Real Rep-Client Conversations
How one PSIvet area manager plans to add value to the industry by bringing topics to the table that are sometimes difficult to discuss.
As an area manager for PSIvet, Kimberly Shaffer’s region includes over 200 independent veterinary hospital owners and practice managers in the areas of Washington, D.C., Delaware, Maryland, and Virginia. While each veterinary hospital has its unique needs and challenges, she’s been able to connect to each client by using one key attribute – listening.
“I think because we have so many different vendors and tools within our membership, it’s mostly about listening to the needs of these owners and practice managers,” she said.
This year in particular, though, Shaffer has heard some common themes emerge from veterinary hospital owners and practice managers. “They are stressed, have had to change their whole way of operations in a very short time, and still continue to provide care and compassion in a very difficult and uncertain time,” she said. “Recognizing that sometimes they don’t have time to talk, or trying to find solutions to relieve some stress from their plates and offering ways to reduce costs, allows them the opportunity to refocus and reinvest in their team.”
Real rep-client conversations
In searching for a way to help with those conversations, Shaffer came up with the idea of creating a podcast series for the industry. “I am really excited for the opportunity to add in some value to the veterinary industry,” she said. “I want to bring real conversations to the table that are sometimes difficult to discuss. I want these to be casual, relatable, and hopefully somewhat entertaining.”
Shaffer plans to kick off the series with a discussion on turnover. It’s a topic the industry faces as a whole, but it’s even more important now when everyone is facing higher levels of stress. She is also planning on bringing conversations to the table regarding core values, burnout, online store myths, Fear Free benefits, and increasing revenue with things like dentals, diets, and confident recommendations. The podcasts will be structured as relevant, relatable topics that all industry stakeholders face, so her target audience is really anyone in the veterinary industry, but specifically managers and owners.
“Sometimes you just don’t know what you don’t know,” she said. “Since I have had the opportunity in my career to learn from a lot of experts in the field, it has inspired me to share what I can so our industry can continue to evolve. I hope to get people thinking, the way people have done for me, like Dr. Andy Roark, Dr. Peter Weinstein, Fritz Wood, and Julie Antonellis, LVT, VTS-EEC to name just a few.”
Shaffer will use a combination of insights from industry veterans as well as her own personal experience for the conversations. Shaffer’s start in veterinary medicine happened by chance. She saw an opportunity for a 50-cent raise from working at a video store to working at a veterinary hospital while in high school, but that extra 50 cents transformed her life. She had the opportunity to work in a family-oriented, fast-paced, five-doctor practice in northern Virginia, with additional experiences with emergency and internal medicine. In the 20 years in practice, she graduated high school, had a child, finished tech school and became licensed, got married, had her second child, and began helping to manage that successful practice.
She has always had a passion for continuing education and is a self-proclaimed “CE junkie.” “I mentored several veterinary technician students and have always been motivated by people getting excited about what they do for a living.”
That has shown through, even amid a challenging year. Aside from the chaos of the world, Shaffer said she has had some great conversations with owners and practice managers recently. “I think with me being home with more time to connect with more people, it has opened up a new way of communication that can be really beneficial. I am definitely missing face-to-face connections though! My members may be getting sick of my goofy video messages.”