Written by Michael W. Miller, DVM
In Quidditch, the seekers are the stars. They are most likely to win the game for their team by scoring an inordinate amount of points by catching the Golden Snitch. Everyone remembers the heroics of great seekers like Viktor Krum and Harry Potter, but spectators are less likely to remember the smaller accomplishments of the other players during the match.
This aspect of Quidditch seems to mimic how any situation (whether a major life event or a seemingly small interaction with a business) can involve three different types of moments. To me, these moments are analogous to the three types of Quidditch balls. I want to encourage you to seek the Golden Snitch moments in vet med, but first let’s start by discussing the less important Quidditch balls.
The Quaffle is used to score goals worth only 10 points. This is occurring throughout the match as Chasers use the Quaffle to accumulate points, but these goals are often overshadowed by the game-ending capture of the Golden Snitch. Scoring points with a Quaffle is analogous to accomplishing all the small daily tasks that are needed run a successful veterinary practice. Getting the pet’s weight, discussing parasite prevention, invoicing the services – all are necessary in order to provide quality care. However, these routine aspects of a veterinary visit are not normally spoken about as memorable highlights.
The Bludgers in Quidditch are never used to score points, but they can knock players off course. The beaters job is to bat away the Bludgers to protect their teammates. Bludgers represent the moments in practice when you are just “putting out fires” to keep going. Management of the Bludgers can be dangerous and is rarely remembered as the glorious highlight of the match. Despite their necessity, the Beaters of vet med do not get enough credit for controlling the Bludgers. They may keep the chaos at bay, but they usually do not conjure up magical memories for pet owners.
3) Golden Snitch
In comparison, the Golden Snitch is the star. It is the small winged ball that is unseen by many and difficult to find, but when captured is worth an often game-winning 150 points. Golden Snitch moments are similarly hard to obtain but excessively valuable. These are the standout memories that stick with clients long after their visit.
In veterinary hospitals, maybe we should be putting more energy into catching Golden Snitches instead of only scoring small goals with Quaffles or beating away Bludgers. Sure, someone has to keep the Bludgers at bay and maintain control of the Quaffle to allow us to seek the Golden Snitch, but how often are we letting the Golden Snitch fly away because we think it’s out of our reach?
So far I’ve discussed these three Quidditch items as they pertain to clients, but the same analogy can be applied to staff satisfaction as well. Members of a veterinary team are inundated with Quaffles and Bludgers throughout the day. Wouldn’t it be nice to have a Golden Snitch within their reach, too? Sometimes the same Golden Snitch moment that wows a client can also provide exuberant satisfaction to the staff as well. That’s two memorable moments for two different people from one experience. That’s the gold standard… or maybe the ‘Golden Snitch Standard.’ 😊
A recent example of achieving this ‘Golden Snitch Standard’ at my animal hospital involved a dental promotion. Dental procedures for teeth cleaning and extraction of diseased teeth are certainly worthwhile in maintaining the overall health of pets. However, like many veterinary hospitals, we always struggled to get clients to understand the importance of dental care. So, we decided to try seeking a Golden Snitch moment to get through to owners.
We had always assigned a dental score to every patient to help determine which patients are in need of a dental procedure, hoping this dental score would inform clients about their pet’s dental disease and encourage them to schedule a dental procedure. This was a Quaffle. We did score some goals with this, but we never seemed to accumulate big points.
We also created dental estimates for patients who were recommended to have a dental procedure. However, it often seemed that these estimates led to pushback from clients about pricing. These Bludgers required us to beat away those negative reactions in order to try to re-focus on scoring a goal. Again, this still didn’t lead to big points.
This year we tried something different – something small that required extra effort on our part. Taking an idea that one of our technicians saw another hospital post online, we decided to make dental certificates to give to our patients. However, instead of focusing on oral health or clean teeth – both of which are important but often difficult for the owner to tangibly perceive – we focused on fresh breath. That was the positive reaction we had been hearing from clients who had their pet’s teeth cleaned, so we focused on what seemed most important to our clients. We made “Fresh Breath Certificates” for our patients, but the staff went one step further. In addition to sending home the certificate at checkout, the staff did a photo shoot with each pet next to their certificate and posted in on our social media accounts. This was the Golden Snitch. The clients were so proud of their pets that they perceived extra value in these visits. We had more dental procedures scheduled that month and had clients specifically schedule because they saw one of their friends had shared the photo of their pet with their certificate.
The surprise to me was that this turned out to be a “Golden Snitch Standard” because it became an important moment for the staff as well. They championed the creation of the certificate and the post-dental photo shoots. The promotion became a highlight of their month – a visual representation of their successful actions. This one little certificate became the high scoring victory that changed the game for us. It seems silly, but the first time you heard about a tiny gold ball with wings scoring 150 points, didn’t that seem silly? Looking at it from this perspective, maybe it was actually genius.
So, what other veterinary Golden Snitches can we seek that will help us win the vet med game? What tiny things can we do that seem to take maximum effort but can also result in scoring major points that will lead to victory? I challenge you to avoid getting too distracted by your own Quaffles and Bludgers, and instead allow yourself to discover the magic in vet med through seeking out Golden Snitches.