The Fear Free® initiative’s mission is to “prevent and alleviate fear, anxiety, and stress in pets by inspiring and educating the people who care for them.” Having patients feel more comfortable in veterinary practices is something all veterinary professionals want—so what’s stopping everyone from becoming Fear Free Certified?
To put one veterinarian, one team member, or let alone an entire practice through the Fear Free training courses costs money. Many times, practice owners or managers may be wary of spending that kind of money on training whose benefits seem uncertain.
Dr. Michael Hargrove, in this Quick Cup of Knowledge, is here to tell us of both the tangible and intangible benefits to your veterinary practice of becoming Fear Free. From the perspective of the patient, the client, your team, and your business, Dr. Hargrove argues that Fear Free just makes sense.
Imagine for a minute that you’re a small dog going in for a check-up at a new veterinary office. Your sensitive nose picks up a mixture of unfamiliar smells. Strangers lean over you, picking you up and setting you on a cold, slippery surface. You hear noises in the background—doors shutting and other dogs whining.
For many patients, coming to the veterinary office is about as pleasant as it sounds. This is not due to any neglect or ignorance on the veterinary team’s part, but is seen as unavoidable in being able to provide care.
However, anxious and fearful patients mean more time and hassle, a more nervous client, more risk of injury, and maybe even less business. A client is less likely to bring their pet in again if they perceive that their pet is uncomfortable there.
Reducing pets’ anxiety and paying more attention to their emotional well-being isn’t just good for them, but it makes the whole appointment experience more positive.
As was said before, when pets don’t like coming in, clients don’t bring them in. Instead, they go to Dr. Google for consultation and treatment recommendations, who isn’t always accurate or up-to-date.
Using Fear Free practices isn’t just about delivery quality care (although that’s the main objective), but it’s also about the kind of relationships you build with your clients. Clients are looking for veterinary services that don’t just care about getting the job done—they also want to feel that the staff really cares about their pet and the experience.
There are also Fear Free programs for pet owners, so pet anxiety and fear can be combated even before they arrive at your practice.
A Fear Free practice utilizes the entire team to reach its goals and create a culture of care. A positive team culture is a significant advantage when recruiting and attracting the best veterinary talent. Job satisfaction increases, so your staff retention will be higher as well.
Dr. Hargrove says that so far, there are nine veterinary schools implementing Fear Free practices as part of their curriculum, so more professionals will come in with those expectations and standards. To be marketable to those job applicants, being Fear Free Certified will go a long way.
Another advantage of becoming a Fear Free practice is fewer injuries to staff. Not only is this good for morale, but you could even get insurance discounts given to Fear Free offices for this reason!
As a consultant at Summit Veterinary Advisors, Dr. Hargrove valuates veterinary businesses so that they can make better business decisions. If you’re looking for a tangible reason to invest in Fear Free training, here it is—you can sell your practice for more if it’s Fear Free Certified.
Analysts as well as potential buyers take many things into account when determining a practice’s worth, and a Fear Free culture is one of them. The team certification is key because, in their eyes, the value isn’t tied up in one doctor or owner. If the one owner who is Fear Free Certified and cultivates a good business culture leaves, the value of the practice will be significantly less.
These seemingly small changes bring your practice happier patients, more clients, better team members, more retention, more marketability, and ultimately, more value.
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