Practice Management News and Views from around the World – March 2009

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What’s happening in small animal practice in the UK

Selected data from the Fort Dodge Index (FDI) Report June 2008

March-2009-MAI-image-2

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How did veterinary practices weather the recession in 2008?

The good news is that, in spite of the poor economy, the average revenue growth in companion animal practices was about 4 percent from 2007 to 2008 according to the NCVEI Economy Tracker.

Many other industries and professions saw an actual decline in their sales instead of the growth seen in veterinary medicine. Fewer clients visited their veterinarians (transactions declined by 1 percent) but this was offset by an increase of 5 percent in average transaction charge to arrive at the net increase in revenue.

The increase in ATC appears to be driven by fee increases and a reduction in discounts and missed charges. The bad news is obvious–most practices aren’t experiencing the 10-15% growth they’ve been used to over the past several years and some are experiencing declines in their revenue.

While it’s hard to look at the recession as being good news, particularly if you are one of the clinics hard hit, the fact is that the recession is forcing many practices to improve how they run their businesses. Most practices have a layer of financial “fat” in them–when times are good, they don’t worry so much about a few unhappy clients, inventory costs that are too high or unproductive employees. Now they have to worry about it. But the skill gained today in correcting these issues will only make the practice more successful when the good times return.

You can click here for further information about the NCVEI Economy Tracker

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Defining Servant Leadership

Highlights from an article by Jim Laub and brought to you by Jeff Thoren DVM

A leader is a person who sees a vision, takes action toward the vision, and mobilizes others to become partners in pursuing change. It’s important to distinguish between the term “leader” and the position or role of leader. We all know of positional leaders who do not lead.

Leadership is an intentional change process through which leaders and followers, joined by a shared purpose, initiate action to pursue a common vision. Leadership refers to the process through which leaders and followers engage to produce change.

A follower voluntarily and actively engages in the leadership process by responding to the leader’s initiative to identify shared purpose, vision, and action toward change. The proces of leadership allows for a refinement, even a redirecting of an original vision based on the common wisdom of a group. Leadership begins with the individual but it is fulfilled within community.

Leadership is about action toward change while management is about making things run well and stabilizing them to work more efficiently. These are both essential processes in any organization and one is not more valuable than the other.

Understanding the concept of leadership calls on us to answer the simple question: Will I lead? Will I begin to envision a preferred future? Will I take action toward that vision? And, will I mobilize others to join with me in pursuing change?

The servant leadership concept asks a different question: How will I lead? What mindset will I have in relation to my role as a leader? Leadership has always been exercised within a paradigm, or a mindset of the leader.

Servant Leadership is an understanding and practice of leadership that places the good of those led over the self-interest of the leader. Servant leadership promotes the valuing and development of people, the building of community, the practice of authenticity, the providing of leadership for the good of those led and the sharing of power and status for the common good of each individual, the total organization, and those served by the organization.

Servant Leadership requires a mind shift or a paradigm change and a different focus. Servant leaders believe that by taking the risk of focusing on the led the other critical issues of productivity, teamwork, and customer service will increase by maximizing the full potential of each employee. There is growing evidence that this is a practical and workable strategy.

You can click here to visit Jeff Thorens website

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Delegates to learn how to put health and safety into practice

This month’s Health and Safety Course organised by the Society of Practising Veterinary Surgeons (SPVS) will focus on equipping practices with the skills and knowledge needed to stay up to speed with the latest regulations and their applications.

According to research by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE), if a health and safety policy is implemented and carried out correctly, then the vast majority (over 70%) of CEOs and over 60% of managers believe that it will at least save them money in the long-term by preventing avoidable accidents.

The course, which runs over two standalone days from March 5-6, will cover subjects such as radiation and anaesthesia protection, the safe disposal of medical waste including syringes and other disposable instruments, effective cleaning of the practice, particularly the theatre, and correct manual handling techniques. Other areas under the spotlight are employment contracts, the Working Time Directive, fire and risk assessments and Clinical Governance.

Course organiser Ewan McNeill explained: “This course is invaluable for anyone working in practice. Keeping up to date with health and safety regulations will not only improve the working environment but could also save money by preventing avoidable problems.”

Guest speakers include Mike Brown of Citation’s Fire Safety Executive, John Hird, a leading expert in veterinary anaesthetics, Lorraine Corby, a manual handling trainer and veterinary nurse, as well as an HSE inspector for the Q and A session.

The workshop will take place from March 5 to 6 at the Holiday Inn in Haydock, Merseyside. The cost per day, which includes lunch, refreshments and a CPD certificate, is £175 plus VAT for SPVS, BSAVA and BVNA members and £200 plus VAT for non SPVS/ BSAVA/BVNA members.

You can click here to visit the SPVS website for further information

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News from Veterinary Success Services

Steve Kornfeld and Peter Weinstein D’sVM

Why is a successful marketing program so important to your success?

A successful marketing program will make it possible for you to work less and make more. Or, if you choose so, you can work even more and make a lot more; it’s your choice.

With an efficient and systematic marketing program, your existing clients will be totally sold on your services BEFORE they come in. This way you pretty much can charge them whatever you want and experience very little resistance. You will thus be able to focus on service rather than cost of service and fear of rejection.

In general terms, there are two types of marketing: carpet marketing and direct marketing. Carpet marketing happens when you send indiscriminate messages. Think Val Pak coupons. The return on this type of marketing is minuscule, but it is cheap and you make up for lack of return by quantity; typically 1% or less.

The other type, direct marketing, has a much higher return, between 30% and 40%. Quite a difference. Unlike the “vanilla flavored” messages of carpet marketing, in direct marketing the messages are informative and educational and are packed with strong reasons for clients to get up from their chair, pick up the phone and call your office to make an appointment. In addition, with direct marketing the message is repeated enough times, in predetermined intervals, to get across to your clients the importance of buying your service (benefits versus features). The message also has to instill urgency in your clients so they act upon it now rather than later (never).

A great deal of research has been done into getting your clients to act upon the messages you send them, and we will share some of these strategies and techniques with you as we go. However, if you can’t wait to find out how you can get your clients to give you money just as much as you want and as frequently as you want:

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The UK’s wonderful National Health Service

These are all sentences actually typed by Medical secretaries in the National Health Service in Greater Glasgow

1. The patient has no previous history of suicides.

2. Patient has left her white blood cells at another hospital.

3. Patient’s medical history has been remarkably insignificant with only a 40 pound weight gain in the past three days.

4. She has no rigors or shaking chills, but her husband states she was very hot in bed last night.

5. Patient has chest pain if she lies on her left side for over a year.

6. On the second day the knee was better and on the third day it disappeared.

7. The patient is tearful and crying constantly. She also appears to be depressed.

8. The patient has been depressed since she began seeing me in 1993.

9. Discharge status:- Alive, but without my permission.

10. Healthy appearing decrepit 69-year old male, mentally alert, but forgetful.

11. Patient had waffles for breakfast and anorexia for lunch.

12. She is numb from her toes down.

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SPVS workshop will show how to raise practices’ profiles during a credit crunch

A one-day ‘Creative Workshop’ is being held by the Society of Practising Veterinary Surgeons (SPVS) to help practices stand out from the competition in tough times.

The event, which is being held in Milton Keynes and Wakefield later this month in association with Onswitch, is aimed at those involved with the production of client materials including practice managers, head nurses and receptionists.

As well as providing hands-on help in creating an effective communications plan, topics to be addressed include: how to identify and target clients, how to increase brand awareness and how to produce professional-looking client materials.

Course organiser Jacqui Molyneux, who runs the Prince Bishop Veterinary Hospital in County Durham, said: “This workshop will be invaluable for practices looking to make the most effective use of their marketing spend.

“We know from previous downturns that businesses cutting back significantly on marketing and brand awareness during a recession, can expect to lose market presence. This workshop will help to focus delegates minds on ways to maintain and build the client base using effective and creative branding and communication tools.”

The workshop will take place on March 19 the Holiday Inn in Milton Keynes and on March 26 at the Holiday Inn in Wakefield. The cost is £160 incl. VAT for SPVS and VPMA members and £180 incl. VAT for non SPVS/VPMA members. Second delegates from the same practice will benefit from the reduced rate of £130.

You can click here to visit the SPVS website for more information and to book your place

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