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About Carol Hart

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So far Carol Hart has created 20 blog entries.

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 […]

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, explore why […]

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 not […]

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 can […]

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