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

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What’s happening in small animal practice in the UK

Selected data from the Fort Dodge Index (FDI) Report to June 2009


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Business and Personnel Management Workshop

CPD Vets announce a workshop to be presented by Geoff Little MVB MRCVS

CPD Vets is the University of Liverpool’s Veterinary Faculty’s CPD provider, serving the veterinary profession throughout the UK and Europe.

The Business and Personnel Management Workshop will be held on Wed 23rd Sept 2009 and the topics to be covered during the workshop will include:

  • Business planning : How to structure and present a case for change
  • Staff appraisal processes : Developing personnel through structured, constructive feedback
  • Team building and motivation : A good team is more powerful that the sum of its individuals

The programme is ideal for practice partners and those in decision making positions in practice, it is also a great workshop for anybody with an interest in this area of personal development, including Vet Nurses and practice managers. This will be an interactive workshop involving discussion with colleagues on various aspects, problems and solutions in areas of business and personnel management.

Geoff Little has spoken on, and published many articles on various aspects of Veterinary Practice Management both in the UK and abroad, including the following congresses, BSAVA, WSAVA, VPMA and SPVS.

He is a former president of the Society of Practising Veterinary Surgeons and in August 2003 he was appointed to the role of Communications Training Associate for the Veterinary Defence Society.

You can click here for further information about this important event

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RIG VETS Move to New Offices

Veterinary recruitment specialists, Rig Vet Recruitment are expanding into larger offices with effect from 1st September 2009. Their new address will be 1 Emperor Way, Exeter Business Park, Exeter EX1 3QS. The telephone number changes to 01392 314070 and fax number to 01392 314168.“There is still a huge demand for locum and permanent staff within the veterinary industry, despite the current recession, and we need to keep pace. Basically, we’ve outgrown our
existing premises and the move to larger offices will help our further expansion in the business,” explained Justin Carpenter, Managing Director of Rig Vet Recruitment.

You can click here to visit the RIGVets website

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Client Segmentation – you can’t please all the people all the time

By Steve Kornfeld DVM, CPCC and Peter Weinstein DVM, MBA

Last time we discussed your client base stratification and what each segment wants. This time we will see why it is important for you to know that and how you can take advantage of this client structure.

Contrary to common belief in our profession, you cannot be everything to everybody. Heck, you cannot even be something to everybody. All you can be is something to someone. That’s all. The fantastic old stories of the vet taking care of every possible critter, treating every possible disease and having every client say “Amen” to everything suggested, have long since passed into history if they ever existed. In today’s market, different people want different things and are willing to pay different prices for these things.

Luckily, there is a whole industry around who wants what and you should heed what they have found out if you want better results. Remember, veterinary hobbyists say, “I am going to do only what’s comfortable for me. If it works, great. If it doesn’t, that’s how it is”. Hopefully by now you are starting to grasp the huge opportunity you now have being surrounded by so many hobbyists. You, instead, as a budding true veterinary professional, may be ready to say, “I know little about this so I am going to listen to those whose expertise it is to find out what motivates different groups of people to buy products and services”.

Do you recall those situations when you recommended very expensive service to clients and they approved? Were they multi millionaires? Not at all. They were like you and me. It just so happened that the message you delivered landed on ears that belonged to people in the top triangle. These people by definition say, “tell me what I need to do and I’ll do it”. Do you recall that at times you found yourself wondering how in the world did they approve such an expensive procedure? We still vividly remember those cases from the days we did general medicine.

The problem, though, is that your message and the right market were just a coincidence, not intended. In other words, you did not contemplate what level of service to deliver to whom ahead of time and intentially created a need for it. No. It was chance and you lucked out. And so did they, by the way. It was a fair exchange: their money for your service.

In light of that, think of all the other instances when you did not recommend ALL the necessary services to those who wanted them and recommended too much to those who didn’t. In the former case, you did not provide a 100% service and thus forfeited what was due to you. While in the latter case, you spent a lot of time talking to those who cannot hear you, got frustrated and lost confidence in your ability.

Do you remember the instances when clients wanted a second opinion or needed time to think about your recommendations, or even called you and asked you to fax their records to
someone else? How did that feel? Probably not very good. Can you tell which group these people belonged to? Do you remember how painful it was for you to see all these people leave and all this “business” lost?

Did you know that the top 25% of your clients give you 75% of your business? Did you also know that the bottom 1% of your clients take 40% of your time? Who would you rather spend time with?

Remember, if you offer the same quality of service to everybody in your practice, you both under-serve them and over-serve them. Is there any wonder results in your practice are inconsistent?

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Christine Merle DVM MBA CVPM Appointed Executive Director of VetPartners

VetPartners is pleased to announce the appointment of Christine Merle, DVM, MBA, CVPM, as its Executive Director. Christine, a former president of VetPartners (2007–2008), is also a consultant with the Brakke Veterinary Practice Management Group, a division of Brakke Consulting, Inc.

“I’m delighted and honored to serve as the Executive Director of VetPartners,” said Christine, “and I’m excited about helping to shape and build the organization as it positions itself to meet today’s challenges.”

Christine began her career as a small animal practitioner from Chicago, IL, with Associate Veterinarian positions at VCA Chicago North and Countryside Animal Clinic. She holds degrees from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign College of Veterinary Medicine and DePaul University Charles H. Kellstadt Graduate School of Business, as well as being a Certified Veterinary Practice Manager (CVPM). She served as Assistant Dean for Public Engagement and Clinical Assistant Professor at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign College of Veterinary Medicine until 2005. As a teacher, she developed and provided business education and career development information to veterinary students, veterinarians, and other animal health professionals.

A popular speaker at veterinary conferences, Christine was awarded the North American Veterinary Conference Practice Management Speaker of the Year award in 2008. She is an active member of several veterinary organizations. Christine has a particular interest in communications, organizational behavior, and integration of marketing into private practice by focusing on staff and client education.

“As President of VetPartners, I am thrilled that we have someone with Dr. Merle’s skills, knowledge, and recognition to take on the Executive Director role,” commented Peter Weinstein, DVM, MBA. “Christine is the perfect person for our group and will synergize with the leadership and vision that has been the mainstay of this organization and
strengthen our future.”

“VetPartners’ Executive Director Search Committee was gratified by the overwhelming response to our national search for an Executive Director,” added Philip Homsey II, Esq,
President-elect and Chair of the Search Committee. “We considered many very well qualified applicants for this position. We are very confident that Christine Merle is the right person for the right job at the right time, and that she will make a significant contribution to VetPartners’ continued growth and prosperity. To all who applied for the position, we extend our gratitude for your support.” Christine brings additional expertise and leadership to VetPartners, enhancing its stature as a premier consultancy organization serving the veterinary profession.

You can click here to visit the VetPartners website

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More Tips to Beat the Recession — Show a Little Love

extracts from the Dave Nicol Veterinary Services Blog

Moral and motivation go hand in hand. When the chips are down in the wider economy a strong sense of purpose, togetherness and motivation will work wonders in keeping your business afloat. So how do you set about boosting moral when all you’re worried about is keeping the business alive?

Don’t cut, cut, cut…train, train, train

If your turnover is flagging then it is tempting to reach for the knife and slash costs from your business. This may help the short term P/L account but if you lose staff you will also lose abilities and skills required to deliver your service.

Another option if things have slowed a little is to take the opportunity to implement a training program. Was there a customer service issue causing problems? Are staff making the most of the sales opportunities coming through the door? Do you even know the answers to these questions? If not then you have vital work you have to start doing today.

Say thanks – I’ve lost count of the number of staff satisfaction surveys I’ve read where staff don’t feel valued because the boss never says thanks. The value your staff place on their job is every bit as much about recognition of a job well done, development and thanks as it is about actual money. A big, well meant ‘thank you — you were terrific today’ costs nothing. Even better, it will make you feel good as well.

Blame culture – the blame game is one of the most damaging (and sadly most prevalent) aspects of veterinary culture. Whether it’s one vet bemoaning another’s work or someone going off like a rocket because “someone” didn’t recharge the otoscope batteries. It really doesn’t matter. If your practice team like to play the blame game then chances are the tension in your prep room is grinding the team down.

Instead of looking to blame others for prep room troubles, everyone (most importantly the boss) should first look inwardly at what we could have done differently to help.

Get the right bums onboard your bus

Recruitment is vital. Get the right people for your business. If you need a high flying academic type then the fast-talking, charismatic vet won’t do. If your business needs a schmoozy, customer focussed people person then the introverted certificate holder won’t do. Identify what your business needs and don’t fall short of what you were looking for.

Make sure they’re all sitting in the right seats

If things aren’t working then don’t be afraid to shake the team up. Your plans won’t always work out and if things are going awry then you have to take action. I have a client with a good vet who is definitely in the wrong seat on the bus. This is bad news for everyone. The vet is miserable and the business is struggling as a result of lack of commitment. It isn’t that the vet (who started out fine) has suddenly become a bad vet, they’re just in the wrong seat. Talk to your team, find out that they want/are best at, and then see what you can do to accommodate them as best fits your business plan.

If you deal proactively with these problems you’ll be amazed at the results.

The decisions you take as a leader and manager affect all those around you. Cutting costs leads to a vicious circle of increased demands on decreasing resources. A high stress situation likely to lead to staff churn and decreased valuation of your business. (People like to see familiar faces and high churn rates sabotage your efforts to create a high performing team.) There is another way, nurture your team through these tougher times and the result will be a fitter, better placed organisation ready to take full advantage of the upturn when it duly arrives.

You can click here to visit Dave Nicols Blog

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SPVS IT Day 2009

An excellent opportunity for practices to secure the best-value systems in the recession

The Society of Practising Veterinary Surgeons (SPVS) is once again holding its popular ‘IT Day’ in November with leading software providers. The workshop is designed to help practices find their ideal Practice Management Systems at the most competitive prices.

The event, which takes place on Friday 20 November 2009 at The Holiday Inn in Coventry, will feature seminars on the options available to suit a wide variety of budgets. There will also be in-depth demonstrations of the latest, most reliable and secure software available.

SPVS President Iain Richards explained: ‘Practitioners want a system that is cost-effective, reliable, fast and secure. Anyone from the novice to the more advanced user will benefit from this informative and increasingly popular workshop’.

There are a variety of systems to compare and contrast on the day which will also provide the ideal opportunity to ask specific questions about the features and functionality of specific systems. Delegates will also have the opportunity to try out the systems using mock client notes and case studies.

This workshop provides an excellent opportunity to secure the best- value systems; something which is vitally important in this recession.

Seminar topics include ‘auditing and stock management for greater profitability¹, ‘VetXML’, ‘managing staff time’, ‘back office solutions’ and ‘lab and image requisitioning’.

Exhibitors include AT Veterinary Systems Ltd, VetEnvoy, Jupiter Systems Ltd, Rx Works, Midshire & Ventana, VetOne, Black Dog Software, Vet Solutions, Syscap, Vetz, Vet IT, Verifac and VetSCOPE.

Jacqui Garrett, National Business Development Manager at AT Veterinary Systems commented: The SPVS IT Day provides an excellent opportunity for vets and practice managers to research and choose the right practice management system. AT Veterinary Systems has been supplying computer systems for 20 years and we have attended all of the IT SPVS Days since they began, over ten years ago. We have always found them to be enjoyable and worthwhile events for both exhibitors and delegates.

You can click here to visit the SPVS website for further details and to book your place

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