Practice Management News and Views from around the World – April 2013

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What’s happening in small animal practice in the UK

Selected data from the MAI consolidated report to January 2013

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You can click here to visit the AT Veterinary Systems website

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Australian Veterinary Association Practice Management Annual Conference 2013

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I am delighted to have been invited to contribute to the Australian Veterinary Association Practice Management Conference in July this year. You can You can click here for full details, the Conference Programme and a Registration Form. Maybe I’ll have an opportunity to meet you in Sydney in July — I look forward to it

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AAHA State of the Industry address gives reason for optimism

Between 2011 and 2012, a select group of animal hospitals experienced a level of growth that greatly outpaced that of the overall economy. They were able to grow their revenue and increase patient visits even if their sizes or locations weren’t perfectly suited for growth.

So what was their secret, and what separated them from other hospitals that actually lost revenue over the last year?

According to Michael Cavanaugh DVM DABVP Executive Director and CEO of AAHA, these “Growers” took control of their growth and excelled in creating client-centric practices that also focused heavily on preventive care.

During his AAHA State of the Industry address at the 2013 AAHA Yearly Conference in Phoenix, Cavanaugh discussed why Growers are thriving compared to those on the other end of the spectrum, the “Decliners,” and shared his thoughts on how more hospitals can replicate the successful characteristics of Growers.

Economic outlook on the upswing

Closely watched economic indicators such as the Gross Domestic Product, unemployment rate, and consumer spending are slowly but steadily returning to pre-recession levels, Cavanaugh said. Despite the improving numbers, he said experts are predicting a slow and challenging recovery.

When it comes to animal hospitals, Cavanaugh said both patient visits and revenue growth are also trending upward and are now approaching 2008 levels. According to him, the average growth in hospital revenue from 2011 to 2012 was 5.6 percent.

While the 5.6 percent growth is encouraging, Cavanaugh said it is important to look at the hospitals above and below the average – the Growers and Decliners – to discover how more hospitals can transition to the Growers category.

Growers vs. Decliners

Growers were the 25 percent of animal hospitals that grew their revenue by at least 10 percent. Their gains were achieved whether the hospitals were large or small, and regardless of whether they are located in affluent areas or cash-strapped regions. “Interestingly, there are serious Growers even in some of the most economically depressed areas in the country,” he said.

The disparity in revenue between Growers and Decliners, those who experienced a drop in year-over-year revenue, indicates that Growers “believe their growth is independent of the economy,” according to Cavanaugh.

On top of their economically independent views, Growers tend to focus much of their attention on strengthening their client relationships. In fact, practices that engage their clients are more than twice as likely to be Growers compared to Decliners, Cavanaugh said. “It turns out that as you dig into this data, the single most important factor differentiating the Growers from the Decliners is the focus on the client relationship – the client centricity as we’re calling it,” Cavanaugh said. “This makes sense if you think about it – it is the client that makes the decision to bring the pet in, and it is the client that has to pay the bill, and it is the client that has to comply with the
recommendations.”

With client engagement firmly in mind, Cavanaugh outlined five major factors that are critical for growth:

  • Focusing on your clients by operating a “client-centered practice”
  • Driving preventive care
  • Leveraging technology to embed the client focus into driving preventive care
  • Setting goals and measuring your business
  • Communicating the value of higher standards

Cavanaugh mentioned important business aspects such as forward booking, client reminders, and additional client visits stemming from preventive care visits as examples of areas where there is much room for improvement, and said even modest improvements in those three areas combined can produce revenue gains for the veterinary industry in excess of $1 billion. “This is powerful data that every veterinary professional can use to help their practice thrive,” Cavanaugh said. “With tools like those from AAHA and our friends involved in the Partners for Healthy Pets coalition, every practice can work to improve communication and client engagement.”

Challenging hospitals to work toward growth in 2013

As his presentation drew to an end, Cavanaugh challenged animal hospitals to take charge of their growth in 2013, which he said ultimately helps the profession grow.”Consider making a conscious effort to take steps this year to accelerate your hospital’s growth,” he said. “It is growth that you drive in your hospital that enables our profession and industry to grow. If AAHA can help, please reach out to us. We’ve got a great team and we’re eager to help you be successful.”

You can click here to visit the AAHA website

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Successful Vet Charity Challenge to become an annual event

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Details of the Vet Charity Challenge event have been launched for 2013 on www.vetcharitychallenge.co.uk, along with the announcement that this is to become an annual event, following the success of the Vet Charity Challenge last year.

Vet Charity Challenge 2013 will take part on Saturday 28th September at Warwickshire College, Pershore in Worcestershire. The event comprises teams of four taking part in walking/ running, cycling and kayaking along with some orienteering and mental and physical tasks.

This event has been designed for every level of fitness and success on the day depends very much on how well each team member works together, rather than physical fitness and teams are being invited to register interest by visiting www.vetcharitychallenge.co.uk. Videos and photos of the 2012 challenge may be found on the website and full registration for the event will open at the end of March

The Vet Charity Challenge 2012 raised a total of £21,000, which was shared between three animal charities, SPANA, Pet Blood Bank and Hounds for Heroes. The selection of charities that will benefit from this year’s challenge are being finalised and will be advised shortly.

Jason Rogers from BCF Technology commented, “We are absolutely delighted with raising a total of £21,000 in 2012, and a massive thanks to all who took part and donated. We are even more pleased to continue with the event in 2013. This is a great incentive to improve your fitness over the year and improve teamwork within your practice. “

This event is sponsored by BCF Technology, Kruuse and supported by VPMA, Mojo Consultancy and media partner Vet Practice Magazine.

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Price Shoppers: A Strategy to Handle Price Checkers. – Success Pacific

by Gary Crawshaw

Small business owners feel the economic pressures, no doubt. It’s tempting to lower fees or prices thinking traditional economics will pay off and bring more customers. But not so fast! Let’s take a hard, close look at how you and your staff are handling the “price shoppers.” You know those Price Checkers who want to know about your fees or pricing.

Don’t make a knee-jerk, anxious, emotion-based decision. Read this first:

  • People “price check” or price shop because price is the one, easy constant by which they can compare one business to another.
  • Don’t be lured into directly answering their one question about price by giving them the price. Instead truly get into communication with the person. Make them “right” for inquiring or expressing interest in your service. For instance, if it’s someone calling to make an appointment for a preventive medicine service, acknowledge them for taking responsibility for their or their family’s health. Find out a few details as to why and what they’re looking for and what issues they are having. Then you can ensure you direct them to the best service.
  • Know your product or service! You are the expert, not them. You must know how you’re similar and different from your competition. Sounds silly, but you need to understand the nuances of your product. If you are a veterinary practice, what other services come with your routine exam or spay or neuter, etc.? If you’re a dentist, what exactly is included in that new patient exam or that root canal procedure? It’s too easy to take for granted all that you are providing and not break it into the component parts.
  • Be thinking about how you can, in this instant, this one-shot for a potential new client, give them the “wow” factor and blow their socks off with great, helpful service. This leads right into the next point…
  • Do not bad-mouth your competition. Your competitor may look bad, but you look worse.
  • Now, the key item: HELP AND EDUCATE the prospect on HOW to shop and compare your services to the other two, three or ten businesses they will call to get “the price.” Perhaps your competitors leave out key items (that you include in yours) so they can give a lower price. Assume that they will call two more businesses after you looking for the same item. If you truly help them here, they WILL remember YOU!

Don’t lower your prices. Up your game and improve your service (and it doesn’t have to break the bank or be an overly creative solution)!

You can click here to visit the Success Pacific website

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50% growth for vet’s online marketplace!

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Vbay.co.uk is rapidly expanding! The site advertises a wide range of products, services and jobs, and is the first of its kind developed solely for the veterinary profession in the UK.

“We have seen a dramatic increase — some 50% – in the number of ads placed on vbay during recent months and we already have around 500 people registered and using vbay” says Caroline Johnson, co-founder. “The site was launched last year, bringing together practices and suppliers, and creating the opportunity for buying, selling and promoting to one another online. We are delighted vbay has taken off like this and it’s good to see vets and managers getting involved by advertising vacancies and selling second-hand items online”.

You can click here to register. Registration is free and presently so is advertising!

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