Go with the “Flo” to build a positive veterinary practice culture in 2022

by By Kelly McElhinney, CVPM

9 min read

My fellow colleagues and I speak with many of you every day. We enjoy catching up with you and hearing how business is going, sharing stories of veterinary current events, asking questions to get your creative juices flowing, and sometimes simply providing a safe space to think out loud, vent, and talk through the latest industry conundrums and ways to maintain a positive practice culture.

Every time I speak with Flo Rowe, practice manager for Animal Wellness Center of Monee in Monee, Illinois, I am reminded of how much I miss the daily camaraderie that comes from a positive veterinary practice culture. Flo and I have forward-booked Quarterly Platform Review (QPR) calls every three months to review her app’s performance, talk about new Vet2Pet features, identify where Vet2Pet can help with marketing promotions, and ensure she is maximizing the platform for her practice.

On a recent call, we were discussing how her veterinary team was doing, and it hit me how staff appreciation is really ingrained in her practice’s culture. Flo and her team really like each other and they want to spend their time outside of work together—which isn’t something I hear every day!

If making life better for your staff is on your to-do list, read on for five tips from Flo, who seems to have quite a harmonious and gracious team.

Flo’s top 5 tips for a positive veterinary practice culture

1. Be authentic and personal

“I try very hard to always listen to what everyone talks about during the day, especially when they’re talking about the things they enjoy,” Flo said. “I write things down in a little notepad I keep with me. Then, when it’s time to do something fun, it’s easy to use these for authentic ideas that I know people will enjoy.”

2. Show appreciation for everyone

“When I started here, the first thing I had to do was plan activities for National Veterinary Technician Week. At our hospital, we call it Staff Appreciation Week. I was still getting to know everyone, but that didn’t mean I couldn’t show the entire staff how appreciated they were,” explained Flo.

“I made the theme for the week ‘Thank You For Being Awesome!’ Each day, I painted a poster with a huge flower and one of the words from the week’s theme on it, and I put it on the wall along with a small decorated gift in everyone’s mailbox. We had a great time all week, and we ended the week with a nice lunch and the last gift, which was a gift card in a card that said ‘Awesome,’” Flo said.

appreciation gift for veterinary staff

3. Work hard, play harder

“When Halloween rolls around, our team likes to have some fun! Last year, we found a great place where we could hop onto a truck armed with paintball guns and take a long ride into the fields to cut loose on some zombies,” Flo recalled. “After, we had some hot chocolate by a fire — I’m sure some of the staff ended up at the neighborhood bar.”

4. Plan regular bonding experiences

Flo said, “Many people on our staff enjoy going to the movies, and we plan team movie outings quite frequently! Even if we happen to see a movie that isn’t all that great, the company is always the best.”

veterinary staff bonding

5. Occasionally go overboard

“Our staff works so incredibly hard every day, and it’s important to go all out from time to time, just to remind them how valued they are,” said Flo. “For holiday parties in the past, we’ve rented out entire movie theaters, complete with dinner and drinks. We also enjoy treating our staff to dinners at a popular local Japanese steakhouse — there’s nothing better than a great chef cooking in front of you for entertainment!”

“Keeping your staff happy isn’t always easy. Everyone has different personalities, and not everyone enjoys the same things.”

— Flo Rowe, Practice Manager

Flo is right, appreciation looks and feels different to everyone. Be like Flo, and mix things up with personal touches and team bonding opportunities to maintain a veterinary practice culture of gratitude throughout the year, instead of just at token moments, such as Vet Tech Week and the holidays. Your team will feel genuinely valued.

And don’t forget to have fun! Fostering an environment of camaraderie by playing together helps make those harder days fewer and farther between, and it definitely makes you want to go the extra mile for each other!

Reach out to your Vetsource representative to schedule your next QPR (or if you just want to catch up, which we love too!). And, if you aren’t a current Vetsource customer, schedule a demo to find out how our solutions can simplify your team’s workflow, so you can focus on the important things, like maintaining a positive staff culture!

Kelly McElhinney, CVPM

Kelly McElhinney, CVPM

Kelly has been working in the veterinary industry since 1999, with experience in private practice, corporate, specialty and emergency. In 2013, she earned her Certified Veterinary Practice Manager designation and holds an MBA in Human Resources. As a Success Coach at Vetsource, Kelly makes it her mission to help practices exceed their goals, increase client engagement and bridge the gap between veterinarian and pet owner.

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