term relationships with them:

#1: Be delightful

When clients call your practice, walk through your doors, or interact with your staff in any way, your team should be delightful. They should seem happy to be there and happy to be serving clients and their pets. They should use words of elegance in every interaction.

“Hello, Mrs. Smith. It’s a pleasure to see you and Fluffy today.” (Instead of, “Hi. What do you need?”)

“Mrs. Smith, may I ask you to hold for a moment?” (Instead of, “Hold on.”)

“Thank you for your patience, Mrs. Smith. I understand how stressful it can be to wait for the results of Fluffy’s tests.” (Instead of, “It looks like we’ve got the results of your dog’s tests.”)

#2: Do what you say you’re going to do

When Mrs. Smith drops Fluffy off for her dental procedure in the morning and you tell her that you’ll be in touch with updates, be specific about what that means, and then do exactly what you’ve said you’ll do. Does that mean you’ll call her once during the day? Does it mean you’ll only let her know if complications arise during the procedure? Does it mean you’ll text multiple times?

When you run blood work and tell your client you’ll call her the next day with the results, call her the next day with the results.

Don’t leave your clients feeling neglected or worried about their pets because of a communication gap. And, never over-promise and under-deliver.

#3: Know the communication preferences of your clients (and follow them)

How do you communicate with clients? Telephone? Email? Text? App? Snail mail? Have you asked them about their communication preferences? Be sure to communicate with clients using a method they prefer. Perhaps Mrs. Smith would love to receive photos via text message of sweet Fluffy during the dental procedure and then again after she’s recovered from anesthesia. Or, maybe Mrs. Smith only wants a phone call alerting her if there’s a problem during the procedure. You won’t know until you ask.

#4: Set standards of care in your veterinary practice

The human-animal bond is getting stronger, and one way show your clients love is to provide consistent, top-notch care for their beloved pets. To ensure the experiences your clients have at your hospital are consistent and everyone on your team is providing the level of care you want them to provide, you must establish standards. Here are some examples of hospitalization standards for your practice:

  • Care of the pet — What is the level of care a pet receives while being hospitalized in your practice? Do you have a specific doctor and nurse assigned to the patient?
  • Evaluation of the pet — Does the specific doctor and/or nurse assigned to the patient evaluate her each hour?
  • Medications and chart updates — Does the specific doctor and/or nurse assigned to the patient update the medical record with each evaluation and administration of medication?
  • Visitation and communication — Do you provide visitation hours and an educational handout for the pet’s owners so they know what to expect when their pet is hospitalized in your practice? Here is an example template of an informational handout for clients whose animals are being hospitalized at your practice.

Set the standards, write them down, and communicate them often with your team.


You are great at caring for animals and showing them love. Do the same for your clients, and you’ll be more successful than you ever thought possible.

Learn more ways to reach new heights of success: Join the waitlist for the Relationship Centered Practice Academy.