Practice Management News and Views from around the World – August 2016

Fly Like an Eagle

Enjoy the full 5 minutes flight of Darshan, flying from the top of the world tallest building, soaring above Dubai then diving with the exhilarating speed of 170 kph towards his handler.

Benchmark these five numbers to grow the value of your veterinary business

I was delighted to have an opportunity recently to contribute to a podcast presented by Steve Kornfeld, veterinarian and business consultant to the veterinary profession.

Steve is joint owner with Dr Jay Brown, of the VMartec consultancy service created to further advance the progress each of their respective companies have provided to veterinary practices over the past decade.

VMartec combines the unique services & features of each company into a new, more robust offering will provide veterinary practices throughout the developed world the ability to improve animal health & well-being while at the same time greatly increase veterinary practice revenue.

One of the VMartec services which specially caught my eye is the Vmartec Practice Analytics System. Steve says that ‘In today’s veterinary practice environment, every practice should be setting and extensively measuring certain core business and practice management strategies in an effort to improve compliance which in turn drives practice revenue.

Establishing and utilizing a broad spectrum of key performance indicators (KPIs) are crucial to long-term success and sustained revenue for any veterinary practice, but these are not enough. Practices should also use enhanced business intelligence technology to assist in mining their data and alerting them when there are issues in the revenue cycle’

The theme of my podcast was Benchmark these five numbers to grow the value of your veterinary business.

You can click here to listen to the podcast now

You can click here to receive a free copy of Steve Kornfelds free monthly podcast

3 things you MUST do to manage a successful veterinary practice

From an article by Brendan Howard with highlights from a list of “must-do” actions recommended by Mark Opperman, CVPM – published in the dvm360.com website

Everyone wants their veterinary practice to be successful. (Maybe there’s one guy out there trying to run his hospital into the ground. Dude, we see you.) But the rest of you want the best, happiest place around—somewhere that offers pets crucial care, pet owners loving compassion, employees truly meaningful work and, yes, everyone the profit to keep the doors open.Here are three (of 10) things Mark Opperman recommends you must do to manage a successful veterinary practice.

1. We’re on a mission from Dog

Opperman asked attendees for a show of hands: Whose practice had a mission statement?

At least half went up.

Next? Who can recite their mission statement?

A lot fewer.

Finally? Whose practice’s team members can all recite their mission statement? No hands.

Opperman was disappointed, but clearly he’d been planning to hit these folks with a little inspiration: “All your employees really want to know what makes your practice special, what makes your practice stand out. And, look, people only memorise a business mission statement because it’s important. They live by it. They (gently but proudly) call each other out to make sure they’re all fulfilling it.

They stand a little taller because the practice down the road doesn’t live by a mission statement. Yeah, maybe it’s corny (although nobody said that to Opperman), but you’re special and your practice is special. Time to figure out why and make sure you’re living up to patients’—and clients’—expectations.

And that brings us to ...

2. Frou-frous or frugal

Many practices try, but can anyone really meet everyone’s expectations?

Superior service and economical pricing and anytime availability and warm cookies in the reception area?

Opperman trotted out one of his favorite metaphors for veterinary practices: the hospitality industry.“Every night Marriott and Motel 6 fill up,” Opperman told the audience. “Some go to Marriott, some go to Motel 6. It’s not right or wrong. It’s called niche marketing.

Opperman was quick to say he’s visited practices he’d call Ritz-Carltons of veterinary service and charged appropriately for that level of close, continuous service. He also said he’d seen good medical care at the veterinary equivalent for a Motel 6.

Opperman wasn’t judging.He repeated his advice here twice: “Identify your niche, be true to your niche, and then don’t only meet, but exceed your client expectations.

”Whatever those expectations are: long visits with lots of education and expensive work … short visits for minimal, basic care and emergencies … something in the middle? That’s up to you.

3. Hire 10s, fire 7s

Opperman was fired up the most during his hour-long session talking about employees and the concept of 10.

The idea? Rate your employees 1 to 10. 10s are perfect. Keep ‘em. 8s and 9s can be coached to 10. Anything 7 or lower? “I want you actively seeking to replace that individual,” Opperman said. “They bring everyone else down to their level.

”Why should a 9-out-of-10 employee work hard when a 6-out-of-10 gets a paycheck too?

Audience members knew who their 10s were and why: “They’re always wanting to learn” ... “They love the job more than anything” … “They’re the best in every part of the hospital” … “They’re proactive and do what needs to be done.

Opperman’s energy in these sessions is always loud, inspirational and authoritative. Stop settling for “good enough” in you, your practice and your team members, he seemed to say with every powerful pronouncement.

It’s time to be the veterinary practice owner, associate, manager, technician, assistant or receptionist you’ve always dreamed you could be.

You can click here to visit the dvm360.com website

What’s a vet a do?

From a blog by Alan Robinson and published on his VetDynamics website

If you look at the management literature or attend any management seminar lately everyone is telling you the veterinary market has become very competitive, uncertain and just too hard.

Practices are being told the pressure on turnover and profits is only going to get worse. Annual turnover growth is being maintained by marketing strategies driven by Facebook, Twitter and Google and other arcane arts, as well as strategies for competitive (lower) prices, increasing product sales and increasing client footfall.

This is being rapidly compounded by the overall decline in client and patient numbers, corporate competition, commoditisation, greater consumer demand for quality, communication, value and convenience and increased competition between neighbouring practices – and not a vet or nurse to be seen in the recruitment pages…..

So - What is a vet to do?

DOOM & GLOOM! Sell up. Get out. Jump ship.

However, mine is a contrarian view: the opposite is true. After the economic consolidation, small animal practice has been on the crest of dynamic and progressive growth fuelled by changing demographics, a growth economy, growing healthcare awareness and too few good, efficient small animal practices – a great place to be as a small animal vet in practice! It’s true.

In an increasingly consumer driven market it is no longer sufficient to just be another ‘good clinical practice’. There appears to be fewer clients and maybe less money out there, but it IS there – if we know where to look for it, attract it, convert it and retain it.

It is my experience that most practices are TOO BUSY with too many clients to:

  • Make a profit
  • Practice good medicine
  • Provide excellent customer service

There is a clear strategy of response for my Platinum Practices that are working successfully and will continue to be successful in the future.

So I offer you 5 new practice business paradigms to consider:

  • Rule # 1. Do not manage your practice! …. Create clear business management and communication systems and structures that support a proactive and focused business, as well as a marketing strategy to ensure profitable and sustainable business.
  • Rule # 2. Do not advertise your practice! …. Do not attract MORE clients….Attract the RIGHT clients through positioning – practice visibility and differentiation – branding, image and promotion, to build a strong, consistent position that differentiates your practice for quality clientele and pet care. Use both on-line and off-line strategies: Websites, Facebook, Direct mailing, Word of Mouth, etc.
  • Rule # 3. Do not sell your veterinary services! …. There’s no point attracting the right customers if we don’t convert them to paying clients. This requires investing in staff training in interpersonal skills and client care for receptionists, nurses and vets; building trust, care and compassion as unique practice differentiators, particularly at the reception desk. You will not be known for the size of your endoscope – You will be known, and loved, for your care, compassion and communication.
  • Rule # 4. Don’t sell vaccinations….or wormers…..or flea control! …. Sell whole of life Preventative Health Care packages to attract and bond a large, healthy patient base to the practice, using client focused relationship marketing, concentrating on quality, value for money and convenience for the client. Conversion is not a one-shot sale. Unless we retain clients for the long term, marketing becomes a tedious and expensive exercise. This requires client retention strategies such as Preventative Health Care Schemes, community building and client nurturing.
  • Rule # 5. Do offer the best quality Clinical Medicine and Surgery by investing in clinical CPD and technology. Align your clinical systems to the highest standards of care and manage your vets’ performance on maintaining the highest clinical and management standards. Quality Clinical Medicine and Surgery is how we make our money – the only real asset we have, as veterinary surgeons, is our professional skill and time.

Developing your team and your practice for the future will involve the process of setting up, promoting and implementing a strategic business and marketing plan in such a way that will attract the best clients to the practice, improve turnover and grow and sustain a profitable veterinary business.

However, remember that good marketing will bring in more and better customers; excellent customer care will convert them to clients and keep them coming back and good veterinary medicine will earn good money – but good business and marketing systems and strategy will make it happen.

You can click here to visit the VetDynamics website

Increasing Your Veterinary Income

From an article by Dr Natasha Wilks published in her High Performance Vets website

Years ago I asked all the veterinarians in my network what their biggest frustration was.

Time and time again I received a response that their income was a big source of frustration.

I remember having the same frustration. I was brought up to believe if you worked hard, you would be rewarded.

This certainly occurred in my first practice. However, in subsequent practices that wasn’t the case. Every year I wondered if I would receive a pay rise. I wasn’t sure exactly how I was being evaluated and I didn’t know how to ask.

Years later I worked in a clinic where I was told my turnover had to be five times my income. Initially, I was upset. I became a vet to help and heal, not sell and deal. How could my value to the practice be solely evaluated by my turnover!

After a few weeks, I realised this target was achievable. That is when I began to realise that I could positively influence my income. Knowing this allowed me to be aware of what I needed to turnover every year for my desired income.

Once I became more aware of my turnover, I began to notice when I had missed charges and discounted my invoices. Working in various practices over the years, I saw this often and I realised that this is a problem that affects many practices.

Most of the time, it isn’t intentional. When you are busy, double booked without enough time to think or working long hours with no breaks, charges are missed. If you are uncomfortable discussing fees or large invoices, it becomes easy to discount the estimate or invoice.

The problem is that every time this occurs, you are reducing your potential future income.If your income is influenced by your turnover and you are missing or discounting $20 in each consult, it doesn’t sound like much. If this occurs in every consult, every day, all year, it can easily add up to many tens of thousands in lost turnover.

This can be a significant amount in lost income to you. Your income is heavily influenced but not solely determined by your turnover. They are many other factors that contribute to your income.

Having great clinical and surgical skills isn’t enough anymore in this highly competitive environment. Employers are looking for knowledgable and competent veterinarians with great communication skills who can build strong client relationships and be a team player.

They also want veterinarians who can confidently discuss fees with clients, book revisits, further workups and surgeries.

To increase your income you must be able to generate an income in excess of the costs of employing you. You must be competent and confident clinically and surgically in practice. You must also be a good communicator who has a good following with clients who refer new clients to your practice.

Finally you must be able to communicate to your employer how you are an asset to their practice and negotiate a pay increase.

If you never ask, it will never happen. I know this can sound overwhelming.

That is why I have created a program where I work with veterinarians to build awareness about their money mindset, identify where they may be discounting or missing charges, how to confidently communicate with clients about fees and how to negotiate a salary increase.

You can click here to visit the High Performance Vet website

Beware of the personal red herring

From an article by Jim Blasingame and published on his Small Business Advocate website

English foxhunters once dragged a red herring in front of their hounds to distract them from the scent of the little furry guy. In time, this practice produced the metaphorical “red herring,” which is an attempt to win an argument by diverting attention from the real issue.

Introducing a red herring in a negotiation can be a handy defensive tactic. But sometimes we use personal red herrings, which is essentially when we lie to ourselves.

It’s one thing to use red herrings as a communication tactic, but when we use them on ourselves, it’s unproductive at best and destructive at worst.

Shakespeare addressed this issue in perhaps his most famous play: Act I, Scene III, of Hamlet, Polonius said to his son, Laertes: “This above all: to thine own self be true.”If you can’t be true to yourself, you can’t be true to your dream.

And a false dream is an entrepreneurial atomic meltdown waiting to happen.

Perhaps the most difficult challenge is knowing when to continue to keep believing and when to move on.

And the dilemma on these horns could range from a small piece of your plan all the way to the actual validity of your vision and viability of your business model.One of my mentors taught me how to face a “go—no go” decision by asking this question: “Do you have a fighting chance or just a chance to fight?”

The key to success in business, and indeed in life, may be as simple as divining the answer to that question.

One way to tell if you’re dragging a stinking fish across the trail of your own dream is by doing something another mentor taught me: checking your position.

Here are three examples:

  • 1. Have you conducted enough due diligence to find out if your plan has a chance of success? Just telling yourself things will work out is a red herring.
  • 2. Is your activity resulting in ANY success? If nothing is working, convincing yourself that you just need to work harder may be masking reality.
  • 3. Are your assumptions performing? If you’re only consuming resources without creating opportunity, you must ask yourself: Am I on the wrong trail, or the wrong journey?

When even small successes can be found mixed in with the failures, you may have a vision merely in need of adjustments and worthy of extra effort. But in order to evaluate all of this, small business owners need all the facts they can get their hands on. And they need the truth from all parties — especially from themselves.

Use red herrings for foxhunting and negotiating, not on yourself.

Write this on a rock ...This above all: to thine own self be true.

You can click here to visit the Small Business Advocate website