CarolHartIf your small business has reached a point where you need a full- or part-time practice manager, it generally is best to look outside your circle of friends and family members to fill that position.  After all, you will “be the boss” and will need to provide direction to your practice manager without fear of ruffling feathers or placing stress on a valued personal relationship.  A close friend or family member likewise may need to provide constructive criticism and might not feel comfortable suggesting changes.

To find good candidates to fill this position, begin networking with small businesses in your community.  Talk with your colleagues at local veterinary association meetings.  Have they come across a good candidate, but didn’t have a position open for the individual?  If you haven’t already done so, join the local Rotary and Chamber of Commerce.  Becoming active in these associations not only will help build your business, other members may be good referral sources for that terrific office manager you hope to recruit.

When interviewing management candidates, experience in the veterinary field would be great, but certainly isn’t required.  After insuring the folks you plan to interview have appropriate experience managing and running a small business, look for candidates who can share your vision for your practice and will be as dedicated to the success of the business as you are.  By asking candidates the right questions, you can determine if they possess good organizational skills, can communicate well, can garner respect and lead others, and can manage conflict.  For example, ask them how they would manage a situation where a valued technician is bumping heads with your best receptionist.  How would they resolve on-going conflict between a young, valuable associate and an experienced technician?  What would they do if a good client starts giving a new and promising receptionist a very hard time at the front desk?

Successful veterinary practices not only provide quality care, they also provide outstanding customer service.  To efficiently deliver that care and really bond clients to your practice, you need dedicated technicians and receptionists committed to your practice vision and working as a team.  Technical skills are important, of course, but a terrific attitude nearly always trumps a packed resume.  When searching for good support staff, ask your current team members if they know a good individual to fill an open position.  If you have a great employee on staff, call their references back and ask if they know of any candidates for a position you need to fill.  When was the last time you were in another small business and had contact with a great individual who provided terrific customer service?  When you run into such folks, don’t hesitate to give them your card and ask them if and when they are looking for other employment to give you a call.

When interviewing support staff, ask them to describe what they believe their role in the practice will be.  Do they see themselves as members of a team?  Determine how candidates would handle a situation where a mistake is made, such as sending a client home with the wrong medication.  Ask them how they would manage a difficult client in a reception room filled with other clients and their pets.  Look for candidates that offer positive solutions to such problems.

If you have specific questions regarding the issues discussed in this blog, don’t hesitate to contact me here at Live Oak Bank.