How to Solve Problems Creatively
Do you remember old-style desktop computers?
They were ugly, squarish, beige boxes. Yet that’s all we had to choose from.
Then Apple arrived. Its designers wanted to be different. They wanted computers to look pretty and colorful. However, in order to do that, they needed durable, translucent plastic that could be molded into rounded shapes.
At that time, there was no material that would fit the bill. Manufacturing kept failing. A new idea was necessary.
Ultimately, Apple’s designers looked for a solution outside of their industry and turned to… the maker of jawbreakers.
Rather than trying to reinvent the wheel, Apple borrowed an existing concept from another industry and adapted it. Thanks to that strategy, the world had access to colorful, esthetic, revolutionary computers. And just like that, Apple changed computers forever.
Now let’s turn to the veterinary world.
Did you notice that most vet practice websites, most mission statements, and most waiting rooms look and feel the same? Do you think we can learn from Apple’s idea?
What do we tend to do when faced with a roadblock? Practice owners, managers and leaders often tend to solve problems behind closed doors. Or they turn to colleagues, inside the profession. They believe their problem is different or unique, and the only option is to come up with their own brilliant solution.
What if we borrowed from Apple’s playbook? What if we borrowed solutions from other industries?
- Do your receptionists struggle to wow clients? Could you help them learn from five-star restaurants and fancy hotels?
- Does your practice struggle with scheduling? Could you learn from your own physician, dentist or physical therapist?
- Does your inventory manager struggle between too many and too few supplies? Could he or she learn from your local pharmacist?
What can you learn from hugely profitable brands such as Disney, Apple, Ritz-Carlton, Nike and Harley Davidson? What can you learn from a local mom-and-pop store? What matters is not how big or famous the business is, but how it executes specific tasks, such as customer acquisition, retention and experience.
This strategy is called “swipe and deploy” by marketing guru Dan Kennedy. He excels at it. He will notice something brilliant at a car wash, jewelry store or diner, and encourage his clients, across multiple industries, to adapt the concept.
In a veterinary practice, this could be used to design a website, a rewards program, a bonus system, a marketing campaign or a new employee onboarding program.
Of course, this is not an encouragement to steal or plagiarize from others. We are merely borrowing and adapting ideas to our needs.
As you go through life, pay attention to what other businesses do. What makes you feel so well catered to by a waitress? Why does a certain marketing campaign capture your attention? How does your dentist’s team encourage you to refer other patients? What makes a company’s mission statement so inspiring?
Sometimes you don’t need to reinvent the wheel. It’s perfectly acceptable to borrow ideas from others, especially if you make them even better.
Phil Zeltzman, DVM, DACVS
Meredith Jones, DVM
Co-Founders of Veterinary Financial Summit