The secrets of compliance – or how to get pet owners to follow your advice! - Veterinary Practice
Your browser is out-of-date!

Update your browser to view this website correctly. Update my browser now



The secrets of compliance – or how to get pet owners to follow your advice!

Lee Danks of Royal Canin believes that high levels of compliance can turn a good practice into a very successful business and explains the need for effective communication at all stages

COMPLIANCE may not sound like
the most exciting word in the
English language, but what does it
actually mean?

It can be defined as “a client’s
adherence to a recommended treatment
plan”. Optimum levels can lead to a
number of benefits: happier clients with
and, most
patients. This
is because
whole-heartedly committed to following
through on recommendations and there
tend to be greater levels of pet
supervision as a result.

High levels of compliance can turn
a good practice into a very successful
business but in order to achieve this,
practices need to ensure there is
effective communication before, during
and after treatment has been agreed

Still sound a bit dry? That’s why
we’ve been working hard to develop a
series of training opportunities for vets
(as well as nurses and practice
managers) which bring some drama and
excitement to the world of compliance,
as it is undoubtedly an important area of

Over the past 12 months I’ve been
working with Geoff Little, a
management consultant and past
president of the SPVS, to develop CPD
events which add a real interactive
flavour to learning and help bring the
subject of compliance to life.

Having been in practice for longer
than he would like to admit, Geoff
remembers when people spoke about
the “art” of veterinary practice. Getting
the client to do what you wanted them
to and adhering to it was considered to
be an art.

It was seen as something some
people had a particular gift for and others didn’t, or did to a lesser extent.
We now know it is a skill, something
that can be learned. Geoff likes to
consider it as a craft, which is a handy
acronym for Compliance =
Recommendation + Acceptance +

As for myself, having worked in small animal
practice in both Australia and the UK,
I’m all too aware of the struggle to fit
effective compliance advice into the 10
or 15 minutes allocated to each
consultation and so I believe it’s
important to focus any training on the
client communication side of the
compliance equation. After all, it’s in the
consultation room that the greatest
impact can be made (or the biggest
mistakes can happen!).

As a result, we have put experienced
actors at the heart of our training
model. Beverley Dean (who has spent a
lot of time training vets, particularly
new graduates) and Steven Wedd (once
a vet in practice himself) lead delegates
through a series of role plays and
workshops, “playing” both the client
and practice staff in different scenarios.


In doing this, they are able to explore an
entire toolkit of communication skills –
including everything from listening skills
and open questioning, to checking
understanding and dealing with

We want to provide delegates with a
simple, yet powerful and effective
toolkit to take back to practice, to share
with colleagues. These are very
powerful, distinct tools that can be used
in both everyday and challenging
situations to enhance both concordance
(shared decision-making) and

Ultimately, we want vets to leave
with more confidence in their
communications abilities as well as a
definite plan for how to improve
compliance in their practice. On this
latter point, we marry up the fun actor-
led element of the workshop with some
more serious yet practical tips on
compliance monitoring tools, to better
equip vets. This is because a practice
needs a business plan in place with efficient processes to measure and track
compliance – ideally benchmarking
against previous years.

Processes also need to be rigorous,
with clear standard operating
procedures that ensure all practice staff
are well versed in encouraging repeat
visits and implementing efficient
reminder systems.

London vet, Rodney Zasman, is a
big advocate of the interactive, actor-led
approach to compliance training, after
attending a session last year. He
admitted to initially feeling a bit
apprehensive about attending the
course, but went on to say how
engaging the sessions were and how
much they encouraged active

To quote him, Rodney said: “We
were shown how to structure plans to
improve compliance and most
importantly how to measure it. We were
also divided into groups to devise our
own plans to increase the percentage of
dentals and pets receiving preventive
healthcare – these plans were very easy
to adapt to suit our individual practices.

“We were also set some homework
and we were given some goals to
achieve in three days, three weeks and three months. The workshop has
definitely changed the way we practise
and communicate with our clients.”

In summary, compliance is critical to
the business success of any vet practice,
as it is via follow-up purchases and
consultations that practice finances will
flourish. More importantly, it is critical
to the health of the animal to encourage
high levels of compliance from its
owner. It’s for this reason that
compliance training needs to work hard
at becoming more appealing to busy vet

Have you heard about our
IVP Membership?

A wide range of veterinary CPD and resources by leading veterinary professionals.

Stress-free CPD tracking and certification, you’ll wonder how you coped without it.

Discover more