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

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5 Surefire Ways to Make a Powerful First Impression

From an article by Bruna Martinuzzi of Clarion Enterprises

Get started on the right foot every time you meet someone new by following these 5 tips for improving your first impressions.

The old adage that you don’t get a second chance at first impressions bears some truth. University of Ontario researchers have now given us scientific proof that first impressions are persistent. This makes it crucial to pay attention to how you come across when you first meet someone who’s important to your business. A bad first impression with a potential client can cost you in lost opportunities.

It doesn’t take much to sway people’s opinion of you when they first meet you. Within seconds, people form a first impression about who they think you are.

Malcolm Gladwell, bestselling author of Blink: The Power of Thinking Without Thinking, once said of first impressions, “We don’t know where our first impressions come from or precisely what they mean, so we don’t always appreciate their fragility.” Understanding that fragility is important, as it allows you to control the subtle nuances that can influence how others perceive you.

Here are five tips to help you manage the first impressions you make.

Spruce Up Your LinkedIn Profile

More and more today, first impressions start to take shape long before someone meets you in person. It’s safe to say that most people will check you out on LinkedIn before meeting with you face to face.

What they see on your profile helps them form an opinion of who they think you are. If you set up your LinkedIn profile years ago, then promptly forgot all about it, it’s time to rectify the situation. LinkedIn is all about making connections and building a network. So if your LinkedIn profile shows just a few connections, it signals that you’re a starter but you don’t follow through, which is sure to give others a poor impression of you. You’re better off deleting your profile altogether.

If you’d like to keep it, then it’s time to move away from an amateur profile to a more professional one. Some people make the mistake of having no photo at all or using a photo that’s too personal. Use a professional-looking photo, then craft a compelling headline that prompts people to want to connect with you. And pay particular attention to the “summary” section. As LinkedIn strategist Andy Foote says, the summary is “where people look to find out what makes you tick.” It’s the one area in your profile where you can brand yourself.

If you need help in this regard, check out Foote’s blog post, “3 Stunningly Good LinkedIn Profile SUMMARIES.” The summaries he highlights stand out and make a first-class impression. What do you need to do to control the impression you make on LinkedIn?

Update Your Website

Research shows that 47 percent of consumers expect a Web page to load in two seconds or less. And 40 percent of people abandon a website that takes more than three seconds to load. That’s a lot of potential customers who don’t even have a chance to form a first impression of you!

In addition, more and more people are searching websites from their mobile devices. If you created your website some time ago, it may be wise to check that it’s mobile friendly, meaning your content is easily viewable on devices such as smartphones or tablets that have a narrower width than a desktop or laptop. To achieve this, you may need to have a professional ensure that you have a responsive Web design. Responsive Web design is a way of making a single website that works well on desktop browsers as well as on all mobile devices. You can create a bad impression of your business as being antiquated if your website is hard to navigate on a mobile device. This can result in you losing potential business.

Watch out, as well, for other details that signal sloppiness. For example, does your site have any broken links or outdated information? Does your site have a “homemade” look? It’s easy today to get a professional-looking website for a small investment.

Pay Attention to Your Clothing

What we wear communicates a lot of information about us. Like it or not, first impressions can be heavily influenced by our clothing. According to entrepreneur and success expert Brian Tracy, “Your clothes are responsible for 95 percent of the first impression that you make on someone because, in most instances, your clothes cover 95 percent of your body.”

Does this mean you should go out and buy an entirely new wardrobe? No, but it’s important to care about how you look when you’re meeting clients just as you would care about the look of your sales brochure or other marketing materials. You’re the living brochure for your company.

Additionally, when delivering a presentation, it pays to dress appropriately for the occasion. In The Presentation Secrets of Steve Jobs, communication expert Carmine Gallo calls it “wearing the appropriate costume.” Steve Jobs could get away with jeans and running shoes when presenting, but, as Gallo says, that’s because he was Steve Jobs. “When you’re a business legend who is credited with reinventing the entire computer industry,” Gallo notes, “you can show up in pretty much anything you want.”

But before Jobs became a legendary success, when he wanted investors to take him seriously, he dressed conservatively. So don’t discard your suit just yet!

Watch Your Grammar

You can make a bad impression instantly if your written communication has spelling or grammatical errors. It pays to take the time to proofread what you send out, even if it’s just an email, and get familiar with some of the most common grammatical errors so you can avoid them. Sloppy grammar sends out a message that you don’t care.

Give Them a Reason to Trust You

Much has been written about the importance of making direct eye contact, having a firm handshake, smiling and appearing confident as essentials for making a good first impression. While this is good advice, new research shows that people respond better to someone who comes across as trustworthy rather than confident.

Paradoxically, we want to see others as trustworthy, but we want them to see us as competent and strong. As social psychologistAmy Cuddy says, “People often make the mistake of over-weighting the importance of expressing strength and competence, at the expense of expressing warmth and trustworthiness.” But it’s trustworthiness that you should be conveying.

There are myriad ways to establish trust, including being punctual, being prepared and showing a genuine interest in the other person. Most important, know your product and service, and listen well to understand the other person’s needs.

Ultimately, the best way to make a good first impression is not to set out to impress at all. Too many people today clamor for attention by positioning themselves as bigger, louder and more aggressive than the others around them.

Rather than set out to impress, strive to provide value at every touch point with customers and other stakeholders. This mindset speaks louder than any gimmicks designed to impress.

You can click here to visit Bruna Martinuzzi’s website

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Another Successful London Vet Show at Olympia

LVS 2015 logo

With 395 exhibitors, six clinical streams of world class CPD – including three small animal theatres programmed by the RVC, two large animal streams from the BVA and the new Equine stream from the RVC – it’s no wonder that more vets from more practices than ever before attended the 2014 event! In addition to the six clinical streams and popular business conference programme, the BVNA nurse programme kicked off with a great result at this year’s event.

As always I thoroughly enjoyed my two days in London and spent much of my time listening to some great practice management CPD in the Business Theatre, interviewing some of the speakers for the Video Show, talking about my forthcoming How to be a Veterinary Practice Superhero series of videos specially for future and recent graduates and making a small contribution to the BVA Congress debate about the future of the profession.

I’m always on the lookout for some pearls of veterinary business wisdom and offer these four principles in grappling with competition in the veterinary marketplace, highlighted by Alan Robinson of VetDynamics in his session ‘What happens when competition sets up over the road’

Alan says that:

  • Practices generally fail from the inside out – not because of the competition
  • Most practices are too busy to practise good medicine, to offer good customer care or to make money
  • You don’t need a bigger client database – you need better business and better relationships
  • So stop competing with others and start competing with your own current performance

Bear in mind of course that your current active client database is probably shrinking by 20% or more every year (do you know exactly what this figure is for your practice?) – so a major component of your marketing plan must be to replace that number simply to stand still

Did you know you can book your ticket already for the 2015 London Vet Show – Call 02476 719687 or send an e.mail to express your interest and book your place

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4 ways to stop being a perfectionist veterinarian

From an article by Elise M. Lacher, and published in the dvm360.com website

One of the common complaints we hear from many practice owners is that they simply don’t have enough time to get done all they have on their plates. We’re working on expanding the days for our clients to 30 hours, but we don’t have it perfected yet. So what else can we offer as educators? Time management tips for getting more done each day, and more importantly, getting more done that you should be getting done.

Steven Covey, author of Seven Habits of Highly Effective People, points out that most of us spend our time working on urgent and (hopefully) important issues, but we should actually be concentrating on non-urgent important things. How do we make that happen?

It doesn’t need 100 percent. Veterinarians tend to be perfectionists. Many believe anything worth doing must be done at 100 percent. Well, I’m here to tell you that unless you’re landing airplanes or doing surgery, 80 percent is usually good enough. Now, I’m not suggesting that you practice substandard medical care. But many times, we take our high standards and apply them to areas where completing the task is much more important than giving it 100 percent. If we’re always striving for perfection, nothing ever gets done.

Don’t wait for the “perfect” time. In one of our hospitals, a doctor wanted to wait until he had all of the protocols written, the full complement of team members in place and the receptionist team fully trained before he turned over a new procedure that didn’t require his involvement. In a perfect world, it would be nice to be able to wait for all the necessary elements to come together. But today’s world requires that the doctor free up at least an hour in his schedule at least once a week, hopefully twice a week, so he can get on with his lengthy to-do list.

Learn to delegate. We beat up our staff because they hoard information from their fellow teammates, making themselves indispensable. But Docs, what kind of an example are you setting? “I have to do it myself, and when I fully understand how a procedure should be done, I’ll teach you how to do it.” Guess what? It’s never going to happen. This a problem in practices where a “trusted” employee has helped himself or herself to some of the funds. The owners take over the bookkeeping and decide if they do it, it won’t happen again. Problem is, most doctors are lousy bookkeepers; they have too many demands on their time and refuse to learn some simple tools to reduce instances of embezzlement happening again.

Stop “got-a-minute?” interruptions. When you have so much on your mind, getting constantly interrupted with things that don’t require your immediate attention is distracting. Teach people to write down those questions, put them in a particular place and let them know you’ll deal with them on your time.

You can click here to visit the DVM360 website

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A message from Veterinary Practice Magazine

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4 lessons learned from a veterinary practice price audit

From an article by Rachael Zimlich published in Veterinary Economics Magazine

Connie Passmore, hospital administrator at Centre Animal Hospital in State College, Pa., has been using a software program called Profit Solver since 2012 to adjust pricing. Here are four lessons she’s learned from this software-driving price auditing:

Veterinarians vary widely in length of time to perform a service. Although she knew there was a difference in skill level and experience between the practice owner, a veterinary veteran and newer associates, Passmore says it was a shock to see the differences in the amount of time it took different employees to perform the same services. The practice has adopted a policy of looking at the rate information for each veterinarian, but then charging an average rate to the client.

Delegating can create affordability for clients. Veterinarians may think it’s easier to do things themselves, but when they perform tasks that could be performed by a technician, the overhead of the practice increases substantially. Keeping an eye on this allows the practice to streamline its operations. For example, Passmore says one doctor at the practice would routinely clean ears instead of letting a technician do it—until she showed him the numbers. “It helps me prove there are certain things the doctor shouldn’t be involved in,” she says.

Not all nail clippings are alike. Costs should vary, not just by procedure, but by animal. Although clients may question a change in price for a standard service, some animals can be cared for quickly and simply for routine tasks, but others require more staff and time. “We’ve been able to put into our practice management software some internal discretions so they can understand the cost of a difficult nail clipping versus a standard nail clipping. It helps technicians charge appropriately,” Passmore says.

Helping hands cost time and money. Veterinarians think twice before grabbing additional technicians for a job. Sometimes, one technician is enough. In the past, though, veterinarians wouldn’t think twice about grabbing an extra staff member for help, yet failed to reflect that in the cost of the service.

You can click here to visit the DVM360.com website

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VPMA sets out its business plan for 2015 and announces member lunchtime management updates

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The Veterinary Practice Management Association (VPMA) has outlined its business plan for 2015. The new plan will see the Association focusing on its grass roots as well as enhancing its relationships with other groups and industry peers.

Strengthening the Association’s direct interactions with members has been put at the core of its business strategy. The plan will see incoming president Howard Brown, together with Regional Co-ordinator Renay Rickard, attend as many of the Association’s regional meetings as possible. As well as the traditional CPD offering, the regional meetings will incorporate a discussion session with updates on current and future issues facing the profession.

In tandem with this, the Association has announced a series of lunchtime Management Updates delivered via webinar. Acknowledging that some members struggle to get to their regional meetings, the short updates have been designed to keep the membership abreast of changes that could directly impact their practices, without the need for travel.

Current President Helen Sanderson outlined the benefits for busy practice managers, “We wanted to find a way of giving our members easy-to-access updates on current hot topics, without the need for them to spend precious time searching for relevant information. The lunchtime webinars have been designed to be easily digestible, very specific, bite-sized updates, with the facility for our members to pose questions to the presenter and share their own thoughts.”

Each webinar will last just 30 minutes with a 10 minute Q&A session afterwards.

The first webinar will take place on the 9th December and welcomes Donal Murphy, Technical Executive at NOAH to speak on “European threats and impacts on UK medicines legislation.” Members will be sent further details and joining instructions in advance of each talk.

Non-members are welcome at any of the Regional Meetings and those wishing to join the Association and avail of a range of other membership benefits, including the webinars, should send an e.mail to the secretariat or telephone on 07000 782 324.

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