You never know when that chance encounter could turn a stranger into a lifelong client for your veterinary practice.
This post originally appeared in the the AVNJ, V21 No4
I was recently waiting at the counter of my local bakery for my bread to be sliced when a lady dashed up to the counter and said breathlessly “I haven’t had a chance to eat, I’m in such a hurry, you don’t mind do you? Is it ok?” as she pounced on the plastic container that held the free samples of buttered bread. She selected a nice big piece (or maybe two) and said “Thanks so much” and rushed away.
You just don't get it!
The bakery staff member looked after her with a sneer on her face and turned to me rolling her eyes and shaking her head as she handed me my bread. I smiled weakly but as I walked away I thought “You just don’t get it”.
Ok so maybe it’s an unwritten rule that the free bread samples are just for customers and on this occasion the bakery didn’t make a sale out of the rushing lady. But my immediate reaction was “So what?” Just because she didn’t stop to buy something this time doesn’t mean she’s not a regular customer who bought her bread the day before (and maybe didn’t take her free sample then!) or maybe as she rushed away shoving the small piece of bread in her mouth she was thinking “This bread is amazing – next time I’m here I must get some.”
Or maybe she’ll be telling her family or friends how nice it is that the bakery has free samples and what a great business it is. Or maybe she’ll never be back but giving away a small piece of bread made her feel better and meant she was able to do something nice for someone else. Who knows?
The fact is – you just don't know
The fact is – you don’t know. When someone at your local café sees the logo on your shirt and holds you up to ask you a question about the best flea treatment for her elderly cat, you don’t know. She might just be after some free advice, or she may have 3 cats and 2 dogs that are regarded as family members and she may not be so happy with her current vet. You never know.
Good manners & perception
In a previous life I was a District Human Resource Manager for a large discount retailer and I looked after 10 stores. Some of the Store Managers thought I was insane as I insisted on sending out a letter to every single person who sent in a job application. Often it meant sending the letters out myself as there were limited administration resources and they didn’t value this particular task. But I did – and I still do.
Even though I was more often than not sending out a letter that basically said “Thanks but no thanks” I always included a “.. good luck for your future and thanks for your interest in…”. Why did I bother? Because I never knew. Apart from it just being good manners I also didn’t know if these unsuccessful applicants were also customers and if they were, I wanted them to continue to think highly of the business. And if they weren’t, I wanted them to become customers which they were more likely to do if they were treated politely and with respect.
Over my time in that job I often received phone calls from people thanking me for the letter. Many said that they may have sent out fifty or more applications and had rarely been acknowledged. They all commented that they now looked at the business much more favourably – all for the cost of a stamp, an envelope and a piece of letterhead!
It never hurts to do someone a favour…
So whether someone is grabbing a ‘freebie’ or asking for free advice just remember, you never know. They may already be a client, thinking about becoming a client or may know someone who could become a client. And even if none of these is the case, maybe by putting a bit of friendliness out into the Universe it might also encourage the other person to pass on the good deed – and that’s never a bad thing.
What was the best disguised client you've ever come across? Share your thoughts in the Comments section below.