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

John Sheridan speaking at Alpha-Vet Practice Management Conference, Budapest, Nov 21st 2015

Develop a five year plan in 6 steps to ensure long term success

From an article by Wells Fargo Practice Finance and published on line by the AAHA

Most veterinarians experience a range of transitions throughout their professional lives--from buying into a practice partnership, to purchasing or starting a new practice, upgrading and expanding an office space, and planning a practice sale. Consequently, a veterinarian's financial support needs will vary during his or her professional lifecycle, depending on the type of transition.

For maximum success during these periods of growth and change, veterinarians should create an active 5-year plan by following these six steps:

1. Map out key growth milestones.

Create a plan that shows when you will launch your hospital, expand exam rooms, and upgrade equipment. Outline exactly how you want your career and hospital to grow, thus enabling you to prepare physically, emotionally, and financially.

2. Identify a core team of reliable advisors

- who can support and guide you through the various phases of your career. Surround yourself with people you trust to help you meet your 5-year plan goals. Though members may change as your career evolves, your core group should initially include:

  • Lender or bank: helps structure financing that fits within your budget
  • Attorney: negotiates and drafts contracts, leases, and employment documents, and provides tax advice and planning
  • Accountant: provides accurate hospital accounting and filing of tax documents
  • Insurance broker: preserves hospital value by insuring it against loss

3. Develop a well-constructed cash-flow projection

Achieve profitability while demonstrating your plans for realistic hospital growth. Keep a monthly cash flow projection for 12 to 24 months, and an annual projection for 5 years. Update and regularly track your projections. The resulting net cash flow figure may indicate a need to increase your annual revenues in order to maintain current standards or meet future goals. 

4. Account for rapid changes in veterinary technology.

If you are a hospital owner, your 5-year plan needs to take this into account. Computerized client files and instant information sharing are becoming more prevalent every year. Stay current with the competition and meet the expectations of today's consumers by including funding for technology upgrades.

5. Develop a marketing plan and strategy.

Marketing helps secure your current cash flow and attract new clients. An effective 5-year plan includes marketing tactics to support your hospital through a particular transition period. For example, if you begin to provide a wider array of services, how will you reach out to clients and prospects to start scheduling for these services in advance to see a quick return on your investment? Will you use client letters and referrals, a direct mail campaign, a promotional discount? Map out exactly when and how you will market your new services and meet your goals.

6. Maintain a healthy credit profile.

Since you will likely need funding for any significant hospital growth initiatives, a cornerstone of your 5-year plan is maintaining a healthy credit profile to ensure you qualify for financing at the best possible rates. To help build a healthy credit profile:

  • Maintain at least two revolving credit accounts to show you are credit worthy.
  • Demonstrate you know how to manage credit wisely--do not use all the credit available to you.
  • Do not apply for credit with too many lenders within a short timeframe, as this can negatively impact your credit rating.
  • Always make on-time monthly payments to demonstrate you are reliable in paying back your loans.

You can click here to visit the AAHA website

John Sheridan speaking at London Vet Show and Alpha-Vet Practice Management Conference - Budapest, Hungary

I’m very much looking forward to presenting in the Business Stream at the London Vet Show at Olympia on Thursday November 19th and the Alpha-Vet Practice Management Conference in Budapest, Hungary on Saturday November 21st. Hope to see you there – here are the details

What’s new at your veterinary practice?

From an article by staff and published in Veterinary Economics

These are the new services that Well-Managed Practice owners told us in Benchmarks 2015 they’ve added in the past two years or will add in the next two years. What would you add to your veterinary practice?

Are you hungry for new and better in your healing practices and client service? Do you have a big, audacious goal for 2016 and beyond? Or—and be honest—have you fallen into a bit of a rut? Below you see what the answer is for practices surveyed annually by Wutchiett Tumblin and Associates.

In Benchmarks 2015: A Survey of Well-Managed Practices, we asked what’s new on the medical menu and what’s coming soon. How does this compare to your history and plans?

Services that need mostly your smarts

All about pet food? If you’re with the 52 percent of respondents said they were planning on adding nutrition counseling in the next two years.

Another high-interest item was preventive-care packages. What makes preventive-care plans most successful? Focus on three key things:

  • A real commitment from clinic staff to promote and sell the plans
  • A goal for the number of plans to sell
  • Reasonable expectations of success.

Services that likely require equipment or more space

You can click here to visit the website

What a cheek!

From an article by Winston March

In a recent article I expressed my amazement and discontent at the hide of people who want some of your time to answer a simple survey. The thing you can almost always be sure of is that it will neither be simple nor will it only involve a little of your time. Now I agree it’s great to get feedback from clients, customer and patients but I think there are some ways that are better than others.

Remember, most people love to be asked for their opinions and will cheerfully volunteer them if you do it the right way. So, if you want to get feedback there are a couple of suggestions I’d make:

  • Always ask nicely and in a personal fashion. The best way? Have someone with a bright bubbly personality phone them.
  • Treat them with courtesy and respect as valued clients.
  • Explain why you are phoning and what their responses will achieve.
  • Find out if it’s convenient to continue, or get an alternative time and phone back when promised.
  • Keep the questions simple, easy to understand and easy to answer.
  • Limit the survey to 5-7 minutes.
  • If you want more feedback, ask them if it will be okay to phone again and make a time to do so.
  • Thank them with sincerity.
  • Surprise them with a token of appreciation

You can click here to visit Winston Marsh’s Blog

How Being Busy Makes You Unproductive

From an article by Travis Bradberry published in the LinkedIn Pulse website

Being busy has somehow become a badge of honor. The prevailing notion is that if you aren’t super busy, you aren’t important or hard working. The truth is, busyness makes you less productive.

When we think of a super busy person, we think of a ringing phone, a flood of e-mails, and a schedule that’s bursting at the seams with major projects and side-projects hitting simultaneously. Such a situation inevitably leads to multi-tasking and interruptions, which are both deadly to productivity.

“Beware the barrenness of a busy life.” -Socrates

David Meyer from the University of Michigan published a study recently that showed that switching what you’re doing mid-task increases the time it takes you to finish both tasks by 25%.

“Multitasking is going to slow you down, increasing the chances of mistakes,” Meyer said. “Disruptions and interruptions are a bad deal from the standpoint of our ability to process information.”

Microsoft decided to study this phenomenon in their workers and found that it took people an average of 15 minutes to return to their important projects (such as writing reports or computer code) every time they were interrupted by e-mails, phone calls, or other messages. They didn’t spend the 15 minutes on the interrupting messages, either; the interruptions led them to stray to other activities, such as surfing the web for pleasure.

“I was surprised by how easily people were distracted and how long it took them to get back to the task,” said Eric Horvitz, the Microsoft research scientist behind the study. “If it’s this bad at Microsoft, it has to be bad at other companies, too.”

Beyond interruptions, busyness reduces productivity because there’s a bottleneck in the brain that prevents us from concentrating on two things at once. When you try to do two things at once, your brain lacks the capacity to perform both tasks successfully. In a breakthrough study, René Marois and his colleagues at Vanderbuilt University used MRIs to successfully pinpoint a physical source for this bottleneck.

“We are under the impression that we have this brain that can do more than it can,” Marois explained.

We’re so enamored with multitasking that we think we’re getting more done, even though our brains aren’t physically capable of this. Regardless of what we might think, we are most productive when we manage our schedules enough to ensure that we can focus effectively on the task at hand.

If you read my recent article on mindfulness, you’ll recall that practicing mindfulness increases your ability to focus and concentrate because it increases brain density in the anterior cingulate cortex (ACC). As it turns out, multitasking has the opposite effect on this critical brain area. Researchers from the University of Sussex compared the amount of time people spend on multiple devices (such as texting while watching TV) to MRI scans of their brains. They found that high multitaskers had less brain density in the ACC. It’s as if being busy all the time (via multitasking) trains your brain to be mindless and unproductive.

I doubt these findings completely surprise you as we’ve all felt the distracting pull of competing tasks when we’re busy. So why do we keep doing it?

Researchers from the University of Chicago have the answer. They found that the belief that busyness is a sign of success and hard work is so prevalent that we actually fear inactivity. A recent study there coined the term idleness aversion to describe how people are drawn to being busy regardless of how busyness harms their productivity.

The researchers also found that we use busyness to hide from our laziness and fear of failure. We burn valuable time doing things that aren’t necessary or important because this busyness makes us feel productive. For instance, responding to non-urgent e-mails when you know you have a big project that you need to finish. It’s tough, but you need to recognize when you’re using trivial activities to shield yourself from sloth or fear.

Bringing It All Together

We are naturally drawn to being busy despite the fact that this hinders our productivity. As it turns out, you really do have to slow down to do your best. When you don’t, the consequences can be severe.

You can click here to visit the LinkedIn Pulse website