Practice Management News and Views from around the World – July 2010

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The London Vet Show hits 200 exhibitors and 1000 delegates in the same week.

The London Vet Show, held in Olympia’s National Hall on 22nd and 23rd October 2010, is thrilled to announce a record 200 exhibitors and 1000 delegates are now booked in to attend the 2010 show.

The London Vet Show (LVS), organised by Closerstill Media Healthcare Ltd, was launched in 2009 as the only South East based Veterinary Exhibition and Conference. Attracting 1,977 delegates and 120 exhibitors in its first year the show is already set to be twice as big in its second year.

The show attributes its success to the conference programme once again programmed by the Royal Veterinary College, delivering first class verifiable CPD content with leading speakers from around the world including Ric LeCouteur, Simon Girling, Alison Lambert, James Grierson, Sarah Heath, and Lisa Milella.

The post 2009 event research revealed that 85% of London Vet Show delegates had adopted new clinical procedures as a result of attending CPD lectures within 3 months of attending the event. Of those that attended the business lectures 72% will be changing their business practices and 80% of the delegates also said that they had met new suppliers as a result of attending.

The research was based on 334 completed online surveys conducted in February 2010, which also indicated 98% of delegates would not just be attending again but also recommending the event to their colleagues and peers. With delegate numbers up 60% YOY, the show is on target to be even bigger and better than the last.

The London Vet Show is an event that seamlessly blends clinical and commercial insight to support and equip practice owners, partners, vets, managers, nurses and administrators for the challenges ahead.

The Business Conference speakers and sessions will include:

Philip Lowndes

– Increase your client numbers and satisfaction using adapted diagnostic skills

Alison Lambert

– Making the most of your first impression – make the phone ring and love the telephone !!!!

– Make the appointment

Panel Discussions

– How to increase your revenues and make your practice more effective

– New ideas for improving your profitability and efficiency

John Sheridan

– The price is right — How to set fees to achieve practice objectives

Adi Nell

– Possible Solutions for the Future of Small Animal Practice

Mark Johnston

– The Practice website — how to get yours to really perform

Alan Robinson

– The Times They Are a ‘Changin’ – communicating change to the practice team

Tim Puddle

– How to compete with Large retail chains

Riz Akhtar

– Top ten tax saving tips and much more!

Julie Miller

– HR – I Can Manage!

Susie Samuel

– Online marketing and social networking for vets- 5 essential steps to keep up to date

You can
click here
to visit the London Vet Show website to book your place for just £129 until the end of July

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Benchmarks 2009 from Veterinary Economics and Wutchiett Tumblin and Associates

This annual study is a must have for every practice. In Benchmarks 2009: A Study of Well-Managed Practices, you’ll find data from 100 of the country’s most profitable companion animal practices and strategies that guide you toward similar success.

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You can click here to access a pdf summary of the report

You can click here to visit the Wutchiett Tumblin and Associates website

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The Recession — Something to think about

by Caroline Johnson, Director at Prescription Marketing Ltd and published in the Hampster Wheel Linkedin discussion group

From time to time I find myself flying to Scotland to visit relatives. It may come as no surprise to hear that what I pay for my seat may vary to the passenger sitting right next to me and that I am both familiar and comfortable with this situation. In fact most of us know that what we end up forking out will depend on various factors, such as when we book, how we book, the payment option chosen and whether or not we include additional luxuries…such as putting a bag in the hold!

It surprises me then that when I introduce the concept of differential pricing in vet practices that it normally falls on deaf ears; in fact, I’ve oft been told that clients wouldn’t like it and would leave in their droves…. “We can’t possibly charge different prices for the same service! That would be unethical!” But can it also be so, that those same clients who also sometimes fly on budget airlines, take package holidays and pay extra for express delivery on internet purchases expect, indeed demand a “one size fits all” approach from their vet?

We are in a global recession with dramatic cuts announced in yesterday’s budget; it is likely that in some way or other we are all going to feel the pinch. According to the results of a Vetpol poll all respondents have said that clients appear to be more cost conscious, 71% say there has been a decline in routine procedures such as vaccinations, whilst 86% have expressed concern about the recession and its’ effect/likely effect on the practice.

Yet there is still money around: At the time of writing this I know of four families all about to invest in large pedigree dogs and of one owner who is considering paying for a scan at the RVC for a Cocker Spaniel with an injured shoulder…. “just to put my mind at rest”. So some people are still spending regardless.

Surely then, at a time when the gap between the haves and the have-nots (or to be more precise the spends and the spend-nots) is increasing, would it not make perfect sense to provide a differentiated service to accommodate the needs of those different groups of clients? Is it not reasonable for example, to offer discount vaccinations at times of day that suit the practice, whilst charging more for the same service in the evening that better suits many commuters? Isn’t that what offering service is all about? And isn’t this one possible solution to the decline in routine work that many are reporting?

We have tough times ahead, of that we can be certain. Perhaps now is the time to re-evaluate what you have always done, think creatively, challenge the status quo and use this opportunity to do something different….

You can click here to visit Caroline Johnsons website

You can click here to visit the VetPol website

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Word Of Mouth Marketing: The True Cost Of Losing A Client

from an article by Diederik Gelderman

In my website I talk in detail about the amazing effect referrals and word of mouth marketing can have on your business. This ‘positive word of mouth marketing’ is a truly awesome way of increasing your sales and profits – agreed?

So what happens if the opposite occurs? Instead of getting ‘good word of mouth marketing’ you get ‘bad word of mouth marketing’. What effect can this have on your business? I think you’re going to be shocked.

One lost and unsatisfied client or customer has far reaching implications. You don’t just lose their business – you lose the business of many other potential clients or customers.

Let me explain this using a simple example.

My partner, Jennifer has been shopping at our local supermarket for about 10 years. She spends approximately $150 a week on her grocery shopping (yes, I’ve got a big appetite!). That’s $600 every month. And a massive $7,200 a year.

Over this ten-year period Jennifer has spent over $70,000. She’s a good and very loyal customer.

When she became sick with Lupus, she decided to use the supermarket’s home delivery service. Everything started off okay, but after a few weeks the delivery would arrive and literally dozens of items were missing and several were replaced by similar items. What this meant was she had to physically go into the store each week to get the items she’d actually ordered.

After several conversations with the manager of the store (some were heated!) Jennifer finally came to the conclusion that the local supermarket simply didn’t care. They were prepared to lose a loyal customer who had already spent over $70,000 with them, and would under normal circumstances have spent tens of thousands of dollars more.

In the end Jennifer stopped using the local supermarket. But what was the cost to that particular store?

Well on first inspection you’d say straight away that they had lost Jennifer’s custom which amounted to $600 a month. But here’s where is gets scary (more scary).

Jennifer probably told this story (with all the details) to every one of our friends (word of mouth marketing). As a result a few of them have also stopped using the local supermarket out of principle. Heaven knows how many friends they’ve also told.

In effect you have this mushrooming effect where more and more people get told about the ‘story’ through word of mouth marketing. It amounts to a huge tide of bad publicity. And it’s exactly the same when you lose a client or customer.

So let’s take a closer look at how this bad word of mouth marketing could impact on your business.

If one unhappy customer were to tell 10 other people about that experience (or not refer those 10 people to your business), and each of those 10 were to tell six others, the total number of people affected by your one bad experience would total 71. (6 x 10 = 60 + 10 = 70 + the original unhappy customer = 71).

Now, if only 25 percent of those people chose not to do business with you, that comes to 18 people.

If each of those 18 had similar buying habits as your original customer, your total lost revenues would be $27,000 ($1,500 x 18 people)!

$27,000… all from one bad experience!

But what if those figures are way off, and it’s only 20% of that amount? That still totals $5,400. That’s a lot of money for letting one person leave your business unhappy. And here’s an unfortunate thing: Sometimes people are unhappy and leave, and you don’t even know it. They just get their feelings hurt, feel slighted, or have something completely unexplained happen, and take their business somewhere else. And you never know.

Here’s how the above situation might look.

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As you can see, losing customers really does impact your sales and profits – and ultimately the value of your business.

So what can you do about it?

Well, you can’t afford to do anything but treat each of your clients or customers the very best way possible. Give them all the love, care, attention and service you can. Go overboard. Make it nearly impossible for them to even consider doing business with anyone else but you, regardless of price, location, convenience, or any other reason.

Become not only the preferred place to do business with, but the only consideration your clients have. Ensure that the only type of word of mouth marketing you receive is good word of mouth marketing – and your customer losses will reduce significantly.

Hey — and lastly – Share these figures with your staff. So that they too know the true cost of loosing a client.

You can click here to visit Diederik Geldermans website

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Six Ways To Run A Veterinary Practice Really, Really Badly

by Dave Nicol

The Economy is on the mend. And we can’t have that – what will all the journalists and bloggers like me have to write about? So it’s time to do your bit and push the world back towards financial oblivion.

Since credit has largely dried up you can’t possibly get into more personal debt. And since the government has largely removed any responsibility from the big boys, it’s time for us small and medium enterprises to enter the fray. It’s time to ensure that your practice contributes absolutely nothing to GDP this year.

Be strong people. Do your bit and follow these tips on how to run you practice so badly that it won’t ever make a penny, cent or peso ever again.

Step 1 – Don’t make any attempts to get customers through the door.

Don’t advertise. Don’t train your staff on phone techniques. Don’t maintain your buildings or appearance. And under no circumstances engage in any ‘high-falutin’ social media marketing activity. Dangerous stuff that.

Step 2 – Try not to find any problems with pets.

Don’t employ the best vets – go for the cheapest. New grads all the way! Do not waste money on continuing education courses for staff. Actively discourage using new skills or individual development in your practice.

When your vets are using vaccine consults as ‘catch-ups’ take no action. After all the pet’s teeth will still be bad next year and that niggling lameness will probably get better on it’s own. Found a lump? Probably just a lipoma – no need for a time consuming aspirate.

Step 3 – Stop selling them solutions.

If your vets (pesky lot) absolutely insist on looking for medical problems, all is not lost. Since most of them haven’t a clue how to effectively persuade a client to take the right action this doesn’t represent a big issue. To keep it this way, do not try to teach them communication skills or sales techniques. That would be disastrous in your efforts at avoiding profit.

Step 4 – Sink yourself with pricing.

Ah-ha! Double opportunity to fail here. Firstly, make sure your prices are so low that there is no way you could ever make a profit. Secondly, don’t tell your staff what’s expected of them when it comes to billing. They’ll make it up as they go along and almost certainly lose you a fortune. Good job!

Step 5 – Try not to collect money.

OK, healthy cash flow is not the same as profit but it does mean your business keeps trading. This in itself means you are a risk to economic meltdown. Therefore, try not to worry too much about asking clients for cash. It only makes the vets feel awkward and annoys clients. Everyone will be happier if you just ignore this bit and let clients wander out the door before paying.

Step 6 – Don’t pay bills.

Now you wouldn’t be doing your bit unless you helped pass the pain up the supply chain. So, to make sure no-one else has any money to pay bills or encourage growth keep all of your bills in a pot on the shelf, wait until they are all final demands, then (and only then) select one randomly and pay it.

And while you’re at it, make sure you’re paying top whack for all of your stock, can’t have the margins creeping up now.

Dave’s Tuppence-worth

If you follow these tips folks then within a few months you’ll be guaranteed to be lining up….at the job centre, claiming back some of that money you gave the government in last year’s tax bill. Now, job done…doesn’t that feel better?

Or there is another way?

You can click here to visit Dave Nicols website

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How Your Leadership Can Help Grow Your Clinic

by Bryan Buescher

Until you can access the productive capacity of your current employees you’ll have a hard time growing.

Hidden Obstacles to Employee Growth

In our experience with dozens of clinics across the country, here are four of the most significant fundamentals that keep employees from thriving:

  • The clinic doesn’t have clear direction and people sense that the practice is just drifting along
  • Lacking a sense of priorities employees feel they really don’t know what they’re supposed to be doing
  • Employee ideas and suggestions are ignored, die on the vine, or are unappreciated
  • Belief that they really don’t have an impact at the practice

Some suggested solutions: The very first thing you can do to remedy this situation is to make the decision that this is an issue you must address and are willing to commit to over the next six months. The very next step would be to meet with your Practice Administrator or Manager and discuss the ideas of this letter. The goal would be to define one small area on which you can take action to get the roadmap underway.

Be sure to address the following four elements in your roadmap–all are essential to eliminating the hidden obstacles to employee growth.

  • The employee’s role provides them a true sense of accomplishment
  • Pay attention to match a person’s talents with job expectations
  • Create ways to keep employees in the loop—knowing what is going on-they know they’re included in things
  • Develop methods to insure the supervisor connects with the employees on a one to one basis.

Plan on a 6 month timeframe to give yourself plenty of time to make this a success. As your employees grow-the clinic will grow.

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