Practice Management News and Views from around the World – April 2014

Why Russians use dashboard cameras


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What keeps veterinary practice owners and employees up at night?

From an article published in the dvm360.com online magazine

The Veterinary Hospital Managers Association (VHMA) recently conducted a survey to find out what keeps you awake at night—yes, you.

The results provide insights into the industry topics that will require attention over the coming months and years. To find out what is keeping you up at night, an electronic survey was administered to attendees at three conferences: the 2012 North American Veterinary Conference, the 2012 Ontario Veterinary Medical Associate Conference, and the 2012 Western Veterinary Conference. The question—what keeps you awake at night?—prompted respondents to rank their top professional concerns.

Respondents identified their position by job title and selected from a list of 22 issues, the three that were the most perplexing or stressful or interfered with their ability to perform their jobs. The issues on the list were: profit margin, cash flow, budget management, gross income, staff training, staff recruiting/hiring, staff scheduling, staff relations, associate contracts, wages and benefits, associate behavior, maintaining policies and procedures, inventory management and controls, employee theft/shrinkage, marketing efforts, client retention, legal and regulatory compliance, strategic planning, exit strategy, IT, medical records, burnout, and other.

Among all respondents, the top concerns in order of importance were:

  • Staff training (31 percent)
  • Staff scheduling (28 percent)
  • Staff relations (27 percent)
  • Profit margin (26 percent)
  • Burnout (22 percent)
  • Client retention (22 percent)

Specifically among practice managers and office managers, the key issues were: staff training (42 percent), profit margin (24 percent), cash flow (13 percent), and staff relations (12 percent). The concerns of this group are reflective of their job responsibilities: achieving financial health while maintaining employee satisfaction.

Among associate veterinarians, client retention was the chief concern, with 30 percent of respondents selecting this issue. In today’s economic climate, determining how to attract and retain clients is a priority for any business. Other key issues among associates included: staff relations (27 percent), staff training (24 percent), and wages and benefits (20 percent).

The issues identified by hospital administrators reflect their broad responsibilities and their focus on both personnel and financial oversight. Concern about staff relations (36 percent)—a priority among this group—is followed by issues related to profit margin (24 percent), and staff training (15 percent).

For veterinary practice owners, profit margin, which was selected by 47 percent of respondents, was the chief concern, followed by cash flow (28 percent), and client retention (27 percent), all issues related to a strong bottom line.

This snapshot of the concerns among veterinary management professionals highlights the “pinch points” within the profession. According to Christine Shupe, VHMA’s executive director, the association’s goal was to provide a good baseline analysis of where the profession currently is and what changes are needed. The results indicate that for any practice to function effectively, the needs and issues of a diverse group of stakeholders, those holding various positions within the practice must be addressed.

You can click here to visit the dvm360.com website

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Vets4Pets owner to float

From a news update by Paul Gadsby of Growth UK

Pets at Home, which owns Vets4Pets and Companion Care, has unveiled plans for a £275m flotation on the London Stock Exchange.

The initial public offering (IPO) is expected to value the company, which runs 369 stores and 246 vet surgeries across the UK, at £1.5bn.

The company, which was bought in 2010 by US private equity group KKR for £955m, hopes the share offering will aid its expansion plans.

Vets Practice Growth UK founder Paul Green said of the move: “This is going to put a lot of money into the company and give their ambitious plans a huge boost.

“Vets4Pets is at the moment a nuisance to independents, but is now set to become a fierce competitor over the next 10 years.”

Like-for-like revenues at Pets at Home increased by 2.4% and underlying earnings by 11.1% to £87m in the 40-week period to 2 January 2014. The latter figure is expected to pass the £100m mark by March.

The company also announced the appointment of four new board members ahead of the float, including Halfords chairman Dennis Millard, who will become Pets at Home’s deputy chairman.

You can click here to visit the VetsMarketing website

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Don’t do this: 4 ways to kill employee morale at your veterinary hospital

Bob Levoy reveals the common approaches that dampen team members’ spirits and offers tips for boosting optimism in this article published in the dvm360.com website

The morale of new employees at more than 80 percent of companies significantly drops off after the so-called “honeymoon period” of six months, according to a survey in the newsletter Harvard Management Update. If that kind of drop-off is occurring in your veterinary practice, even if it’s not severe, it’s taking a heavy toll on productivity and perhaps on client satisfaction.

Based on surveys and focus groups I’ve conducted with professional practice personnel, here are some of the reasons initial enthusiasm is squashed:

  • Public criticism. This is at the top of almost everyone’s list. It’s humiliating and has a chilling and demoralizing effect on everyone within earshot. The age-old advice is still true: praise in public, criticize in private.
  • Failure to praise. Good work that goes unnoticed and unappreciated tends to deteriorate—almost without exception. Thank team members when they do good work, whether it’s in the hallway, at a team meeting, with a written thank-you note or at the end of the workday.
  • Ignorance of personal problems. You can alienate hard-working, high-functioning team members if you make it difficult for them to work around family commitments, doctor appointments, elder care, childcare and other important responsibilities. Even small gestures such as time off around the holidays are greatly appreciated and often make a big difference.
  • Shattered expectations. Another way good team members are demotivated is the realization that the job is not what was described to them during the initial interview. More than 60 percent of the 2,054 employees who participated in a Harris Interactive Survey in March said they found aspects of a new job differed from expectations set during the hiring process. Among the discrepancies were job responsibilities, work hours and the supervisor’s personality. Don’t oversell a job by promising more than you can deliver or by downplaying the negative aspects of a job. When the facts become known, a new team member will either become demotivated or quit.

You can click here to visit the DVM360 website

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What is the First Question You Should Ask Before Hiring Someone?

From a Blog by Rebecca Tudor published on her Catalyst Vet website

This may come as a surprise to you, but it is not really about the potential new hire. Instead, the first question you should ask is “What are our Hospital’s Core Values?”

Before defining the core values in my own practice, I did not understand how critical they were in helping me sort through all the potential new hires. What I can tell you is hiring people who do not share your core values will never work. They will always be a square peg in a round hole.

Before I knew better, I had hired people who did not embrace the core values of TVSS and it was not pretty. They never “got it” and ultimately they left or I had to let them go. Without compatible core values, they will never be a true fit for your team which is not good for you or them.

The challenge I see is that a lot of hospital leaders have not truly defined their core values or the core values are vague ideas written in a manual somewhere that no one reads.

So then, is it any wonder that many animal hospitals have the staff turnover they do?

Employee turnover is expensive.

It is estimated that the average cost to replace an employee is about 20% of the person’s annual salary. That means if you lose a technician who is making $16/hour then it will cost you $6144 off of your bottom line to replace him/her. Multiple $6144 by 2 or 3 and see how quickly that number escalates. That is money YOU are losing each year by not making better decisions on the front end.

Want to increase your profit margin? Then take time NOW to define your core values clearly and begin articulating them in your hospital. Define exactly the type individual you need and what core values must be important to them.

You may be surprised..…. How much easier it is to bring on the “great” new hire instead of just a warm body to fill a void.

Do you currently have Core Values, and if so, are you using them in the Hiring Process?

You can click here to visit the Catalyst Vets website

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6 Ways to Keep Your Employees Happy

From an article re-blogged from Everything Marketing and published in the Stallwood Consulting website

Your employees are an integral part of your business. They are the heart and soul. They are the profit makers. They are what makes you successful.

In order to ensure your business runs smoothly, you need to keep your employees happy. Unhappy employees work at a slower pace, decreasing production. They are also more likely to quit, which gives you a high turnover rate and forces you to re-train new employees.

If you want a successful business, use these tips to keep your employees happy.

    1. Provide flexibility.

    Let’s face it. People today are busier than ever before, which means that not everyone can adhere to the 9-5 lifestyle. One great way to keep your employees happy is to provide flexibility in the schedule. Allow some people to start earlier or later than your normal business hours to accommodate their needs. For example, the employee that needs to get their kids to school before work can come in an hour late and stay an hour late. You could also allow employees to work four ten-hour days for an extra day off, or have them work an extra hour Monday through Friday and allow them to have a half day on Fridays.

    You may also want to consider allowing your employees to work remotely on occasion. This allows them to work comfortably from home without having to fight traffic. No matter what type of flexibility you offer, it will certainly make your employees happy.

    2. Offer great perks.

    Reward your employees every now and then with much needed perks. For example, have someone come in and give your employees massages on a monthly basis. You may also want to provide an onsite gym or fitness center, provide free lunch, or even offer hair salon services. Having an in-house pet-sitter or daycare can also be an extra perk to keep your employees happy.

    3. Provide great benefits.

    If you offer great health benefits to your employees, you will certainly keep them happy. Allowing them to have great coverage for small premiums is a great way to put a smile on your employees’ faces.

    But aside from health benefits, there are other benefits you can give your employees that will make them happy. Having a great disability or maternity/paternity leave can also be beneficial. Facebook is known for keeping parents happy by providing a four-month paid maternity leave while also reimbursing their employees for the cost of daycare AND giving the parents $4,000 as a gift.

    4. Praise good work.

    Your employees work their butts off for your company, so show them your appreciation by recognizing their hard work. Honor those employees who have gone above and beyond with a special luncheon or honors award ceremony. By showing them you appreciate their work, you’ll encourage them to keep performing for you.

    5. Provide growth opportunities.

    Nobody wants to be stuck in the same job forever, so make it a practice to promote from within. Allow your employees to have the chance to earn promotions and salary increases on a regular basis. This keeps your employees working hard and keeps them working for your business.

    6. Work hard yourself.

    Employees become disgruntled when they realize they’re doing all the work while the managers and CEOs are doing nothing. Don’t let this happen in your business. Make sure that your employees see that you also work hard to keep the company successful. If they see (or hear) that you spend three weeks out of the month on vacation, playing golf or coming in late/leaving early, it will make them angry.

You can click here to visit Mark Stallwood’s website

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7 Deadly Sins of Business Meetings

from an article by Lisa Girard published in the entrepreneur.com website

Here are seven deadly sins to watch for in business meetings – and tips on how to redeem yourself.

1. Meetings that become useless rituals. Companies frequently meet simply because it’s time for their weekly, monthly or annual sales meeting. “Meetings that are ritualistic instead of necessary are often boring, and attendees eventually flip an ‘off switch’ in their brains,”

Tip: First, re-examine your routine. “Do not have a meeting unless you can very specifically define why it’s necessary and how it will advance the strategy of the organization,” he says. Also, create a specific agenda and send it out early enough for people to prepare.

2. Meetings that are a one-way conversation. People often tune out monotone lecturers and mind-numbing PowerPoint presentations. “A one-way speech is generally one of the least effective ways of teaching, informing or motivating people to action

Tip: Encourage your team to speak up, exchange ideas and comment on what they’ve heard. If you show PowerPoint slides, make them visually interesting and keep words and numbers to a minimum.

3. Meetings with lax leadership. In today’s “virtual” conference rooms, time is often wasted waiting for people to join the call and then getting stragglers up to speed on what they missed. “This punishes the people who joined the meeting on time with the likelihood you’ll run over, leaving employees stressed out playing catch-up on the rest of their day,”

Tip: Choose a leader who is organized and forceful, leaving latecomers to catch up on their own. “Use tact, of course – you don’t have to be Attila the Hun – but if you’re too nice, it allows too much nonsense to go on,”

4. Meetings that harp on setbacks instead of strategies. One client spent 95 percent of each meeting having managers explain why their numbers weren’t up to par and only 5 percent planning future strategies. Not surprisingly, everyone came out of the meeting with a long face.

Tip: Use the past as a platform for understanding and planning future actions, not “a battering ram to beat people up,” The collective brainpower in the room should be used to avoid mistakes going forward.

5. Meetings that disrupt the most productive hours. Many companies hold meetings in the morning, interrupting employees’ most productive hours,

Tip: Schedule meetings in the afternoon, when escaping the cubicle can be a welcome relief.

6. Meetings that are held in a bland environment. At the vast majority of meetings, employees gather around a conference table and keep their gaze focused on the leader at the head of the table. This format does little to stimulate discussion and creative ideas.

Tip: Take your employees on a “walking” meeting in the park or just around the building and parking lot. “When you’re not eye to eye, you have the guts to say certain things,” “And when walking, you look at the world differently, which stimulates fresh ideas.”

7. Meetings that are too formal and rigid. Few meeting leaders have a sense of humor. The result is a room full of bored, restless employees,

Tip: Break up the meeting with music, a video, jokes or an engaging story “In the age of YouTube and iTunes, there’s simply no reason to not inject a bit of levity in a meeting to gain attention, disarm negativity and generate enthusiasm.”

You can click here to visit the entrepreneur.com website

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