Practice Management News and Views from around the World – August 2012

Simons Cat — Shelf Life

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Veterinary Surgeons Income

Veterinary Surgeon income and stress levels

In times of economic uncertainty and reduced income it becomes more and important to determine how your income compares to those of other vets. In a July 2010 CM Research, through VetsPanel, asked over 1000 vets questions related to their income, job satisfaction, stress levels, amongst other topics. A total of 500 vets replied.

OK, straight to it. The average yearly income (before tax) for all the surveyed vets was £43,016. Half of vets earned up to £38,000 with the rest earning more. The highest yearly income was £300,000 but that came from a vet that declared to work 140 hours a week! On average vets worked 47 hours a week, with 25% claiming to work 50 or more hours a week.

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This year’s incomes also seem to have stabilized as most vets consider their financial situation to be equal of better than last years. Only a third considers it to be worse. It’s therefore not a surprise then that these vets are also those the most stressed.

Overall working hours are long, with the average being about 47 hours worked per week. This however does increase in some cases up to 90 hours a week! When also taking into account income then the hourly pay rate is £18. There are however 9% of vets that earn less than £10 an hour. However vets don’t seem to be very concerned about the long hours.

While half of vets claimed to be stressed this was not due to their long hours, but rather due to the inadequacy of the income they received. While 39% of those that were completed unstressed said their income was inadequate this increased to 76% amongst those that were very stressed. And how much is a stress free work life worth a year? £85,000 is the magic number. Earn that much and you are almost guaranteed to be stress free!

The high levels of stress are leading many vets to consider leaving the profession. Currently about a third of vets often think about leaving the profession while only a quarter never do. Stress seems to be the main cause of this as most of those that do think frequently about leaving the profession have high levels of stress. They also work the longest hours. Not surprisingly those earning over £50k a year tend to never think about leaving the profession.

You can click here to visit the CM Research VetsPanelwebsite

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Veterinary Business and Management

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Two of the UK’s foremost business associations, the Veterinary Practice Management Association and the Society of Practising Veterinary Surgeons have built an exciting two-day programme of CPD for vets, managers, practice owners, nurses and client care staff.

When? – January 24th -26th 2013. Where? Heythrop Park Resort, Near Oxford, UK

There’s a whole lot going on!

  • Over 30 hours of top-quality vet business & management CPD
  • World Renowned Business Speakers
  • 20 Masterclass small group sessions
  • Expert Q&A session
  • Over 35 business-focused exhibiting companies
  • A fun social programme and lots of networking opportunities
  • Two hotels on-site offering affordable accommodation
  • Purpose built lecture facilities

You can click here to visit the joint VPMA/SPVS Congress website

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Unleash the Marketing Power of Social Networking for your Business

by Pamela Haffner RVT

Love it or hate it — social networking has become the new word-of-mouth advertising method for business growth and development in the 21st century. The traditional term ‘word-of-mouth’ is now synonymous with shares, likes and tweets.

When the Internet gained wide popularity in the early 90’s, it was primarily used as a medium for exchanging emails and other digital information. Today’s Internet has come a long way, as millions of web surfers log on every day to find valuable, relevant and up-to-date information. The creation of a business website and taking advantage of browsers with ‘cookies’ has become the new norm for advertising. This now gives business owners an easy way to share relevant and personalized information with their customers.

The gold standard of business management has always been the four P’s of the marketing mix: Pricing, Product Management, Promotion and Placement.

With the rise of the Internet and social media, however, the four P’s of the marketing mix have become outdated. The traditional marketing mix lacks a focus on building personalized relationships with customers/clients to create loyalty and collect the information about their behavior that you need to guide your business development initiatives.

It is not surprising that Social Networking has gained the popularity that is has within such a short timeframe. Social Networking gives your business an easy way to keep in touch with your customers/clients and continually adjust the focus of your business activities as appropriate.

Along with Internet Marketing came the creation of improved marketing strategies, such as invitational marketing and relational marketing.

Invitational Marketing

With invitational marketing you are connecting with your clients by inviting them to join a newsletter, follow your blog or join you in a social network. The goal behind invitational marketing is to establish a more personal connection with your customers/clients to enhance loyalty.

Relational Marketing

Another new marketing strategy that has emerged from the Internet is relational marketing, which is focused on your clients, relationships and interaction over time, building a more personal connection with clients. The goals of these marketing strategies are to maintain a loyal connection with your current customers — attracting new clients in the process — and also reduce the cost of marketing.

With these goals in mind, the popularity of social networking is understandable. Social networking provides your business with the means to implement invitational marketing by essentially sending your customers an email invitation to join your social network: creating a connection and, at the same time, providing you with the tool to keep your clients engaged. The value increases exponentially when your customers invite their friends and family to join in as potential new customers/clients in your network.

There are several key factors involved when implementing a successful social networking strategy. Without taking these key factors into account, your social network experience may not be profitable.

First and foremost: let the social network platform do the work for you. Send your customers a personal invitation to join you in the social network. By leveraging on the relationships that you have already built up over the years, you can easily attract new customers/clients by encouraging your customer base to invite their friends to join in. Another key factor is to get all of your employees and business partners involved. This does not mean that everybody needs to actively participate under a single business profile, though. Maintaining your business presence in the network can be handled easily by one or two trusted individuals. But everyone needs to be involved and, in their own way, consistently promote the same products and services within the network. This typically means devoting a couple of minutes to discuss new social network
developments at weekly staff meetings, etc. where everyone is encouraged to participate.

An effective social network is organized around processes that involve all aspects of the organization. Some prefer to call relationship marketing “relationship management” to emphasize the fact that it involves much more than just marketing. Community pet-related events, activities, special products and promotional services are important topics. Put yourself in the shoes of your clients and customers and ask what you would like to hear and what you would want to share with family members, neighbors and friends in your community. Concentrate on adding more information in your blog as well as getting your followers to respond with their comments and opinions. Use an online poll to get
feedback about how you are doing and what you could do better.

The latest development is focusing more on specific niches in terms of the specific geographical regions as well as specific topics, products and services. This has evolved into so-called Niche Market Social Networks. There is also an increasing interest in creating platforms that allow users to combine and consolidate all of their social networking into one networking location where they can easily share all of their comments, blog posts, marketplace listings, advertisements, announcements, etc. and save
time!!

As this phenomenon evolves, new marketing strategies appear based on the common theme of sharing among current customers/clients, their family members, their friends, their community, their followers …

Website – Social Network – Niche Market Social Networking

www.Pets-life.com has been developed specifically for the animal health and care industry. Multiple sharing options have been integrated into a single platform. This platform has been designed to help promote and support veterinary practices, other pet care professionals (such as groomers, trainers and boarding and daycare facilities), animal rescue centers and other organizations.

The Bottom Line:

Include your business in a social network and effectively utilize all of the new tools, people, processes and technology to improve your marketing and profitability!

You can click here to visit the Pets-Life.com website

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It’s the little things

from an article by Winston Marsh

I frequently wax lyrical about the importance of those things that make doing business with you memorable. Little things that make people say “Wow!” Here’s a case in point.

Recently I was to present a seminar in Sydney and my client had arranged for a corporate cab to pick me up at the airport. I was so impressed from the moment I met my driver that I recorded all the little things that made me say “Wow!”

  • He was well uniformed, hair brushed, clean shaven; shoes polished… you never get a second chance at a first impression!
  • He introduced himself by name, shook my hand using my name and welcomed me to Sydney.
  • He opened the boot and carefully put my cases in.
  • He opened the car door, adjusted the seat and, with a gesture, invited me to take my seat.
  • The door was closed, gently but firmly
  • I was asked whether there any particular route I wished to take and told of the toll cost
  • The radio wasn’t blaring but he immediately switched to the stereo at right volume with Louis Armstrong’s “What a wonderful world” as the first selection
  • That prompted me to agree… it was!
  • He drove carefully and was considerate of other road users
  • He did the reverse of the above upon arrival at the destination (opened doors, got luggage out, etc)
  • He completed the credit card slip and handed me a GOLD PEN with which to sign it.
  • He thanked me by name, handed me his card, said to call him anytime for service from him or any friends he could recommend,
  • And finally, shook hands and drove sedately away.

Obviously to deliver service like this meant he had carefully analysed everything he did, and considered everything that passengers like and dislike, so he could thoughtfully assemble a system (scripts and checklist) which, when followed, enabled him to deliver memorable service. Then it became “the way we do things around here”. In other words he locked it in and did it very time… memorable service became a habit!

That’s something you and your team might like to look at in your business. How do you analyse a simple aspect of your business and then re-engineer it to make people say “Wow!”? And, remember, it’s just the little things!

You can click here to visit the Winston Marsh website

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7 common credibility blind spots–and how they can derail your image

by Cara Hale Alter

Worried about making a good first impression in business interactions? Here are seven bad habits that could undermine your credibility.

Beware your credibility blind spots. These bad behaviors are unintentional, yet they can derail your image. What’s more, they can be irritating and distracting to everyone … but you.

The good news is that once you identify your blind spots, you can take steps to eliminate them. And in a high-speed, hypercompetitive business world, the time to do this is now.

Today your credentials may get you in the door. Yet to really succeed, you’ve got to look credible when it matters most: in face-to-face interactions. Whether you’re meeting one-to-one or presenting to a packed audience, your credibility is immediately being assessed.

So how can you uncover your credibility blind spots? The surest way is to capture yourself on video in a typical business setting. (Smartphones make this easier than ever). And while there are numerous behaviors to look for, seven blind spots are most common:

1. Using speech fillers. Speech fillers are superfluous sounds or words, like “um” and “you know.” Today, such fillers are pervasive in our culture, including the business world. A smart, young technology CEO recently said to his team, “So, I actually sort of passionately believe that we have an opportunity to, uh, you know, sort of really take this platform to a new level. So we just kind of, uh, need to jump in, you know, with full force.” He wanted to fire up his people, but his fillers extinguished his passion.

Fast Tip: Embrace the tactical pause. Instead of interjecting fillers, simply pause while your mind searches for the next word.

2. Making extraneous movements. Extraneous movements–such as jiggling your knee, bobbing your head, or shifting your weight–weaken your personal power. You might say, “I can’t help myself. I just can’t be still.” Truth is, excessive fidgeting is a self-comforting behavior. Stillness sends a message that you’re calm and confident.

Fast Tip: Test your ability to literally have a level head. Fold a thick pair of socks and balance it on your head. Try talking for several minutes without losing the socks.

3. Self-commenting. When you feel self-conscious, it’s easy to overreact to your every mistake. If you trip over a word, you might apologize (“Sorry!”), make a joke (“No more coffee for me”), or resort to nonverbal reflexes, like shaking your head or shrugging your shoulders. The problem with this “self-commenting” is your external preoccupation with your internal criticism. Mistakes happen; simply correct them and move on.

Fast Tip: Fictionary is a game where players compose fake definitions of obscure words. Play it with your friends or family as a fun way to learn to ignore your inner critic.

4. Misplacing upward vocal inflections. You probably work with someone who speaks in “up talk”: using upward inflections that sound like question marks at the end of sentences. This vocal pattern is widespread–and contagious. Be vigilant in not picking it up.

Fast Tip: Read an article aloud with strong downward inflections. Begin each sentence at middle to high pitch and cascade downward at the end of each phrase.

5. Making yourself smaller. If you’re like most people, when you feel intimidated, you make yourself smaller to avoid being an easy target. You might place your feet closer together, tuck your arms to your sides, dip your chin, or pull back on your volume. Any or all of these behaviors say, “I feel threatened.”

Fast Tip: Practice optimal standing posture throughout the day, not just in important situations, to help make it habitual. Balance your weight over your feet, lengthen your spine, and elongate your neck.

6. Masking your face and hands. Masking behaviors can creep up when you feel uneasy or on the spot. This takes many different forms, including crossing your arms, clasping your hands, playing with your clothes or jewelry, or having a poker face–cutting off any animation of your face or hands.

Fast Tip: The more comfortable you feel, the more animated you are with your face and hands. Open your posture and engage your gestures at the start of each conversation. Practice this at company gatherings or networking events, where you have the opportunity to talk to a lot of people in a short period of time.

7. Dropping eye contact. You don’t see professional athletes dropping their eyes to the ground during play. In business settings, when you drop eye contact, you drop out of the game. Keep your eyes on the horizon and give your listeners the same respect you expect from them–your full attention. It’s all right to move your eyes to the side momentarily to gather your thoughts. Otherwise, if your mouth is moving, your eyes should be on your listeners.

Fast Tip: Train yourself to keep your eyes up while thinking and talking. One practice exercise: Place blank Post-it notes across a large wall in your home or office. Ask yourself questions and hold your eyes on a Post-it while answering. Let your sentence structure be your cue to move from Post-it to Post-it.

You can click here to visit the Business Know How website

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Your Dream Begins Today

from an article by Les Brown in the JimRohn.com website

What will your life be like when you’ve achieved your most deeply held dreams? Let’s take a look at how you can start living your dreams this very day.

  • Do you have a dream, a vision of the life you wish to live?
  • How specific is that dream?

  • How clear is that vision?

  • How do you intend to reach it?

  • What obstacles stand in your way?

  • Are your fears holding you back or are you using them to move you forward?

Your fears can actually lead you to success. Fear is an intense emotion. But that doesn’t mean it has to control you, or even stop you. Fear can prepare you and push you forward just as strongly as it can hold you back. Fear heightens your awareness and increases your physical strength. Fear brings your mind to sharp focus. With all that going for you, does it make sense to just run and hide? Of course not. Fear gets you in shape to take action!

Are you waiting for things to get better before moving ahead? If you’re serious about success, you need to start taking action today. If you’re waiting for things to be perfect, you’ll wait forever and nothing will ever get done.

The way to achieve is to bloom where you’re planted, to do what you can, where you are, with what you have. It’s easy to think up excuses for not taking action. “If only I had more hours in the day. If only I had a better job. If only I could meet the right person.” But excuses won’t bring you anything of value. You’ve got to change your “if only” into an “I will.” “I will make better use of my time. I will work on improving my career. I will create and nurture my relationships.”

Take a chance. Have faith in yourself. Your circumstances will improve when you make the effort to improve them. Start where you are right now. You have everything it takes to reach for whatever you desire. Stop wishing. Use your time, your energy, your thoughts and efforts to make it happen! You’ll be glad you did!

You can click here to visit the Jim Rohn website

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