Practice Management News and Views from around the World – June 2008

A video clip from Onstream Communications

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UK Small Animal Practice for the period to March 2008

data adapted from MAI consolidated data report

N&V MAI image 1 - June 2008

N&V MAI image 2 - June 2008

click here for more information about the Management Analysis Index from AT Systems

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SPVS to show vets how to motivate employees in tough times

How to motivate your staff and regain that competitive edge is the theme of a seminar to be hosted by SPVS this July.

With the credit crunch affecting many practices — as with all businesses — many vets and practice managers are now experiencing difficulties. This event which has been aptly called
‘motivating your employees in tough times’ will aim to help employers to improve goal setting, delegation and the effectiveness of their businesses.

Tutors will discuss how to recognise and reward employees’ achievements and empower them in their roles, including how to decide what duties can be delegated and whether additional training will be
necessary and cost-effective.

Course organiser Jacqui Molyneux, who runs the Prince Bishop Veterinary Hospital in County Durham, explained: “Practices are businesses like any other and as such are being affected by the current
credit crunch, whether that means that clients are slow to pay bills or are not buying ‘optional extra’ products like toys for their pets or using facilities like the hydrotherapy suite as much.”

“The seminar will help anyone responsible for running a practice to motivate not just their staff but also themselves and to find ways to be as successful as possible in these difficult times.”

The one-day course will take place on Thursday July 10 at the Holiday Inn Leeds-Brighouse near Huddersfield. The cost of the seminar is £160 plus VAT for SPVS delegates and £180 plus VAT for vets
and managers who are not members of SPVS.

For more information, and to book your place, you can contact the SPVS office on 01926 410 454 or click here to send an e.mail to the SPVS office.

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Are you communicating your value to clients?

by Nan Boss DVM

originally published in DVM News Magazine

Value statements are tools you can use to communicate the value of your services to clients and to their pets. They can be used on the phone or in person. They should be taught to staff members in training and reinforced with role playing. Here are some rules for value statements:

1.Always precede a price with a value statement. For example, “We use isofluorane, the safest gas anesthesia, because we feel that’s very important.” “We use a clean, sterile surgery pack for every patient, we have certified technicians administering the anesthesia.”

Or, “Our puppy package includes all the vaccinations your new friend will need, two stool checks, and a notebook on pet care.” Then, proceed to giving the client the price.

Don’t use the word “dollars.”If you say the numbers but don’t say “dollars” it doesn’t seem like money to the client!

2. If a client questions the cost of an item, always give a value statement. If the client says, “This X-ray price is outrageous!” You can reply, “Yes, I can see that you might think so, because I used to think that too. But now that I’ve been working here, and I know how much equipment and expertise is involved, I understand why that price was set.” or “Yes, our exam fees are higher than at some other practices. We like to allow extra time to teach you about pet health care and we allow the extra time to do that.”

3. If a client seems hesitant or unsure about something, always give a value statement.

4. If you are offering something new to the client always give a value statement (and maybe repeat a description of the product/service).
“Your appointment will be with our new doctor, Dr. Jones. She’s really nice, I’m sure you will like her a lot.” Or, “I see that you haven’t used this flea treatment before. It works really well and it’s very safe. Let me show you how to put it on.”

5. Always try to add a caring or empathetic statement to your explanation. “I can see that Fluffy means a lot to you, and you want to take the best possible care of her.” Or “Having a puppy in the house is so much fun! Let me tell you about our puppy care packages.”

6. Differentiate yourself from other clinics. What do you do better? Every clinic can give a series of puppy vaccinations. Maybe only you also offer puppy socialization classes “to help your new pet learn how to get along with other dogs and strangers.” “We make sure you are informed about new treatments and improvements in veterinary care every time you come in for a routine exam.”

7. Always ask if the client has questions or concerns. The purpose of value statements is to make sure the client understands what they will be
paying for. Never rush your explanation and be sure you have covered as much as the client seems to want to know.

8. The only way you can give value statements to clients is if you understand why you do things as you do, and appreciate how you are better than other clinics.

9. Value statements provide repetition and reinforcement of the doctors’ recommendations. Working together as a team, each person supports the goals of the practice and reinforces the messages we send to clients. Clients may need 5 to 10 repetitions to remember or purchase something. If the assistant mentions dental care, the doctor discusses dental care and the receptionist adds a value statement on the client’s way out, that’s three in one visit. Getting all our clients and patients the care they deserve is a team effort.

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Electronic Insurance Claim Trials

Launched recently, Vet XML offers the veterinary industry, and suppliers to the industry, the opportunity to embrace the electronic age and catapult the sophistication of the sector way ahead of comparable professions.

A single industry wide data highway links practice management systems directly with suppliers such as pet insurers, microchippers and labs for services ranging from claims, inter-practice vet histories and general communications.

Petplan is the only insurance provider to sign up to the trials so far and claims are already being successfully sent and settled through Vet XML. Other insurers have said they will participate in the trials but are yet to make any formal announcement.

How does Vet XML function?

Practices can submit claim forms via the system and track in real time that the claim has been received by Petplan, that the claim is being processed and when the claim is settled.

Claims sent electronically from the practice PMS system take seconds to be available for download by Petplan, significantly reducing practice administration time and eliminating the days it used to take to send by post from the claim settlement period.

If there are any queries about the claim, Petplan can request further information via the system which practices can then respond to, thereby reducing the need for letters, faxes and phone calls.


Practices involved in the trails are reporting significant efficiencies both submitting and tracking claims in addition to faster settlement of client claims.

For practices not involved in trials, Vet XML offers significant benefits to the veterinary profession including time savings in claims processing, the provision of up to date information on the status of claims and it eliminates the chance of claims being lost in the post.

The cost to a practice of sending a claim electronically is still to be confirmed but a spokesman for one of the participating software companies has indicated that the cost to a practice will “be about the cost of a first class stamp — a few pence that could be easily passed onto the client

All of these advantages will mean practices will be able to deliver a more efficient and seamless service to clients.

For the veterinary industry the future has arrived so it’s time to take action.

You can click here to visit the Vet-XML website

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Where vets meet in Europe!

The second (SEVC) Southern European Veterinary Conference, to be held in the sunny Mediterranean city of Barcelona, opens its doors to animal health care professionals from all over the world from 17th-19th October, 2008. The state-of-the art facilities at the city’s Congress Centre venue, together with the attractiveness of a popular tourist destination, make Barcelona the ideal choice for this annual meeting aimed at veterinary professionals.

This year’s event will include the new addition of a two-and-a-half day Equine Programme giving Equine health practitioners the opportunity to attend a wide range of lectures, covering areas such as equine dermatology, airway and pulmonary disease, laminitis and Hoof Orthopaedics / Rheumatology all presided over by respected lecturers such as Dr. D. Knottenbelt, Dr. E. Robinson, Dr. H. Castelijns, Dr. J. Auer, Dr. A. Furst and Dr. M. Valdez. These informative lectures will be complemented by a hands-on, Equine Dentistry Workshop to be held on Sunday morning and directed by Dr. A. Furst.

A further addition to this year’s programme is the two-and-a-half day Nursing International Programme details of which will be available on the SEVC website. This proposal continues in the vein of the SEVC organisers’ commitment; to provide comprehensive further education opportunities to all those involved in the care and welfare of animals with special emphasis on canine, feline, equine and other small companion animal medical care.

In line with the SEVC objectives of presenting practical as well as theoretical instruction to the veterinary community, the conference programme also provides for those new and repeating visitors who seek a more hands-on approach with a selection of wetlabs and workshops to attend.

The official languages at the SEVC are English and Spanish (with simultaneous translations in some other languages also provided).

You can click here to visit the SEVC website

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Adding Value: Getting The Most Out Of Your Practice

by Caroline Johnson

Price is only an issue in the absence of value’. In today’s competitive environment it is essential to demonstrate to clients the value of the service you provide.

Today’s environment is increasingly competitive but still full of opportunity to add value. If your clients truly understand the value of everything you do for them they are far less likely to turn to other sources of pet healthcare, and they will market your practice for you!

Furthermore, with the number of clients declining in many areas, it is essential for the future health of the business that the lifetime value (spend) of our existing customers is increased. This is essential in staying ahead of the game since delivering a high quality service never comes cheap.

1.’Price is only an issue in the absence of value’

If every member of staff can demonstrate the benefit of the service your practice gives its animals, and show how much they care, then you will add value to every product and service that you sell. To do this all must understand that ‘price is only an issue in the absence of value’ and it should become the mantra of everyone employed by you. Post this quote on staff notice boards, at the top of emails and any other tool you adopt for internal communication. You and the whole practice team need to see it, be reminded of it, and most importantly to understand, live and breathe this statement.

2. Practice meetings

Practice meetings are too often bogged down in the day-to-day detail of running a busy veterinary practice, but for staff to be creative you must allow time for star-gazing. Introduce an ‘added value’ slot to every practice meeting — ten minutes should be sufficient — and ask representatives of all groups of staff — vets, receptionists and nurses — to come prepared with one idea which will add value to the products and services offered to clients. It is amazing how inventive your staff can be and how simple changes can make a big difference in the clients’ perception of value.

3. Implement good ideas

Coming up with good ideas is one thing, but to make a difference action needs to be taken. When minutes of meetings are circulated, ask every member of staff to evaluate ideas on the basis of
client benefit and ease of implementation, then vote on the best ‘added value’ idea. Give all ideas serious consideration or you will turn your staff off. Having agreed on the best idea, ask the team
who came up with it to implement it and to give feedback on progress at the next meeting. Reward them with recognition of a job well done.

4. Client questionnaire

The best people to assess value, of course, are the clients themselves. Devise a simple questionnaire which lists some of the key aspects of the service on offer and get your staff to encourage clients to complete the questions whilst they are in the practice. List your key services and ask for a rating according to service delivery and importance. This will quickly identify those areas where you are doing a great job, and those where improvements are required. In rating services in terms of importance you will be able to channel the majority of time and resource into the areas that really matter to the client.

5.Think value in everything you do

From greeting an existing client to generating an invoice, think of the value in every single thing that you do as a practice. Try to see things through the clients’ eyes and continually ask your staff for their opinions. Veterinary practices have traditionally undersold the high quality of service that they offer. The time has now come to take the light out from under the bushel and proudly shout from the mountaintops — the veterinary profession is a caring profession offering the highest quality advice and service. Bar none.

6.Go public

It is a fact of human nature that we are all more likely to achieve our objectives if we publicise them — that is an important factor in the success of Weight Watchers! If having read this, you really do want to create a practice culture where value underpins everything you do, then pin this article up on your practice notice board and ask your staff to read it. This is your starting point for change.

You can click here to visit Caroline Johnsons website

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SPVS to inspire new practice managers and supervisors

A one-day workshop is being held by the Society of Practising Veterinary Surgeons (SPVS) to help first-time managers excel in their roles.

Making the leap from front-line staff to manager can be a challenge for many and the seminar will help new managers and head nurses make a running start. Topics under the spotlight will include how to be assertive rather than aggressive, how to handle conflict and crisis in the workplace and how to manage projects and priorities more effectively.

Course organiser Jacqui Molyneux, who runs the Prince Bishop Veterinary Hospital in County Durham, said: “The workshop is aimed at any new manager within a practice and will provide an excellent grounding in some of the common issues faced when taking on managerial responsibilities.

“Even if your new practice manager or head nurse seems to be a natural in their new role, they will inevitably confront issues and problems that they haven’t faced before. This workshop will seek to equip them with the skills to be deal more effectively with these new challenges and excel in their new role.”

The one-day course will take place on October 9 in Staffordshire. The cost is £160 plus VAT for the first delegate and £140 plus VAT for further delegates from the same practice.

For more information, and to book your place, you can click here to send an e.mail to the SPVS office.