Practice Management News and Views from around the World – April 2009

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Service: a key to business success

by Winston Marsh

Service is all about exceeding customer, client and patient expectations. Service is about making people say ‘Wow!’ It’s about making people feel great about the way you handle their enquiry, their complaint, their problem, their need, their demand or their order. Take the time to look at what service means to you and then start delivering it. The better you do it, the better the results you’ll get.

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So, here’s the 64 thousand dollar question for you to wrestle with and find an answer to…”What do we do to make dealing with us memorable, so memorable that people will tell others about it?”

When you can do that and make clients, customers or patients say ‘Wow’ from great service, they keep on coming back and they tell their friends about it. Good service is the lifeblood of great business.

You can click here to visit Winston March’s website

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News from Veterinary Success Services

by Steve Kornfeld and Peter Weinstein D’sVM

The three basic elements of a successful direct marketing program are: message-market-media.

As we’ve indicated in the last issue, a direct marketing message has to be powerful and to the point to generate favorable results. For a direct marketing message to be powerful, it has to talk to the emotional side of what your clients need and more forcefully, what they want.

We usually act on what we want more than what we need. For example, many of us NEED to lose weight, but the “I want to lose weight” is not very strong. Therefore we break down easily with the first temptation. Think about it. You need to lose weight, but you don’t really want it, although you know it’s important. Then someone offers you a triple cheese hamburger or if you are into chocolate, a triple-layer, decadent chocolate cake. You know it’s not good for you, but you WANT it. As wants are usually stronger than needs, you find an excuse to reach out and eat it.

As you can see, you are more driven by your wants than by your needs. This is very important if you want to become a successful direct-marketing veterinary professional. We are all emotional creatures in the end. Some of us (more in veterinary medicine than in many other professions) like to think of ourselves as logical, but we are not. We all make emotional decisions, including buying services, based on emotion, then we justify them by logic.

So think about the juicy morsel you are tempted to eat although you know it’s not good for you. Emotionally you feel you want it. Your logic then goes into overdrive and starts explaining why this time it’s OK to eat it: “it’s only this time, I am going to work out to burn the extra calories, I’m not that over weight”, etc. Once the logical barrier is removed, you make your move.

The same thing happens with your clients. When you tell them their pet NEEDS vaccination or heartworm testing, or fecal testing or a blood test, it doesn’t touch their emotional-self, only their logical-self. Selling to logic is what the vast majority of us in veterinary medicine are doing without realizing it’s not the best strategy. Instead, if you talk about the same services but speak to your clients’ emotions, you will experience much greater client compliance. Surprisingly, there is a way to do that systematically with awesome results.

You can click here to find out how

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What’s happening in small animal practice in the UK

Selected data from the Fort Dodge Index (FDI) Report to Dec 2008

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SPVS Congress 2009: helping practices survive the recession

The theme of the 2009 Congress of the Society of Practising Veterinary Surgeons (SPVS) will focus on the current economic crisis, and in particular, what practices can do to not only survive but thrive during the downturn.

SPVS Congress — to be held this year at the fabulous Belfry Hotel in Warwickshire from May 7-10, will address the challenging issues that practices are now facing. ‘Coping with the credit crunch — making things pay when times are tough’ is aimed at the entire practice team from vets and practice managers to veterinary nurses and front-desk staff.

With interactive sessions designed to encourage and inform all delegates, delivered in an informal atmosphere by an excellent panel of speakers – headlined by Alison Lambert and her team from OnSwitch – Congress 2009 will equip delegates with the skills and knowledge that’s needed in tough times.

Anyone wishing to attend as a day delegate will find the perfect opportunity on the Friday (May 8) as this is a standalone day. Sessions will be aimed not just at practice owners, but will be divided into two streams – one for owners and senior managers and one for employees and junior managers. The streams will come together for some activities and split for others.

SPVS President Richard Hillman explained: “The idea is that it’s about the whole team working together and about empowering employees to show their employers how they care about the practice, want it to be economically successful and then share in that success.”

He added: “This year’s Congress will be bigger and better than ever with excellent events and CPD, not to mention the legendary social and networking opportunities that Congress provides every year. I’ll look forward to meeting delegates at what promises to be a real highlight in the profession’s calendar this year.”

Dunlop’s Question Time will present delegates with the annual chance to quiz the leading lights within the profession, including Richard Hillman. A charity lecture from the Orangutan Foundation will serve to highlight the plight of Asia’s great ape, and what is being done to fight for its survival. These are just a few highlights from this year’s busy and exciting Congress schedule.

Congress 2009 will also provide plenty of opportunities for networking and socialising as well as relaxing and taking part in a variety of activities, including a golf competition, or simply exploring this culturally and historically rich part of the country.

Congress will also thank Richard Hillman for an excellent and very busy Presidency during which he has helped raise the profile of the Society considerably. The Congress AGM will usher in a new President, Iain Richards, BVSc CertVA Cert SHP MRCVS.

You can click here to visit the SPVS website for further information

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VetPartners and VHMA Management Research Survey

VetPartners and the Veterinary Hospital Managers Association (VHMA) are working together on a joint management research project regarding the future of veterinary practice management. The research project seeks to identify the change in motivation and behavior that causes a change from mediocre financial performance to high level financial performance. Specifically, the research project seeks to pinpoint why practices made a change from mediocrity to success and the tools that they utilized to implement change.

Through this survey we seek to identify potential practices for participation in our research project.

All data submitted is restricted to essential access only to ensure confidentiality. Only aggregate data will be reported.

You can click here for further details

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SEVC2009 – An International Event!

AVEPA in collaboration with NAVC will once again host the SEVC – Southern European Veterinary Conference to be held this year, at the Fira de Barcelona’s Montjuïc exhibition centre, which houses the largest trade fair area in Spain and one of the biggest in Europe in addition to offering excellent conference facilities.

This year’s change in venue aims to provide visitors with an enhanced overall experience as the new central location will offer participants a superior space with improved access, additional services and a wider selection of nearby hotels.

The SEVC has strived over the past years to consolidate its reputation as an outstanding continuing education opportunity for veterinarians from all over the world. Efforts are channelled into providing a specialist scientific programme with over 80 hours of lectures covering all aspects of companion animal veterinary care from diagnosis to therapy, with specific topics including anaesthesia and pain management, dermatology, orthopaedics, dentistry, ophthalmology, reproduction, emergency/critical care, neurology, wound management, behaviour, diagnostic imaging, and surgery.

In addition, the SEVC programme of lectures includes a special two-and-a-half day International Nursing Programme addressing practical nursing issues and a two-and-a-half day
Practice Management Programme scheduled to cover matters such as: implementing practice changes and training programmes, preparation and implementation of marketing plans, strategies for increasing revenue and improving team work.

The SEVC mission is to present the veterinarian community with the latest advances in animal health care in an environment of professionalism, fun and sun. This year’s social calendar will include daily lunch at the conference centre and the not-to-be-missed “Grand SEVC Fiesta”.

The official languages at the SEVC are English and Spanish with simultaneous translations of all lectures. Additionally, some lectures will include simultaneous translations into other languages such as French, German and Polish.

You can click here for more information

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Veterinary Technician Career Burnout is Evident within 5-7 Years

Every year, the variety of career choices for veterinary technicians expands to include more and more options that offer upward mobility, appealing challenges, and monetary rewards. For some veterinary technicians, thoughts of making a change start with dissatisfaction with their current jobs. With knowledge of the options that exist, many of them would stay in the veterinary industry.

Career Choices for Veterinary Technicians: Opportunities for Animal Lovers is a new book which explores the daily responsibilities, salaries, qualifications, and pros and cons for a variety of careers for veterinary technicians. It is full of career choices for working and aspiring veterinary technicians, including positions in general practice, specialty practice, industry, higher education, government, and more.

“Whether you want to jump-start your career, broaden your responsibilities in your current job, make a move to a different hospital, or change your career path altogether, you will need to take stock of where you are,” writes Rebecca Rose, CVT, co-author of Career Choices for Veterinary Technicians. “To improve your resume and broaden your choices, think of yourself in a new way. Rather than being “just a technician” you have a compilation of skills and knowledge that is much broader than you think.”

Career Choices for Veterinary Technicians: Opportunities for Animal Lovers, written by Rebecca Rose, CVT, and Carin Smith, DVM can be ordered from the American Animal Hospital Association.

You can click here for more information and to order your copy of Career Choices for Veterinary Technicians

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University of Queensland Veterinary Business Management Association

The Universityu of Queensland VBMA is a new Student Professional Group. They are the second branch of the American based Veterinary Business Management Association, which was
founded in 2001 at Penn State and rapidly spread to all 27 American Veterinary Schools. The goal of the American VBMA is to provide a support network among students with common interests and goals. These students believe that in order to practice quality medicine, veterinarians need to possess subsidiary skills to enhance client compliance and personal success. One of the founding principles and greatest attributes of the VBMA is that is has always been led, managed, and organized entirely by veterinary students.

The University of Queensland VBMA’s initial aims and goals include a series of lectures and workshops throughout the year aimed at all year levels, and beginning with a series of lunchtime lectures to establish a stable membership. Ideally these lectures will involve collaboration with other special interest groups of the UQVSA to enhance networking and attract speakers from numerous specialties.

The major project of the inaugural year is the UQ VBMA Conference – this will be a 2 day educational experience in the development of professional and business management skills, and the fostering of respect for the group as a Professional Organization by Australian Veterinary Industries, the UQ faculty and its students. They aim for significant Veterinary Science and Veterinary Technician student participation in the program and will encourage faculty attendance of all Lectures and Workshops. This participation will provide an increased sense of business acumen; understanding the intricacies of how a veterinary business functions and how goals are translated into actions. It will also provide networking opportunities with key industry stakeholders by getting to know various prominent figures in the profession and the roles they play. It will advocate professional leadership and development in addition to fostering the development of interpersonal skills.

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