Practice Management News and Views from around the World – December 2015

66 Movie Dance Scenes Mashup

How 'Intelligent' is Inventory Management in your Veterinary Practice?

From an article by Mark Hardwick and published in the VetAnswers.com blog

Inventory management is vital for any business. Did you know that it represents the second largest expense in veterinary practice?

Care must be taken to ensure accurate products and stock are on hand as having the wrong inventory on hand, or housing too much inventory can deplete resources to dangerous levels. This highlights the need for effective management ensuring the business is aware of what stock they need to replenish and what needs to be shifted.

If inventory management is taken seriously and undertaken correctly, a business may find that it can reduce its costs and increase sales. An effective way of achieving this is by having an inventory management system in place, which will track and maintain inventory so that customer demand can be met. They can also be linked to the accounting or management aspects so that all operations can become more effective at reducing costs and maximising profit.

This is what we call “Intelligent Inventory”

When we think of some objectives of Intelligent Inventory management we can identify them as being:

  • To ensure adequate supply of products to a customer and to avoid shortages as far as possible.
  • To make sure that the financial investment in inventories is minimum (i.e. to see that the working capital of the business is maintained to the optimal level).
  • To ensure efficient purchasing, storing, consumption and accounting for materials are carried out in a systematic manner.
  • To maintain a timely record of inventories of all the items within the business and to maintain the stock within the desired limits.

The purpose of Intelligent Inventory is to:

  • Maximise sales, through the range and mix of products;
  • Maximise gross profit, via smart purchasing, sensible pricing and reduced shrinkage;
  • Maximise effective use of space;
  • Maximise liquidity (saleable products) and return on inventory dollar;
  • Maximise image through better presentation of stock;
  • Minimise stock-outs and potential lost sales;
  • Minimise dead, tired stock;
  • Minimise stock handling and holding costs like insurance, labour and interest.

Costs Associated with Inventory

Inventory is the second largest expense in the Veterinary Practice, next to the cost of labour. It often consumes 20% or more of gross revenue and left unchecked may swell to considerably more. Profitability becomes a challenge when large expense categories (like inventory) are not constrained to appropriate benchmark levels.

When planning for "intelligent inventory" consider some of the actual costs of inventory in the veterinary practice:

#Daretobedifferent in your veterinary practice

From an article by Mike Paul and published in the DVM360.com website

In this column, we have often addressed the fact that the key to building a successful practice or business of any kind relies on being unique. Recently, I have asked a number of veterinarians what makes their practice stand out from all other practices in their community. More often than not, the response was a blank stare followed by statements about quality of care and service.

While these are admirable goals, in this day of consumerism, Internet communications and social media, quality is an expectation, not a differentiation. Unfortunately, clients pay attentiont to service and care only when they’re not provided, and dissatisfied customers can turn their disappointment into a detrimental social media hashtag with the speed of a mouse click.

So, how can you effectively differentiate your practice?

#trulyunique

First, could you sum up your clinic in an effective hashtag? What differentiator would you want to convey? I'm guessing for many veterinary owners, this might be a difficult exercise. #Qualitycare? Not a differentiator. #Courteousandknowledgeablestaff? A basic expectation. #Welovedogs? Please. We can do better

Here's some help: Strengths and differentiators should be relevant to the consumer experience—not your ego. We all like to believe it is quality of care and service that keeps clients in our corner, but that merely forms the baseline. Instead, turn your attention to what frustrates them about you or your practice or other practices. Hashtags such as “#welisten” or “#yourtimeisvaluable” might resonate more with clients.

#askyourclients

A few short years ago, many veterinarians believed specialization was the answer in becoming "unique." But now, specialists and multispecialty practices are less unique. As strange as it seems, specialization is no longer so special—at least to clients. Advanced training and extra letters don’t mean much unless people are aware of what they mean. Primary care veterinarians are still the triage gatekeeper who refers to specialists and provides the majority of day-in, day-out veterinary services.

Real differentiation lies in being special to your clients and relevant to their needs. To the public, we all look pretty much the same. To find out what sets your practice apart or what your clients are seeking, try asking them. No one can better articulate your strengths than they can. Ask:

  • Why did you choose our practice?
  • Why do you continue to come to our practice?
  • How would you describe what’s special about our clinic to others?
  • Is there anything that frustrates you about our practice?
  • What would improve your experience at our practice?

#daretobedifferent

Not surprisingly, most consumer disappointments and frustrations stem from communication issues. Ours is a business that depends on communication and yet we rarely train our staff or ourselves in the most effective techniques. Improving client communication is one of the most visible and least costly things we can do to differentiate our practice. Here are a few more:

  • Know the competition. How can you be different from “them” if you don’t know who “they” are? Take advantage of their weaknesses.
  • Know that size matters. Are you large well-equipped hospital or personalized boutique clinic?
  • Physical cleanliness. After all these years this should go without saying, but I have recently been in practices where client areas resemble a garage sale.
  • Be unique. Offer services not found at every other clinic such as physical therapy, behavioral training, informed and educated nutrition and parasite counseling, bonded house sitting and pet sitting.
  • Boast a niche clientele. Small businesses can focus more narrowly than large companies, appealing to and attracting a particular type of client. Who do you want to attract and why do you do to attract them? For example, are your hours attractive to commuters or could you provide delivery and facilitate transportation? Do you provide “feline friendly” offerings?
  • Ring for concierge. Distinguish your self with personalized service and limited in home care.
  • Offer flexible financing. Facilitate payment options for clients including insurance, wellness programs and third-party payment plans.

When you focus on what you do better than the competition—and point it out—you differentiate yourself and your business to gain the upper hand and a #pathtosuccess.

You can click here to visit DVM360.com website

A Great Technician & a Great Hospital-What Could Possibly Go Wrong?

From an article by Rebecca Tudor and published in her Catalyst Vets website

One of the hospitals we do a lot of surgery for was recently looking for a technician.

This is a great hospital where they practice good medicine, do their best to serve their clients and their pets, and just like every hospital we work at they have a very distinct culture.

There was also a registered veterinary technician I have personally known for over 15 years who was looking for a job. When this technician and I worked at the same hospital she was the one I picked to work with my dogs because she did an excellent job and I didn’t have to worry about the care they would receive.

It seems obvious then that they would be a perfect match- a great hospital and a great experienced technician.

When I was asked my opinion, I spoke truthfully that I loved this technician, that I chose her to take care of my own dogs but that I did not think she would be a “good fit” in their hospital’s culture. They decided to hire her anyway because they need to fill a position and she had good skills (sound familiar??)

As you might have guessed, things did not turn out very good and within about 2 months both parties agreed that things were not working and she left.

Was I surprised? Not in the least because if you have someone with all the skills who doesn’t fit your culture she will never be a good fit for your hospital.

Now we are 8 weeks down the road, the hospital has spent time, energy and money investing in someone who would never fit in their hospital. Hiring someone is expensive and hiring the WRONG person is even more expensive. Let alone, all the time and energy you have now wasted “on-boarding” the wrong person.

To me, even worse than how this bad hire affected the hospital is how that technician must feel. No matter what anyone says, being let go from a job is painful and embarrassing. You are full of shame and often wonder if you are any good at what you do. This can be devastating.

We often underestimate how badly hiring the wrong person can affect them and their wellbeing.

Are there things you can actually do to ensure that your next hire is the right hire?

Yes actually there are, stay tuned for the next post when I will share my secrets to finding rock stars (hint, it is really pretty simple) and how you can too! 

You can click here to visit CatalystVet.com website

Why Attitude Is More Important Than Intelligence

From an article by Travis Bradberry and published in the entrepreneur.com website

When it comes to success, it’s easy to think that people blessed with brains are inevitably going to leave the rest of us in the dust. But new research from Stanford University will change your mind (and your attitude).

Psychologist Carol Dweck has spent her entire career studying attitude and performance, and her latest study shows that your attitude is a better predictor of your success than your IQ.

Dweck found that people’s core attitudes fall into one of two categories: a fixed mindset or a growth mindset.

With a fixed mindset, you believe you are who you are and you cannot change. This creates problems when you’re challenged because anything that appears to be more than you can handle is bound to make you feel hopeless and overwhelmed.

People with a growth mindset believe that they can improve with effort. They outperform those with a fixed mindset, even when they have a lower IQ, because they embrace challenges, treating them as opportunities to learn something new.

Common sense would suggest that having ability, like being smart, inspires confidence. It does, but only while the going is easy. The deciding factor in life is how you handle setbacks and challenges. People with a growth mindset welcome setbacks with open arms.

According to Dweck, success in life is all about how you deal with failure. She describes the approach to failure of people with the growth mindset this way, “Failure is information—we label it failure, but it’s more like, ‘This didn’t work, and I’m a problem solver, so I’ll try something else.’”

Regardless of which side of the chart you fall on, you can make changes and develop a growth mindset. What follows are some strategies that will fine-tune your mindset and help you make certain it’s as growth oriented as possible.

Don’t stay helpless.

We all hit moments when we feel helpless. The test is how we react to that feeling. We can either learn from it and move forward or let it drag us down. There are countless successful people who would have never made it if they had succumbed to feelings of helplessness: Walt Disney was fired from the Kansas City Star because he “lacked imagination and had no good ideas,” Oprah Winfrey was fired from her job as a TV anchor in Baltimore for being “too emotionally invested in her stories,” Henry Ford had two failed car companies prior to succeeding with Ford, and Steven Spielberg was rejected by USC’s Cinematic Arts School multiple times. Imagine what would have happened if any of these people had a fixed mindset. They would have succumbed to the rejection and given up hope. People with a growth mindset don’t feel helpless because they know that in order to be successful, you need to be willing to fail hard and then bounce right back.

Be passionate.

Empowered people pursue their passions relentlessly. There’s always going to be someone who’s more naturally talented than you are, but what you lack in talent, you can make up for in passion. Empowered people’s passion is what drives their unrelenting pursuit of excellence. Warren Buffet recommends finding your truest passions using, what he calls, the 5/25 technique: Write down the 25 things that you care about the most. Then, cross out the bottom 20. The remaining 5 are your true passions. Everything else is merely a distraction.

Take action.

It’s not that people with a growth mindset are able to overcome their fears because they are braver than the rest of us; it’s just that they know fear and anxiety are paralyzing emotions and that the best way to overcome this paralysis is to take action. People with a growth mindset are empowered, and empowered people know that there’s no such thing as a truly perfect moment to move forward. So why wait for one? Taking action turns all your worry and concern about failure into positive, focused energy.

Then go the extra mile (or two)

Empowered people give it their all, even on their worst days. They’re always pushing themselves to go the extra mile. One of Bruce Lee’s pupils ran three miles every day with him. One day, they were about to hit the three-mile mark when Bruce said, “Let’s do two more.” His pupil was tired and said, “I’ll die if I run two more.” Bruce’s response? “Then do it.” His pupil became so angry that he finished the full five miles. Exhausted and furious, he confronted Bruce about his comment, and Bruce explained it this way: “Quit and you might as well be dead. If you always put limits on what you can do, physical or anything else, it’ll spread over into the rest of your life. It’ll spread into your work, into your morality, into your entire being. There are no limits. There are plateaus, but you must not stay there; you must go beyond them. If it kills you, it kills you. A man must constantly exceed his level.”

If you aren’t getting a little bit better each day, then you’re most likely getting a little worse—and what kind of life is that?

Expect results.

People with a growth mindset know that they’re going to fail from time to time, but they never let that keep them from expecting results. Expecting results keeps you motivated and feeds the cycle of empowerment. After all, if you don’t think you’re going to succeed, then why bother?

Be flexible.

Everyone encounters unanticipated adversity. People with an empowered, growth-oriented mindset embrace adversity as a means for improvement, as opposed to something that holds them back. When an unexpected situation challenges an empowered person, they flex until they get results.

Don't complain when things don't go your way.

Complaining is an obvious sign of a fixed mindset. A growth mindset looks for opportunity in everything, so there’s no room for complaints.

Bringing it all together

By keeping track of how you respond to the little things, you can work every day to keep yourself on the right side of the chart above.

You can click here to visit Entrepreneur.com website

Are you a Business Owner? – Here are 10 great questions to ask yourself

From an article by Ian Dickson and published in his unlocksuccess.biz blog

As a business owner you may want to ask yourself these 10 great questions. Over the last 11 years as a business coach I often find myself asking them of clients and other business owners I meet. So ask yourself….

  • 1. Customer base - Ask yourself: If I just bought this company, how would I sell more/expand what I sell to this customer base?
  • 2. Cash - Ask yourself: If I could invest this cash in any one part of this business/niche/product line for the biggest cumulative return/profit over the next 5 years, where would I invest it all?
  • 3. Market Leadership - Ask yourself: To remain the market leader for the next 25 years, where should I invest my time and company’s resources right now?
  • 4. Reputation - Ask yourself: What can I do to double the strength of our current reputation, within the next 6 months?
  • 5. Momentum - Ask yourself: What’s working well right now and how can I keep it working well?
  • 6. Key Staff - Ask yourself: Who are the 5 key people in my organization and what game/plan can I create with them so they’ll stick around for a long time?
  • 7. Systems - Ask yourself: What systems work so well that we take them for granted? How could we improve them?
  • 8. Responsiveness - Ask yourself: How quickly and completely do we respond to changes in our customers, market, technology, staff needs or economic conditions?
  • 9. Intellectual Property - Ask yourself: What do we have, IP-wise, that just isn’t being as leveraged as it could be?
  • 10. The X Factor - Ask yourself: What do we have that’s very, very special and that we could really maximize, just for the pleasure of it?

You can click here to visit Ian Dicksons website