Carol Hart

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.

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 [...]

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 [...]

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    Getting the Most from your Veterinary Practice Facebook Page

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 [...]

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 [...]

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 [...]

Is your veterinary practice successful?

By |November 13th, 2013|

Success can be measured in a number of ways.  On the business side, a practice is successful if it is profitable.  Profit equals revenue less expenses.  If you are seeing revenue growth year over year your profits should grow.  If cost of goods sold and staff wage percentages each are within 20-22% of gross revenue, you are managing your most significant expenses well and should be profitable.  If you see net income (what you have realized after paying all expenses and compensating yourself appropriately) growing year over year, your business should be successful.
What about the intangibles associated with a successful practice?  Do you have a good quality of life?  Are your employees happy and do they find fulfillment in their work?  Are your clients happy?  Are you delivering quality care to all your patients?  Are you building your client base?  If you can answer “yes” to all these questions, you are successful and should be congratulated.  If not, [...]

Keep Costs Down through a Practice On-line Pharmacy

By |October 10th, 2013|

If your cost of goods sold (COGS) or inventory expenses exceed 22% of your gross revenue, you can improve cash flow and increase your “bottom line” by better managing this all important variable expense.  Don’t forget to include drugs, medical supplies, pet diets, preventive care products, over the counter items, laboratory expenses, radiology costs, cremation costs and medical waste disposal fees when calculating your COGS.  To better manage inventory, consider the following tips.  If your practice software has an inventory management tool, use it and be sure it accurately reflects what is on your shelves.

Next, set re-order points so that you stock only what you can use or sell within 15-30 days.  Make sure one responsible employee is handling your inventory—placing and receiving orders, checking packing slips against orders and invoices and, most importantly, keeping your costs for products current in the inventory management system.  Remember, you cannot recover your cost with an appropriate profit margin if you do [...]

Tips for Effective Scheduling

By |September 10th, 2013|

We face scheduling challenges almost daily.  “Feast or famine” and there are too many or too few team members on duty.  Here are some tips for scheduling effectively.  To maximize appointment availability without selling client service and patient care short, set 10, 20 and 30 minute appointment slots so you’ll have openings for brief rechecks and for patients needing more time.  Consider leaving one 20 minute slot open every 4 hours to allow for emergencies.  To keep your practice staffed appropriately, remember the first rule you should follow is to schedule for the needs of your hospital.  Second, schedule for the anticipated flow of traffic.  Each week, determine how many staff you’ll need in reception, to accompany doctors in rooms and to manage the treatment/surgery areas.  Keep in mind that to keep staffing costs where they should be, generally no more than four team members should be on duty to support your doctor.  Finally, try to hire “multi-taskers” who [...]

Tips For Getting Under-Served Patients In The Door

By |August 13th, 2013|

You may benefit from “mining” your existing patient base and a concerted effort to get under-served pets in for care.  Surely your practice sends preventive care reminders.  Call those clients who do not respond after the second reminder and get appointments scheduled for their pets.  Make sure your front desk team contacts all clients with pets six months, one year and eighteen months overdue for services so these pets get the care they deserve.  Offer a promotion to get these pets in your door.  Most practices need to work on compliance for felines in their data base.  Call or e-mail cat owning clients and offer a 50% off “welcome back” exam to get those felines overdue for care into your exam room.  Last, but not least, have your team take lifestyle histories when patients present.  If the patient lives in a multi-pet household and another four-legged family member in need of care is identified, have your staff members get [...]

How to Best Retain New Veterinary Clients

By |June 5th, 2013|

Your marketing strategies are working and new clients are coming in the door.  You need to keep them coming back—right?  First, make sure new clients form a great impression when they step into your reception area.  Is your staff providing the “wow” factor needed to set you apart from the competition?  Make sure your staff meet and greet clients AND their pets warmly and that the waiting area is clean, odor free and inviting.  Next, make sure your technical staff takes a thorough history and shows a sincere concern for the health and well-being of your new patient.  At check out, be sure both you and your staff thank your new client for the visit, encourage a return visit and schedule a recheck exam if needed before the client walks out your door.

Last but not least, COMMUNICATE, COMMUNICATE, COMMUNICATE.  Be sure your new client signs on for the patient portal on your website, knows to check out your website [...]