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

With every best wish for the New Year

happy new year

A message from Veterinary Practice Magazine

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Help the Vet Charity Challenge name their new puppy for Hearing Dogs for Deaf People

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The Vet Charity Challenge are inviting suggested names for a new puppy for Hearing Dogs for Deaf People.

On Saturday 28th September, 53 teams of four spent the day walking, running, cycling, kayaking and orienteering along with a variety of mental tasks. The event raised a total of £50,000 for three charities Hearing Dogs for Deaf People, SPANA and Animals Asia.

Jason Rogers from BCF Technology commented. “The folks at Hearing Dogs for Deaf People were so delighted that they have offered us the opportunity to name one of their new puppies. We would like to ask competitors and others in the veterinary profession for their suggestions for the name.

“The litter is expected to be born around the 7th January and we expect it to be a black Labrador. We do not know if the puppy will be a boy or a girl, so we are looking for boys, girls or unisex names.”

Deborah Bourne, Corporate Fundraiser from Hearing Dogs for Deaf People commented, “We would like to say a huge thank you to all the sponsors and competitors who got involved with this year’s inspirational Vet Charity Challenge! Thanks to the determination, team spirit and generosity of everyone who took part, the money raised from this fantastic event will enable us to train more life changing hearing dogs to support deaf adults and children across the UK. We look forward to seeing your suggestions for the puppy name.”

You can click here to post your ideas for a name on the Vet Charity Challenge Facebook page

Please send us your suggestions by 7th January.

The Vet Charity Challenge is sponsored by BCF Technology, Kruuse and Vétoquinol with support from VMPA, Mojo Consultancy and media partner Veterinary Practice Magazine.

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5 ways to stay on top of the competition in veterinary practice

from an article published in the DVM360.com online magazine

It takes more than a passion for veterinary medicine to be a successful practice owner — you’ve got to be business savvy, too.

If you’re a veterinary practice owner or hope to own your own practice someday, it can be difficult at times to keep from second guessing your every move as you plan and run your practice. The truth is, many things can go wrong when you’re running a business – poor planning, lack of income, ineffective leadership and more.

But there are steps you can take to avoid the mistakes and pitfalls that trip up so many others and tilt the odds of running a successful practice in your favor. Here are a few, adapted from the article “Seven facts that will breathe life into your business” by writer Bill McBean:

  • If you don’t lead, no one will follow. Good leadership begins with defining the destination and direction of your practice and deciding how it should look and operate. But it doesn’t stop there. It also involves developing and continuously improving on a set of skills in order to move your practice from where it is today to where you want it to be tomorrow. What’s important to understand is, without effective leadership your managers or employees have no idea what is important to you, what to manage or what success and failure look like. Another important aspect of being a good leader is developing a practice culture that is expectations-based and rewards those who meet and exceed those expectations.
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  • If you don’t control it, you don’t own it. Control is the owner’s reality. If you don’t control your practice by defining key tasks and dictating how they must be handled, then you don’t truly own the practice—you are a spectator watching others play with your money and your business. Don’t just point out what should be done and how—clearly state and emphasize that there will be consequences when standard operating procedures and processes aren’t followed. If you don’t do this, you’ll be “leading” a group of individuals who follow their own rules and judgment, rather than creating a cohesive team with a common goal.
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  • Planning is about preparing for the future, not predicting it. Nobody knows what tomorrow, next week or next year will bring for your practice. But you can make educated guesses based on the most current, accurate information available — as well as past experiences—and this should be an ongoing process for any practice owner. Effective planning is a mix of science (gathering pertinent information) and art (taking that information and turning it into a plan that will move your business from here to there over a specific time period).
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  • If you don’t market your business, you won’t have one. Marketing and advertising may not be your cup of tea. If so, too bad—you’re going to have to do it anyway. The bottom line is, if people don’t know about your practice and the service you offer, you won’t be successful. New practice owners are especially nervous about marketing because money is already so tight at this stage. But again, if marketing isn’t done, very little good will happen. You have to make the necessary effort to connect pet owners to your practice. When you do, you’ll begin to see marketing as the investment it actually is, rather than the expense that less successful practices think it is.
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  • You don’t just have to know the business you’re in — you have to know business. Yes, of course you need to know the inner workings and nuances of veterinary medicine if you want to be successful. But you also need to understand the various aspects of business — accounting, finance, business law, personnel issues and more — and how all of these impact each other and the decisions you make.

Having tunnel or limited vision as far as business knowledge is concerned is akin to dropping out of high school. In doing so, you limit your possibilities for success and how great your success could be. But at the end of the day, what is most important is not how much you know, but what you know and what you do with that knowledge. For example, it’s important to know what’s going on in the veterinary market, but it is just as important to know what to do with that information and how you can translate it into a profitable practice — something that can’t be done with limited business knowledge.

You can click here to visit DVM360.com website

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How to construct a 40 second elevator pitch – Quick tips!

from an article by Ian Dickson

“You know when frustrated and struggling business owners are always searching for the very best way to grow their business with the least amount of effort, in the shortest amount of time and with the lowest cost and risk?”

“Well, what I do is provide them with a step-by-step marketing program that instantly generates more leads, attracts more clients and increases their revenue so they can make more money than they have ever made before.”

Now create a similar pitch for your veterinary business

“You know when”…

Now list 2 to 3 negative emotionsfrustrated, furious, overwhelmed, clueless, demanding, frightened, desperate, struggling, angry, concerned, worried

Then your ideal client descriptiondog lovers, young adults, chronic pain sufferers, overweight men, homeowners, business owners, brides-to-be, new mothers

are – (what their hot button islooking for a repair shop that is honest and fair, searching for a doctor who will spend more than 2 minutes with them, looking for long-lasting and possibly permanent pain relief, looking to buy that perfect “X”, looking for a veterinary practice that ….

but they (list 2 – 3 major frustrations)have no clue if the price is fair, have no idea what they need, don’t know who to trust, have no way to know if their being lied to or possibly ripped off.

“Well, what I do is”…

Now for an action verbhelp, guide, teach, review, provide, consult with, present them with a (overview of solution), tested and proven method, quick and pain-free solution, revolutionary new service

that (solution to hot button)immediately attracts more client, instantly relieves their pain, puts them in touch with the help they need

So they can (list 3 benefits to them) live a pain free life, build the business of their dreams, finally give the perfect gift, find a contractor that won’t rip them off, …

You can click here to visit Ian Dickson’s website

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Designing the Perfect Organisational Chart for your Veterinary Business

from an article by Judy Gillespie

Recently I posted a blog which asked “Have you thought about what would happen if your star veterinary employees resigned?” Michael Warren, a vet and web developer in Canada, kindly commented: “A scary thought for the practice, and further illustrates the importance of Organisational Charts for clear new training.”

So this got me thinking…… Do you have an organisational chart for your business? If not, then why not?

Many small businesses assume that they don’t need an organisational chart as everyone knows what they have to do. To a certain degree this may be true – at the moment – but as we all know things change.

Why should I bother with an organisational chart anyway?

An organisational chart clearly outlines:

  • Who is responsible for what;
  • Who is responsible to whom; and
  • The lines of communication and the chain of command.

Putting together an organisational chart for your business can be a very interesting exercise. It forces you to consider the levels of authority and decision making that actually exists within your practice which may in fact be at odds with the way you would like it to be.

The exercise also offers a great opportunity to consider some contingency plans for key people and positions within your business – what would you do if they left tomorrow? Now is the time to plan some cross training!

Ok – so what do I need to know before I start?

There are a few important things to consider when you’re designing your organisational chart:

  • You need to think carefully about the relationships that you are formalising, you can revise your structure but it’s very difficult to recreate relationships once you’ve put them on a chart;
  • Like it or not, reporting relationships dictate the perceived importance and power of people.

If you’re using the traditional hierarchical structure, then there are also some points to consider. Firstly, those positions on the same level can be assumed to have similar levels of authority, responsibility, decision making, and therefore pay levels (hmm – this in itself could certainly start some interesting discussions!). Secondly, it is absolutely essential that every position has only ONE person to whom they are directly responsible i.e. everyone should only have one boss for obvious reasons!

An employee might work with a number of people throughout their day but only one person should be ultimately responsible for directing their daily duties. A dotted line on your chart can indicate that a position works closely with a particular team, but a solid line indicates their chain of command. If this is unclear in your business, then it’s the first thing you need to sort out as I guarantee it is causing your team confusion, inefficiencies and grief.

But I’ve got a few ‘strong’ personalities who won’t be happy when they see where their actual position is on the chart..

If this is the case then it’s time to start planning and now may not be the best time to share your chart with the rest of the team. If you have never had an organisational chart in your business before then relationships, decision making, authority and the accompanying power may have grown organically. This means that certain powerful personalities may now control more of the authority and decision making than their position actually warrants. This is where you need to tread carefully. Start by putting together a chart of how things look currently – be brutally honest. Now it’s time to put together a chart on how you would like things to look in the future. The next step is to start considering how you are going to get your business from the current reality to how you would your business to look in the future – and that’s a topic for a whole different blog. Suffice to say keep both charts locked away ‘for your eyes only’ for the moment!

How do I go about putting my chart together?

How you put your chart together depends on your computer skills & access to software. I would suggest you start by listing all the positions within your business. Then sketch the chart out on paper or a whiteboard as it can be quite fiddly with lines and boxes going everywhere. I’ve tried using the ‘organisational chart’ function in ‘Smart Art’ in Word but I haven’t been able to get the flexibility I need. I have the same problem with any free software I’ve come across so I tend to put it together using either Word or Publisher and inserting boxes and lines where required.

Obviously the finished chart will depend on your business but a basic example might look something like this:

Organisational Chart

Just remember, once shared your organisational chart will take on a life of its own and it will become a map for how things work in your practice. So before you do share it with your team, make sure it won’t become a source of disagreement and stress.

You can click here to visit Judy Gillespie’s blog

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Shopping for shoes – bought a dental machine!

That’s what happened to Giovanna Hartley, Practice Manager of Thameswood Veterinary Clinics after she was side-tracked by an email telling her about a new-look vbay that happened to turn up in her inbox! The good news is that Giovanna got the 2nd hand machine at a bargain price – saved money – and then had more to spend on shoes!!

Vbay.co.uk is the first and only online marketplace where veterinary professionals can access products and services, buy and sell 2nd-hand kit and advertise jobs. Vbay lists everything from accountants to animal handling gloves to yes, 2nd-hand dental machines…and just about everything in-between!

“The profession’s version of eBay” has also just been given a stunning new make-over too; with vbay’s attractive new livery and improved search function, finding what you’re looking for – buying and selling – just got a whole lot easier.

Registration is free and so are listings…so what are you waiting for? If you’re a veterinary professional, you really should register with vbay and see how you too can save money…even if only to be able to buy more shoes!

You can click here to visit the VBay website

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Have You Thanked a Mentor Lately?

from a Blog by Rebecca Tudor published on her CatalystVETS website

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In 1992, I got to meet someone who turned out to be a huge influence in my life.

I can tell you without a doubt, I would have never become a surgeon if I had never met Rick Doran. I was a young veterinary student and he was an equine surgeon in the prime of his career. He saw something in me that I was not even capable of seeing myself.

Actually, before I worked with Rick, I hated surgery after having to assist my Dad. My Dad, like many old school vets, was one of those instrument throwing, yelling types, and I wanted no part of that.

Working with Rick enabled me to see that there was another way. He was so talented yet so humble. Looking back in all the hours I spent working with him, I never saw him ticked off to be called in late at night or take out frustrations on anyone he worked with. The only time I saw him get angry at all is if a patient died.

He was the first surgeon I worked with who was so talented yet so compassionate. There was never any doubt that though he had a tough job (on call-24/7, 365 days a year) he loved what he did.

Rick never had to do all the things for me that he did-I was just one of many, many veterinary students who came through his practice. Luckily, for me he took me under his wing and molded me into the surgeon I am today and for that I am eternally grateful.

After I switched from large animal to small animal surgery, Rick and I lost touch. We would see each other at meetings but as you know, life gets busy.

A few years ago I had a feeling that I just could not shake. Rick probably knew how much he made a difference in my life but I wanted to send him a note thanking him for all he did for me. Honestly, it felt a little awkward but I did it anyway.

That note turned out to be one of the best things I have ever done. Unbeknownst to me, about the time Rick received that note, he had been diagnosed with Lou Gehrig’s disease. What a cruel disease and especially to affect such a vibrant man in the prime of his life. I actually did not even find out he had ALS until about 2 years later and in April of this year, Rick passed away.

I am so thankful I took the time to tell him how much he meant to me and that I would not have been where I am today if he had not allowed me to stand on his shoulders.

Who is that person for you?

Who is someone you know that, without a doubt, if he or she had not been there for you-you would not be were you are today?

Why don’t you take 10 minutes this week and send them a real hand-written note (emailing and texting do not count) thanking them for all they did for you. I guarantee it will make your day, and even more importantly it will make theirs!

Who is That Person You Need to Thank This Week?

You can click here to visit the CatalystVETS website

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