Tips for Contending with Millennials

Tips for Contending with Millennials

This is the FINAL blog in this series.

imagesMillennials is the topic of our article in the January issue of Trends Magazine published by the American Animal Hospital Association and includes tips for dealing with Milliennials.

We have been sharing our thoughts on this topic with our blog readers in 8 easy-to-read chunks. In former blogs we described ten characteristics of Millennials that may help you in understanding these young people.

Also, in former blogs, we have discussed six dimensions that impact on how Millennials might play out as teammates in your practice and three dimensions of Millennials that you may see played out in your clients.

The review of Millennial characteristics and stories from those in the field have evoked ideas of how you can more effectively interact with these young people.

Here are a few final thoughts about Millennials to consider:

*When hiring, take time. (In a phone interview, if you want to know if you’re talking to a Millennial, ask the candidate who he or she would invite to dinner.)

*Turn negatives into positives. If you have Millennials that need feedback and the constant “pat on the back,” recognize that praise and validation are motivators for effort and achievement.

*If your Millennials indicate a desire to work in teams, look for opportunities to connect teammates for learning and development.

*Remember that Millennials value work/life balance. Flexibility and paid parental leave are important factors.

*Encourage health and fitness for teammates, clients and patients by pointing the way to natural and nutritious foods and supplements and exercise opportunities.

*Take advantage of Millennials’ knowledge of technology. Let them help you update your systems. Encourage them to engage with clients through social media.

*Support Millennials who want to involve your practice in community activities.

*Millennials base their productivity on completion of tasks, as opposed to time on the clock. Experiment with work schedules that fit the new workplace.

*Adopt a Wellness Plan to help your clients budget for their pet care.

*Beyond all else, learn to understand their thinking. You can’t paint the entire generation with one brush. Listen to each person.

This concludes our 8 blogs on the Milliennials and how they might impact your practice as employees or clients.  We hope you will leave us your comments and experiences.

~ Carolyn and John

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Clients Who Are Milliennials

millennial-buyers-words-home-sale-house-real-estate-sign-to-illustrate-advertise-generation-y-young-people-buying-54754193Millennials is the topic of our article in the January issue of Trends Magazine published by the American Animal Hospital Association. 

We are sharing our thoughts on this topic with our blog readers in 8 easy-to-read chunks. In former blogs we described ten characteristics of Millennials that may help you in understanding these young people.

Also, in former blogs, we have discussed six dimensions that impact on how Millennials might play out as teammates in your practice.

In this blog we discuss three dimensions of Millennials that you may see played out in your clients.

You may ask, what kind of clients are these Millennials?

Data released by the research firm GfK during Global Pet Expo 2015 indicates that Millennials have embraced the “Pet Parent” trend and own pets at a rate higher than that of the Boomer generation. The research also suggests that among Millennials a significant number intend to own a pet in the future.

1. Millennial clients embrace technology.  

Because Millennials embrace technology, practices have moved to reminding clients of appointment via text, sending a text when their prescription is ready, or sending updates and photos post-surgery. Clients also appreciate videos in the exam room to inform and education them on recommended procedures. These uses of technology benefit all clients, but it’s the Millennials who expect it.

Brad Brazell, director of global product management for Henry Schein Animal Health, notes that communicating with Millennials effectively often involves an uncomfortable shift from the use of postcard reminders and booking appointments over the phone. Many practices are adopting tools, such as the Rapport client communications suite of tools in order to easily provide personalized communication via multiple channels depending on the preferences of the clients. Such tools address Millennials’ needs for efficient, speed, flexibility and convenience.

Even the reception area has gone high-tech.   Remember the simple coffee pot that welcomed those who were waiting? Now it’s the “designer coffee machine” with 20 choices of tea, coffee or hot chocolate – all available at the push of a button.

Client engagement is made inviting and fun when the practice has a social media present, with health tips, animal photos, and special offers. Millennial staff will easily run it. Millennials are eager to log on to their veterinarians’ Facebook page to see cute animal photos and learn vital pet information in the process.

2. Some Millennial Clients are Short on Cash

In spite of their financial situation, it’s often the Millennials who are most apt to put their credit card down and say “yes” to a recommended procedure, while the Boomers typically want to go home and check their budget first. Why? Perhaps it is because the Millennials have so much information at their finger tips. They are quick to “google” the advice and understand the what and the why.

To address the real constraint on cash, practices are increasingly offering treatment options and third party financing to attract and serve Millennials. Be sure to mention Care Credit as an option.

Bancroft Pet Hospitals (now owned by MARS)  may have started it, but a growing number of veterinary practices are now also offering Wellness Plans in order to help Millennials – and others – manage their pet care costs. Wendy Hauser, with Debbie Boone, BS, CCS, CVPM, created The Veterinarian Guide to Healthy Pet Plans to help practices move in this direction. She points out that value-driven Millennials are known for finding a way to pay for what they think is important. They want good care for their pets and are prime candidates for a Wellness Plan. Putting their pet care into their monthly budget is like paying for their internet and cell phone each month.

3. Many Millennials Are Committed to Healthy Living.

Some clients are turning to the Internet to find products such as the natural flea and tick control products marketed by Wondercide,  which produces products for those wanting to protect their pets without pesticides. Veterinary practices can inform clients through their social media platforms.

Tricia Montgomery created the K-9 Fitness Club in Chicago after she lost 130 lbs exercising with her dog. The Club inspires veterinary practices to encourage exercise to prevent heart disease and diabetes – which plague both clients and patients.

That’s it for today.

~ Carolyn and John

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Millennials As Teammates, Part III

Millennials is the topic of our article in the January issue of Trends Magazine published by the American Animal Hospital Association. 

We are sharing our thoughts on this topic with our blog readers in 8 easy-to-read chunks. In former blogs we described ten characteristics of Millennials that may help you in understanding these young people.young-man-chalkboard-text-if-you-can-dream-y-closeup-caucasian-wearing-plaid-shirt-shows-do-written-54909651

In the last two blogs, we have discussed four dimensions that impact on how Millennials might play out as teammates in your practice. We continue that discussion with two more dimensions:

5. Millennials Champion Health and Fitness – Even in Their Veterinary Work.

New businesses are being created and new products are available that vet erinarians can offer their clients, largely as a result of Millennials’ interested in health and fitness.

One example is the rapidly expanding Healthy Pets stores founded by Julie Cantonwine  Her business offers products that are free of byproducts, pesticides, chemical preservatives, and artificial colors.

6. Millennials Want a Good Workplace Fit.

Management consultant Jay Deragon, suggests that employers be ready for seven questions that Millennials pose when looking for a place to work:

How Diverse Are You?

What Impact Are You Making?

Do You Have A Sense of Community?

Are You Flexible?

Will I Be Able to Grow and Learn?

Will You Encourage Me to Build My Network?

Do You Have an Open and Understanding Workplace?

In the blog that follows we will discuss how characteristics of Millennials play out as your clients.

That’s it for today.

~ Carolyn and John

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Millennials As Your Teammates: Part II

Millennials is the topic of our article in the January issue of Trends Magazine  published by the American Animal Hospital Association. 

We are sharing our thoughts on this topic with our blog readers in 8 easy-to-read chunks. In former blogs we described ten characteristics of Millennials that may help you in understanding these young people.life-different-ages-stages-61059873

In the last blog, we discussed two dimensions that impact on how Millennials might play out as teammates in your practice. We continue that discussion with two more dimensions:

3. Millennials Impact the Practice’s Work Style

Young employees need direction. Mary Beth Albright, owner of a dog boarding facility in Florida, called Millennial employees “diamonds in the rough.” Even after 60 days in her employ, she says they are still asking, “What should I do?” Her solution: First, give them a giant baby-sitter; be sure you have a mother as their manager. Second, get into the mind of your young hires. She tells the story of a young employee who was asked to print the organization’s newsletter. When Mary Beth expressed her disappointment that it had been printed in black and white, the Millennial explained that she was trying to save money. Mary Beth realized that her new hire had good intentions but needed some training in how and when best to save money.

Millennials need to be needed. Human Resource specialist Frankie Williams also finds these young employees to be “diamonds in the rough.” They may be self-centered and demanding, but they are smart, she says. Like anyone, they want to be needed and valued. As the Human Resources Director at Crown Veterinary Specialists, she got to know the young people on the staff. One young woman, for example, had some ideas often regarded as “out there.” But as a tech savvy Millennial, she found an app that enabled her to discover that the veterinary practice was not capturing costs as they should. Her discovery resulted in saving the practice money and in helping her managers value her contributions. She got the “pat on the back” she sought.

These “trophy kids” are capable and thrive when motivated. What’s unknown is how they will deal with failure – something for veterinary supervisors to keep in mind.

Unlike members of the “latch-key” Generation X cohort who learned to be independent and operate without a lot of feedback, the Millennials typically want feedback (“pats on the back” are the best) and “hanging out” together. Fortunately, veterinary practices usually have some tasks that staff members must complete alone and others that will benefit from collaboration.

4. Millennials Seek to Balance Veterinary Work with the Rest of Their Life.

Consultant Wendy Hauser has noticed that many Milliennals want to be “out the door when their shift ends.” Eager for a life beyond work, some Millennials don’t want to miss out on social activities with friends, even when they conflict with work.

Williams discovered this to be a common problem in her New Jersey practice during the summer when many Millennials called in sick in order to join their friends at the beach. To address the problem, the hospital instituted a summer bonus plan, providing an extra stipend each pay period for employees who worked their allotted schedules with no time off.

In general, Williams found that Millennials are willing to work hard when they are scheduled, but want time for family, fitness or past-time activities that interest them during their off time. They like to know their work schedule in advance, so they can plan social activities with their friends. “They want a life,” she says. “In fact, working with Millennials has taught me about living.”

Dr. Erin Epperly, a Millennial who is an associate veterinarian at Peak View Animal Hospital in Fowler, CO said, “We do have a strong work ethic. We can work hard when we’re there (at the clinic) and play hard when we’re not.”

In the blogs that follow we will continue our discussion with two more characteristics that play out as your teammates.

That’s it for today.

~ Carolyn and John

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Millennials As Teammates – Pt I

Millennials is the topic of our article in the January issue of Trends Magazine published by the American Animal Hospital Association. 

We are sharing our thoughts on this topic with our blog readers in 8 easy-to-read chunks. In our last two blogs we described ten characteristics of Millennials that may help you in understanding these young people.

In this blog we begin a discussion of how these Millennials might play out as teammates in your practice, discussing two dimensions.

1. Millennials Bring Their Comfort With Technology to the Practice.young-man-sticky-note-text-cyber-monday-closeup-caucasian-wearing-plaid-shirt-sitting-his-desk-showing-62244656

When I visited Dr. Susan Morizi’s brand new Village Veterinary Hospital in La Jolla, CA, she told me about the state-of-the-art equipment she was able to install. Then she proudly added, “And I have young staff that can explain the technology to me.”

Clearly, it’s often the Millennial who persuades the owner to invest in software to maintain Electronic Medical Records or Customer Service Management. While this is clearly a convenience for staff, it also becomes a major benefit for the clients with easy access to vaccine certificates and health histories, as well as upcoming appointment reminders and online scheduling. The Millennial staff member will likely champion and manage this software, as well as the use of social media.

Video has become an important part of the technical scene. Besides taking and sending photos to clients or posting on Facebook, Millennials are comfortable with educational videos as an important resource for educating staff members as well as clients.

2. Millennials Want to Play Out their Values in Their Veterinary Work.

Most veterinary staff describe their career mission as protecting the life of animals – a responsible act close to their values. This provides no conflict for Millennials.

As for the interest among Millennials in giving back to the community, Hauser says that one of the things she loves about this generation is their passion for improving our world and their commitment to service. Many practices have within their staff Millennials interested in spearheading charitable events.

A good example is that of The La Jolla Veterinary Hospital which sponsored an event called “Paws and Pints” with the La Jolla Brewery, located next door. The money raised benefited Friends of County Animal Shelters. Stephanie Coolidge, Practice Manager, reported that it was a satisfying experience for the staff, raised money for a good cause, and drew a lot of Millennials to learn about the Hospital.

Hauser references the book fair their Cold Creek Veterinary Hospital in Aurora, CO organized. The money raised was donated to house the pets of women who were abused and could not take their pets with them to the shelter for battered women.

Amanda Donnelly, DVM, MBA, owner of ALD Veterinary Consulting, has observed certain skepticism among Millennials, related to their commitment to being responsible. She notes that they might skip a protocol if they don’t understand the reason for it. They want to be sure that the action is not just to generate money but is in the best interest of the pet. For example, she observed a Millennial questioning the promotion of a pet food until he understood its nutritional value.

In the blogs that follow we will discuss more on how those characteristics play out as your teammates – or your clients.

That’s it for today.

~ Carolyn and John

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Characteristics of Millennials Part II

woman-tying-skates-preparing-to-skate-park-52052954Characteristics of Milliennials, Part II

Millenials is the topic of our article in the January issue of Trends Magazine published by the American Animal Hospital Association

We are sharing our thoughts on this topic with our blog readers in 8 easy-to-read chunks. In our last blog we began describing five characteristics of Millennials that may help you in understanding these young people. In this blog, we describe five more.

But first, a caveat. Individuals differ, of course. Subcultures of racial groups and economic groups also exist. This means that observers who cite characteristics may actually be considering only whites, or Hispanics, Blacks or Asian young people. They may be considering only middle-class folks as those defining the generation. In spite of stereotyping or gross generalizations, however, there is often truth in the claims. With this caution, we share with you some of the characteristics that have been noted and let you decide if they give you insight to clients or teammates you know.

Part II: Five Characteristics of Millennials:

6. “Pragmatic idealist”

This is the term that David Burstein, a Millennial himself, used to describe his generation. In his book, Fast Future, Burstein described what he saw as a deep desire to make the world a better place combined with an understanding that doing so requires building new institutions while working inside and outside existing institutions. Perhaps his term captures both the optimism of Unger and the critical view of Twenge.

7. With great expectations

Some have termed this group “the trophy generation” in response to the “everyone’s a winner” mentality. Their parents were told to boost their children’s self-esteem. Brenda Beckett, SHRM-SCP-SPHR, Human Resource Manager at Omnitracs, says, “This group of employees want immediate feedback. They want to know how they are doing and they expect little nudges and high fives. Gone are the days of the annual review. You need to constantly engage with Millennials.” She tells a story of a manager who thought his Millennial work was exemplary and she left him alone. The truth was, the employee was bored, and he moved on.

8. Working to live (not living to work)

According to a 2009 online survey conducted by Monster.com, 37% of employers report that “work/life balance and flexibility” is the most motivating factor for this group, with only 17% claiming “compensation” as the primary driver.

Beckett explains that, unlike her generation that wants flexibility in order to be with their family, this cohort wants flextime for themselves – to “go surfing in the morning, if the surf is high, or go to a yoga class mid-day or mountain biking before dark.

9. Committed to health and fitness

Evidence of this group’s interest in healthy living is the “explosive” demand experienced by Whole Foods Market for natural and organic food, especially among the Millennial generation. The chain is so certain of this Millennial market that it has plans to launch a new tech- and value-oriented store concept. They will enter into partnerships with the internet-based grocery delivery system, Instacart, and with Apple Pay, the mobile payment service that allows users to make payments using the iPhone or Apple Watch. This is all in an effort to court the Millennial generation.

The growing fitness industry has expected the Millennial generation to accelerate the trend toward fitness. It has discovered that while committed to fitness, Millenials are redefining what personal fitness means and migrating into exercises such as cycling and aerobics, usually done in groups, where everyone helps to push other group members to do their best rather than compete.

10. Short of cash

This is the group that experienced the crash of 2008 and high student debt. Many are still unsettled in their careers. It’s not surprising, therefore, that this generation is delaying home ownership – renting for six years before buying, which is 2.6 years longer than a similar group in the early 1970s, per San Diego U-T newspaper article, “Millennials Putting Off Buying First Home,” Aug. 18, 2015.

A review of these characteristics can help your practice understand its younger team members and millennial clients.

In the blogs that follow we will discuss how those characteristics play out as your teammates or clients.

That’s it for today.

~ Carolyn and John

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