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

Dogs vs Water

Are these five deadly sins slaying your exam room efforts?

From an article by Dave Nicol and published in his Hamster Wheel Website

Over almost two decades as a vet, manager and hospital owner I’ve witnessed a lot of bad behaviours in the exam room. Things that stop animals getting the treatments they need. It often looks like we are unwittingly shooting ourselves in the foot.

So here are the top five ways vets (and nurses) sabotage their good intentions leading to bad outcomes for patients and practice. And I’ve dropped in some tips on how to improve and have fantastic appointments.

We destroy trust before we open our mouths.

Leaving syringes, needles and dust bunnies lying around the exam room is bad enough. But wearing sweat soaked scrubs and a blood stained face mask takes things to a whole new level of gross. Remember, “clients don’t care how much we know until they know how much we care”. So create a clean, safe and smell-free exam room space that shows you care about their experience.

We cut to the chase too quickly.

Not stopping to say hello to shake a client’s hand or greet their pet by name/give a liver treat is a massive waste of a chance to build rapport. Sounds simple but so many vets cut straight to the chase rather than build up some rapport first.

Running behind schedule.

We’re busy, I get it. But so are your clients and they won’t forgive being late each time they come to see you. Respect their time by running on schedule.

We try to look clever, but only succeed in making them feel stupid.

Big, fancy “vet words” may make you feel and look clever, but I guarantee you they are alienating your clients. It’s a classic medic-mistake to try to look clever by showing off your profound knowledge of a topic. But bear in mind that the average reading age of your client is likely to be lower high school. Not tertiary education. All your big words are doing is making them feel stupid.

So be sure to talk in plain English if you want to get your message across clearly.

We think they won’t want to pay for our services.

If you see lots of clients where “cost is an issue” then I guarantee you that you have a problem. - you may be the problem

This is very common problem because vets generally think about 60% of clients see price as an issue. But AHAA studies show that the number of clients that actually have real price concerns is closer to 5%. If you believe your clients won’t pay, then guess what – this will be your frustrating reality. But trust me, if you take pride in and believe in your skills, plus make clear, confident recommendations then people will follow your advice willingly.

I’ve seen all of these mistakes and a few more besides in the course of my research into exam room communication.

And is it any wonder? Vets are not taught very much about communication skills at all. Instead this vital element of clinical success is left to us (as students) to pick up when we are out there watching other vets in practice.

So why is it a surprise that we have a profession trained to perform a thousand subtle acts of sabotage?

It doesn’t have to be like this and it’s not really your fault that this has happened. But it is a huge issue affecting pet health outcomes and business performance. So it is our job as care givers to fix this.

You can click here to visit Dave Nicols website

Why are they not like me?

From an article by Debbie Robinson and published in the VetDynamics website

So many owner/managers and executives lament the fact that their teams are not like them.

  • “Why aren’t they as driven and motivated as I am?”
  • “Why don’t they work as hard and with as much commitment as I do?”
  • “Why are they content and comfortable in their comfort zones and not ambitious for growth like I am?”

Well sorry to break it to you they just aren’t the same as you, so get over it and manage it!

The role of a manager today is to understand each individual’s motivation and work to ensure that this is matched and optimised. No two people‘s motivation will be the same. Understanding what it is that makes each team member ‘tick’ is vital to managerial success. One size does not fit all!

In these challenging times where change is taking place at an unprecedented rate we must ensure that managerial skills keep abreast of the rapidly evolving cultural shifts that are driving a different attitude to work and life in our employees. It is now normal not only to change jobs and even careers several times in our working life. People re-locate not just nationally but internationally. It is now common for people to marry several times and have more than one family. It’s like having several different lifetimes in one!

There has never been a time when so many life changing decisions need to be taken on such a consistent and accelerated basis. We all experience some form of change, some may be minor some may be major. We cannot stop change but how we deal with it is within our control. With knowledge, skill and effort you can learn to direct change. Mastering this can help you move towards the outcome you desire and is a vital skill for success in the 21st century.

Change is a fundamental for any form of evolution or growth. It is like the wind that blows. It is neither good nor bad, it just is. We must learn to harness the wind of change by settling a different sail. Today, the winds are gusting faster than ever before in the evolution of man. We are creating more opportunities for more people to live the life they choose. Never before have so many people been so free and able to live the life that they choose.

Never before have so many been so aware of their environment and felt motivated to improve it in some way. Be it a greater health consciousness or environmental awareness, globally, people are finding their voice, coming together via social networking and driving positive change. Now is the time to acquire the ability to steer and maximise change. Learning how to steer allows you to benefit from some of the changes, learn from others and lead your life into calmer waters.

By learning how to lead your thoughts, feelings, attitudes, actions and habits in the direction of your choices, it allows us to achieve the creation of our desires, goals and dreams. The results of your actions are the fruits of your thoughts.

Times are changing and changing fast. You need to understand what makes each member of your team tick. What will motivate them to achieve your desired outcome of business success? Consider what it is you need to do differently to incentivise and motivate your teams.

To get you started consider how you stack up in the following 7 areas:

  • 1.Clarity
  • 2.Flexibility
  • 3.Trust
  • 4.Respect
  • 5.Authority
  • 6.Responsibility
  • 7.Corporate social responsibility

There is only one thing we can be absolutely certain of in the future and that is more change. It carries with it the seed of opportunity for those that want to steer their own ship, set a better sail and flow with the current.

You can click here to visit the VetDynamics website

Preparing to Sell Your Practice

A practice tip by Dr Joel Parker and published as part of a series in the Practice Tips and Ideas Newsletter in the Veterinary Practice Solutions website

A few basics to consider.

Selling your practice can be a tough decision. After all your hard years of work, your dream is to sell it for more than you invested in it, right?

Well, not so fast. Where are the buyers? How do you determine it’s actual value so that it is fair for you and fair for the buyer.

Too high a price can encourage a prospective buyer to simply open up across the street.

A major factor that comes into play is the confidence your buyer has that the practice will continue to run after you have left. The higher this confidence, the higher the value. So what builds this confidence? Two things:


Profit is the amount of money left over after expenses. Practices that are well managed are more efficient and they have more money left over after bills. They spend and consume less than they make. They are tightly run.

Poorly run practices are less efficient, with more money spent than comes in the door. This leads to the use of external funding such as Lines of Credit and credit cards and high, profit eating, finance charges.

The bottom line is that a well run practice produces a good steady stream of profit. This is what shows up on your Profit- Loss statements and is a key factor in determining the value of a practice.

A somewhat less tangible value is the:

Owner-dependency factor.

The more dependent the practice is on the owner to promote and do the work, the less the value to a potential buyer.

Compare this to a team-driven, owner-independent practice (with less owner-time) will have a higher value.

Two good “rules of thumb” to follow are:

1) Push your practice growth with good external and internal marketing and decrease your expenses, and aim to get your profit to a minimum of 30%. This leaves room for a prospective buyer to pay off the purchase debt load and leave some left over for professional expenses (payment of the new owner or associate).

2) Get your total time in the practice down to 25 hours a week or less. With good efficient systems in place and the tools to monitor performance you can delegate yourself out of the practice and maximise your sale.

You can click here to visit the Veterinary Practice Solutions website

Communication is the Key

From an article by Heather Akerord, published in the LinkedIn Pulse website

Having good communication skills is essential for anyone looking to achieve career success. It’s a key requirement on almost every job vacancy posting and it’s often an objective to be achieved if you are looking to gain a promotion. But what should you do if want to brush up on your own communication skills?

There are a few simple steps which will go a long way to making you a better communicator at work:

People want to be valued

Being good at communicating is not just about what you say but as much about what you hear when others are speaking. Being an attentive listener will allow you to pick up on small nuggets of important information that you can use to help build a rapport with the other person and could enable you to share some valuable insight and demonstrate your own knowledge and experienced. Ask questions – and be interested in their replies – and where possible reiterate what they have said to you in a future response to demonstrate that you have taken on board what has been said and retained the information. As a manager, it is important that your team know that you are open to hearing their concerns and are keen to work with them to address them.

Make people want to listen to you

There are some people that we just can’t help but sit up and take notice of when they have something to say. That’s because we know what they share is both interesting and relevant to us; think about what you want others to do with the information – are you trying to motivate, encourage, think about a challenge from a different perspective? By understanding what you want those you are reaching out to then do, will help you focus on keeping what you have to say relevant, timely and pertinent to their role and effectively address the key points.

Consider how you like to be spoken to when speaking to others

It can often be more beneficial to talk to somebody directly – whether that is face to face or over the telephone – rather than communicating through an email for example where it can be very easy for a recipient to interpret the words in a different way from which you intended. By engaging in direct conversation, this gives you a better opportunity to convey different emotions or emphasis through your voice, tone and the language you use. Remember that when you are dealing with people, everybody will respond in a different manner – it is important to take this into account and to consider how what you are about to say will be heard by other people before speaking.

You can click here to visit the LinkedIn Pulse website

Your 3 types of clients

From a blog by Winston Marsh and published in his online blog

When it comes to generating more sales all businesses have only three types of clients to go after.

The clients you’ve had and lost.

If you’ve lost clients, for whatever reason, there’s no real value in trying to win them back. Most businesses would be best to remember the ‘three attempts’ rule. You should make two attempts to win back clients you think you have lost. Then you should make contact with them a third time to make sure you’ve lost them. For example, the third attempt could be a call to let them know that it would be in their interest to see one of your competitors. No matter how you do it, it is wise to make three genuine attempts at winning clients back. If you fail, then forget them. Spend your time on somebody more profitable.

The clients you’ve never had.

Most people love to chase these mythical clients. They do so generally by spending a lot of time, money and effort on fancy advertisements, handbills, leaflets, email messages, blogs and other social media interaction and brochures only to discover, the hard way, that advertising and promotion is the most expensive way of obtaining new clients.

The third, and most overlooked, group are:

The clients you already have.

Most businesses ignore existing clients and hardly ever follow them up to get further business. And how exactly do you do that? Simple, you give them great client service; you make them your friends; you contact them regularly and talk to them; you love them almost to death. The result: more business, more referrals and more new clients.Remember, the best clients you’ll ever have are the clients you’ve already got. Love them and they will love you in return!

You can click here to visit the Winston Marsh website