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

A message from Veterinary Practice Magazine

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What’s happening in small animal practice in the UK

Selected data from the MAI consolidated report to January 2014

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CVPMs Share Their Insight

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How has the CVPM Certification Process Improved Your Relationship with the Practice Owner?

Earning the CVPM credential is an accomplishment that distinguishes practice managers from their peers. What is the precise impact of the credential? To determine the answer, VHMA asked our CVPMs. Here is what they had to say:

Responses fell into three areas: ‘My professional credibility has been enhanced’, ‘I have earned the respect of the owner’ and ‘The owner is more confident in my ability and my commitment to the practice’.

As a veterinary practice consultant, the CVPM certification gives me greater credibility with practice owners. Sometimes getting a veterinarian to listen to management changes is challenging— many are accustomed to being in charge and doing things their way. The CVPM credential—coupled with professional experience— positions the CVPM as someone at the top of their profession.

Managers interested in advancing their careers should pursue the CVPM. The CVPM is a stamp of approval that validates the hard work it takes to gain excellence in veterinary management.

As a CVPM, the practice owner is interested in my opinions because the certification process has provided me with education and knowledge to support my contributions.


The study questions that are presented during the certification process are consistent with situations that arise in practice. By using the study materials as a framework to problem solve and present effective solutions, I have gained the respect of the practice owner. The owner and associate veterinarian respect my knowledge and rarely question my judgment. The practice owner has great respect for CVPM credential and is proud that I have earned it.


Both my former and current employers have confidence in my skills and abilities because of what I’ve learned as a CVPM.
There is also a sense of confidence that I am committed to the profession for the long term because of the time and energy that I invested in the CVPM credential.

You can click here to visit the VHMA website

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Service standards

From an article by Gavin Hill-John and published in his blog

I was having a clear-out over the weekend and getting rid of the clutter in my office. Unfortunately I’m going to need more than one weekend to get the job done completely. However I did come across a file that contained information I used on a daily basis while managing a few branches of Barclays. One piece of paper in particular caught my attention, it’s entitled “The service standards” and it got me thinking.

We spend a lot of time looking at customer service in practices and there’s plenty of information out there on the subject. My friends at Onswitch have a passion about answering the phone correctly and what we should do in the consulting room. The steps they go through in both of these situations are extremely good and having used them in practice for the last three years, I’m happy to say they simply just work.

However there still seems to be a bit missing and that’s “what happens when someone walks in”.

Sometimes people have the audacity to just walk in off the street and expect answers to their queries (hint of sarcasm here). How should we deal with these people? I’ve heard some shocking ideas in the past, none of which I agree with. We have to look after these people and ensure that their experience is as good as the people calling us. It’s also important that in a busy surgery we are able to deliver exceptional service to everyone when they enter the practice. It doesn’t matter whether they are coming in for an appointment or just asking for directions to Pets At Home,

We have to look after them

And this is why my Barclays piece of paper caught my eye as it deals with just this sort of thing. In a Barclays branch we didn’t get calls from clients and we didn’t do many consultations, we just dealt with people walking in – so delivering exceptional service face to face was vital.

I’ve adapted them slightly but here are the service standards which could help your practice.

Compete to greet:

  • Every customer should be acknowledged within a minute of entering the practice.
  • This includes making eye contact, saying hello, SMILE, etc.
  • If a client has to wait, acknowledge it and engage with them.

Customer is priority:

  • Be friendly and polite throughout the whole interaction.
  • Every customer must be given undivided attention.
  • Make the customer feel valued and important from the first hello to the last goodbye.

Know my name:

  • Treat every customer as an individual – use their name and their pet’s name.
  • Build a rapport and strengthen the relationship.

Serve smarter not quicker:

  • Listen to what the customer wants/needs.
  • Ask questions.
  • Provide efficient responses to customer queries.
  • Manage the waiting room so everyone has the right amount of time spent with them.

Caring and competent:

  • Ask everyone if you can help them in any other way – it may just remind them of something else they need to raise, discuss or need.
  • Show them you care by helping them.
  • Know your products and services, show your competence.

Proud and professional:

  • Uniform must be smart and tidy.
  • Waiting room/reception must be free from litter and clutter.
  • Noticeboards should be up to date and appropriate.

Make it personal:

  • Make sure the customer knows your name and take pride in the service you give.

Fond farewell:

  • Always make sure the customer walks away having accomplished everything they came in for and a smile on their face.
  • Always make a parting comment.

There we are – whether you adopt them all or just some of them, I’m absolutely certain your customers will be happier.

If you think your team is already doing this just double check, spend some time observing or ask your clients directly what they think of the service they received. There’s usually a bit of room for improvement.

You can click here to visit Gavin Hill-Johns blog

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VPMA focuses on benefits for hard-working practice managers

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The Veterinary Practice Management Association has formed a Member Services Group to help optimise member benefits. The group, consisting of practice managers and council representatives Julie Beacham, Angela Andrews and Steve Broomfield, is reviewing the current member benefits package and negotiating with suppliers to expand the range of support on offer.

Group leader Julie Beacham called for feedback on which benefits members find most useful, as well as those they’d like to see. Under consideration is a legal helpline to help with employment disputes, coaching and personal development support and discounts and assistance from suppliers in management-related services and products, “We want to build on our current benefit package to offer our members comprehensive support in all the areas that they touch upon, both professionally and personally. As a busy manager myself, I know that time is so precious in this job. If I can immediately tap into resources that have been specially tailored for me, it saves me time and money. We want to make the lives of practice managers just that little easier.”

The Association currently offers benefits such as Health & Safety and HR support, discounts on medical healthplans, books and travel, and telecommunications and utilities brokerage. It has an active regional structure and hosts regular CPD and networking meetings. The joint VPMA-SPVS Events group holds regular CPD days throughout the year, as well as a management-focused congress every January, both of which are substantially discounted for members. The Association also co-hosts with SPVS a member publication, Practice Life, which focuses on business and management.

You can click here to visit the VPMA website

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Start complimenting other veterinarians in your community

From an article by Shawn Finch DVM and published in the website

Competition may be the cornerstone of most businesses, but it doesn’t have to be a part of veterinary medicine.

In veterinary medicine, we often think about the competition and wonder: How do we win? How do we beat other practices at their own game?

But isn’t their game our game? If a competing practice wins, do we automatically lose? In order for us to win, must the other practices in town lose? Excellent veterinary practices have the same objectives—great client care, patient wellness and financial success. So, are other veterinary practices in the community truly a threat, or is it good to be surrounded by excellence?

Sharing success

What if, when someone asked what we thought of a veterinarian whom we knew to be excellent, we raved about how great they were, without feeling as though in doing so we were somehow admitting that we weren’t great? If we actively engaged in that sort of community-minded attitude, wouldn’t our reputation among our clients and veterinary colleagues soar?

What if we let go of our hold on clients long enough to send them down the street for a service we don’t provide? If that practice didn’t send our clients back or support us in what they said and did, we’d know for next time and would have a more accurate perception of veterinarians in our community who represent the profession as we want it represented.

But what if that practice told our clients how great we were and sent our patients right back—in better health, no less—for the rest of their veterinary care? Patient and client care within our own practice—and within our community at large—would improve exponentially.

Be awesome

Of course, what our own team does is more important to our success that what any other team in town does. We only have control over ourselves. If we work smarter or harder or longer to attract clients to our practice, everyone wins—our patients, our clients and our practice. And if other practices are doing the same thing and winning too, we should celebrate with them.

This is a powerful attitude—subtle and gentle, but definitely powerful. It’s a brave attitude. While other veterinarians clamor to keep their tight, yet imaginary, grip on clients and live with an “us vs. them” mentality, we should be saying—in both our words and our actions—that we aren’t threatened by awesomeness. In fact, we should celebrate with our awesome colleagues the realization of our shared goals of great client care, patient wellness and financial success.

So, be the practice clients choose. Be the veterinarian other veterinarians compliment. Be the practice other practices trust with their clients and patients. Set an example for the rest of the practices in the community and beyond. Do what you already do so well—just be awesome.

You can click here to visit the DVM360 website

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It’s all about attitude!

By Winston Marsh

I read the other day that restaurateurs were complaining that the discount vouchers diners had purchased from group buying sites were costing them heaps. In addition, they complained, diners only returned when more discount vouchers were offered.

Who had forced these restaurateurs into this dreadful costly exercise? Why, the restaurateurs themselves. They’d been seduced by the prospect of easy money. All they had to do, they thought, was give a bit of a discount, maybe throw in a few inexpensive freebies, the first time the coupon buyers dined. After that the diners would become devotees of the restaurant and keep on coming back.

Well it just hasn’t happened.

I don’t know if you have used a discount voucher at a restaurant but, if your experience is like mine, you’ll know why the scheme hasn’t worked for them.

You just dine there, get what’s promised, eat, drink and leave.

Yep, that’s it. You eat, drink and leave.

The restaurant team don’t bother to get your contact details for their database so they can make you an offer to come back. They don’t get your birthday or wedding anniversary dates for a special reminder. They neglect to give you a voucher for a friend to dine or for a bottle of wine next time you dine or, or…

You eat, drink and leave. That’s it. Nothing!

And the restaurateurs whinge that they get nothing. Well, yes they do. They get lots of new customers to try them for the first time.

They just haven’t worked out that from there it’s their job to get those new diners to keep on coming back.

And that isn’t too complicated is it?

Editors note What’s the lesson here for veterinary practice? How many of your new clients keep coming back and what are you doing to make sure they do?

You can click here to visit Winston Marsh’s website

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