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

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Lunch-Break Webinar – May 7th 1300 GMT

by John Sheridan

I am delighted to let you know that the Lunch-Break Webinar to be held at 1pm (1300 GMT) on Thursday May 7th will be freely open and available to everyone — subscribers to the free newsletter, full members and occasional visitors to the Veterinary Business Briefing website.

My guest expert on this occasion will be Mark Moran BSc MBA who will present a short workshop session entitled; ‘Is measuring and managing client compliance good for your practice’s health as well as your patient’s?’

Since the publication in 2007 of the AAHA review on client compliance in veterinary practices, much has been made of the effect of poor compliance rates on both animal health and veterinary practice performance.

Having recently collaborated on the new e-learning course “How to Achieve Effective Compliance” launched by publishers Elsevier at this year’s BSAVA Congress, veterinary business consultant Mark Moran ponders the question as to whether measuring and managing compliance is not only good for your patients wellbeing, but also for your bottom line.

In this 30 minute workshop, Mark will provide a short background for the discussion and then encourage delegates to share their own experiences.

Who can participate?

Anyone with a PC, a broadband connection to the internet and a telephone. Participation is free apart from the cost of your own telephone call (standard access number quoted by the conference call service at 5p per minute). Attending a webinar is like attending any seminar apart from the place where the event takes place. Instead of meeting in a conference room we meet in a virtual conference room on the web.

Join us online at 1300 GMT on Thursday May 7th for our 30 minute Lunch-Break Webinar – you will be glad that you did

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Recession update from the USA

Results from the NCVEI March QuickPoll indicate some optimism about the economy and its impact on veterinary medicine in 2009. Almost 2/3’s of the respondents don’t expect 2009 to be worse than 2008.


Actual results from our Economy Tracker show a slight decline in revenue for January, 2009 compared to January, 2008 (about 1.5%.) The decline is driven by a decrease in the number of transactions seen (about 3.5%) offset by an increase in ATC of about 3%. We’re still collecting February results and they appear to be similar; however, February of 2008 had one extra business day due to leap year so this decline may not be real.

One of the upsides of the recession and one of the reasons for the increase in the ATC is that practices tell us they now have more time to spend with clients, are more thorough in their recommendations and communication and consequently, the clients who do come in are accepting a higher level of care.

The upcoming 2009 veterinary school graduating class is understandably concerned about finding jobs so in February’s QuickPoll, we asked: Are you planning on hiring a new doctor for your practice during the next 6 months? Here are the results


You can click here for further information about the NCVEI

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Record number of candidates sit the CVPM exam

The examinations for the Certificate in Veterinary Practice Management were held on 5th December 2008 with a record number electing to sit the examination. Seven candidates were successful which equals the largest number ever seen in the 14 year history of the exam. Those successful in being awarded the certificate are listed below.

The new CVPMs are:

  • Jennifer Crawford-Allen, Cedar Grove Veterinary Clinic, Belfast
  • Heidi Fudge, Swayne & Partners, Bury St Edmunds
  • Alison Hoy, Earlswood Veterinary Hospital, Belfast
  • Susan Lunn, Warrendale Veterinary Care Centre, Stoke-on-Trent
  • David Mulligan, Parklands Veterinary Clinic, Dungannon, Co Tyrone
  • Paula Nugent, The Equine Veterinary Clinic, Houston, Renfrewshire
  • Lorraine Weynberg, PDSA Bournemouth and Southampton

Hearty congratulations to them all. Special congratulations also to David Mulligan for winning the Practice Manager of The Year awarded by the Veterinary Business Journal

David joined Parklands Veterinary Group in 2000, having previously worked as a territory manager in the pharmaceutical industry. He joined the practice as a manager with responsibility for all aspects of day-to-day running and integrating stock control and other resources across two sites and in both large and small animal work.

Paul Imrie, Editor of the Veterinary Business Journal, said “The judges were extremely impressed with the standard of David’s nomination, and particularly in seeing the high regard in which he is held by the practice’s partners. It was clear he has played an active part in driving the business, while also providing a cool and level head to the day-to-day tasks of running the practice. He was a very worthy winner.

There are now 55 holders of the CVPM since its inception in 1996. The next examination session will be held on 4th December 2009. Those wishing to submit portfolios should do so by 31st March 2009 for the opportunity of re-submission if necessary. The final date for portfolio submission is 30th June and notification of intention to sit the exam must be received by 15th October 2009.

You can click here for further information

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News from Veterinary Success Services

by Steve Kornfeld and Peter Weinstein D’sVM

It’s estimated that veterinary associates and to a large degree, veterinary practice owners, generate between $350,000 and $450,000 in revenue a year on average. Yet, studies have shown that this can easily grow to $1,000,000+ a year! The difference is staggering and is mainly caused by lack of communication with veterinary clients. You see, veterinary clients, although they own pets, are not veterinary professionals; they don’t know what their pets need as far as on-going service. What they WANT instead is for their pets to live a good and long life. If you can create a powerful direct message around that, not around what services they need, they will be more motivated to come in often and have you deliver more, better and more expensive services. This is what those of us who are delivering veterinary service to the tune of $1,000,000+ a year are doing better than the vast majority of the rest.

Just think what closing this gap is going to do for you. Think of how it’s going to improve your life and your contribution to the community because after all, it is all necessary service. If you can get your clients to do EVERYTHING necessary to extend their pets’ lives and enhance their life quality, they will do it.

The $650,000 question though, is how.

How? By creating powerful direct messages that speak to the emotions of your clients, that are repetitive enough and that build on themselves and that are geared to your clients’ specific needs and wants.

Another important attribute of direct marketing is that for the most part it has those who are interested in your service raise their hand and say, “I am interested, please tell me more”. Can you imagine how this changes completely how clients relate to the messages you send them?

Sending a Val Pak coupon for free vaccination to 50,000 people, may get a handful of people to come in. However, even if they do, they don’t know you and are for the most part price shoppers. Sending a direct message to a crowd that has asked for it, greatly raises the chances that they will in fact come in, listen to what you have to say and comply.

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The Veterinary Business Briefing Blog

When the Veterinary Business Briefing website was re-launched in its new format on January 1st 2008, I was keen to include a Discussion Forum for members only . The objective was two-fold; firstly to offer paid-up subscribers a forum in which they could express their views about current practice management challenges facing the veterinary profession in this country and throughout the world and secondly to enable them to ask specific questions which could be passed on to business management consultants inside or outside the veterinary profession for their response.

In the event most of the entries in the discussion forum have been posted by me! Some have initiated a response by telephone or direct e.mail rather than as a specific post in the forum – but many have either not been read or have not proved to be of sufficient interest to trigger debate.

As a result I have decided to initiate a new blog option on the Veterinary Business Briefing website. It will enable me to report matters of current concern, to seek the views of visitors to the website and to express my personal views about such issues as and when it seems to be appropriate.

The blog is available to everyone — paid-up members, newsletter subscribers and dedicated or casual visitors to Veterinary Business Briefing. Its quick and easy to let me have your comments — just click the ‘add your comments’ link and use the e.mail form to have your say. I can’t guarantee to publish your comments but you can be sure that your views will be taken on board and I promise to respond by e.mail or by referring to your comments on the blog.

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The London Vet Show, November 6th and 7th 2009


The London Vet Show is a new breed of event focused on the clinical and commercial challenges facing today’s small and companion animal vets.

The event is centred on a major conference featuring clinical sessions programmed by the Royal Veterinary College plus a veterinary business conference stream covers commercial
issues for vets in the current climate. Including marketing, strategy, practice performance, human resources and team motivation, health and safety and regulatory issues.

Overall a compelling two day programme providing an intensive and very cost effective learning opportunity, a major exhibition allowing you to meet selected leading suppliers who can help deliver better clinical solutions to your customers and develop business plus a series of networking and social events to help you catch up with peers and make new contacts.

You can click here for further information about The London Vet Show

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U.S. Pet Market Outlook 2009-2010: Surviving and Thriving in Challenging Economic Times

During the current macroeconomic environment the much touted recession resistance of the pet industry is being put to the test like never before–and appearing to hold up as of March 2009. Whereas total U.S. retail sales rose just 1.4% overall in 2008 according to the National Retail Federation, No. 1 pet specialty retailer PetSmart posted an 8.4% sales increase in fiscal year 2008; top five pet food marketers Del Monte and Hill’s recently reported double-digit growth, with Del Monte’s pet product net sales up 15.1% during the third quarter of fiscal year 2009 (ending May 3), and Hill’s revenues up 13.5% in fourth-quarter calendar 2008; leading veterinary hospital operator VCA Antech posted 6.7% revenues growth during fourth-quarter 2008; and online merchant PetMed Express reported a 16% increase in net sales during the fourth-quarter 2008. Looking at the pet industry as a whole, Packaged Facts predicts overall steady performance in 2009 and 2010, although the market growth rate will drop back slightly due to cutbacks in some of the more discretionary categories.

You can click here for further information about this market research project