I’m going to admit it right here: I’m a Pumpkin Spice Guy. Even more, I’m a Fall Season Guy. I love the changing leaves, the crisp air, the outdoor activities, and a good cozy sweater after a humid South Carolina Summer. It makes me happy to smell cinnamon and sandalwood when walking into a store, to drink apple cider and to grab a slice of pumpkin pie for dessert. I just love all of that… but you know what I love most? A limited-time break from the established norm.
The Limited-Time Appeal
Let me be honest for a second. I don’t really care about apple cider. Cinnamon flavored coffee is fine, but I wouldn’t drink it every morning. And if I had crisp weather for a few consecutive months, I’d be more than ready to escape to a warmer climate whenever I got the chance. You get the point.
I love the Fall because it brings new experiences, it’s only around for a limited time, and it has distinct activities tied to it that I enjoy (even if only in small doses). It’s one of the things that keeps this marathon called life interesting. In modern veterinary medicine, keeping ourselves and our teams engaged is one of the greatest challenges we face.
If you’ve been a leader in vet medicine for more than a year, your team has already heard your pep talks. They know your passion, purpose and your “why.” They understand what standard of care is expected and have shown up day after day and delivered it. So now, when their motivation is waning, how do you get them to re-engage and look at the work we do with fresh eyes?
I think we can draw some inspiration from those of us who love the Fall.
Limited-Time Themes Create Interest
Sometimes the best way to breathe new life into something well known is to switch up its theme. Just think, how many stores, products, books, streaming shows, escape rooms, putt-putt courses, and magazines change their look and feel for different seasons? How many restaurants, coffee shops and breweries change up menu items for pumpkin time or throwdown to decorate for Christmas? Even Crossfit gyms roll out special workouts just for holidays! Why? Because themes (seasonal, holiday or other) are fun ways to get people to re-engage.
The fact that Fall will soon be over makes me more excited to try Fall flavors and do Fall activities because the stakes are low (e.g. if I don’t like pumpkin bagels, they won’t be taking up space on the grocery shelf for very long) and scarcity is high (if I love pumpkin bagels, I better get them before they are gone!).
Themes Can Re-engage Veterinary Practice Teams
So what do themes look like in veterinary clinics? Simple. They inject elements of fun related to a holiday, season, event, etc. that tie firmly to the educational piece you want to re-prioritize. Think of a focus on (black) cat health for Halloween or senior pets for the Fall. Consider new beginnings and puppy love in the Spring or a focus on heart health for Valentine’s Day (I’m serious! Think heartworms!).
You and your team spend a good portion of your time at the clinic. Changing up themes throughout the year in your practice can be fun. It can shake up your staff meetings with a new focus or offer opportunities to try new educational and therapeutic programs. Even a change in appearance can make a difference. Most of all, themes are a way to break up the grind that so many teams find themselves in.
When you’re deciding what themes to have in your clinic, it’s important to remember that you’re not doing it for the clients (although they will appreciate them). Instead, do them for your team. Do them for mental stimulation, to break monotony, to make things fresh, and to give people a different daily experience. Inject some pumpkin spice into your clinic, or some Halloween horror, or some peppermint mochas and wintergreen… Keep your practice fun, and keep it changing with the seasons.