Practice Management News and Views from around the World – July 2017

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How Can I Get My Employees to Come to Work After Hours Events?

From a blog by Tanja Mimica published on the website    

A Practice Manager writes….My practice participates in lots of community events throughout the year. We have a presence at events in the local dog park, at pet shows, charity events and basically anything we find where we can promote responsible pet ownership and at the same time raise awareness of our practice.

It’s difficult to measure the exact ROI of each of the events, but after doing this for years, the general feeling from the practice owners is that it’s worthwhile.We have a mascot, banners, a booth and the whole set up we have built on over the years.

In the past, practice staff would volunteer at the events. They are generally held on weekends or some are even after hours, but it has never been a problem finding volunteers.

Once our attendance at the event is confirmed, I would put it to everyone in the team meeting and ask people to let me know if they want to man the booth.

They don’t get paid for working those hours, but I often give them gift cards or buy them lunch to say “thank you”.Recently we’ve had some changes within the team and it has affected staff morale. I have been trying to organize team bonding events and continue attending these community events.

I feel like this stuff was meant to bring us together us a team, but it has almost had the opposite effect.

I’m really struggling to find people to volunteer for the community events now, and attendance at team bonding events is low. I’m thinking about making these mandatory. Is that a good idea?

The situation you are facing is not uncommon, and I believe part of the problem is that we don’t draw a clear line between mandatory and voluntary events. It confuses staff and breeds resentment.

Voluntary Events

Voluntary events are typically work after hours functions, such as client dinners, team bonding events organized by management, Christmas parties etc. Staff are not paid an hourly wage for their attendance.

If an event is truly voluntary, a team member should be able to freely choose whether they attend or not, without any pressure from management. As a manager, you have no right to get frustrated when people don’t attend.

Managers put pressure on employees to attend voluntary events by saying things like “Leadership and going-above-and-beyond is something that is taken into account during performance reviews. I think volunteering shows leadership.” or by saying “I would strongly encourage you to attend”

Let’s be honest: this is nothing but a thinly-veiled threat by managers to encourage volunteering because they don’t want to make attendance mandatory.

When an event is designed to be morale-building and team-bonding, making it mandatory is counter to that goal. The moment you start strong-arming people into coming to a fun, social event - that’s the moment they stop being fun.

When you are in a leadership position, your presence at these events may be expected. You may be required to attend a client dinner or even a Christmas party. But let’s be clear - requiring someone to attend no longer makes it voluntary!

Mandatory Events

Staff can be required to attend any work-related event, including the community events and team bonding functions you mentioned you are having problems with. If you really want to disengage your employees, ask them to come to a mandatory staff bonding events after-hours!

So, I would keep all team bonding events strictly voluntary, and not ‘strongly encourage’ people to attend. If few people are showing up to fun activities you organized outside the practice, it is probably symptomatic of a wider staff engagement problem. You certainly won’t solve it by forcing staff to attend.Instead, try organizing short team bonding activities during work hours and get to the bottom of your staff engagement issues.

However, if your community events are actually valuable for your practice, consider scheduling staff to man the booth at the event. If you do this, you will be required to pay them

I suggest you review the benefit of these events, try to measure their ROI and if you do decide they are critical and you want the practice to be present, speak honestly with your team.

Say something along the lines, “These events are a priority for the practice because we get X number of clients from each one. Asking people to volunteer hasn’t been working lately, and I want to ensure we divide them fairly between all team members. What I propose is….”

Remind staff that they will no longer receive vouchers as a ‘thank you’ but will actually be paid an hourly wage.

Managers like the idea of staff volunteering to attend company events because it signals to them that individuals are supporting the company. If you are strong arming people to attend ‘voluntary’ events, they’re not doing so because they are supporting the company, so draw a clear linebetween ‘voluntary’ and ‘mandatory’.

The Relationship Centered Practice Academy

Editors note: This is an affiliate promotional entry on behalf of

Tracy Dowdy, a business consultant for veterinary practice based in California and good friend of mine, has recently launched a very important online resource. It’s called the Relationship Centered Practice Academy Programme and I have included a short clip in which Tracy discusses the five key elements of the strategic planning process, in Episode 196 of the Veterinary Business Video Show.

The Relationship Centered Practice Academy is the path to getting your career and practice on the right track now and has been designed as the most comprehensive online practice management training for practice owners, veterinarians, managers and their team

  • In week #1, you will learn how to identify your compelling vision and strategic plan, you’ll learn how to overcome the obstacles of implementing change in your practice and how to involve your team in the strategic planning process so they are committed to your practice’s future success.
  • In week #2, you will learn how Build a Self-Reliant Team. I will share with you my knowledge of recruiting for talent and training for skill. I will teach you how to identify and eliminate warm bodies in your practice by creating a culture of empowerment and developing leaders that will result in an efficient, confident, and loyal team. You will learn the importance of effective management and leadership as well as how to implement effective ongoing training for your team that starts on orientation day.
  • In week #3, you will learn the importance of setting standards in your practice. I am going to share the five standards necessary to become a Relationship Centered Practice as well as how to get them implemented and integrated into your practice.
  • In week #4, Systems A-Z, you will learn the benefits of having standard operating procedures in your practice, five tips on how to draft and implement effective SOPs. Plus, I am going to give you some examples of the types of SOPs you need to have in your practice.
  • In week #5, you will learn What You Measure You Can Improve. I will teach you what information is important to track, how to compare it with historical data and industry benchmarks as well as how to establish standard protocols with the entire team for entering data so you can manage your practice’s performance based on key metrics.

You can click here to find out more about the The Relationship Centered Practice Academy and get immediate access to the 5-week online course now

Now, pay attention. I’ve something to tell you….

From an article by Alan Robinson and published on the VetDynamics website

One day a letter arrived in an envelope – an actual letter…in an actual envelope!

Individually addressed to me, by name, with a live stamp not a meter imprint.

In the return address corner was the name of someone I knew.

Not a friend. Not a neighbour. It was from a peer of mine, another consultant / professional speaker who works in another industry but lives locally. It does not matter the relationship, the important thing, I recognized the name of the person who sent me the envelope. So I opened it.

That’s important.

Most of us sort our mail over a waste bin. You have to make the cut or nothing else matters. So I opened the envelope.

The letter I took out was headlined: “I Suppose You’re Wondering Why I’m Writing To You About A Plumber.”

I thought to myself: yep, I do wonder why he’s writing to me about a plumber. Heck, I don’t even get a Christmas card from this guy. We’re in the same kind of business and live in the same town. So, why is he writing to me about a plumber?

So I read the letter to find out.

And that too is important.

First you have to get your letter opened. You cannot just assume that’s going to happen. Then you have to get your letter read. You cannot assume that’s going to happen either.

Curiosity used here, not always the ideal strategy, but when used effectively it’s a beautiful thing.

The letter told a story of this guy having a party at his home on a Saturday night to which I had not been invited, when a pipe under the bar in the den started leaking, a mess ensued…Storytelling.

Everyone likes a good story. Most of us are defined by stories and we all have a few favourite stories we love to tell and that people love to hear.

In fact, strangers who come up to me who claim to know me often heard me tell some story years earlier and ask me to tell it again.

People remember better with stories.

You can teach lessons with stories. They can help bring deeper understanding. And they’re one of the most effective ways to sell.

Stories are effective because we grew up hearing stories.

Actually storytelling predates writing so it’s something we are conditioned to love.

When you were young, you heard bedtime stories and had story time at school before you even learned to read. You share stories with your friends and laugh about “the time when…” with your family.

They’ve been used in every culture to educate, entertain, preserve history, and instil principles and values.

Stories can connect people and cross barriers of age, culture, economic status, and more.Tell a story that catches someone’s attention and draws them in, and you can make them care about something they may have never cared about or even known about previously.

Of course this isn’t by accident, this is by design.

Telling a story that immediately captures your reader’s attention and keeps them intrigued and reading to the end is an art form. An art form worth learning.

Because storytelling done right is like a magnet. People are compelled to read it. And you can use this to create anticipation of what happens next

Note: The best stories have a strong underlying theme where something greater is being said. To create this there is a roadmap—a constant.

As vets and practice owners we have a wealth of stories and anecdotes (maybe some we can’t share…) but many that our clients would love to hear. and of course we as vets do have something greater to say to our clients and the wider public.

Write them down, share them, blog them

You can click here to visit the VetDynamics website 

Unlocking the Secrets to a Profitable Veterinary Practice

MBL Seminars announces new Seminar to be presented by John Sheridan

First impressions suggest that the provision of professional veterinary services for animal owners in the UK represents a very successful business model. Surely veterinary practices offer a healthy return on investment for their owners, well paid career opportunities for vets, nurses, practice managers, reception and other support staff and the highest standards of profession care for pet and horse owners, livestock farmers and the owners and managers of other domestic animals.

A closer look at our profession however, indicates that 41% of veterinary graduates report that their career had failed to match expectations with a growing proportion seeking a career outside practice. A prominent and well respected business consultant to the profession has said that ‘most vets in practice work far too hard, for far too long and for far too little return due to inefficiency, frustration and poor profitability in their businesses’ and results from the Profitability Survey conducted by the Society of Practising Veterinary Surgeons indicate that only three out of ten practices reported profits scored as ‘good’ or ‘excellent’ and that one and a half in every ten – that represents more than 450 practices employing 2,800 or more vets - are losing money.

If you own or work in one of the 70% of veterinary practices which are not generating a healthy profit – or if you simply don’t know how the financial performance of your practice really compares with other practices in your market – this seminar has been designed with you in mind.

During this one day programme for practice owners, managers and everyone with an interest in the business of veterinary practice, we will learn the importance of five Key Performance Indicators for your practice and generic data from other practices participating in the Society of Practising Veterinary Surgeons (SPVS) and other veterinary specific benchmark services, how to find out exactly why your numbers are higher or lower than you would wish and how to determine the specific strategic, resource management, operational or other policies designed specifically to get back on track and to achieve your own personal, professional and business aspirations for your veterinary practice

What You Will Learn

  • That everyone wants to be associated with a successful veterinary practice but that practice owners, employees, clients and other stakeholders measure success in a number of different ways
  • That successful practices need to be profitable businesses
  • That you could own or manage a much more profitable veterinary practice, worth considerably more than its current value – not by working longer or harder - but by working smarter
  • Why every veterinary practice operates at least two (and frequently many more) businesses and that they must all make a significant contribution to the overall profit
  • That working smarter does not mean relying on the latest quick-fix management option in the fond hope that special offers, dramatic marketing initiatives, major price increases, staff bonuses, costly advertising, profit sharing or other popular initiatives are going to make two-h’apporth of differences in the long term but:
  • That working smarter does mean having a better understanding about what is really going on in your practice and learning from your experience as a clinician – that there is little or no long-term value in embarking on a course of treatment without a detailed diagnosis of the underlying cause of the problem. Exactly the same principle is appropriate whether you’re reviewing the financial health of your practice – or the health and welfare of one of your patients
  • How to find the balance that’s right for you between working in your practice as a clinician and working on your practice as a business.
  • How to take a step-by-step approach to understanding why your practice is not as successful in financial terms as you and your team members deserve
  • How to download a number of diagnostic, planning and other business tools and clear advice how best to use them
  • How to identify and to implement specific strategic, resource management, operational or other policies designed specifically to get your business back on track and achieve your own personal, professional and business objectives.

What three tricky questions would be answered (and more) if I attend this seminar?

  • ‘I am a proud member of a caring profession concerned primarily with animal welfare – isn’t it somehow distasteful or unethical to be concerned with commercial profit?’
  • How can I balance two conflicting strategies? Veterinary services are delivered by clinicians and non-clinicians working together as a team. Doesn’t that create conflict between professional standards and the systems and discipline needed in a business?’
  • ‘I can understand the importance of ‘practice management’ but I don’t want to be a business expert. I just want to know what specific steps I might take to ensure that our practice success in service delivery and professional terms is matched by its success as a healthy business’

5 Ways You Can Think More Like Your Veterinary Clients

From an article published on the DVMelite website blog

They say the best way to serve your clients is to put yourself in their shoes.

This is true in any business, but particularly so in the veterinary industry. Why? Because your clients come to you from an especially emotional place. They love their pets and they want the very best for them. By connecting with them on a personal level, you can begin to develop deeper, more meaningful (and therefore more profitable) relationships

If this doesn’t come naturally to you, here are five things you can consciously try.

Less talking, more listening.

Yes, your clients come to you because they need guidance, advice and direction on how to handle the care of their pet. That doesn’t mean that you have to do all the talking. In fact, giving them the floor and inviting them to share their questions and concerns can lay a much stronger foundation for a long-term relationship. When people feel they are being heard, they feel safer. The safer they feel, the more they’ll trust and rely on the care you ultimately provide.

Act better than you feel.

Let’s face it, there are inevitably going to be those days when you simply don’t feel like making nice-nice with your clients. We all have those moments when we’d just rather focus on the patient and ignore everything else. But remember – the patient is an extension of the client and therefore, they both deserve exceptional service. Regardless of how you are feeling at any given moment, practice acting differently. Start with a smile. Shake hands or better yet – extend a hug.

Make compassion your focus.

We’ve worked with countless clients who failed to realize that compassion isn’t the same as empathy. You don’t have to feel exactly what your clients are feeling (although that would be ideal), but you should at the very least be able to step into their shoes and see things from their side of the exam table. When you take the time to understand what your clients truly want and need, you’ll come much closer to delivering the solution that will solidify your relationship.

Practice the Golden Rule.

If you can’t easily muster up a sense of compassion on your own, it can be helpful to remember the Golden Rule – treat others the way you’d like to be treated. This is something you can apply internally with your staff as well as in your interactions with your clientele. Ask yourself what you would like to experience if you were visiting the vet with your animal companion and mirror your service after that. Remember – kindness, respect and understanding go a long way.

Be grateful.

As often as necessary, remind yourself that you wouldn’t be successful if your clients didn’t patronize your clinic. Practicing sincere gratitude is an excellent way of connecting with others on a more personal basis. As an added bonus, when you show your clients you appreciate their business, you’ll inevitably gain a better understanding as to why they’ve chosen you versus other vets in your area. This insight can help you further hone your service levels to achieve even greater performance.

These are five simple ways you can begin to think more like your clients. As a result, you’ll create a better working atmosphere, enjoy greater practice success and ultimately achieve better advocacy for animals – the very reason you entered the field to begin with.

You can click here to visit the DVMelite website