An Open Letter to My Favorite Clients…

Dear Favorite Clients (Yes, this letter is to you!  Keep reading!),

I am not sure whether this fits on the website, or if I need to mail it to you, or put it on Facebook, or hand it to you when I see you at church…Doughnut Night…my next appointment at YOUR office…our next get together…The Place From Which We Know Each Other…But it is important that it gets to you!

I need you to know how very important you are to me, and how deliberately I include you and your pets in my life.  I know I have said it before, but it never hurts to be told one more time how great you are, does it?  You are great, and so are your pets.

My practice is set up so differently than most, that I thought I would tell you a little about how I form my client list, and why you are so crucial to my career.  Most veterinarians and veterinary hospitals see Whoever Walks in the Door.  This is a good model, and every pet owner needs pet care.  However, my client list is a little more personalized than that.  I see four “groups” of clients, and am very intentional about this.  The groups overlap, but most clients fit in at least one category:

  1. Friends
  2. Family
  3. Other Clients I Think are Awesome
  4. New Clients

I am very deliberate about transitioning New Clients into Other Clients I Think are Awesome.  THANK YOU for sending your friends and family to see me!  They have become Other Clients Who I Think are Awesome and contribute to the success of my career as much as you do.

So on a typical day, I will see pets of church friends, a few of my staff’s pets (a HUGE compliment), my family’s pets and your beautiful, awesome pet.  And I LOVE my days.  When new clients come in, we are ALL in great moods because we have been seeing people and pets we care deeply about all day.  We are doing our very best…we can picture our fuzzy friends and their families thriving the other 364 days of the year.  We rejoice when they pull through illnesses.  We hold them as they wake up from surgeries.  It is THE BEST job I can imagine!

Last year, I got home exhausted after a busy day, and a dear friend called because his dog was doing poorly.  We all four wrapped up our dinner, tossed it in the fridge, and got to their home as fast as we could.  There was one Finch friend to comfort each family member, and I was able to sit in their driveway with them and decide together what our next step should be.  This is one of my most heartbreaking memories ever.  And yet, I would not have missed this time for the world.  I needed to be there as much as they needed me there.  It is who I am.  And I love their family and their pets very much.  And unfortunately, many of you have been through a similar experience with me.  If you have not, imagine yourself in the position of this family…and please do not ever hesitate for one minute if you need to call me.

I spent all sorts of time a few weeks ago talking with a friend about her wonderful Goldendoodle.  First of all, she is one of my favorite people ever.  Second of all, her dog is one of my favorite dogs ever.  And third, we worked through and solved a complicated medical case together.  I LOVE complicated medical cases!  ESPECIALLY ones that end happily ever after as this one did.

Now put yourself into that, admittedly, much happier story.  What if I got the opportunity to spend more time with you?  Some of you I don’t know well yet, but would like to.  Some of you are friends I don’t get to talk with as much as I would like.  And ALL of you have pets I adore.  If you called, THAT would be what was on my mind, not all of the things you may be afraid you are interrupting.

Last story.  My nephew called the other day because his friend’s Mom was struggling with the decision to bring her dog to a veterinarian for a quality-of-life consult.  It took me a few minutes to figure out that he did not need me to come see his friend’s dog or give the family advice.  His friend’s Mom just needed someone with whom to talk.  I cried partially because this was such a sad situation, but also because I was very honored that my nephew thought of me when his friend’s Mom needed someone.

So when you have me called at home, or when you have a pet question that you need to ask outside of the very small 10 X 10 exam room that we are in together maybe thirty minutes a year total…please do not apologize.

Know that I am honored you trust me.  Know that you are part of a very small client list that makes me think I could do this for thirty more years.  I need you to know that I LOVE this stuff.  If I didn’t love pets, I would not be a vet!  If I didn’t love YOUR pet, I would have you see another vet!  I LOVE taking care of your pets.

If I worked full time or emergency hours, then maybe, MAYBE I would not want to work “off the clock.”  However, I have purposely set up my career to be pretty limited “regular” hours and pretty extensive “on call” hours.  And as I mentioned, I see the clients I really want to see (you) and the pets I really want to see (yours), and that is what makes my career amazing.  If I need to be with my family, I PROMISE I will tell you that, and still get you the help you need.  So, now it is on me, not you.  You can call anytime, and I will get your pet whatever he or she needs.

If “normal” doesn’t work for you, don’t worry.  I am not a big fan of “normal.” And now I hope you know that I am available outside of my very narrow “office hours” and very small exam room.  Call me with urgent questions.  E-mail me with non-urgent questions.  And THANK YOU.  I love my career because of you.

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