Reepacheep's Ramblings V.10

Blatherings from someone who is not big nor clever

Archive for November, 2011

Do you see many exotics?

Posted by Kim under work

Recently my working life has been taken over by the fact that my (new-ish) boss had decided that we needed to put our practice onto the radar of more vets in need of a referral service dedicated to exotic pets. You see, when vets go to university to learn about being a vet they are taught the fundamentals of treating cats, dogs, horses and a lot of farm stuff. However, when it comes to strange little animals (birds, reptiles, fish, rabbits – yes, even rabbits! Those really common little furries) they’re pretty much left in the dark, unless they take the extra time and dedication to study them, usually with little to no help from their school.
This is where we come in. We are a first-opinion and referral clinic for exotic species – our case load is about 75-80% exotic species and the rest local cats and dogs due to convenience to them. So we see a lot of cool stuff ranging from the aforementioned to invertebrates, to primates and small zoo animals. If a vet is scared or totally clueless as to how to treat something strange, we’re called.
One of the promotional campaigns we decided upon was to exhibit with a stand at the London Veterinary Show 2011 which is a massive CPD conference purely for vets and veterinary services – 3000 delegates apparently signed up to attend this year, with 300 exhibitors. It’s a pretty big thing.
We have been busy ordering stuff and planning and making things and promoting with the run up to the conference and finally the time came (Wednesday just gone) where Matt and I packed out his car with stuff and drove to Olympia to set up our stand. We worked from 7-10pm to put together Ikea furniture and put up posters to make up our home for the next two days. We drove home that night, exhausted.

Thursday morning I have to be up at 6am, put on smart clothes and meet Matt and his sister (who works in PR at a massive agency that deals with very important things non vet related but she was ideal to have around in terms of how to get and use information from potential referrers) at the surgery to start our adventure.

The premise obviously wasn’t to sell anything – this made it a bit easier on us – but for us to capture the interest of vets that were in need of a place they could send on cases that they didn’t like dealing with, either because the animal or the illness was beyond their confidence level. We offered some advice if they asked, and some neat looking syringe shaped pens with our logo and phone number.

Now, being the sort of person that take a while to warm to new people, having to approach new people and encourage them to consider using us totally put me out of my comfort zone. However, I had a lot of fun! We had a good talking point in terms of the cool animals we see, and tt was interesting to see how miffed some vets are of the sort of work I take for granted every day (“you’ve done surgery on a fish? HOW?” “I can’t stand seeing birds, I’m totally scared of them!” “What on earth did you do to that snail?”). Plus people who we deal with on the phone on a day to day basis (like our laboratory and other local vets) came by to show their support. The stands around us were nice to chat to – we were even given cake by a neighbouring company! It was a brilliant experience.

We had also sponsored two lectures which meant we had to ninja-flyer them just before they started which was a bit of a logistical nightmare as it meant putting leaflets on the seats of a 1000 capacity room that was already full of people who hadn’t moved from the previous talk. The way I leapt through the chairs meant I lost my exhibitor badge somewhere in the throng, luckily it was the end of the last day of the show, so no one cared. I hope we encouraged a least a few vets to consider using us, reconfirmed relationships with existing referrers and all together made us look like a good bunch to work with. It looks like my boss is going to do it again next year too.

I’ll tell you what, standing in a 3mx2m box promoting yourself for 10 hours really takes it out of you. I went to bed before 10 on both nights!

About 4 weeks ago we recieved an almost cold call from Orange telling us that as we were Orange mobile customers we could recieve their broadband for a cheap amount. We would get a free router and cheap calls and all that. It was considerably less than what we were paying for BT and so we agreed to sign up. I did a bit of research into Orange, and although there were a lot of negative reviews (people are usually more likely to complain about a service than report if it works well in my experience) it seemed like they were OK.

The new router arrived and we were given a tentative switch over date. Well, we had to find it for ourselves as they were supposed to tell us, but they decided not to. That, and BT switched off their broadband so we decided that must be the switchover date. I set it all up, got the router working and connected our living room PC to it. It worked. So I decided to try using the wi-fi on my phone. It didn’t work. Not thinking too much about it (perhaps the phone was having a strop) I booted up my netbook to find no wireless signal there either. Or my laptop. Or my desktop (yes, I own 3 types of computer. My house has 6 separate computers!). I decided maybe the signal wasn’t quite up to scratch as it we’d been told it takes 24 hours to stabilise.

A day and a half goes by and we’re still without wireless. Mum phones Orange and talks to a godawful technical assistant whom she cannot understand, and who is completely incompetant. I leave for work whilst mum has to try booting every computer within arms reach so the chap can mess about with each one remotely, to no avail. God knows what he was doing. He “resolves” the issue by bluntly saying that it must be the router and so we shall be sent another in a few days.

A week goes by. No new router. Orange have started charging us. We recieve a letter from BT saying sorry we had left, and to call them to confirm. We did just that, but after having a chat with the person on the other end, who manages to offer us a cheaper and better deal than before and having become totally disheartened with Orange within less than two weeks, we decide to tell Orange where to stick it. We then have to wait for them to release our phone line from their grubby little hands and back into the warm embrace of BT. We recieve a WORKING snazzy home hub router (nicer than our last) and are now back to having the interwebs.

TL:DR = Orange, as much as I appreciate being a mobile customer, your broadband is shit. BT was expensive but now not so much. We have internet.

I have to say it was pretty enlightening not having proper access to the internet for 3 weeks or so – I didn’t miss it half as much as I thought I might. The only problems arose when I wanted to buy gig tickets upon their release (I managed to ask my boss nicely to allow me to do so on the work computer) or wanting to know how to get somewhere using google maps. I didn’t miss playing online games that much – which may mean that my World of Warcraft days are numbered. I started to appreciate other games again – the fact that I played Zoo Tycoon for several hours one night may testify that I just need a fairly engrossing but simple game to keep me occupied.