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Improved parking and impressive reception area following refurbishment

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01 December 2010, at 12:00am

THE Cheadle Hulme Veterinary Hospital, which won the category for larger practices (those with more than 10 full-time or FTE staff) in the 2010 Front-of-House Awards, is part of the long-established Woodcroft Veterinary Group.

There are currently seven veterinary surgeons at the Cheadle Hulme branch, along with 35 support staff – comprising RVNs, trainees and modern apprentices – plus the practice manager and office staff.

As well as handling first opinion work, the practice runs a very busy referral and out-of-hours service and has made sure it has large, very clear and well-lit signs outside so people can quickly locate the premises in an emergency.

During last December and January, the practice undertook a large refurbishment, with the main emphasis on improving its parking facilities. Previously, there was very limited parking available and the majority of clients had to use a public car park – for which the practice reimbursed them.

“It was far from ideal,” says Fiona Knight, the practice’s customer care manager. “Now we have a fantastic car park and we get many appreciative comments from clients about it.”

The main parking area is to the rear of the building but a disabled bay has been added at the front, right beside the ramp which was installed some years ago to provide easy access for wheelchairs or clients who had problems with steps.

The practice has a large waiting room, which is now sectioned off into dog and cat waiting areas . “This is clearly marked and works very well,” says Mrs Knight. “The poor little cats are not as terrified – the separate waiting area plus Feliway works a treat.”

These separate waiting areas incorporate species-specific merchandising areas – one of very few practice entered for the awards to have such an arrangement.

The area has well- tended , neat and imaginative display boards which are regularly updated; also in the waiting room are TV screens to dispense information. There’s also a drinks dispenser for clients and “treat tins” for dogs.

One judge described the front-of- house as “very impressive and welcoming” with a great reception area – large and well-staffed.

But even the winning practices came in for some criticism – one judge suggested that the quality of the information on the TV screens was a little disappointing and a little hard to follow from a distance and with a little more thought the merchandising areas could be even better. n The photos show (clockwise from top): most of the staff gathered in the spacious reception-waiting area for a group photo; the “pet club” display board at one end of the waiting area; one of the two merchandising areas, with a considerable range of products on display and easy to select; one of the plasma screens displaying information for clients; the reception desk – showing the location of the plasma screen (one judge commented that the placing of signs on the front of the desk looked a little untidy and it was not necessarily the most visible place for them); the solid access ramp; the disabled parking bay close to the ramp; and a section of the new parking area at the rear with the well-marked practice van on the right.