Practice Management News and Views from around the World – October 2011

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3 Steps to Increase Annual Pet Visits

from an article in the ThinkPets.com website

Looking to grow your practice? All veterinary practices have five fundamental growth opportunities available to them — each of which can be accomplished utilizing the practice’s existing clients, patients and staff. You can:

  • Improve compliance
  • Increase the frequency of pet visits
  • Increase revenue per pet visit
  • Better manage reminders to ensure all current pets have future reminder requests
  • New client acquisition

In this Practice Intelligence article, we’ll take a closer look at increasing pet visits. Growth in pet visit volume can be achieved by improving your practice’s performance in the following areas:

  • A comprehensive reminder strategy
  • Robust reminder requests for Recalls/Rechecks/Repurchases
  • Semi-annual wellness visits

How much impact are we talking about? The benchmark average of visits per pet is 3.64 per year. Practices effectively executing in each of the above areas average 4.78 visits per pet per year. That’s more than one extra visit per active pet, per year!

Step 1: A comprehensive reminder strategy emphasizing both quantity and quality in your client communications.

First you’ll need to maximize the number of current pets WITH reminders — that’s the quantity. On average only 74% of current pets have a future reminder scheduled for the upcoming 13 months.

Next, you must be sending out quality reminders — that is, ensuring that the reminders you send support your practice’s wellness standards of care. In other words, instead of just reminding on expiring vaccinations, you’re also reminding on annual wellness exams, intestinal parasite testing dental prophylaxis, early detection/wellness testing, and other core services and products in your wellness recommendations.

The last element of the formula comes from utilizing any and all communication channels available — this includes print, email and web (personalized pet owner education). By doing so, you are able to provide continuity and repetition of education customized to the client and pet. The ThinkPets client communications services perform all of these
education methods.

The combined results of these three elements in the comprehensive reminder strategy are improved reminder response (increased visits) and compliance.

Step 2: Reminder Requests for Recalls, Rechecks and Repurchases which enforce your practice’s wellness program and allow you to better manage clinical situations, all while simultaneously generating incremental visits.

Where do these visits come from? To begin with, consistently request follow-up visits for chronic clinical situations and drug monitoring. A typical practice can miss 300-600 annual recheck/recall visits, simply by not reminding on them.

For added impact you can, and should, also request re-purchases of consumable products (heartworm/flea preventives, pet food). In 2010, the percentage of practices requesting repurchases for the consumable items below showed ample room for improvement

  • 77% of practices reminded for heartworm preventives
  • 46% of practices reminded for flea/tick preventives
  • Fewer than 5% of practices reminded for pet food (including therapeutic diets)

Step 3: Introduction of semi-annual wellness visits.

The majority of practices incorporating six month visits in their wellness programs include the following services and products:

  • Semi-annual wellness exam
  • Bordetella Vaccination (or other at risk non-core vaccinations)
  • Intestinal Parasite Test (if adhering to CAPC recommendations)
  • Heartworm Preventive Repurchase
  • Dental Exam

You can click here to visit the ThinkPets.com website

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What’s happening in small animal practice in the UK

Selected data from the MAI consolidated report to April 2011

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Self Image and VetLife Happiness

by Demian Dressler DVM

Happiness comes from many sources.

Removal of negatives usually result in transient happiness. Prosperity yields happiness to the extent that we meet our needs comfortably. Relationships, service, and progress often produce happiness.

Most of use recognize these as true. A less commonly recognized aspect of “vetlife” happiness is positive self image.

Positive self image connected with one’s role at work can be very valuable. Deliberate creation of a positive self image can foster long term happiness.

Happiness at work is very helpful to effective leaders. Managers, owners, associate veterinarians, and senior staff are all involved in mentoring, training, and leadership. Inspiring others is much easier when a leader is authentically happy.

Ways to self motivate to build a more positive work self image:

  • Focusing on past accomplishments
  • Making a list of work challenges overcome
  • Reviewing positive actions done for practice members
  • Recalling the pets who benefited from your care
  • Reading “thank you” cards
  • Noticing the improvements you made in others through mentoring

A positive self image can be further increased by:

  • Setting and reaching development goals
  • Sticking to commitments made to others and self
  • Deliberately investing time and attention in other’s development
  • Learning new skills and knowledge through CE or other channels
  • Always striving to create 100% raving client fans
  • Being punctual
  • Smiling frequently and providing sincere praise
  • Having larger scope purpose that work contributes to

The more evidence we create that we are doing an excellent job, the easier it becomes to create positive internal dialogue. The more positive self-talk occurring, the easier a great self image is created, and the more happiness we can enjoy at work.

You can click here to visit Demian Dresslers website

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Benchmark 2011 – A study of well managed practices

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How to get people to do it right every time

by Winston Marsh

Regrettably, I don’t know of a great book (although there possibly is) that explains exactly how to get people to do what you want them to do time-after-time-after-time. Despite that McDonalds, and a couple of other shining examples, manage to get 16 year olds to do it.

So how is it that they can, I ask myself?

And the answer is that they are very effective in four areas– systems, training, measurement and reward.

Systems are scripts and checklists and they must be written down to ensure that there can never be any doubt as to what people should do. All too often, in smaller businesses, we tend to “show and tell” and after a few repeat performances what the team is doing varies hugely from what they were originally shown and told.

The best investment in profitability most businesses can make is frequent, comprehensive training. Regrettably, too often the training is left to the boss who is both busy and not particularly good at it so that the quality of training and thus the result is never what it should be.

Training provided by suppliers is generally product training rather than skills training so it rarely achieves much. Many external trainers are academics in disguise who know the theory but have never done it in practice.

The best way to increase the skills level of your team, and their adherence to your requirements, is to make sure that your team meetings are the place where this occurs. Its incredible how often people aim at nothing and hit it with amazing accuracy! It means that there must be measurement of team members against known goals, standards, key performance indicators or whatever. Unless their performance is regularly measured and evaluated there is no reason for them to toe the line. It’s simply a matter of what gets measured gets doneā€¦ if they know its going to be measured then they do it.

Finally, quite simply when it comes to reward, “what gets rewarded gets repeated” is an adage of mine and it works with team members just as well as it works with Sharnie my dog. When Sharnie does what I want her to do I reward her and I keep on rewarding her whenever she reproduces the desired behaviour so that it soon becomes a habit.

The question on the minds of our team members when we ask them to change the way they do things, is “Why should I do this, what’s in it for me?” And once they’ve been in the job for a while and are seemingly doing it to the boss’s expectations, they are rarely prepared to do more unless they can see a reason or reward to do so.

Those reasons or rewards do not necessarily need to be monetary– they can be recognition, responsibility, authority or any of the other satisfiers on Mazlow’s hierarchy of human needs.

You can click here to visit Winston Marsh’s website

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Know Who You Are

by Mary Ann Vande Linde DVM

Know who you are. These “words to live by” in your personal life are also important in your professional life. You cannot be all things to all people. It’s only when you and your hospital know who you are and what you stand for that you can communicate that message clearly and effectively to your clients.

To be successful, every hospital should “brand” itself by choosing the 3 to 4 words you want clients to associate with your hospital. The choice is up to you, but words like “professional”, “caring”, and “thorough” will get you started. Make this choice a hospital-wide exercise and involve everyone on the team in the process. It’s critical that they all buy in and understand this “brand” or they won’t be effective in communicating it between themselves and to your clients.

Once you’ve decided on your “brand”(your three words), make sure it’s reflected in everything a client sees or reads about you. It may be something you want to incorporate into your logo, you’ll definitely want to include these words in any advertising you place and make sure you place the message on your hand-outs and mailers, on your packaging and in your reception area. Your exam rooms should be designed and laid out with your brand in mind. Even your receipts should carry the theme.

Everyone on the health care team must know how to put this message into action and understand how the message impacts client interactions. If the team is in on the choice, they’ll be more likely to follow through on the execution. Staff meetings are the place to work with everyone to understand how the words give life to the team’s workplace performance.

Have each team member brainstorm about how they will demonstrate these attributes. For example, “If I’m a caring receptionist, what would I do?” or “Being a thorough technician, means I make sure that …… and …… are done”

As you create and implement your marketing programs, make sure they reinforce the message that you are (for example) a “caring, compassionate” hospital. Think about the services in your marketing plan and communicate the connection between the medical reason for the service and the “care and compassion” it shows for the client and their pet.

Consider how the products you offer tie into your brand.

You may develop new services and products that can strengthen the clients’ perception of you as “caring and compassionate”. One program example is “Dental Disease Management” — where clients learn that caring for their pet’s teeth makes the pet more comfortable, reduces the chance for disease, and can add years to a pet’s life. Another example would be “Senior Longevity Programs” — where clients are educated about healthy aging, which keeps people and their pets together longer.

Developing programs is another great area for brainstorming and team involvement. “If we’re a caring hospital, what other services should we be offering?” A health care team member might offer the idea, “We could create a program for micro-chipping so a pet would never be lost and homeless.”

Everyone on your health care team who interacts with clients on a regular basis can offer ideas of how to demonstrate those three key words, so take advantage of your team’s interaction and energy! During meetings, find new ways to energize your hospital and look for new ways to create and inspire client loyalty.

Write it, print it, say it, brand it! Carry through with every action, and remind each other daily of the importance of those words to the success of your hospital and its ability to provide quality medical care for every pet that comes through your door.

You can click here to visit the Veterinary Management Consultation website

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