Practice Management News and Views from around the World – May 2012

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How to Use Video to Promote Your Animal Hospital

from an article by Meg Nash in the MyEVT.com website

Congratulations! You’ve established your online presence through your animal hospital website. The next step: add video.

With 83.5% of internet users accessing videos, the medium is becoming a vital marketing tool. YouTube is the world’s second largest search engine and social media website with more than 300 million user accounts.

Lights, Camera, Action

NorthStar Vets’ impressive online video library is an example of how video can be used to grow a practice and educate clients. You may not have the resources or time to create an extensive video library, but an introductory video is a “must.” Don’t miss an opportunity to tell potential clients what sets your clinic apart while they are focused on you, not on a squirming puppy in for a first visit or the fractious cat that’s been vomiting for 2 days.

If you are uncomfortable with technology or just too busy to attempt to create your own, consider having your video professionally produced. A professional will help you create your message, stage shots and lighting, add music and graphics, post your video, and work with you on search engine optimization (also known as SEO). Creating a semi customized video is another possibility. Professionals can provide template ad options or will produce professionally shot videos using an interview or voice-over format.

Produce Your Own Video

It doesn’t take a Martin Scorsese, however, to make an engaging video for your clinic. Consider that this piano-playing cat has been viewed over 23 million times. Your video doesn’t need to go viral to promote your practice; virtually any digital camera, smartphone, or tablet purchased within the past few years is equipped with a video camera capable of taking a good quality video–and you probably have access to a cuter cat.

Producing a video involves shooting, editing, uploading, and creating special effects. Greg Jarboe, author of You Tube and Video Marketing, says that a video should not be longer than 2 to 3 minutes. Ten percent of viewers click away after 10 seconds and 53% after 1 minute.

What your video says in those minutes is up to you; you may want to star in your video and give a brief tour your facility. You might ask a happy client to give a testimonial on your care for a pet, or give instructions on brushing a dog’s teeth. Remember that your task is to appeal to potential and existing clients. Take some time to look at what other hospitals (your competitors as well as practices you admire) are doing.

Video-Making Tips

Videographer Simon Fridlich, “If it’s interesting and looks good, then it is.” As far as the shooting itself, Fridlich makes these suggestions.

  • Bend your knees slightly so that they act as shock absorbers. It’s best to use a tripod or something similar to steady the camera; there’s nothing worse than a shaky video.
  • When panning, move slowly or the result will be blurry. A camera does not have peripheral vision like the eye and therefore needs to move much slower than your eyes.
  • Zooming in is the first sign of an amateur, however zooming out is always acceptable. A better look is to actually move the camera in or out without zooming.
  • The average attention span is 6 seconds. Try not to have an edit longer than that unless it’s necessary to capture speech.
  • Don’t overthink the editing. Its function is to cut out the junk and keep the good stuff.
  • Include a call to action (CTA), such as an invitation and contact information to make an appointment. Put the CTA in text form in the video.

Editing Software

Virtually all computers come equipped with editing software. Apple’s proprietary software is iMovie and Windows software is MovieMaker. Tutorials and tips on taking video, editing, adding titles and effects, transitioning, saving and sharing are a click away. Final Cut Pro and Adobe Premiere Pro are popular programs for more hands-on editing.

Uploading Your Video

Almost all sources agree that posting on YouTube is the easiest and most effective to get your video onto the internet. From there, you can embed the YouTube link into your website, Facebook and Twitter, blog, and emails. Make sure that video title (and the file name) includes the name of your animal hospital and that your video description includes your clinic’s URL. Use YouTube’s free tool, Insight, to find out how many people are watching your video and how they found it.

Take the Leap

Incredibly, it was just 2005 when the first video was uploaded to YouTube. You might be surprised to learn that as many users today are over 50 years old as are between 12 and 17. In the digital age, video is taking the place of word of mouth to promote your services as a veterinarian. Producing a video is an easy way to grow your business and connect with new and existing clientele.

You can click here to visit the MyEVT.com website

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Paper! Paper! Read all about it….

May-2012-image-1

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Do you need a practice manager?

From the Hills Pet Nutrition newsletter

Taking on a practice manager is no small decision. Sometimes it may seem hard to justify when a heavy workload could be more obviously reduced by taking on another vet or vet nurse. We took a look at some of the reasons why practices should consider recruiting a practice manager.

Cost

It might seem that the cost of employing a practice manager prohibits the idea but consider who is carrying out that work currently. It is probable that the role is split between a number of individuals with the senior partner(s) and head nurse likely to be shouldering most of the burden. Can the time of those individuals be charged out at a higher rate than it would cost to employ a practice manager? If that’s the case then it could be a very cost effective move.

Objectivity

Practice managers are part of the team but can also remain objective when it comes to decisions about preparing rotas and booking in holiday time. This can be useful in terms of reducing bias and resentment and is more likely to be viewed as ‘fair’. Of course the opposite is true — sometimes if the person preparing the rota also works within the rota system, they feel obliged to take on the most onerous duties and that pressure is also removed.

Focus

A practice manager is fully focused on running the practice as a business. This means that tasks are not squeezed in to the odd spare minute and there is much less room for procrastination.

Forward Planning

A consequence of this focus is that time is available for forward planning. Allocating budgets, preparing marketing plans and targets all gives the business something to aim for and encourages growth, compared to a more ad-hoc ‘on the hoof’ approach.

Organisation

Putting structures in place can save time and money and reduce stress. A practice manager will take a more methodical view of the business and ensure that it runs smoothly.

Horses for Courses

Did you really become a vet or vet nurse, to carry out administration and management tasks? Is it something you see as a necessary evil? If people do what they are best at, the business will thrive and individuals will be happier.

Attention to detail

If you don’t have a practice manager, can you honestly say, hand on heart, that price rises are passed on straight away, that the practice doesn’t carry too much stock that’s slow to turn over, that every equipment check is carried out in a timely manner?

Independent view

Sometimes members of the team don’t want to talk directly to the boss — particularly if they perceive the boss as part of the problem! Having an independent person who is part of the management structure but not a direct line manager, to go to with grievances or personal issues can be invaluable.

Perception

Often practice managers are recruited from outside the profession but even when they are not, they bring a pair of fresh eyes to the practice situation and they look at the business from a different perspective. This means they are very likely to raise issues that you didn’t even realise existed, even though they were in plain view. An additional consideration is that suppliers, accountants and banks may perceive your practice as running more effectively when a practice manager is in place and this may change the relationship you have with them.

Skills

Practice managers often bring another set of skills with them — whether that is in accountancy, retailing, human resource management or IT. Most people agree that bringing a vet with a specialism into the team would add an extra dimension to the service that can be offered to clients. Having a specialist at work on your business can do exactly the same thing.

You can click here to visit the Hills website

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Open for Business!!

Mar-2012-image-3

A new website, exclusively for vet practices, is now fully open for business! Vbay®.co.uk is the place to go if you wish to buy or sell anything veterinary: Featuring classified advertising and auctions it brings together a wide range of products and services, allowing veterinary professionals to see what’s available and, where applicable, to buy online. This service is completely unique in the vet sector!

“Advertising on Vbay offers suppliers both a wide range of choice and value” says Jeremy Johnson, MRCVS owner of Vbay, “… practices can also advertise their referral services and, at last, they have a place where they can sell or auction second-hand items to other members of the veterinary community “.

Jeremy went on, “We will be developing the site and modifying it in response to what members say they want. We welcome feedback from anyone using Vbay, either to buy, sell, research products and services, or simply to view”.

Registration is free and you can click here to visit the VBay website and register your interest

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A Few Hiring Secrets

from an article by Demian Dressler DVM

Every veterinary practice owner, partner or manager wants a stellar team of Olympic caliber winners.

But not everyone gets one. As a matter of fact, legendary veterinary teams are few and far between. True, we do find them here and there. But it seems that either luck or a great practice reputation has drawn them together.

Why? Why is it hard to find good people, the right veterinary employees? Do any of these sound familiar…?

  • The practice can’t afford them
  • Our location is the culprit
  • The economy’s fault
  • All the good ones go into nursing
  • This generation is just no good

Well, it may all be true. Truth be told, most of us owners have created versions of statements like these. But the final payoffs for these beliefs are unhappiness, stress, and poor business success.

It all goes back to the story of the frog who sits in slowly heating water, only to later die in the boil. Gradual increases in temperature with no action to change the situation. The cause? Not recognizing that our own individual action is imperative. The ultimate agent of change may be the business owner or someone recruited to assist, but individual action is step one.

Veterinary Owners and Managers Slowly Cooking

The Cornerman philosophy is centered around action, implementation, and the knowledge that change is truly and realistically within our grasp. Once a little mental adjustment is made, the leadership in the practice can lead a charge to pronounced positive effect.

If one looks a bit closer at this process, ample room for improvement usually surfaces. This is good news for practices because it means real results and change can be achieved! Finding areas to improve upon brings the practice closer to achieving its vision. The practice begins to serve the needs of our much larger lives, if we so choose.

In preparing for a new hire, one should reserve a few minutes to truly prepare. The end result will be markedly improved.

Are the job requirements defined (this is part of job analysis)? More than just being a veterinary receptionist or technician?

These requirements could include ability to work without supervision, technical knowledge requirements, demonstrations of manual skills, has certain math and spelling skills, can lift 50 lbs, has specific computer skills, is an excellent communicator, has reliable transportation, lives within a 30 minute drive, has abundant energy, retains complex verbal information, conforms to tattoos and piercing policy in practice manual, is socially outgoing, can multi-task, is a quick study, thrives on challenges, believes in the “best for
pets” philosophy, is motivated by recognition and prosperity….to name just a few possibilities to choose from.

Or does the practice just need someone who can hit a vein?

Does the advertisement ask, directly or indirectly, for someone with the defined job requirements? Does it provide information on “what’s innit for me?” Is there a testimonial from other staff members in the ad? Does the ad mention the practice’s 4.5/5 star online review average, or that the practice is voted “best place to work” by the staff?

Or does it say something along the lines of, “In search of dependable, experienced ____, now hiring, call us at_____?”

Does the practice advertise that “Wednesdays and Saturdays are available for application appointments with Clarrisa the client service manager?” Application appointments are distinct from interviews, which happen later in the process, and are used as valuable information sources.

Or does the practice advertise only when there is a position open?

What about the first meeting, when the applicant shows up for the application appointment?

  • Does Clarrisa know what to look for during the application appointment?
  • Does Clarissa know what time the applicant is supposed to submit a resume? When does the applicant arrive? Early, late, on time?
  • What is the “energy” of the applicant? Dress? Degree of social engagement? Verbal speed and/or precision? Professionalism? Interaction with others in the waiting area?
  • Does the applicant fill out an application? How quickly is this done? How is the writing? Spelling? How many words are scratched out? How organized are the thoughts on paper?

And this is just the beginning. We still have to consider the personality assessment, resume review, reference and background checks, interview, working interview, and probationary period.

Each one of these steps is in itself a topic worthy of much study. And then, voila! Magic. You have selected for the first member of your high performance team.

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Much faster than Google Earth.

When you begin to type, pictures will start to appear … you can ignore them until you finish the entire address and postcode if you wish. Type the address as you would in a letter to post.

You can click here to visit take a look at your home, practice, holiday or any other address worldwide

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