There is so much being written these days about team empowerment and motivation, and by individuals far more qualified in the subject, that we won’t attempt to tackle that topic here. However, when it comes to wellness programs in particular there are some very specific things that you can do to get your team on board, and if we take the ‘6 months to build a habit’ rule into account, implementing these suggestions can speed up that time line.
Team incentives are a great way to improve motivation, so long as they are used strategically and for a specific period of time. If you are just starting your program, consider setting a monthly goal for plans sales – start small and increase every month (in general, it is reasonable to expect 20-25 plans per month per FTE veterinarian). Make sure to post a goal tracker and mark off progress at least weekly. If the goal is met or exceeded, then part of the enrollment fee for each plan is put into a “staff pot.” As you can imagine this can grow quite rapidly, and then the staff can decide how they want to spend the money.
If the goal is not met, revisit and discuss as a team the reasons, come up with a plan going forward and then as a group set a new goal for the upcoming month. It is important that the goals be achievable in order to increase enthusiasm, but if they are not reached they are also just as important as a learning tool for moving forward.
Permanent Meeting Agenda Item
Once you start offering wellness plans, there should be time set aside at every team meeting to discuss the program. This includes a general report that addresses goals, sales, types of plans sold, renewals, plan changes, etc. Just as important, though, is time for discussion and feedback and continuous role-playing scenarios when appropriate. When it comes to keeping the staff motivated, one of the key things to focus on are positive outcomes and client feedback. For example, any early disease diagnoses that result from plan services should be celebrated! Also, an increase in pets being spayed/neutered and receiving dental care makes everyone feel good about what they are doing, and only further encourages them to discuss plans with clients. If there are individuals that are especially skilled at discussing the plans, let them shine! Give them the floor to talk about how they do it and let them role play in front of everyone.
And talking about especially skilled individuals, it shouldn’t just be up to the practice owner and manager to build and maintain enthusiasm! Find those people, or person, on your team that is looking for additional responsibility and make them your program champion. They can assist with every meeting presentation, train staff and ensure that goals are being met. More importantly they should be a role model, so that everyone can listen and learn from how they discuss plan benefits with clients. From a more practical standpoint, they can handle the social media and marketing aspects of your program, as well as administrative tasks such as renewals, cancellations and missed payment management.
Telling the World Provides Reinforcement
Social media and marketing aren’t just for clients – they can be fun and encouraging for staff as well! How about inviting the staff to design a T-shirt that markets your wellness plan program, and then pick a day of the week for wearing them instead of their usual uniform?
What about clearing off the cork board in your lobby (or getting a new one) and designating it for monthly new plan enrollments? When a new pet is enrolled, give the client a pre-made cut out where they can write their pet’s name and then tack it up on the board for all to see.
For more marketing ideas that generate enrollments and keep your team motivated, click here to read our previous marketing blog.
Keep Your Finger on the Pulse
Regardless of the myriad ways to keep your team members interested and enthusiastic about new initiatives, change is hard. It is also possible that a lack of training or true understanding of the purpose and value behind a new initiative can be mistaken for lack of interest, and if it is, all of the fun things you introduce aren’t going to be much help.
Instead, it is more important to go back to the fundamentals of your program and reinforce the ‘why’ behind your wellness plans, and the benefits for clients and patients. If it is lack of training on how the program is managed, either in the practice management software, plan management software, or both, take a step back and provide more training, even if it needs to be one-on-one. Anyone that isn’t confident in their ability to perform the tasks required of their job, or who doesn’t understand the fundamentals, cannot be enthusiastic spokespeople/brand ambassadors for your program. And without a doubt, confidence breeds enthusiasm!