Growing Your Team and Delegating Client Accounts: Lessons Learned from My Veterinarian

lessons from a vet

It’s one of those facts of life when you own a professional services business: at some point, if you want to continue to grow, you’re going to need to add other professionals to your team. Advisors are no different.

Adding advisors means you’re no longer the only professional who serves all of your clients. So how do you go about doing this in a way that doesn’t lead to unhappy clients? I recently got a first-hand lesson in this topic from an unlikely place: my veterinarian. If you know me, you know that my four-legged children are my world. My husband and I love them deeply and we need a vet who understands how much we care about them.

In fact, a few years ago we switched veterinarians after the vet we loved retired and the pair who bought his practice had terrible bedside manner (which speaks to the importance of choosing the right succession plan, but that’s a lesson for another day). The vet we switched to – we’ll call her Dr. K – was fantastic from day one. You could tell she loves animals, and even more important, that she understands how much we pet parents love our “kids.”

When one of our cats was battling a nasty infection earlier this year, she pulled out all the stops, calling specialty vets and reading up on academic literature until she figured it out. She’s been excellent.

We were not the only clients to switch after the disastrous succession plan, and her business grew exponentially… until she got to the point where she was so busy she had to stop accepting new patients. Enter the decision point: Does she stop growing and consider her thriving veterinary practice a “lifestyle” practice or does she hire another vet so her business can continue growing and serving more families?

You can probably guess what she chose based on the title of the article – she chose to grow!

After an intense search process, she selected a newly graduated veterinarian and began the process of integrating her into the business. As a client, we received an email announcement about “Dr. M” joining the team so the practice could continue to grow and serve clients well. The announcement was full of excitement and a glowing endorsement of Dr. M.

I was excited that the practice would no longer turn away my referrals, but admittedly was somewhat skeptical about this new vet. After all, I’m pretty darn picky about who sees my kiddos, and this new doctor had pretty much no “real world” experience.

Fast-forward a couple of months and it was time for “C-Note” the cat (nicknamed after the multiple vet visits earlier in the year) to get his annual vaccinations. Dr. K was out on farm calls, so our appointment would be with Dr. M. “Ok,” I thought, “It’s just shots. We’ll see how she does.” Dr. M walked in, greeted us, and started affectionately talking to C-Note about his “adventure” earlier this year.

Two things were immediately clear:

  • She cares, and
  • She was up to speed on his history.

The appointment went smoothly, and Dr. M gained a couple of points in my book. A month later I had to take one of my dogs in for a health issue. Dr. K was booked up that day, so we saw Dr. M. She was again prepared with my dog’s history and showed him affection, but this time I had a chance to see that she was knowledgeable as well. She asked thoughtful questions about his symptoms and answered my detailed questions in a smart but understandable way.

She took a sample, went to the back to test it, and returned to the examination room to discuss – and it was this interaction that sealed the deal for me. “The test strip didn’t come back with a positive result,” she stated, “But Dr. K and I looked at it under the microscope and based on what we’re seeing we think there might be an infection, so we want to start him on some antibiotics as our first course of action.”

Did you catch that? Dr. K and I looked at it under a microscope…” We think there might be an infection…” We want to start him on some antibiotics…” I didn’t even know I had four boxes she needed to check, but she checked all of them:

  • She cares
  • She’s prepared
  • She knows her stuff
  • My trusted vet is still involved

In that moment, my feelings changed. I was no longer skeptical – I felt completely assured. I realized I now have a team of highly qualified veterinarians looking after my four-legged children. I’ve got the best of both worlds: deep experience from one vet and the most current scientific knowledge from another. Having two doctors on the team means it’s easier to get an appointment that works with my schedule, and there’s always a vet we’re familiar with available in an emergency.

So what can financial advisors learn from my experience? Three things:

1. Choose the right advisor to add to your team.

Make sure your new hire has strong credentials and you feel confident in their expertise. Just as important – make sure they’re a good cultural fit! It wouldn’t have mattered how smart Dr. M was if she didn’t show the same level of care and love of animals that we came to expect from Dr. K and the rest of her team.

2. Coach your new advisor on how to interact with your clients.

Before you announce the hire to your clients, set your new advisor up for success. What is important to your clients? Work with them on how to convey a sense of care and confidence. Teach them to reference the team and assure clients that you are still involved. What sealed the deal for me was knowing that Dr. K was still there if we needed her.

3. Communicate to your clients.

Share with your clients how excited you are to be growing the business – and how they will benefit! Highlight your new advisor’s expertise and passion for what they do. And, of course, let clients know that you are still around and will always be involved.

By the time we had an appointment with Dr. M, the practice had sent an announcement email, featured her on a Facebook post, and added her to the website. We weren’t surprised that we would be meeting with a new veterinarian. It’s a common fear that you will lose clients if you’re no longer the primary advisor meeting with them.

But what if that fear is unfounded? What if, with the right advisor, training, and communication, your clients feel even better served? I called the vet’s office this morning because we found a scary-looking lump on our other dog this weekend. Dr. K didn’t have any appointments available today, but you know what? We could see Dr. M on short notice – and we were completely comfortable with it. We have a team now.

Want to learn more about how you can choose a successor that will result in a smooth transition? Click here to register for a webinar with our head of Mergers & Acquisition, Jason Carver.

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