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

Sea Lion in Cabo San Lucas Chases Boat and Comes Aboard for a Fish!

I rocked my hospital's inventory

From an article by Dawn Rosch and published online in the website

Now we handle medications, therapeutic diets and flea, tick and heartworm preventives better. And save money in the process.

My father always told me, “Manage the pennies and the dollars will come.” When I took over as veterinary practice manager, I went line by line through the expenses and looked for areas to save money.

One such area was our inventory management system. Having been fully trained in that in my previous job in retail management, I worked with a newly appointed team of veterinary technicians to:

    • set minimum and maximum inventory thresholds for every item
    • discontinue medications and dosages that weren’t regularly used
    • tighten up security on therapeutic diets and heartworm and flea-tick preventives

    Stopped buying what we didn’t need

    The veterinary technician team and I analyzed every inventory item and size based on use. If the item wasn’t selling, we returned it. We figured which size of each inventory item was the best seller and quit stocking the other sizes; we either returned them or let them sell through if they were popular enough.

    Next, we determined the total supply to maintain on the shelf—based on weekly sales—to maintain on the shelf and returned excess quantities. We set our reorder point at a month’s supply, comfortable that this would avoid the risk of depletion because 99 percent of the time we get next-day delivery.

    Lastly, we asked the veterinarians to review medications on hand and decide whether we really needed to keep all of them on hand. Unnecessary medications were returned.

    Rather than just ordering more flea, tick and heartworm preventive as we ran low in various sizes, we chose to continually balance our supply prior to reordering. Working with the pharmaceutical representatives, we exchanged sizes we were heavy in for those we were light in. We decided that any new products available in various sizes would have a three-month trial and only the best-selling size would be stocked after that point.

    The bad news was that $3,000 of product overstock was expired and had to be disposed of during the transition. The good news was that the year after we implemented our new rules our inventory dropped from $125,000 down to $90,000.

    Watched our preventives

    When you walk into a department store, you see the jewelry locked in a glass case. I treat our flea, tick and heartworm preventives like a jewelry department.

    In the past, products for dispensing were located in four areas of the hospital, unlocked on various countertops. Single doses were kept inside plastic bags alongside the dispensing stock. The bulk stock was kept in an unlocked storeroom. All employees were allowed to restock product. Inventory was counted monthly and was consistently off by 75 to 100 doses.

    To tighten up security, I consolidated the dispensable product in one location at the reception counter and bought a nut-and-bolt organizer from the hardware store to manage all the single doses. Each drawer contains an index card listing the number of doses. Once dispensed, the receptionist writes the client’s name next to the dose number, and when the card is completed it’s returned to me. This way, we verify that every dose dispensed has been accounted for.

    When we replenish general inventory, a moderate amount of surplus product is kept under lock and key in the pharmacy. Only one employee has a key and is in charge of filling the display. She keeps a log to record the inventory coming into and out of the cabinet. Our main locked storeroom contains the bulk of our supply and is managed by a different employee. She replenishes the stock in the pharmacy cabinet, maintains her own storeroom log and double-checks the pharmacy log for accuracy.

    That’s not all. Flea, tick and heartworm products are counted every two weeks during peak season. If there is a discrepancy, I want to know immediately. With this new program, inventory of these common items is only off by a few doses.

    Considering we sell approximately $150,000 worth of these products annually, the savings with appropriate inventory management is significant.

    Kept a closer eye on the kibble

    When it comes to therapeutic diets we carry, I expanded the kennel manager’s job description to include food inventory management. Prior to this, a receptionist would take a client’s order, a technician would order the food plus whatever extra they thought we needed, the food would go into the basement storage area and be brought to the front and paid for when the client arrived.

    Now with one person in charge, all the duties—including counting and reporting inventory—are streamlined and one person is accountable. The food is also labeled and charges entered into the computer upon arrival, thereby ensuring charges aren’t missed and clients have to wait that much less to take their purchases. Veterinarians are asked to make a list of food to have on hand so no guesswork goes into what’s in stock.

    A remaining concern was treats. The hospital assortment was too vast, with numerous slow sellers. I spoke to our sales representatives and was able to return almost all of our expired and slow-selling treats. We now only carry top sellers.

    Lastly, I added an online store to our website in hopes of decreasing our burden of in-store food inventory management. Unfortunately (or not depending on how you look at it), our clients have been slow to catch on and seem to prefer to stop by and chat and visit with us while picking up their food.

    You can click here to visit the website

    A message from Veterinary Practice Magazine

    How to be the best

    Let me tell you the story of the fish and chip shop owner in New Zealand. He was in a little country town, can’t remember the name of the town, but he’d been voted the best fish and chip shop in New Zealand and his results were incredible. People queued outside his fish and chip shop every night of the week to buy fish and chips which is a bit of a shame because he didn’t open on Monday and Tuesday nights!

    But I managed to catch up with him and ask, “How come you’ve been voted the best fish and chip shop in New Zealand?”

    He said “It's simple Winston... you did it.”

    “Now hang on," I responded, "I’ve never met you before. I don’t really know how I could have done it.”

    “No,” he said, "not directly. Your advice did it. You see I used to work for the government railways and when they were being privatised I knew I’d be laid off. I was getting a redundancy payment so I decided that I would open a fish and chip shop in our town because there wasn’t one. I happened to go to your seminar, Winston, and I heard what you said. It bored into my brain... find out what the best would do and do it. So, you see, before I opened my fish and chip shop I went and asked a number of people in my town - if we had the best fish and chip shop in the country, what would it do differently?”

    “You know it’s amazing the things they told me weren’t rocket science, but when I did them it made me the best. They suggested, for example, that the batter should be the same size as the fish rather than ten times the size like it is in normal fish and chip shops. They said that the batter should be light and golden brown which meant I had to change the fat more regularly than most fish and chip shops. That I should always wear a clean white uniform without fat splatters and perhaps blue and white tiles would look great in the shop. Simple things, but I did them and now I am the best.”

    What’s the moral of this story? Simple!

    Ask what the best would do... and do it!

    You can click here to visit Winston Marsh's website

    Leaders, Give Yourself This Mirror Test

    From an article by Jack Welch and published on-line in LinkedIn Pulse

    What’s the number one quality a leader, at any level, can’t live without? Intelligence? Charisma? The ability to see around corners?

    The possible answers are myriad. But above all, I would argue, in good times, and especially in bad, it’s positive energy. Nothing matters more. You can’t come to work with your head down, scared. You might have a lot of fears about the competition, or what’s happening out there in the market, or you might have some problems at home.

    Leave the problems at home, home, and leave the fears in the back of your head.

    Now I don’t mean you have to be a cheerleader out there blindly cheering with the rain coming in the windows. But you have to relentlessly exude a can-do attitude — "We can do it.” “No matter what comes our way, we, together, can do it.

    " You’ve got to be out there, all the time, saying that. "We’ve got to win!” has to be your mindset and you can never let go of it.

    The last thing you want to do is be a bore. When you wake up in the morning, give yourself a good mirror test.

    If you look like you’re going to be a sulking, pouting bore, slap yourself in the face before you go out to the office. Don’t come in to work with your head down, droning on. It’d be like a football coach coming to a game — because business is a game, too — saying, “Well, we don’t have a chance. The other team is too good. They’re too strong. I don’t know what we’re going to do.”

    That coach wouldn’t be around long. And you shouldn’t be around long as a manager either with that attitude. No one wants to feel like they’re in the losing locker room where everyone has their head in a towel. You have to create the atmosphere of a winning locker room where the champagne is being popped — as often as you can. You have to rally the team to come up with solutions — be they game-changing ideas or small innovations. Now, you won’t have every solution, but you want your team coming in every day driven to find them and unwilling to let up until they do. And it’s your job to make an example of the people who do that — highlight them, show them off as the type of person you want around.

    Otherwise, you've lost the game — not to mention your team’s hearts and minds — before you’ve even stepped on the field.

    You can click here to visit the LinkedIn Pulse website

    Join us for a day of inspiration

    Vet Dynamics announces another Veterinary Business Accelerator event

    The Veterinary Business Accelerator event is hosted by Alan Robinson, a respected industry expert and founder of Vet Dynamics. In the face of corporate domination, his knowledge has helped many independent practices survive, grow and prosper.

    Date: Thursday 9th July 2015

    Price: £97 (excl. VAT)

    Attend the VBA, and learn how to:

    • Reduce your workload with effective planning
    • Get ahead of corporate competitors by developing an effective marketing strategy
    • Increase your income with solid financial solutions
    • Develop strategy that guarantees financial freedom
    • Motivate and inspire your team
    • Attract and retain high-quality clientele

    And much more!

    You can click here to visit the Vet Dynamics website