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

Happy dogs and a cat in Australia

SPVS Profitability Survey

The SPVS Profitability Survey is brought to you by the team at Vet Viewer and enables you to securely and confidentially compare your practice’s profitablity to others in the industry. Get behind your headline numbers to understand how your practice is really performingThe free survey is open to all UK practices and early results suggest a clear divide between those practices which are performing well in financial terms and those with the potential for doubling – or more – the value of their veterinary business

Profitability is key to any business, yet we are often told that veterinary practices fare badly when it comes to this fundamental point. Do you know how your business is performing, and how it compares with others? To help you, we are launching the SPVS Profitability Survey.Using a few simple figures from your most recent set of accounts and practice management system, The SPVS Profitability Survey will give you an objective assessment of the profitability of your own practice, and allow you to benchmark yourself with other practices. What is more, the service is completely free.Needless to say all your data is kept completely confidential, and you will be able to securely access your results online. Pooled, anonymised data will be used by SPVS for reporting and help us to tailor CPD and expert advice to help for members, just one more way in which SPVS is supporting vets, developing practice.

You can click here to find out more

Mind Over Miller: Dress to impress that you should be taken seriously

From an article by Robert M. Miller and published in the website

Half a century ago, we had a dress code in our multidoctor mixed practice. Neat, clean coveralls were required for large animal house calls, and in the hospital, men wore slacks, dress shirts and ties with their lab coats. Women dressed just as conservatively (yes—we had women on our staff 50 years ago!).

Shorts and sneakers: Symbols of sacrifice

Our practice recruited young interns from veterinary schools around the country and around the world.

I was on field emergency duty one Sunday when I stopped by our hospital to replenish some supplies.

I noticed that our intern, who was on emergency hospital duty, was seeing a patient. He was dressed in shorts, a t-shirt and tennis shoes.I waited until the client left with her dog before reprimanding the young doctor.

“Bob,” I said, “you know we have a dress code in our practice for all doctors on duty.

”“Yes,” he responded, “but it’s Sunday and I want the client to understand that we offer weekend emergency service at some personal inconvenience, so when she sees me dressed this way she’ll appreciate it all the more.

”“I understand that,” I conceded. “However, there is a reason why we require a professional appearance, which begins with the way you dress.

”Cracking the (dress) code“

We are in Southern California, and our clientele is very diverse,” I continued. “It includes farmers and ranchers, laborers and immigrants, hippies and retirees, young and old. While young people may be unfazed by your appearance, the older folks expect a professional to look like a professional. Both extremes of the clientele spectrum will accept a conservatively dressed doctor, but the older group may lose confidence in a young doctor seeing patients in shorts and sneakers. Do you know why that is?

”Doctor Bob frowned while thinking for a moment. “Is it because older people are stuck in their ways and less open-minded?” he offered.

“No!” I exclaimed. “Health is a serious matter, and these people expect their doctor, whether for a human or for a pet, to speak, act and dress in a manner that is congruent with the gravity of the topic. A disheveled, lazy appearance may cause your client to question your knowledge, authority or care.

”Prefer shorts to slacks? Urine for a surprise

Bob pondered my explanation before pointing at me and saying, “Gotcha! I’ll know better next time!”“Besides,” I said, “sooner or later a dog is going to pee on your leg, and when it happens, you don’t want to be wearing shorts.

You can click here to visit the website

5 Lessons from Australia that will make life happier in your vet practice.

From an article by Dave Nicol and published in his newsletter

A life less formal breaks down barriers.

Aussies tend to take themselves a little bit less seriously than us Brits. ‘Mate-ship’ is a central theme of life in Australia and it certainly makes life in practice a lot of fun. There’s a real sense that we all ‘have each other’s back’.People like to laugh and things are a little less formal. One nice touch is in how we address clients. In the UK it was always ‘Mr or Mrs client’. Whereas here we’re almost always on first name terms. It’s a layer of formality that helps us to break down barriers and appear less like scary doctors.

Pet insurance is great, but you don’t need it to have fun in practice (or profit).

Given the huge uptake and reliance on pet insurance in the UK market, it was with a certain amount of trepidation that I began life in a market where uptake is somewhere south of 5%.

Most of my career was spent convincing pet owners in a deprived London borough to take action, so I’m used to working hard to get pet owners to take action. I was expecting more of the same.

The reality however surprised me. Pet owners here in Sydney at least (I’ve never worked elsewhere in Australia) are more than happy to put their hands in there pockets to look after their pets.

Our clinic is a fairly high achiever in terms of insured patients, but we’re nowhere near 20%. Yet our profitability is more than double what I was able to achieve in the UK.

The take home for me is that good communication and service are just as (if not more so) important as insurance. (And Sydney siders are every bit as nuts for their pets as the Brits).

Bones don’t help keep teeth clean!

Clinical standards here in Sydney are very high (comparable to anything in the UK). With one major blind spot - dentistry.

For some undetermined reason, Aussie vets seem hell bent on delegating the dental side of the profession to the local butcher. Almost without exception the advice is to offer chicken wings or bones to clean your pet’s teeth.

As you might expect, I see a lot of broken carnassial teeth, yet weirdly the incidence of periodontal disease seems no better than the UK or US. (Where bone feeding is widely discouraged.)

Quite why this quirk exists is anyone’s guess. Graduates are taught a scandalously (some might say negligently) small amount of dental training here, but this is true the world over. So quite why Aussie vets have adopted a “bones over brushing” mentality is anyone’s guess. Things are slowly improving, but it’s perplexing none-the-less.

New grads can become stars within six months

When I was a new grad, I got a good start with Croft Vets. But it’s not like this for many new graduates who are treated poorly and burn out.

Since opening my own practice I have taken on a new graduate each year and put them through a 12 month structured training and supportive coaching program.

The results surpassed my ambition and within 3-6 months each graduate has begun to pay their way.

By the end of the 12 months they are far better clinicians than I was at the same age and are looking forward to career built on this solid foundation. It’s great to see this young talent flourish.

Make space for gratitude in your life each day.

Taking a break from the travails of life in practice is important. Holidays, of course, do us the world of good. But taking a mini-timeout each day is just as important (and remedial). One of my favourite activities is to take 2-3 mindful minutes to listen to the birds sing. There’s nothing quite like the sound of a laughing kookaburra in the morning or a restful as the tuneful whistles of magpies in the evening to help maintain gratitude in your heart.

You can click here to visit Dave Nicols website

3 Crucial Tips for Improving the Quality of Your Hires

From an article by Stacy Purcell and published in LinkedIn Pulse website

Hiring great people is NOT easy. If it was, every company would be doing it.

Obviously, this is not the case. However, you’re not concerned with every company—you’re only concerned with your company, and rightly so.

Unfortunately, the hiring process is like any other process: the people involved in it are susceptible to forming habits. Of course, habits can be both good and bad, and many times when it comes to the hiring process, those habits are bad.

So not only must you identify the bad habits, but you must also break them and replace them with good ones. Then you must practice those good habits until they become second nature. That, all by itself, will improve your hiring process.

However, what specific things should you do? What are some of the good habits of which we speak?Below are three crucial tips for improving the quality of your hires:

Know the job description and position thoroughly.

This is ground zero. If you “miss the boat” at this early stage, then it almost doesn’t matter what you do the rest of the way. You can’t have a fuzzy idea of what the person will do within this role. You need to know exactly what they will do, including all of the duties and responsibilities involved.

Only then can you formulate a crystal-clear profile of the ideal candidate, including their skill level and experience, as well as their soft skills and interpersonal prowess. After all, it’s difficult to hire exactly what you want if you don’t know exactly what you want.

Assemble an interview TEAM.

Having just one or two people interview the candidate is a mistake, especially if the people will be directly involved with the position in question. You not only need to have multiple people interview the person, but they must also represent a cross-section of your organization.

This means people from other departments should be involved, including those who can bring a different mindset and mentality to the task of deciding if this person would be a good fit.

Have a conversation, not an interrogation

You need to know as much as you possibly can about each candidate. How do you acquire that knowledge? By getting them to open up about themselves, and the best way to do that is to get them to relax and lower their defenses.

You want the person to talk about not just their professional goals, but also about what motivates them and even their weaknesses.

The goal is to have a candid conversation, not a one-sided interrogation. If a member of your team is especially warm and inviting and able to make candidates feel at ease, then consider letting that team member talk with candidates first.

The list above represents three good habits that every organization should incorporate into its hiring process.

Before you can make them a habit, though, you have to implement them and utilize them at least once.If you have questions about your company’s hiring process and what you can do to improve it, then consider reaching out to a search firm with the experience necessary to help identify and recruit the best candidates in the marketplace.

You can click here to visit the vetrecruiter website

You can click here to visit the LinkedIn Pulse website

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Is Your Thinking Reducing Your Resilience?

From an article by Natasha Wilkes and published in her High Performance Veterinary Blog

Resilience is the ability to bounce back from adversity, steer through obstacles, overcome challenges, cope with change and reach out for help.

Resilience is a skill.

It isn’t either/or – you have it or you don’t.

It is a continuum and can be developed. Resilience is essential to success and happiness.

As veterinarians, we are challenged on a daily basis. How we perceive ourselves and our skills, dealing with clients, managing busy schedules and time constraints, meeting targets and then making time for ourselves, family and friends.

Resilience isn’t just for when a major crisis occurs. You need resilience every day. To manage your stress levels when you find them rising. To calm an angry or upset client. When the unexpected occurs in surgery. To challenge your thinking style when you start to think you aren’t good enough, a fake, silly or hopeless.

Resilience is comprised of 7 abilities and there are a number of skills you can develop to build your resilience.

One skill is to avoid thinking traps.

Thinking traps are common ways of thinking when adversity occurs that reduces your resilience. Aaron Beck uncovered seven thinking traps that make people particularly vulnerable to depression.

Magnifying and Minimising the Thinking Trap

Most people magnify the negative and minimise the positive

What does that mean? When an event occurs that has a negative impact, some people will magnify their thinking, emotions and behaviour that results. It is experienced as more stressful. Our brain is always scanning our environment for potential threats so it is easier to find the negative in situations.

When a positive event occurs, it is downplayed. For example: If a client complains, your attention is drawn to the complaint. Rather than focussing on the specifics of the complaint and the situation, the individual begins to magnify the negative thoughts and emotions that occur as a result of the complaint. This leads to unresourceful thinking patterns such as being a hopeless vet, I’ll never be great with clients, clients are a pain, I’ll never get another job, etc, etc. The individual becomes more emotional which impacts their behaviour negatively. This reduces resilience.

When the individual is given a compliment or positive feedback, it can be common to say ‘it’s nothing’, not take on positive feedback and minimise it.Does this seem familiar to you?

Have you done this before? (I was an expert at this!)What should you do instead?

Flip it. You should minimise the negative and magnify the positive.

When an event occurs that results in a negative outcome, don’t ignore it. Look at the event and consider what you could learn from this. What could you have done differently and what will you do next time.

When a positive event occurs, take the time to appreciate, savour and celebrate it. Store it in your mind or write it down to look at on those challenging days.

Next time an event occurs either in the practice or at home, become aware of your internal chatter and feelings. What are you thinking and feeling? Do you magnify and minimise?

Our brain is designed to keep us safe so it is scanning for threats. Negative events and emotions are more easily noticed and created by the brain which is why it’s so easy to slip into negativity. This is why it is so important to become aware of any positive event or emotion and to practice gratitude.

You can click here to visit the High Performance Vets website