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

A great flash mob

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3 Short Books to Read to Maximize Your Productivity and Marketing

From an article by Mel Carson published in the Entrepreneur.com website

Here are three short books I’ve discovered (through social media and word-of-mouth) and recommend as quick reads:

Eat That Frog!

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I actually read this 2007 title a few years ago but return to it each January to remind me how to focus on the task at hand and not get lost in the random influx of digital distractions. The premise behind Brian Tracy’s Eat That Frog! 21 Great Ways to Stop Procrastinating and Get More Done in Less Time is that if you eat a frog the first thing in the morning, then your day can only get better.

What the 127-page book essentially suggests is that although humans might have progressed to making lists of tasks and to-dos to complete each workday, many people find it easier to tick off the quick and easy things, leaving the big, onerous task till the last minute.

Tracy empowers the reader with suggestions for getting started on the bigger deliverables and not putting off the elephant (or frog) in the inbox.

As someone prone to procrastination, I’ve found Eat That Frog a very useful resource for strategies for getting things done earlier and avoiding all the stress and bother.

Marketing: A Love Story

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This book, published last year, caught my eye for a couple of reasons. First, it’s inexpensive, costing just $2.99 on Amazon’s Kindle. Second, the author, Bernadette Jiwa, was thoroughly recommended by marketing god Seth Godin.

In Marketing: A Love Story: How to Matter to Your Customers, Bernadette Jiwa takes readers on a whirlwind trip through the field of content marketing and storytelling in a matter-of-fact yet engaging manner.

Compiled from a series of popular blog posts, the 80-page book is a short compendium of the latest thinking (with examples) about what great marketing is in a digital age. The ideas about marketing strategy, context and storytelling are as relevant right now as those in a longer book on these subjects but condensed into far fewer pages.

The biggest takeaway for me was how Jiwa insisted that people “stop selling stuff and start telling stories.” The days of sledgehammer marketing are over. Put your customer at the heart of how you position your product or service and tell stories about how it will make them feel. This is the way forward in a world where consumers are much more savvy about how they’re being marketed to.

The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up.

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It might seem odd to point to a tiny book of 206 pages designed to reduce clutter at home as a business book. But I believe that reducing clutter in your professional life can only lead to clearer thinking and increased productivity.

The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up: The Japanese Art of Decluttering and Organizing, published last year by Marie Kondo, is an accessible read, full of great ideas and reasons behind her methods to reduce the amount of personal stuff in life to inspire positive results: a “calm, motivated mindset.”

My favorite section is the one on books. Apparently I’m not alone in my habit of hoarding books I’ve never read but might “sometime” read. Suggesting that “sometime” will almost always never come, Kondo in a direct but refreshing tone encourages people to let go of such books, thereby removing the pressure to read them.

Think about your workstation or desk. Consider your email inbox or all the files bloating your computer’s desktop. Spending some time on a “spring cleaning” of your work environment (physical and virtual) could replenish your mind, help you focus and become less overwhelmed and more productive.

You can click here to visit the Entrepreneur.com website

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What you must learn from peacocks

Adapated (slightly) From an article by Winston Marsh

If you have ever been fortunate enough to see a male peacock displaying their full finery you will know that they make quite a statement. They look absolutely magnificent and catch the eye of anyone who sees them. But catching the eye of merely anyone isn’t their intention! Catching the eye of a female peacock is the only reason they strut their stuff.

So what have peacocks showing off got to do with you and me? Well, the answer is simple and we can learn heaps from those peacocks.

Whenever you want to sell anything – products, services, ideas or even yourself to someone else you’ve got to catch the eye of the person (or the ear) you are aiming at. You’ve really got to seize their attention and get them firmly focused on you. That way there’s a chance they’ll see your message and maybe even take it in and understand it.

There are many times when you want to get the attention of the person you are targeting. Some typical examples are when you are creating an advertisement, commercial, email, letter, sign or even meeting someone.

And you won’t get it read, watched or listened to unless you grab their attention and divert them from what they are doing.

So you must flag them down with an opening statement (headline, subject line, audio or video grab) that gets their attention. Getting that right will contribute around 80% of your success because it flags down the person you want. And that’s the key – if they don’t stop and look, or watch or listen, you are history. That means you’ve just got to get it right.

So you should devote around 80% of your time to getting that opening statement right!

All it requires is a little thought. For example, wouldn’t a newspaper, television or radio headline like…

Parents! Here’s how to guarantee that your kid will never do drugs!

Would get the attention of parents wouldn’t it?

Similarly an advertisement that started with the headline…

How you can be irresistible to the opposite sex!

would get the attention of a huge number of readers, viewers or listeners.

You could seize the recipient’s attention with a letter that started:

I have a complaint!

They’d certainly want to read the rest wouldn’t they?

So what about when you meet people? Well there’s a real opportunity because generally after they’ve got your name they’ll ask, “What do you do?” or “Where do you work?” That’s an opportunity to grab them with an answer like:

“I work for the best vet in town!”

Almost invariably they’ll ask you who that is and now you can get the conversation really going (and maybe end up with some business too!).

Now, you might think creating attention-getting headlines like these is difficult but if you know the 12 magic words and use them liberally you’ll find it much easier. These are the most powerful words to use when you want to get attention so it’s sensible to use one or two of them when you are aiming to get attention.

Just in case I haven’t given them to you before they are you, money, save, new, easy, love, discovery, results, health, proven, guarantee and free! Some experts add the word safety too.

You can click here to visit Winston Marsh’s website

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A message from Veterinary Practice Magazine

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Why we decided to open the books to our veterinary team

From an article by Aan Gonsalves, written by one of 10 finalists for the Veterinary Economics Practice Manager of the Year award, sponsored by VPI and published in the dvm360.com website

I am a huge believer in running the business like it’s mine. I take every decision I make into account as if I owned our practice. I wanted to find a way for my team to feel that invested. One of our owners, Dr. Parva, and I enrolled in Purdue’s/American Animal Hospital Association (AAHA) Veterinary Management Program. We had discussed sharing our books with our team but there was a lot of hesitance. It wasn’t until we attended the Human Relations module of this program that it really hit home for both of us. It was at that time that we decided we were committed to opening the books to the team and we would sell the importance of this idea to the other practice owner.

It wasn’t a piece of cake. It took almost two years to put the foundation in place to move forward. We started with team meetings talking about trusting our team to take a more active role in the financial health of the business, starting with pieces of data to start and working our way up to sharing everything. I truly believe if your team is committed to the practice, and your vision, why wouldn’t you empower them to take a more active role? Our team is just getting used to the data, tracking and expenses that make up a business. It was definitely an eye opener for them.

One of the challenges was trying to not overwhelm the team with the data. It’s easy to say, “Here’s what we made and what things cost.” But it’s insane to expect your team to know what to do with all that information. I’ve been a practice manager for 12 years and I still learn every single day. We had to find a format of sharing the data in an easy, non-threatening way. It’s still a work in progress. It’s easy to lose sight of the fact that I look at financial statements weekly and this may be the first time they have ever seen anything like it.

It is so nice to see my team say, “We should turn up the air conditioning, didn’t you see what we paid for electricity last month?” or “The COGS for hospital supplies was out of control how can we conserve and be smarter about what we use?” I absolutely love that they’re all taking responsibility for the outcome of things.

Aan Gonsalves is practice manager at Arizona Animal Wellness Center in
 Gilbert, Ariz.

You can click here to visit the DVM360.com website

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Before You Quit, Remember That Your Boss Has Feelings Too

From an article by Lora Cecere

I have been on both sides of this desk. As both the quitter, and the quitted-upon, leaving is what you make it. My advice is to remember you’re speaking to a person at an important juncture in both of your lives. Relationships transition while job experiences are finite.

So, if it is time for you to say goodbye, pull up a chair and discuss how to leave gracefully. It is not a time to air dirty laundry, pull out old baggage, or discuss that raise that you didn’t get. Instead, it is time for two humans to map a way to part ways.

What doesn’t work? In contrast, let me share three recent transitions that have not worked for me:

  • The driven outcome. Recently, I had an employee who I had mentored for two years unexpectedly call and say that November 12th would be her last day. It was not a discussion. There was no consideration of what was best for the business or our relationship. Instead, it was a short and sweet dictate: “November 12th is my last day!”

    “Ouch!” I thought. My mind flashed back to the day that she begged me for a job and asked for a chance. I thought of the time that I had invested in her development, and mentoring. I wanted to take her aside and teach her to say goodbye with grace and consideration, but it was not worth the effort. She had no interest in saying goodbye well.

    My advice? Never forget that there is a person on the other end of the conversation.

  • The liar. The next month, I had a different experience. My employee lied. When asked where the employee was going to work, the person lied despite knowing she was going to a competitor. I found out about it from a tweet from her boss. I thought, “How distasteful.” Our relationship will never be the same.

    My advice? When leaving be straight with your supervisor. If you are going to a competitor, ask for advice. Lean forward in your chair and ask, “How do I leave with grace?” You will not be the first person to go to a competitor. Be honest. Do the right thing. You’ll both be better for it.

  • When you decide to move on, then move on. When you make the choice to leave, move on with your life. Your relationships with your old colleagues will change. Go forward by going forward. Redefine your relationships and get on with your life. Don’t waste your time with gossip calls and rehashing of old stories. Redefine these relationships and move on with your life.

    My advice? Focus your energies on going forward.

So at a high level, when moving on, move on; but, do so with grace and consideration for the other person. Say goodbye with grace and do the right thing. You will not get the opportunity to do it again… and you will not regret it!

You can click here to visit Lora Cecere’s website

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