Carol Hart, DVM

Carol Hart

About Carol Hart

Before joining Live Oak, Dr. Hart worked as a consultant in the veterinary industry. Prior to gaining this experience, she was an Associate Veterinarian at several small animal hospitals in the Los Angeles and Central Valley areas of California. From 1999 until 2001, Dr. Hart was a practicing Veterinarian and Field Director at Banfield, the Pet Hospital. There, she oversaw medical and financial operations for a number of full-service hospitals while also practicing small animal medicine and surgery in some of them. Other responsibilities included overseeing the recruitment and training of veterinarians and hiring and managing the hospital staff. In 1994, Dr. Hart graduated from veterinary school at the University of California, Davis. She is licensed to practice in California and North Carolina.

Are Team Meetings Really That Important?

By |January 9th, 2015|

Of course they are! You really cannot afford to forego regular team meetings—at least once a month with all staff (including doctors and owners!) in attendance. Struggling practices often fall down in team communication and neglect to provide opportunities for team training and motivation. Regular team meetings are essential for success and present great opportunities to review practice protocols, instill your goals for the practice, encourage your employees, correct common mistakes and receive suggestions from your team on how the practice might function more efficiently. To make the meetings as effective as possible make attendance mandatory, avoid disruptions and start and end on time.

Always have an agenda and try to stick with it. Ask team members to contribute agenda items. When you have a proposed agenda, provide it to each of the team members beforehand so they can be better prepared. Don’t allow team meetings to become dreaded events in your practice. Begin meetings by celebrating successes. Acknowledge positive contributions […]

Get 2015 Off To A Great Start

By |December 31st, 2014|

Start the New Year off right by forming a great new habit. (Yes, you do not have to resolve to stop a bad habit for a change!) Assessing your practice every month is a terrific habit to develop. Just as you would do a physical exam on a patient and interpret laboratory work to develop a treatment plan, you should do the same for your business each month. Start out by placing fresh eyes on the appearance of your facility. Is the parking area clean? Is there dust on the shelves in the reception area? Are notices placed in this area up to date? Are you properly promoting the products and services you believe best for your patients? If you were coming into your business would you be favorably impressed? Determine if there are any positive changes you can make to enhance the appearance of your facility inside and out and ensure client perceptions are very positive.

Next, assess client service […]

Add More “WOW” To Your Veterinary Reception Area and Exam Rooms

By |November 6th, 2014|

I visit veterinary practices across the country and even those in new facilities could do more to improve the client experience and market their services in the veterinary reception area. No matter the age of your practice facility, you immediately can add a great deal to the client experience by employing a warm and engaging front desk team. The front desk team is on the front lines and all patient visits begin and end with them. You will have the greatest success differentiating your practice from other providers of veterinary services by having a team that genuinely welcomes clients and their pets as members of the family. You want yours to be the practice where clients enjoy visiting so much they gladly stop by to pick up medications and other products for their pets rather than turning to a big box provider.

Take a long look at your reception area. Make sure it is not cluttered with literature and out of […]

Is It Time To Offer Wellness Plans?

By |October 7th, 2014|

Last month, AAHA announced that VPI has been added to their list of preferred providers for pet health care plans. Veterinary wellness plans have been endorsed for good reason. Even if many of their clients are compliant with preventive care recommendations, most practices still can increase revenue and monthly cash flow by offering pet health or wellness plans. These plans are particularly attractive to those clients who would like to accept recommended preventive care for their pets but do not have the resources to pay for all the services at one time.

Wellness plans not only may allow you to provide all preventive care needs for your patients, they also should bring recurring revenue to your practice—even during slower parts of the year. In addition, wellness plan clients likely will come to you for all their pets’ needs and will remain bonded to your practice. If you offer a fixed number of exams with your plans, clients will turn to you […]

Differentiate Your Veterinary Customer Service

By |May 12th, 2014|

Service standards can elevate the level of veterinary customer service and differentiate your business.  Create standards that help to create a positive memory for the pet owner.  Start with a few standards at a time and train everyone on the team to meet the standards.  Develop standards for the most common client interactions such as on the phone, in the exam room and during check-in and check-out times.  Include the entire team in dialogue about standards to capture great ideas, facilitate training and to ensure buy-in.

Avoid creating standards that are scripted phrases which lack authenticity.  For example, train team members to use appropriate phrases such as, “Hi!  This must be Josie-she’s so cute.  Tell me more about what’s going on with her” rather than merely asking “How can I help you?”

To further differentiate your practice with client service, brainstorm ideas with the team on how to cater to the needs of clients and how to exceed client expectations.  This may […]

Should You Be Discounting Your Services?

By |April 14th, 2014|

Targeted discounts may help you build your practice, but a culture that permits uncontrolled discounting will have a negative impact on your “bottom line”.  Targeted discounts are designed to drive more business into your practice and often are associated with internal and external marketing strategies.  For example, if your practice is a “start-up” and you want to build your client base quickly, you might offer a free exam to new clients in your first six months of operation to get folks in your community to try out your practice.  If these new clients bond to your practice you will see a revenue stream from this external marketing strategy going forward.  Discounts also can be offered through well-conceived internal marketing strategies such as puppy and kitten preventive care packages or through more complex health care plans, including those for adult and senior pets.  These bundles of services typically are designed to increase client compliance with recommended wellness services and to provide […]

Weathering your Slow Season

By |March 14th, 2014|

It has been a very tough and slow winter for many veterinary practice owners.  If your veterinary practice is subject to seasonal fluctuations, no matter when they might fall, you’ll need to prepare ahead and make adjustments to ensure your practice remains cash flow positive.  First, consider your cash reserves.  During your busy season, set aside enough in reserves to cover at least one month of operating expenses.  Next, focus on proper expense management.  Can you avoid bringing on new employees or offering raises until business will pick back up?  As you set your team schedule for the seasonal downturn, can you ask a little more of some of your team members and trim staff hours?  On slow days, you may have to ask team members to go home early.  Finally, manage your inventory expenses well throughout the year.  It always is a good idea to keep no more than a 15-30 day supply of product on your shelves and […]

Getting the Most from your Veterinary Practice Facebook Page

By |February 3rd, 2014|

Is your veterinary practice Facebook page an effective marketing tool?  If existing and potential clients cannot find it, it will do nothing for you.  Make sure the link to your Facebook page is right at the top of your website homepage.  Be sure to promote your Facebook page in your practice and encourage clients to “Like” your page.  Ask clients if you can share photos or references to their pets on your Facebook page.  When your followers go to your Facebook page, will they be appropriately impressed?  Your Facebook page should include content that addresses pet owner concerns, offers humor and keeps your followers up to date on what is happening in your practice.  Be sure to feature photos emphasizing the “human/animal” bond.  Keep your content fresh by making posts at least three times a week.  Looking for content?  Go the AVMA e-newsletter “Animal Health SmartBrief” or the social media calendar on the Veterinary Team Brief website for material.

You also […]

Keep a Monthly Practice Report Card

By |January 13th, 2014|

Hopefully you’ve set goals designed to achieve practice growth and greater profitability in 2014.  Monitor your progress with a monthly practice report card.  A simple practice report card that puts information from your practice management software reports and your profit and loss statements all in one place will help you track the performance of your practice.  Key areas to monitor include:  revenue; cost of goods sold (inventory expense) as a percentage of your revenue (20-22% is desired); support staffing costs as a percentage of your revenue (20-22% is desired); new clients; and your practice ATC (average transaction charge) and/or the ATC of each of your doctors if yours is a multi-doctor practice.  In addition, look at the percentage of the revenue you derive from each of the following service categories:  dental care; laboratory services; diagnostic imaging and surgical services.  It is fairly simple to create your own “report card” on an Excel spreadsheet.  In the numbered vertical column, list each […]

Veterinary Practice Goal Setting for 2014

By |December 10th, 2013|

Where would you like your practice to be next year?  If you want to see revenue growth, check reports in your practice software for opportunity areas.  Are you and your team committed to offering quality care for every pet that walks through your door?  Speaking of your team—is your group solid or do you need to make some changes—perhaps in leadership? Does your facility need some upgrades to make it fresh and inviting for clients?  If so, set a realistic budget and a time frame to get the job done. Did you market your practice effectively in 2013?  Are you making commitments to get out in your community?  Does your website need upgrades?  What about on-line listings for your practice such as on “Yelp”–are you putting your best foot forward?  Finally, let’s not forget about fees—if you haven’t revisited them in the last six months, it may be time to make some adjustments to keep pace with your rising overhead […]

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