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

Dogs Dinner

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What’s happening in small animal practice in the UK

Selected data from the MAI consolidated report to July 2014

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You’re not bringing in new veterinary clients?

From an article by staff, reporting Karen Felsted and Jessica Goodman Lee advice for practice owner Dr. Jane Felgo – published in the online website

The data

Who counts as a “new client”? The most common definition is a pet owner who has never visited the practice. New-client data is easily accessible from most practice software systems, and Dr. Felgo learns that 382 new clients visited the practice in 2012, 354 in 2011. She’s pleased but decides to compare her numbers to other hospitals.

Most reports calculate new clients based on the number of full-time equivalent (FTE) doctors. An FTE doctor is one working 40 hours/week for the entire year; time off for vacation, sick days, CE, and holidays is considered work time, but extended leave is not. Dr. Felgo works about 50 hours per week, and her associate about 35.

Both were at the practice for the full year of 2012, thus the practice has 2.13 FTE doctors. Based on this definition, the new client figures per FTE doctor in Dr. Felgo’s practice were 180 for 2012 and 167 for 2011.

Data from A Study of Well-Managed Practices reveals the average number of new clients per FTE doctor is 198. In another study, the average number of new clients reported is 257 per FTE doctor. In either case, Dr. Felgo’s numbers are low—she must attract new clients ASAP.

The starting point

There are many factors that bring new clients to a veterinary practice: new pets, clients new to the area, pet owners unhappy with their current practice. Almost certainly, potential clients want a short commute to the clinic—usually within a 3-to-5-mile radius of their home. Potential clients will ask friends and colleagues for recommendations (your loyal fans will have good things to say, right?). They’ll also study practice websites, read online reviews, and check for a Facebook page. Fortunately, Dr. Felgo recently invested in a fabulous new website with stellar search engine optimization (SEO).

So how can Dr. Felgo generate positive buzz about her practice online? Here are four ways to e-impress clients:

  • Ask your best and most loyal clients to post a review. Most clients are flattered to be asked; the key is to give them direction. Create a sheet with two or three websites where they could offer kudos to your team. (Google should always be No. 1 on your list.)
  • Ask clients to write a testimonial for your website. This can be especially powerful if a pet has been injured or sick and recovered wonderfully thanks to your care. Use space on your home page for these stories. Add photos of the pets to bring the testimonies to life.
  • Mention your social media presence whenever possible. Add a good-looking “Like us on Facebook” seal to your invoices, reminders, on-hold messages, newsletters, and so on. For even more of a “wow” factor, buy a roll of stickers with your hospital name, logo, and the Facebook thumbs-up “like” symbol and stick them on everything that leaves the practice—bags of food included! You can use the same method for other social media sites like Twitter; for example, use a picture of Twitter’s iconic little bird next to your practice’s Twitter handle.
  • Flaunt your social media skills. Include direct links and logos on your practice’s home page for each your practice’s social media sites: Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, LinkedIn, Pinterest, and so on.

You can click here to visit the website

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Business Is Great!

From an article by Tina Del Buono, and published in the Practical Practice Management website

Below is a great story that I posted quite some time ago, but think it is worth reposting. Hopefully will inspire you to think of some way that you can have a more positive attitude at work Monday and learn to see the good side of things. Enjoy your Sunday!

The Gardener’s Badge Story

A landscape gardener ran a business that had been in the family for two or three generations. The staff was happy, and customers loved to visit the store, or to have the staff work on their gardens or make deliveries – anything from bedding plants to ride-on mowers.

For as long as anyone could remember, the current owner and previous generations of owners were extremely positive happy people.

Most folks assumed it was because they ran a successful business.

In fact it was the other way around…

A tradition in the business was that the owner always wore a big lapel badge, saying Business Is Great!

The business was indeed generally great, although it went through tough times like any other. What never changed however was the owner’s attitude, and the badge saying Business Is Great!

Everyone who saw the badge for the first time invariably asked, “What’s so great about business?” Sometimes people would also comment that their own business was miserable, or even that they personally were miserable or stressed.

Anyhow, the Business Is Great! badge always tended to start a conversation, which typically involved the owner talking about lots of positive aspects of business and work, for example:

  • the pleasure of meeting and talking with different people every day
  • the reward that comes from helping staff take on new challenges and experiences
  • the fun and laughter in a relaxed and healthy work environment
  • the fascination in the work itself, and in the other people’s work and businesses
  • the great feeling when you finish a job and do it to the best of your capabilities
  • the new things you learn every day – even without looking to do so
  • and the thought that everyone in business is blessed – because there are many millions of people who would swap their own situation to have the same opportunities of doing a productive meaningful job, in a civilized well-fed country, where we have no real worries.

And so the list went on. And no matter how miserable a person was, they’d usually end up feeling a lot happier after just a couple of minutes listening to all this infectious enthusiasm and positivity.

It is impossible to quantify or measure attitude like this, but to one extent or another it’s probably a self-fulfilling prophecy, on which point, if asked about the badge in a quiet moment, the business owner would confide:

“The badge came first. The great business followed.”

You can click here to visit the Practical Practice Management website

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Olive the Leonberger makes Cinque Port Vets ‘On-Line’ presence run further with Vetmart

dog image for N&V Oct 2014

Olive the Leonberger pawed all the entries from the vetpol Internet Usage Survey and sniffed out the Cinque Port Vets entry to win them a free Shopfront on worth £1200.

Cinque Port Vets, a six centre veterinary practice based in Kent and East Sussex embraces both traditional and new internet tools including social media, to communicate effectively with their clients, and entered the Vetpol survey to encourage others to do the same.

Group Practice Manager Rita Dingwall (CVPM) at Cinque Port Vets, explained that “good communication links for both practice and clients are critical for veterinary practice today, but achieving this is not always easy. So the effort that you do put in to online communications in particular, needs to go as far as possible”.

Vetmart, brings together suppliers of animal products and services, showcasing each business and increasing awareness with owners online. Animal owners have a full range of search options to help find the right products and services, and for those businesses listed, drives traffic back to their specific website through appropriate links.

The Vetpol internet usage survey was devised in collaboration with Companion Consultancy, specialists in Veterinary PR; the survey identified a number of factors influencing the use of social media channels by animal related businesses and identified ways in which barriers to effective on line activity can be overcome.

With worldwide internet usage fast approaching 3 Billion and the UK the highest percentage of population with home internet access in the world at almost 90%, no business who wants ‘to do business’ can afford to ignore this communication channeli

If you would like to know more about the vetpol internet survey results, please e-mail or collect a copy from the vetmart stand (Q20) at the London VetShow…where you can also meet Olive the Leonberger!

You can click here to visit the VetMart website

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Three Secrets of Organizational Effectiveness

From an article by Jesse Newton and Josh Davis and published in the Gifted Leaders newsletter

Trying to change your organization’s culture in the conventional, programmatic manner is often an exercise in futility. A better method involves “pride building.” This is a cultural intervention in which leaders seek out a few employees who are already known to be master motivators, adept at inspiring strategic awareness among their colleagues. These master motivators are invited to recommend specific measures that enable better ways of working. It’s noteworthy that pride builders in a wide variety of companies and industries tend to recommend three specific measures time and time again: (1) giving more autonomy to frontline workers, (2) clearly explaining to staff members the significance and value (the “why”) of everyday work, and (3) providing better recognition and rewards for employee contributions.

Giving More Autonomy

Why does autonomy make such a difference? Because micromanagement, the opposite of autonomy and the default behavior for many managers, puts people in a threatened state. The resulting feelings of fear and anxiety produce a “fight-or-flight” reaction. An ever-growing body of research has found that when this fight-or-flight reaction kicks in, even if there is no visible response, productivity falls and the quality of decisions is diminished. Neuroscientists have also shown that when the neural circuits for being reactive drive behavior, some other neural circuits become less active – those associated with executive thinking, that is, controlling oneself, paying attention, innovating, planning, and problem solving. By giving employees some genuine autonomy, a company can reduce the frequency, duration, and intensity of this threat state. Indeed, the perception of increased choice in itself activates reward-related circuits in the brain, making people feel more at ease.

The “Why” of Everyday Work

Helping employees see and fully understand the “why” of their everyday work can take the form of explaining (or, better yet, demonstrating) the significant value of daily tasks, so that people understand their impact as part of a larger system and the difference they are making for clients of customers. Stressing the “why” to employees helps companies deploy the cognitive power of altruism. Studies show that the brain’s reward system is directly activated by helping others. When it’s clear to employees that they’re helping others through their work, their intrinsic motivation rapidly expands. Management by objectives is a far more limited mental schema than management by aspiration.

Recognition and Rewards

It is very important to recognize employee success in a skillful and considered way. This does not mean heaping undeserved praise on people; it means celebrating a job well done while keeping the bar high. Neuroscience explains the importance of the personal touch in delivering recognition that matters. When a manager recognizes an employee’s strengths before the group, it lights up the same regions of the employee’s brain as would winning a large sum of money. Rewards of all kinds, including social rewards, tend to release the neurotransmitter dopamine, which produces good feelings.

One framework of social motivators is the SCARF theory: David Rock, cofounder of the NeuroLeadership Institute, proposes that people at work are highly motivated by five types of social rewards:

  • status boosts (S);
  • increases in certainty (C);
  • gaining autonomy (A);
  • enhancing relatedness (being part of the group) (R); and
  • demonstrating fairness (F) Public personal recognition provides three of these rewards. It increases social status, enhances the sense of being a valued member of the group, and shows that hard work will be fairly recognized.

You can click here to visit the Gifted Leaders website

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