This Too Shall Pass
The details of your veterinary practice are in the data
Keep a pulse on your practice’s health by measuring these important metrics.
Revenue, profit, revisit rates. Even though these numbers don’t always tell the story we’d like to hear, the good news is we’re paying attention. As the
adage goes, you can’t manage what you don’t measure. By tracking the right data, you can easily see when something’s awry and figure out how to treat it–sooner rather than later.
You are what you measure
Dr. Dennis McCurnin isn’t a number person, he says — at least not by nature. He practiced veterinary medicine for six years before moving to the teaching
side and later administration at Colorado State University and Louisiana State University veterinary schools. After 28 years, he’s learned a thing or two about
what to measure. For example, he says, say you see your expenses going up. Naturally you want to trim back. But you don’t want to just cut anywhere. To really make a difference, you need know where you spend the most. In addition, Dr. McCurnin recommends looking at a combination of metrics to get the bigger picture. “It doesn’t do any good if your revenue’s up 15 percent but expenditures are up 25 percent,” he says.
Too many practice owners don’t look at their numbers frequently enough, says Dr. McCurnin. “If they look at the numbers every six months and see their
expenses are up or revenues down, they’ve missed that period of time to make improvement,” he says. By looking at the data monthly and comparing it to the
last 24 or 36 months in your practice, you can quickly see what’s changed and identify any trends. Examine the numbers and then ask: Are things getting better, staying the same, or getting worse? In addition, you may also want to compare your numbers against industry benchmarks, available from the American Animal Hospital Association, National Commission on Veterinary Economic Issues, or the Benchmarks series of Well-Managed Practice studies.
The Secret’s in the Software
Many veterinary teams don’t know their practice management software well. “You go into a practice and ask for reports and try to get financial data,” Dr.
McCurnin says. “They know it’s in the computer, they just don’t know how to get it out.” He recommends ensuring that someone in the practice thoroughly
understands the software and uses it on a regular basis. Call your vendor to get free training if necessary.
A Graph is Worth a Thousand Numbers
Given that most veterinarians are visual learners, Dr. McCurnin says, graphs and charts are better than tables when it comes to digesting information
and seeing trends. “It doesn’t take long to understand a line graph and pie chart versus a black-and-white table,” he says. For example, if you charted your
last 12 months of average charge per transaction on a line graph, you could easily see where the peaks and valleys are and what’s happening.
A Summary Point of View
Building on that idea, Dr. McCurnin is a proponent of pulling key data and graphs into a simplified profit-and-loss statement that you review regularly.
Pulling from information in your practice management and accounting software, your CPA can help you create this sheet. “You should be able to look at it and
in five minutes know where your practice is financially,” Dr. McCurnin says.
You can click here to visit the DVM360.com website
SPVS-VPMA Technology Day aims to help drive profits
Lost calls can mean lost business and potentially even lost clients. A recent survey by PH Media shows that, on average, vet practices leave callers on
hold for just under 40 seconds — the cut off point where people start to hang up. Yet few practices are receiving logs of those who do hang up, even although this is readily available technology. Further, only 5% of practices surveyed took advantage of on hold waiting time to relay marketing messages and a whopping 42% subjected their callers to silence.
Telephone call handling is just one of the subjects tackled at the upcoming SPVS-VPMA Technology Day on June 13th in Daventry. Linda Demetriou of Demco,
a telecommunications business operating in the veterinary sector is one of several IT specialists that will be running workshops throughout the day:
‘Poor call handling is a major source of frustration for clients and potential customers’ she explained. ‘In a service-driven industry, this front-of-house aspect is critical to building business. However many vets just don’t realise that technology can provide solutions to many of the problems they face — from managing call volume at busy times, to call recording for training purposes.’
The SPVS-VPMA Technology Day aims to bring practices bang-up-to-speed with the latest IT products and services available to them. The day provides a
whistle-stop round of workshops and trade stands promising new insights into everything from tablet technology and the latest veterinary apps to using your
PMS to drive profit. Exhibitors include leading providers of digital-based solutions from PMS companies to website designers, telecom providers and social
media experts all specialising in the vet industry. There will be short briefings and discussions running throughout the day with time built in for one to one consultations in the exhibition.
You can click here full information on the Technology Day and the other SPVS-VPMA events
A story of two veterinary practices, in the same neighbourhood, offering similar services but with two very different client service outcomes….
This is a true story….only the names have been change to protect the…. well not so much ‘innocent’ but to protect some from embarrassment.
I received an email from a friend who knew I would be interested in her recent experiences with two different veterinary practices.
We’ll call my friend ‘Jane’ and her dog ‘Nancy’.
Jane had been taking Nancy to a veterinary practice (we’ll call it ABC Vet Practice) that was close to her home. Nancy had suffered from mites since she
was a puppy and they were proving hard to eradicate. ABC Vet Practice insisted she keep bringing Nancy in and continue with the treatment of injections and
scrapes which Jane felt was becoming very costly and didn’t seem to be working. Not only that, but every time she visited she saw a different vet — none of whom seemed to have much knowledge of Nancy’s history. Even worse it took a chance meeting with a friend of mine for Jane to begin to understand Nancy’s condition after my friend emailed her an eBook on mites.
Then one fateful Sunday Jane’s other dog (we’ll call her Marie) had a ruptured anal gland (eww!) and as ABC Vet Practice wasn’t open Jane ventured slightly further from home to find a veterinary hospital that was open on a Sunday (we’ll call it 123 Veterinary Hospital).
Jane was impressed from the very beginning with how helpful the staff were at 123 Veterinary Hospital. They were happy to see Marie straight away and not
only were the staff lovely and friendly but the treatment seemed much better value than that at ABC Vet Practice.
The following Tuesday Marie needed to see the vet yet again (for another reason) and so Jane contacted 123 Veterinary Hospital. She was pleased to find out that not only could she see the same vet as she saw on Sunday but he actually stayed on at work a little later when he could easily have passed the consult to another vet.
Hmmm… the plot thickens…..
Two days later Jane received two letters in the mail — one from ABC Vet Practice and one from 123 Veterinary Hospital.
The letter from 123 Veterinary Hospital was a welcome pack that contained a lovely welcome letter, vouchers to use at her next visit, service brochures and some magnets — nice!
The letter from ABC Vet Practice was a reminder notice that Nancy was due for her yearly heart worm vaccination…1 MONTH AGO! Seriously… I’m not
joking. Jane received a reminder letter asking her to make an appointment for Nancy for her annual heartworm vaccination that was 1 MONTH LATE!
Jane’s email to me ends with: Needless to say we are very happy with 123 Veterinary Hospital and will keep going there!
I decided to also do a little research on both veterinary practices:
ABC Veterinary Practice Website: It took awhile but I finally tracked down a website. It was very basic with absolutely no images of the actual veterinary practice and under the ‘Meet Our Team’ tab there was only ‘No Staff found’ – True story!
Facebook page: – What Facebook Page?
123 Veterinary HospitalWebsite: Home page gives a brief history and then goes on to list how they ensure happy clients. It also lists the number of
awards they have won for business achievements that recognise their expert, friendly staff and commitment to caring for animals and providing top quality
The photo gallery showcases their facilities and earns extra points for the images including smiling staff and cute animals! The ‘Staff’ page is chockablock
full of images of staff including their biographies.
Facebook Page: With over 500 ‘Likers’, it looks nice and active with posts nearly every day. It has lots of cute images and although it could do with a
few more educational type posts, overall there is lots of interaction with their ‘Likers’.
So what’s the moral of this story?
- If you want to keep your clients you have to give them good service!
- If you want to keep your clients you have to offer them value for money! (Note: this doesn’t mean you have to be the cheapest, it does mean your clients
need to feel they are receiving good value for the money they pay)
- If you want to keep your clients AND have them tell their friends how fabulous you are you have to provide a high quality service — face-to-face & online.
I’m really not writing this to embarrass ABC Vet Practice — I’m sure they’re really nice people who work hard and care for animals. It’s just a shame that
all their hard work is not paying off because of some pretty basic problems.
So where does your veterinary business stand? Is your veterinary business like ABC Vet Practice? You’re working really hard but clients still seem to be
Or is your veterinary business like 123 Veterinary Hospital? You’re working hard and your clients are so pleased they encourage all their friends to visit
you as well.
And how do you know for sure which category you’re in???
You can click here to visit the VetAnswers.com.au website
AVA Practice Management Annual Conference 2013
I am delighted to have been invited to contribute to the Australian Veterinary Association Practice Management Conference next month. Maybe I’ll have an opportunity to meet you in Sydney in July — I look forward to it
Vet practices MUST do more to promote themselves online: Now they can!
These are the words of Caroline Johnson, Consultant to the profession, at the launch of vetmart.net, a brand-new online marketplace promoting everything
Increasingly people are searching for practices, animal products, veterinary services and advice online. Vetmart seeks to bring everything to one place;
thus making life easier for the owner, whilst creating a golden opportunity for practices to promote all they offer to those actively seeking their services.
Vetmart gives animal owners lots of reasons to come to the site as a market place is where people gather. So it makes sense for vet practices to have a
presence where owners are congregating: To engage with them, inform and educate and to promote the services being searched for.
Caroline went onto explain some of the ways in which practices can benefit from using vetmart: “One of the most engaging features on offer is the shopfront
facility – like a mini-version of the practice website, showcasing services; this allows you to link back and drive traffic to your main site and/or online
Where there is a desire to expand and grow online sales, practices also have the opportunity to buy and sell products directly to owners via classified ads
— this includes the sale of medicines. Or if that’s not your ambition, you can simply let people know you exist by listing your practice and its services in
our vet practice category – for free!”
The veterinary market is at best stagnant, but those practices successfully engaging in online business are growing, some significantly. As internet usage
continues ever-upward it would appear there are manifold reasons for both animal owners and vet practices to come together under vetmart’s all-encompassing umbrella: At vetmart owners seeking veterinary products and services can have all their needs met by professionals like you!
So if you want to do more to promote your veterinary business, reach animal owners not currently on your radar – and even expand online sales – don’t delay
and log onto Vetmart to register. Vetmart is a cutting-edge development.
Be part of the future!
You can click here to visit the VetMart.Net website
Adding a Video Tour of Your Veterinary Practice to Your Website
“There are no rules in filmmaking. Only sins. And the cardinal sin is dullness.” – Frank Capra
The radio studio was dimly lit, the walls looked grainy and the dials in front of me were blazing, with the patch network command for the live sports
commentary flashing an angry, impatient red. I remember the snow was falling from the darkened sky outside, and while I was in the middle of the city, it
was eerily quiet out.
I can clearly remember these details of that particular news-reading shift on local BBC radio; but ask me what I was reading and I couldn’t possibly tell
you. That was a few years ago mind you, but even if you’d asked me directly after the bulletin I still wouldn’t have had a clue.
The reason? I was simply and absent-mindedly reading words. I was reading words I’d written and words that had been written by someone else in a news
agency office a hundred miles away.
Now, if you’d asked me what I felt about some of the stories of the day, you’d have gotten acompletely different response. You’d have got my perspectives, my feelings on them.
When it comes to video production, the same holds true. If you’re about to have a video made here are some things to bear in mind.
It’s important not to fall into the ‘corporate’ trap when it comes to showing yourself off to prospective and existing clients (reminding them why they chose you in the first place). By corporate I mean overly composed sets, a fully scripted vet, mock surgeries, mock blood tests and an eerily quiet surgery.
The result of this clinical manipulation is a predictably professional, but cold video, which might well highlight your wonderful facilities, but doesn’t
tell me anything about your personality, why you became a vet, what you love about the job.
All it will tell me is that you can read.
Let me get to the point here; the technical aspects of video production to one side for a moment, there is only one thing that matters (for me at least) and that’s authenticity.
As Capra said; there are no rules in filmmaking. He’s right, but in my time spent producing multimedia content for The University of Nottingham, I did have
one rule — not to make an academic do something for the camera that they wouldn’t do in the course of their daily routine.
An older attitude to filmmaking would have the academic fill a test tube with a bright, glowing green fluid and pretend to study it intently. That’s all
well and good, and of course it looks pretty on screen, but it’s not real. The closest that academic came to bright green anything was probably the traffic
lights on their way in to work that morning.
The same problem exists for filming vets — to artificially create a scene like this is to suggest that what they do daily is not interesting enough to make it into the video.
The approach can be much simpler, and much more effective. If you’re lucky you’ll have a videographer who will have done their homework on you, the clinic
and what you’re all about. They’ll then have a conversation with you about your life, your clinic and what clients can expect. What emerges from that are
genuine responses, anecdotes and views, and ultimately genuine personality.
They should also show you doing what you do best — filming an actual consultation, and actual surgical procedures, actual interactions with staff and
clients. In short you’re captured doing what you do best day in and day out — because that is what the clients will experience.
Of course elements will be added in post-production to make things more emotive and interesting for the viewer; vignettes, music, jump cuts etc, but they’ve yet to come up with editing software that can generate a human personality. Like those forgotten news stories, you won’t get that from reading to a camera.
Don’t get me wrong — there is of course a corporate element to a video like this, you are after all trying to convince your prospective clients to give you
a go and to let them know what you offer.
But remember this — you’re not ‘selling’ your clinic to the clients, you’re ‘showing’ them the clinic and staff. Err too much on the sales side and you’re
guaranteed to have a pretty, but ultimately cold video.
The most important thing for me when choosing a vet, is not what facilities they have, what qualifications they have, which associations they belong to
— all of that I take as a given. What I really want to know is who is the person who is going to be taking my sick pet from me and making it better?
I know it might sound horribly simplistic but if you take anything away from this — when making a video/having a video made for your clinic, just be
yourself, the rest is editing.
You can click here to visit the VetAnswers.com.au website
You can click here to visit the InkSpots Media website