veterinary practice management

Notable Tips Volume IV: A sampling from veterinary practice management literature

In this issue of veterinary practice management you will learn:

  • How to achieve better results in 2018
  • How thinking like a dentist will boost your business
  • How to effectively hire new staff
  • If you can afford a new piece of equipment
  • How to enhance engagement with your clients
  • Why discounting is bad for business

Profitability: “Three reasons you did not get the results you wanted in 2017” by Nikki Nitz, CPA, CMA and appearing in the Simmons Veterinary Practice email Newsletter, 3/22/18.

First, the author notes that too many practices focus on the top line—looking at revenue versus targeting profitability. She explains that revenue growth can be achieved by increasing the number of transactions and/or the average amount of those transactions. She suggests practices focus both on increasing revenue and decreasing expenses with the goal of achieving 20% profitability.

The author next suggests that too many practice owners exchange their time for control. To combat this, she proposes that owners delegate as many tasks as possible to free up time for more productive pursuits.

Finally, the author advises that practice owners find direction. To see greater success, owners need to define their goals clearly and outline actionable steps to reach those goals.

Internal Marketing: “Scheduling and Growing Your Business: What do dentists know that we don’t by Bob Lester DVM and appearing in Today’s Veterinary Business, 3/21/18.

The author recalls that dentists faced a potential disruption in their profession with the advent of fluoridated water that cut the rate of cavities by in excess of 50%. How did dentists respond? First, they embraced preventive care by recommending twice yearly visits. Why can’t veterinarians do the same to combat, for example, the loss of pharmacy income to on-line retailers? He suggests veterinarians promote forward booking to ensure their patients’ preventive care needs are met.

Second, dentists “empowered and leveraged their paraprofessional staff,” making their hygienists and assistants essential to their teams. He suggests veterinarians act accordingly and focus only upon the tasks of diagnosing, prescribing, performing surgery and building relationships, leaving all other jobs in their practices to well-trained staff.

Finally, he suggests that veterinarians accept that they are not all great business people. He believes practice owners should engage consultants, hire managers and learn more about business to develop sound business practices and see better results.

Hiring new employees: “Getting Ghosted by Veterinary Applicants? by Katie Adams CVPM and appearing on the dvm360 website, 3/20/18.

The author provides tips for making your practice more attractive to potential applicants such as:

  • Offering signing bonuses
  • Providing reimbursement for licensing fees and fees incurred to gain credentialed status
  • Bearing the costs of continuing education
  • Reimbursing uniform costs
  • Offering profit sharing
  • Providing a comprehensive orientation and training program
  • Offering additional perks

She also provides ideas for promoting the employment opportunities with your practice such as:

  • The use of social media
  • Team member referral rewards
  • Internships
  • Events at local technician schools
  • Word of mouth networking

The bottom line is think outside the box about benefits and promoting employment opportunities in your practice.

New Equipment: “Can you afford that new veterinary equipment by the staff and appearing in Veterinary Economics, 3/22/18.

The authors suggest you take the time to determine a breakeven point—how much you will need to use the desired equipment to make it pay for itself and how long it will take to pay the purchase off.  A form that may be downloaded to “do the math” is included.

Client Relationships: “7 ways to improve client engagementby Kaitlin Brady and appearing in Today’s Veterinary Business, 3/21/18.

The author recommends that practice owners embrace technology to enhance client relationships. She recommends practices harness the power of social media platforms such as Facebook and Instagram and communicate with their clients with a mix of “educational information with the latest pet health news and adorable pictures.” She next proposes that practices jettison manual methods for reaching out to clients and instead employ online scheduling and automated confirmations. Third, she urges practices to keep their practice management software updated to avoid glitches that can appear unprofessional to clients. Fourth, she recommends that payment processing be coupled with practice management software to decrease errors and speed up the checkout process for pet owners. She then encourages the practice owner to take hard look at the presence of his or her business online to ensure it accurately reflects the experience clients have when in the practice. The author next recommends that practices consider offering wellness plans to increase regular patient visits. Finally, she suggests practices communicate with clients with automated reminder services that offer email, text and postcard options.

Discounting: “Discount your services, discount yourself, by Sarah J. Wooten, DVM and appearing on the dvm360 website, 3/1/18.

The author strongly recommends veterinarians STOP routinely offering discounts with the exception of those associated with a specific marketing strategy. She contends that every discount creates a “ripple effect” within the profession. When one veterinarian in a region discounts indiscriminately, it makes it more challenging for his or her colleagues to charge appropriately. To avoid being a “discountaholic,” she recommends veterinarians:

  • Train their staff to talk with clients about costs
  • Understand that often they are projecting their own views about money upon their clients
  • Become advocates for pet health insurance