When you think of engagement in business, your first thought is human to human contact right?

We hear this all the time, especially on Social Media.

But this time, I’d like to share a story with you about human to animal engagement.

A bit of history
My son who’s in the Canadian Military wasn’t able to properly care for Chaos (rescued Calico cat) because of deployments, so we took her in. She made herself at home and is Queen of Mia (our rescued dog). Chaos has had an eating disorder since she was adopted 7 years ago and she’s highly allergic to almost everything.

When it All Hit the Fan
Everything was normal, feeding time, walk with the dog. Nothing out of the ordinary until we got home from our walk and notices this massive wound on Chaos’s neck. Her neck fur is so long, we didn’t notice when this first started and with my allergies, I only cuddle with Chaos if absolutely necessary.

First thing you are probably saying is “take her to the Vet” and yeah, that would have been my first response as well, but Chaos can’t stand car rides and the last Vet she saw…well, let’s put it this way, it was the Vet that needed stitches.

We went to a local Vet that opened up about a year ago. Car ride would be only a couple of minutes. Went in and told them what happened and how Chaos was with the last Vet. They gave us a blanket with a Pheromone spray that might help calm her down and told us to come back in two hours for the next opening.

I dreaded having to get Chaos in her carrier, but after 15 minutes, we got her in.  The Pheromone spray didn’t work.

You may we wondering what the heck this has to do with engagement…but wait, this is where it gets interesting.

We got her to the Vet, the tech brought us to a room, opened the carrier door and we put Chaos on the scale for a weigh in. She was meowing, howling and just plain miserable. We warned the tech again about what Chaos was like with the previous Vet. She said she’d let the Vet know and that they may have to sedate Chaos if things got out of hand.

He said hello, introduced himself and shook our hands. Asked about what was going on and then her turned his attention to Chaos who was on the floor. At this point, from previous experience with Vets trying to handle Chaos, all I’m thinking is “cha-ching”…the longer you are at a Vets office, the more it’s going to cost and here’s this Vet on the floor with Chaos!

He’s talking to her, not touching her, touching the floor, getting her attention. Ok.. who does this? he gets a little food, she’s smelling it but turns away. He keeps talking to her and she rubs up against him. Ok, this is blowing me away. He’s able to pick her up (she’s not hissing or growling) and put her on the exam table.

Now he starts all over again, while she’s on the table and he’s just petting her and talking to her. She pushes a bit into his hands…you know that kitty rub they all do.

I’m thinking to myself that this guy must have some type of catnap in his skin, because in 7 years, I’ve never seen Chaos act this way. No sedation, no gloves and no fangs. He just kept saying “handle her gently” while he did the rest of the exam, gave her two shots and the rest is history.

We were there for about an hour and I was expecting a bill around $400. We were only invoiced for 15 minutes of time plus the cost of the shot. HELLO!!!!!

I wasn’t going to complain but I had to say something.

  • Once we paid the bill, we were there for another 20 minutes, he just chatted with us. What I learned was the way he handled Chaos can so easily be applied in any business situation.
  • How he handled Chaos = how we handle our customers, making them more comfortable and slowly gain their trust.
  • Being there for well over an hour and only being billed for 15 minutes of consult time = in the grand scheme of things, you give away 80% of your best stuff to build relationships and sell 20%.
  • Spending time talking with us, not rushing us out of the office = spend time talking with your prospect or customer. Really listen to what they have to say. It may not seem important to you, but it’s important to them. Authentically care about your customer and they will trust and respect you.
  • Not trying to oversell medication or Vet food (a problem at the three previous Vets) = Never push a sale to someone. It’s icky! Build trust, build a relationship and make an offer. You wouldn’t ask someone to marry you on the first date right? same thing here… don’t try to sell a service before you’ve even gotten to know who you are building a relationship with. Nobody likes being “sold to”.

If you’re thinking this is because it was our first visit, guess again.

We had a second follow-up last Friday and the experience was exactly the same. Asked the Vet about introducing Mia to the office and to him. You see, Mia does not like men, she’s afraid of them. Being a rescue, I can only imagine the worse. The Vet said to bring her by as often as we wanted and come in the door, leave, talk with the tech. He’ll just stand there each time and let Mia approach him on her terms. All at no charge.

At no point, did the Vet ask for anything in return.  He’s very smart…he’s counting on word of mouth advertising and I will gladly pay that in full!

In closing, what’s one thing that you can do when talking with a prospect for the very first time to build trust?