Kayla: I think a lot of people in the vet world they are alike if that makes any sense. You’re going to find someone just as awkward as you on the other side of the screen and I think that’s okay. Just mark to someone that would be just like you and that’s what ends up happening, ends up translating well.
Courtney Post: Hey everyone, I’m your host Courtney Post and this is Let’s Vet Together by Suveto, a show where we’ll be highlighting stories of growth, ownership, and well-being in the veterinary industry and having real conversations about how we can make veterinary medicine better for everyone. If this is your first time listening, welcome. We’re glad you’re here. If you’ve already been a part of our community, make sure to follow us on whatever platform you’re listening from and give us a review.
We’d love to know how we’re doing. We really appreciate you for coming back. Hello everyone, and welcome to Let’s Vet Together. Before we really dive into this conversation today, I want to turn it over to my guests to introduce themselves. Normally, I would have them introduce themselves and talk about the treat that they brought with them, a local fun treat that they like to enjoy around the hospital or the place of work, but we’re living real today on the Let’s Vet Together podcast.
It’s a Monday, regardless of the day that you might be listening to this. The bakery that my friends have chosen is closed on Monday. We were scrambling and we decided to live really authentically and real for you all because, let’s face it, that’s what our days are filled with. I’m going to turn it over to my friends, Kat and Kayla, to introduce themselves and share what they would have brought with them and what they were looking forward to on this Monday.
We had to just roll with the real-life turns and tricks that the day gives us. Kat and Kayla, can you tell us a little bit about yourself and what your favorite go-to treat would have been?
Kat: My name’s Kat. I’ve been at Dix Hills Animal Hospital in Huntington, New York for about seven years. I’m the hospital and surgical coordinator here so I’m in charge of the operations and the technicians and just how our day-to-day works. We were going to choose Catalina’s Bake Shop who lives across the street from us. We love her. She always makes us fresh cookies and treats for our staff meetings. My personal favorite is her chocolate peanut butter cupcakes that she makes because we are suckers for Reese’s Peanut butter cup. Anything here.
Courtney: That sounds amazing. I’m sad I did go visit Dix Hills a couple of months ago and I wish I would’ve known about Catalina’s. Next time for sure.
Kayla: Next time.
Kayla: Hi, I’m Kayla. Yes. I’ve been working here for a little more than four years at Dix Hills Animal Hospital. I started off in kennel then I worked my way up to assistant, a team lead, and now technician so I’ve had a journey here. If Catalina’s was open, ugh, so Kat, every time we have these technician meetings, she does bring us treats, and usually, it’s some gooey — it’s so good.
Gooey chocolate chip cookies. You break open them and they’re just ugh, yes. Every chocolate chip and they are so many too and it’s a good portion. It’s big enough it’s maybe palm size. You’re just sitting there trying to pay attention to Kat at that point. I like to actually either eat it during the appointment or wait until the end, so I don’t– no distractions or anything.
Kat: Yes. They don’t get the cookies until after so they have the eyes on the prize. [laughs]
Courtney: It’s perfect. I need to remember this the next meeting I hold. Bring cookies and keep them till the end. It’s perfect. I asked Kat and Kayla to join the Let’s Vet Together podcast because Dix Hills Animal Hospital in Long Island is killing it with social media. I have had just personally so much fun following along and watching TikTok videos and seeing those in the Instagram feed.
When I had the opportunity to meet Kat, I’m like, would you come on the podcast and talk about what sparked really this work and this effort of the team to really put some fun energy around social media? Kat said something so incredible. This is really what I want to talk about is you felt like it came at a time when the team was a little bit lack of energy and maybe just the overall mood was just not at its best and you felt like this has reinvigorated the team.
I really just want to talk about where did this idea really even start? What was your social media presence pre this TikTok boom and we can talk about your most successful video, but I would just love to hear from the both of you where did this all come from and what has that journey been like?
Kat: We actually started, I would say, using Instagram more so during COVID. I think that one of our strengths as a practice is really the client interaction with the pets and really making them feel like we care so much about their pets because it’s true we do. Kayla had the idea of doing a minute puppy appointment board, so every time– obviously COVID had so many new pets, new puppies, and everything, so we had the opportunity to really highlight those dogs.
Every time they came in, we would put their names on the board, had their weight, their breed, and it gives the owner a chance just to take a snapshot of that memory of the pet and then just to see that we took the time out and see how beautiful their pet is and to post it.
Kayla: Then I think it started with also doing little snap videos of them walking in slow motion, especially like the, what was it? The doofy hound that we had?
Kayla: And just showing him the flow of his ears. We’ve done that before but with a Boston Terrier and they’re walking down the hallway and they look really silly, but to us and to the owners it’s just like their baby so to highlight that for them, it was really just our practice, loving our practice, loving our clients and just making them feel special because we think they’re special.
Courtney: That’s what I think is so unique with you all at Dix Hills and something that everyone can relate to. You all love your patients. That is why you are in the work that you are. Sometimes social media and saying, oh, we need to get out there and promote what we’re doing or get a following, seems like work and it’s been– seems like more fun and play for you all and that’s what I think is so special.
Was anyone on your team not in favor of the puppy? How this initially started in the pandemic, the puppy visits. Did anyone see that as extra work? Just curious more on my end.
Kayla: Yes, definitely. To get these photos and to get the moment, it’s in an appointment. Some of the doctors some of the technicians, they’re really trying to work hard and you come in like make sure you get pictures, make sure you get this and they’re just like okay, but I have to make sure I get vaccines. We’re going for puppy protocol and certain things like that. We do want to make sure that we’re doing business as well and making sure that the exam goes well as also doing the videos and stuff.
Kat: It was also during a time where we were Facetiming the clients. Now we have people who are specifically just in charge of running pets back and forth from the owner to the doctor. At first, we definitely got a few eye rolls, [laughs] but I think that as time went on and once it got worked into our daily routine then they enjoy it, but they’ll be like, “Oh, come help me take a picture of this puppy.” They really enjoy, I think posing them and just making it memorable.
Kayla: We made that– what’s it called? We made that channel in Slack as well.
Kat: Yes. We use Slack as our company communication. What we did is we made the in-hospital media channel and so all throughout the day people just post any pictures that they’ve taken, whether it’s the puppies, whether it’s the patients, or anything and that helps us keep content without having to text it to somebody or– it just makes it easier for them to share it.
Courtney: That’s a great tip and trick. If anyone doesn’t know Slack is free, you can download it. It can create a hospital channel and a great holding place for all that content that I’m sure you have one or two people and it may be the two of you that are actually then in charge of posting that to different social media channels. That’s actually a great tip for folks to say yes, but where does everyone hold the content to then be posted later? Tell me when things accelerated for Dix Hills because you went from posting puppy pictures to making viral TikToks.
Kat: Yes. It started when Tasha from the Learning and Development team had reached out to a few of the hospitals in the veterinarian network and had wanted us to create different educational content or Day of the Life and humor videos. We’re very competitive, [laughs] so I was like guys we are winning this, we’re putting everything we can into these videos and like you said, it was definitely in a point at the hospital. I think that we do a pretty good job of trying to keep spirits up.
We obviously all enjoy what we do but we were coming off of a COVID wave throughout the staff that just felt like it was never-ending. We were just short-staffed and it got to the point where we were fully staffed, but then it’s hard to shake that mentality of that exhaustion and when you’re on autopilot and same day every day. I think that it really got everyone’s creative juices running.
I think you can see it from our videos, we definitely don’t take them 100% seriously. We definitely try to enjoy ourselves. We are perfectionists, but I think that we think that it’s funny when people break or you can see that we’re just having fun doing it. It really just gave the team some excitement. It broke up their day a lot and it’s part of the job– you don’t think of veterinary medicine, you don’t think of social media videos, stuff like that.
I think it was just a nice different aspect of it where they can have a certain sense of pride for the hospital and look at the video and say, “We made that as a team, and like, show their friends and their families. We know that we’re funny, [laughs] but we the world to see that we’re funny.
Kayla: We always say, if there was a fly on the wall. There’s just a lot that we do and we go through every day and we’re just like, that’s funny.
Kayla: Even when we do our videos, we try to– it’s genuine. There’s really that person who acts like that or they have that special quirk about them or they make these facial expressions. I was like, if we could just get that on camera, you’d be golden. We try to make sure we’re just as authentic as possible when doing those videos so you can feel it.
Courtney: You said one word that really stuck with me and that’s fun. Oftentimes we get into work and you guys are really– you’re dealing with clients and life and death every day and health and wellness. I mean, it’s really important critical work, but how can you have fun when you do that as well? How can you play off of each other at work and also just elevate the inside jokes that you have within the hospital? That’s what I find so so invigorating about your videos is that you guys are really– and it always features different people.
It’s really, as you said, Kayla, an authentic look of what’s happening behind the scenes. How do you even decide what videos to work on? Who really says, “All right, I have an idea today.” How do you rally people behind that?
Kat: I think it’s really all of us. I think that someone will come up to us and be like, “I saw this video on TikTok. Can we do it?” Or they’ll hear a sound and, we’re just like, how do we incorporate that? Like she said, it’s very authentic. It’s all stuff that we enjoy or we think is funny or brings us joy. Obviously, if you don’t think it’s funny, you’re not going to put your heart into it, and it’s not going to be successful.
We just pick the best of them and then it’s like timing as to what’s going on that day. We’ll save stuff and we’ll be like, we’ll see– we have the “ask me about my wiener” video. I had that in the back of my head for weeks. I’m like, we never get a dachshund in. A dachshund walked in the door and I’m like, “Kenny!” I’m like, “We got to go.”
Kayla: Some days it is like that where we’ll try to get a video done and it might take us three days because have the video, you have the first part, you filmed it, and then you’re like, “Oh, we got to go on an appointment. Oh, there’s surgery. Oh, there’s something else.” Walking through the door. You keep that in your pocket and you’re just waiting for the next moment when you have time to put it together again. It’s just from our environment, what we go through every day, what we think is funny like she said.
Courtney: What has your client feedback been? What have you heard a people now [crosstalk]?
Kayla: Oh, they can’t wait to see it.
Courtney: As this has started to take off, what are your clients saying? What are your friends saying? I’d love to hear what some of the reaction to the Dix Hills TikTok fame has been.
Kat: The clients love it. The clients will come in and they’ll be like, “Oh my God, your videos have me cracking up at home.” They love seeing their own pet highlighted on it. I think it’s a memory for them to have too especially like the puppy videos that we do and stuff. To me, that’s a core memory for the client almost. I think they love it. They love seeing their pet as the star of the show, and they love that we selected them and it makes them feel special.
I also think it helps them build a relationship with the staff because now we’re all familiar faces to them and they’re like, “Oh, okay. I saw that girl from that.” It helps them develop, I think, a better bond with the staff to see that we’re also human beings. [laughs]
Courtney: Yes, I think that’s really important too. I mean, we all know that within COVID there was just this influx of puppies, as you said, of more stress on you as frontline workers, as essential workers. It was really stressful, and people started to become unkind during that time and to humanize who is behind the scenes working on their pets probably has had a positive impact as far as your client relations have gone, that because you’re real-life people, not just a practice of technicians, nurses, techs, and doctors that they don’t know. They actually have faces to who they’re bringing their pets to.
Kayla: Definitely, and then I know that if I tell– because sometimes we do need permission from each owner.
Courtney: That’s what I wanted to ask next.
Kayla: Yes. We definitely need permission from each owner whether it’s written or verbal. We make sure that we get that, hey, we want to feature your pet in the next video that we do. Is that okay? They’re like, “Sure. Yes, take them back.” We take them in the back, we do our little video, we bring them up front, and that client is waiting and ready to see that video.
They’re like, “Okay, when are you going to post?” We tell them, “Keep your eyes open. Wait for the video usually that day or the next week.” They’re just excited and when they come in the next time, they just– it gives them that extra umph.
Courtney: What have you seen with your followers? Has anyone tracked actually how many more followers you’ve gotten or what you’re–
Kat: Oh, my God. We have a little over 1,500 more followers from when we started in October. Late October was when we posted our first TikTok. We had maybe 500 followers at that time. We just reached 2000 yesterday. It’s been fun.
Courtney: All right. Most successful videos. We’ll start with the most successful video and favorite video to make. What have they been?
Kayla: Our most successful was Noah. He was originally my cat, but basically, we saw this video and wanted to reenact– Noah is very pliable. He’s loving, he getting your face, he is curious about everything. We brought him into the exam room and we did the TikTok video and literally — what was it that night?
Kat: Yes. That night–
Kayla: It happened the next morning. We picked each tech or each assistant that was in the room that day and we were like, hey, you’re going to do this part, you’re going to do that part. Everybody had their little assignment and I think it did take more than one cut, but when we finally got it together, it was perfect. The looks that he gives, we love him so much.
Kat: Yes, it was one of our first videos too. It was funny that it went so big because we weren’t– again, we generally thought it was just funny. It was the perspective of the cat at the vet and we have the behind-the-scenes footage of it, and behind-the-scenes, it’s even funnier.
Kayla: The bloopers.
Courtney: You should somehow share that with this podcast of what’s behind the scenes of the [crosstalk].
Kat: I did not get permission to post the bloopers. The staff would all walk out.
Kayla: Yes, it is so funny because we have a lot of introverts that we work with. A lot of them are like, “Oh no.”
Kayla: When they finally get into the character, it’s gold.
Courtney: How many views did you have on that one video? Do you know?
Kat: 1.5 million. It’s almost up to 1.6. It’s crazy.
Courtney: That’s amazing. What would your advice be to a practice that says, “I’d love to start doing TikTok videos with my staff? How do people even start?” If you didn’t have — because you have built this culture everyone now watching TikTok coming up with ideas, everyone’s ready for the next video. But if you were really just at the very, very beginning, are there just a couple easy steps that you would suggest or resources for ideas that you would give your fellow hospitals and other technicians and veterinarians?
Kat: I think start small. I think that you have to start with whatever you’re comfortable with. I think that if you try to jump into it and try to accomplish too much, I think that it’s going to almost scare you away from it. Even if it’s just starting with just videos and incorporating that into your day, and again, I think you have to do whatever you feel comfortable with as far as the filming of the videos and if there’s a staff member that doesn’t want to be on camera, forcing them into it isn’t going to be enjoyable and isn’t going to be fun to watch.
I think to really use a staff that has that personality and eventually those more introverted people will come out and want to join, I think.
Kayla: 100%. That’s good. That’s exactly what happened to us .
Kayla: We have some really funny people and then they just — they see how much fun everyone else is having and we try to have, a good experience and a good environment here. When we’re all having a good time, everybody wants to jump in and also join that fun. As long as you’re keeping it fun and what’s funny to you, like she says, what’s funny to you? If I find that SpongeBob — some people are big SpongeBob enthusiasts here and then I love cows and another person might like horses. As long as you stick to what’s real, it’ll work out. Definitely.
Courtney: Any other resources that you’d recommend? Are there any how-to videos or any TikTok channels that you recommend to folks. Please endorse your TikTok channel and Instagram if people are not following Dix Hills, they should for great ideas. Any other resources that you’d recommend?
Kat: There’s an app and it’s called CapCut and it has all those crazy videos that you see that have really quick clips of everything that are on there, it actually has all the templates for you. You can go ahead and insert the pictures so it’s not so time-consuming to sit there and cut everything. A lot of times it has–
Courtney: What’s it called? CapCut?
Kat: Yes. CapCut, C-A-P-C-U-T.
Kat: Yes. It’s just super easy to utilize. Most of it is all at the top trending stuff so you can use ideas for that. Also just the staff. All of our staff members, everyone has a different For You page. Everyone is on different sides of Instagram and Tiktok and everything. Someone may see something you might not see for another month. Just bouncing ideas off of each other and showing that to each other and having it bloom from there.
Kayla: I think a lot of people in the vet world, they are alike if that makes any sense. You’re going to find someone just as awkward as you on the other side of the screen and I think that’s okay. Just market to someone that would be just like you and that’s what ends up happening. It ends up translating well.
Courtney: Perfect. Any other words of advice before we wrap up today? Thank you so much for your time. Again, we will post with the podcast, The Dix Hills handles, I don’t know if you both know them off the top of your head, of your TikTok–
Kat: Yes, [crosstalk]. Dix hills animal hospital.
Courtney: Dix hills animal hospital.
Kathleen: It’s very easy to follow us if you want a good laugh.
Kayla: It’s on TikTok and Instagram.
Courtney: TikTok and Instagram, I can speak from experience I do. It’s the highlight of my day. I’m always scrolling through Dix Hills and rewatching. Of the 1.6 million, probably a solid 500 are me.
Kayla: When you come, we have to get you on one of them.
Courtney: I would love to be part of the Dix Hills TikTok channel, I would love that. Thank you both so much. This is so much fun. I can’t wait to be in one of your videos and also have a Catalina chocolate brownie or a chocolate chip cookie. I can’t decide or I’ll have to have both. I appreciate both of your time and thanks for joining.
Kayla: Thank you for having us.
Kat: Thank you.