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

The Good, The Bad and the Ugly

7 Creative Ideas to Improve Client Experience

From an article published on the DVMelite website

In the veterinary industry, we all know that while it’s important to continuously attract new clients, the key to long-term success is keeping the existing ones happy and coming back year after year. Easier said than done? Not necessarily. It’s really about making sure that when people bring their pets to you for care, they have such a positive experience that they’ll have no need to go anywhere else. Need some ideas? Here are several creative ways to have more memorable moments with your clients.

Optimize Time

How much time is wasted with your clients filling out paperwork? What if you had your receptionist begin taking down information and completing the client/patient file while they’re scheduling the appointment? If the phones are too busy, offer to email a link to the online registration form. This will speed up the time it takes to get from the waiting area into the exam room.

Go the Extra Mile

New client? Make a great first impression by having your front desk clerk provide driving directions and offer to call their previous vet on their behalf to have their pet’s records transferred over before their first appointment.

Schedule Accordingly

There are two important things to keep in mind. People don’t want to have to wait and they also don’t want to be rushed. This is the never-ending dilemma many vets face, but if you plan accordingly, it doesn’t have to be. When scheduling appointments, make sure you’ve got a comfortable cushion of time in between each one. That way if a visit takes longer than anticipated, it won’t eat into the next client’s appointment.

Make Them Comfortable

There will inevitably be times when your clients will have to wait to be seen. Make their time in the lobby area as enjoyable as possible by providing comfortable seating and including little touches, like beverages, a coat rack, an umbrella stand and, of course, water bowls and treats for their animal companions. 

Communicate Frequently

– You may already offer things like appointment reminder calls or confirmation emails, but what about the rest of the year? To ensure that your clients keep coming back with their pets you need to stay on the top of their mind. Active participation on social media, email newsletters and postcard mailings can all accomplish this goal. As an added bonus, your clients will feel more connected and important to you.

Offer Modern Conveniences

People are busy. They appreciate when a service provider goes out of their way to accommodate them. For instance, offering extended office hours, selling their pet’s favorite food or providing the option to request appointments and refill prescriptions online are all things that will make your clients’ lives easier. In turn, they’ll give you their loyal business.

Don’t Forget the Human Touch

Many vets are so focused on caring for their patients that they forget to account for the human in the room. Sure, pet owners will love it if you get down on the floor and wrestle with their dog or give their cat an extra chin scratch, but they’ll also appreciate it if you make eye contact with them and treat them with respect. It’s important to find a balance, even if you have to work at it. Research has shown that it’s much more cost-effective to keep an existing client than it is to acquire a new one. If you want your veterinary clients to keep coming back, you have to give them good reason to do so. Implementing some or all of the above strategies should help you provide your clients with an experience they won’t soon forget.http://www.dvmelite.com/

You can click here to visit the DVMelite website

Why our politicians need to make small businesses a big priority

From an article by David Cliffe and published on the Small Business.co.uk website

It is repeatedly said by politicians that small businesses are the backbone of our society. It is not the large conglomerates or the multinational giants, but the thousands of businesses that employ either a sole trader or a handful of staff that are legion and massively contribute to the economy.

For a government, even a small, ailing commercial venture is better than paying out benefits to someone who seeks self-employment, so what’s not to like about small business? Well despite all of that economic advantage, the world of the small business is a very tough one indeed. Many aspiring entrepreneurs revert back to employment because of the sheer difficulty in establishing cash flows, customer bases and prevailing over the competition. The law of employment offers a regular wage, conditions, paid leave and usually, an established market space wherein one can get on with the day job rather than having to self-market while at the same time providing goods and services.

Many small businesses get by on relatively modest salaries for the directors, with dividend payments that take advantage of the tax system in order to make ends meet. Former Chancellor George Osbourne imposed 7.5 per cent tax on these dividends, making the life of the very small business more difficult indeed. This, and Philip Hammond’s controversial suggestion that the national insurance rates should rise for the self-employed belie an understanding of the reality of that status for so many.

Few policies are small business friendly

Indeed, despite the soundbites, there are few policies that are small business friendly. For many years, I’ve held the hope that we may eventually get a government that, the rhetoric aside, actually ‘gets’ small business and the very real difficulties faced by those who trade in this way.

Most small operations face the stark reality that if you are a single trader or rely on just a handful of people, sickness, maternity leave, late payments by larger corporate entities or a poor accountant can easily drag you under or leave its owners working for little or no income periodically. If you’re a woman running a small business, and trying to balance having a family alongside the entrepreneurial oomph that is needed to sustain a small business is a huge challenge indeed, despite the resounding rhetoric from all political colours of supporting more female entrepreneurs.

Add this to the competition small businesses face from their larger competitors who have economies of scale, more resources and reserves, and many hands to lighten the load, and the lot of a small business is a really demanding one indeed. These leaders need to be reassured that those at the top of the political tree have their best interests at heart, as well as those of the corporate elite.

Many small businesses are run on a lifestyle basis, that is, their progenitors seek to express themselves in society in ways unique to them and their way of creating economic activity is just another manifestation of this. It would be foolish of the incoming government to see such businesses as other than mainstream. Whatever motivates a person in business, as always typically idiosyncratic, whether that’s to work from home while bringing up children or to acquire billions in the bank. All business motivations can be viewed with one particular lens as neurotic, quirky or some other term of detraction. The simple fact is that, in lifestyle businesses, you find people entrepreneurial enough to contribute to society in an active way that balances their values with other important things in their lives. Far better that than being subjugated to state handouts and the vagaries of the benefit system in which some must inevitably dwell, some choose to dwell and whatever, produces a significant bill to the taxpayer.

Getting behind small businesses

So maybe it’s time for government to truly get behind small businesses. I know one impediment to this is the sheer tax take by government of large employers produces approximately £150+ billion per year compared to the relatively modest sums of corporation tax that are around £45 billion. However, if we view the social value of small business as simply tax generation potential, then every government will be the champion of big business. Rather than being a thriving, modern force within our economy, small business will be relegated, as it currently is, to something akin to limpet grasping to a rock, unnoticed because the politicians can only see the big fish that are increasingly offshore.

You can click here to visit the Small Business website

Little Numbers Turn Into Big Numbers

From an article by Mark Opperman published in the Veterinary Management Consultation website

Let’s say you have one veterinarian who has an average professional transaction figure of $240.00, and you have another doctor who has a $190.00 average professional transaction. What is causing the difference? Both doctors see clients and both doctors do surgery and dentals, so then why is one doctor’s average transaction so much higher than the other? We also need to consider what effect this has on the practice.

If a typical veterinarian can do 2,900 transactions a year, then it follows that the $190.00 doctor is actually costing this practice $95,000 a year!

When reviewing professional transaction numbers with doctors, I usually hear all kinds of reasons why their transaction is lower - they don’t do as much surgery, they don’t see as many “sick cases,” they don’t see as many clients, and so on. The truth is that these are all excuses. The number of cases you see really doesn’t matter because this is an average professional transaction. Unless you are board-certified, you are probably not doing that much more or less surgery than the other doctors in the practice and a few sick cases isn’t going to make that big of a difference. The real reason why the one doctor has a $240.00 PCT is that he or she is offering another product or service, charging for their services and making sure they offer a full service approach to their clients. The $190.00 doctor is doing only what the client is asking for and is not looking at the preventative needs of the patient. Has the patient had a fecal done in the past year? Is the pet on flea control and heartworm prevention? What food are they feeding or what shampoo are they using when they give the pet a bath? These are questions that the doctor needs to be asking. Not only is the $190.00 doctor cheating the practice out of $95,000 a year, he or she is not being the pet’s advocate and, if this doctor is paid on Pro-Sal, he or she is also cheating himself or herself out of $20,000 plus dollars a year in compensation.

What can you do to help the $190.00 doctor PCT become a $240.00 PCT doctor? Well, knowledge is power so the first step is that the $190.00 doctor needs to be informed about his or her numbers and that they are low. You can then start to help the doctor to correct the problem. One idea is that you could offer to video record the doctor in the exam room during outpatient office visits. We have been doing this extensively with our clients and the results are nothing less than spectacular.

I would also suggest you set up passive marketing in the exam room. To do this, you would need to place a shelf in each exam room that has 8 or 10 over the counter products, such as shampoo, ear cleaners, nutritional supplements, etc. You only need one of each on the shelf. When appropriate, the doctor can take the product down from the shelf and recommend it to the client. The doctor would explain to the client why the product is recommended for their pet and lastly, place the product on the corner of the exam room table closest to the exit door of the exam room. At the end of the visit, if the client wants the product, he or she will pick it up and walk out with it. The product is charged to the client and that doctor’s professional client transaction just increased by $20.00 to $30.00

You can click here to visit the Veterinary Management Consultation website

WIIFM ... ‘What’s in it for me?’

From a blog published by Diederik Gelderman

Here’s a poem with a very powerful message... as told by the very person who gives you bankable dollars each and every day:

“I am your client, your customer. Satisfy my wants and needs with personal attention and a friendly touch and I will become a walking advertisement for your practice and your products and services. Ignore my wants, show carelessness, inattention, and poor manners, and I will simply cease to exist - as far as you are concerned”

“I am sophisticated, much more so than I was a few years ago. I have grown accustomed to better things. I have money to spend. I am an egotist. I am sensitive. I am proud. My ego needs the nourishment of a friendly, personal greeting from you. It is important to me that you appreciate my business, my custom. After all, when I visit your practice and invest in your products and services, my money is feeding you”

“I am a perfectionist. I want the best I can get for the money I spend. When I criticise your products or services - and I will to anyone who will listen when I am dissatisfied - take heed. The source of my discontent lies in something you’re your practice, your staff or the products you sell have failed to do. Find that source and eliminate it or you will lose my business and that of my friends as well”.

“I am fickle. Other practices continually beckon to me with offers of more for my money. To keep my business, you must offer something better than they. I am your client now, but you must prove to me again and again that I have made a wise choice in selecting you, your products and services above all others.”

Remember, this could well be a poem written by your client or customer. Did you notice the number of times the word “I,” “me” or “my” was used in the poem?

Thirty-four, to be precise.

Clients / Customers aren’t interested in you or your staff or your services or your products, ... they’re only interested in: “What’s in it for me?”

Why do people actually come to visit you? Why do they ‘buy’ what you have to offer or recommend. Below is a list.

  • People don’t buy products or services.They buy benefits ... benefits... benefits!
  • They buy solutions to their problems
  • They buy other people's opinions of you, your practice, your services and your products
  • They buy credibility and believability
  • They buy your promises and recommendations (don't ever let them down)
  • They buy your practice and your service and product ‘reliability’
  • They buy ‘value’... and, please, don't confuse value with price
  • They buy certainty, honesty, convenience, and timeliness
  • They buy hope, comfort, success, care, security, professionalism and acceptance
  • They buy expectations of being pleased
  • They buy product selection options
  • They buy freedom from making a wrong decision

How many from this list can you line up against what you practice provides to your clients?

The more you can tick off, the more likely it is that you’ll attract GREAT clients and keep them.

How can you explain to your team the way they should go about ‘selling’ or showcasing these benefits to your clients and potential clients, and not the actual service or the actual products themselves?

Do you and your team understand and appreciate the real reasons behind why people come to you, why they seek you out, why they pay for your services and/or buy things?

Have you explained it to them?

You must include as many compelling reasons as possible when trying to convince potential customers to buy your products and services.

You can click here to visit Diederik Geldermans website 

Mind churn... it's a common occurrence in the veterinary industry.

From a blog by Cathy Warburton published on the VetAnswers.com website

You go to work, work hard, do your best and head off home to rest and recover in preparation for repeating the process the next day. You get home, change into clothes that don’t smell of manure or anal glands and are animal hair-free – nice! You sit down to relax, phew - but this is where it starts to go wrong, as thoughts of work jump into your mind. You try to take your mind in a different direction, only to find yourself back at work, pondering on the cases you saw today, how you handled them, what you could have done better, what you should have said to that person …. on and on, around and around it goes.

Welcome to mind churn!

Mind churn is a common occurrence for many of us in the industry. For some of us it only happens every now and again, when a particular case or situation gets under our skin. But for others, this is a frequent occurrence. And it is exhausting! The churning thoughts take up cognitive space and can prevent us from seeing and enjoying what is in front of us.

  • When we are in mind churn, we can have conversations and agree to things (apparently) that we can’t even remember. “Remember”, your partner or friend will say, “remember that we organized to go to see such and such on that day?” And for you it is a blank
  • In mind churn, we can read a book to our child using the appropriate tone, pausing in all the right places and having absolutely no idea what the story was about
  • In mind churn, we can eat a bar of chocolate and not even taste it.
  • In mind churn, we can drive to a friend’s house without being able to recall any of the landmarks on the way.

Coulda....shoulda...

Sound familiar? When your mind is churning with what you coulda shoulda done, your family, friends, pets and health may only be getting the crumbs of your attention….and it is very likely that they know it.

When our mind worries away at problems, we are continuing to deplete our cognitive resources. Our so-called rest and recovery periods are no longer restful and they certainly don’t promote recovery! Instead, we continue to take fuel out of the tank, meaning we have less available for the next day and week and ….

And, the extra sad thing is that mind churn is rarely productive. Brooding on things in this manner is very unlikely to lead us to a place of insight, a place where we go, “Aha! I see what I need to do", and allowing us to happily leave the problem behind. Instead, what it does is focus us on ourselves and our problems as we relive the pain and worry.Is this a place you recognize?

Is a churning mind impacting on your life? And what can you do to turn down the churn?? Here are 3 tips for slowing an overactive mind.

1. Understand how your mind works

To a certain extent mind churn is normal – it is our brains way of trying to keep us safe. Unless your mind is actively engaged in the present, it will scan the horizon looking for potential threats to your well-being and then reacting as required to create safety. This is called default mind network and it is normal. This function of our brain has allowed us to survive all the way from the hunter gatherer days. But, in the relative safety of our current existence, the same pathways can be set off by little things that are more at the level of a niggle than life-threatening.

And, the rules of neuroplasticity tell us that any neural pathways that we use frequently become strong, fast and habitual. When the neural pathway is creating a healthy habit, this is fantastic news. But when the strong, habitual pathways are the ones creating mind churn – things are not so rosy.

2. Utilise strategies to turn down the churn

When our mind is actively engaged in what we are doing, the churn calms right down. It is really hard to be in mind churn when you are surfing or running or making an intricate mosaic or singing or doing a crossword or playing a computer game. Aim to cultivate a hobby or sport where you lose sense of the time – this helps to reset your mind and takes you out of the churn.

Learning to be mindful is another great strategy. You can do this formally by attending yoga or meditation classes, with the help of an app such as smiling mind or head space, or informally by consciously bringing your mind back to what you are doing – maybe using 5 senses experiencing, where you think about what you can see, hear, taste, touch and smell.

3. Ask for help

Why would you want to spend your precious time doing something as unproductive and potentially damaging as mind churn? When overuse has turned mind churn from a pathway to a freeway, it is going to take time, effort and persistence to change it. Enlisting the support of a professional to help you retrain the brain pathways is a really good idea. You could consider using a coach, counsellor or psychologist depending on the impact it is having on your life. There are many other strategies they can teach you in addition to the ones above and they can make a difference.

Just imagine for a minute what your life might look like if your mind was like a calm stretch of river surrounded by beautiful gum trees rather than a seething sea? Wouldn’t that be amazing! You can get there with some time, effort and support.

You can click here to visit the VetAnswers website