• Jackie Schletter

Has COVID-19 Changed The "Reception Area" Forever?

An interesting point was brought up recently from a practice that is considering re-purposing it's waiting room since it seems we can all still do business without it. Curbside has worked, so why not keep doing it?

My hope is this is not the end of the lobby, waiting room or as I like to call it "reception area". Covid-19 will be in our rear-view mirrors at some point, though I know it doesn't feel like that now. I think most practices have also found operational silver linings due to adjustments that needed to be made. While I advocate efficient check-ins and in room check out as well as not dedicating too much square footage to a waiting area, the bonding that happens in this space is highly underestimated. If you don't think so, you probably haven't spent much time 'up front' with your client care team. There are many reasons clients fall in love with your practice. The phone experience and interaction with your team is crucial. Clients also enjoy talking with other clients and interacting with their pets (the healthy ones of course). I think every practice has clients that stop in just to say hello if they are walking by to another store. They stop in to buy treats, pick up meds, food, or ask questions. These in person activities allow clients to get to know the personality of your team and practice. I have spent enough time in reception areas to see it and frankly it warms my heart. Our practices are about people. We bond with humans through their pets. No amount of apps, loyalty programs, or digitized services will ever take the place of the relationships we build. Those relationships begin and are solidified in reception areas. In my opinion removing this social aspect of client visitation is a slippery slope. Every client should feel like Norm from Cheers when they walk into your reception space - everyone looks up, smiles and announces you and your pet by name. Covid-19 has taken that special feeling away from us, but that doesn't mean it has to be permanent.

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