Monday, August 30, 2010

Practice Tip 14 – Your Practice Investment

Why, when the stock markets crash,
your practice is still your best investment…

Many of us never considered our practice an investment and wondered at why the year-end books showed a “profit” but little or no free cash in the bank. The reason is you used all your hard earned profit (cash) to either pay off the purchase of a practice or the initial start-up loans. You may not have considered these payments as an investment but more as a cost of doing business. Well look again – you may just be surprised.

Fact: A well-run practice generates a profit of 25% - 35% of it’s gross revenue.

It is this “left over money”, above and beyond the cost of running your practice, you use to pay off loans and build equity in your practice. This 25% – 35% / year is a phenomenal investment under any circumstance. And importantly, it is a brick and mortar operation. It supplies a very needed and wanted service to your community which is showing no signs of weakening. More people have pets than ever before and are spending on them more than ever before. So what a great market to be in.

It’s not that you can’t make money in the stock markets, because people can and do. They are however very sensitive to larger economic games and out of your immediate control.

Your practice on the other hand can and should be under your control. So next time you look at your investment portfolio include your practice! You may be pleasantly surprised and at what it is actually worth.

Need help calculating your profit or increasing your profit?

Gather your year-end Income statements…
Grab your calculator.
Give me a call.

888 675 9765

Friday, August 27, 2010

Has a multitude of useful information...

“Basic Organization has a multitude of useful information and tools that once implemented into my practice will result in expansion. The coolest aspect of this is that ultimately this will result from simplifying many things, taking away unnecessary complexity that is not efficient and ending up with a better organized company.”

Mike Doe, DVM
Good Samaritan Veterinary Hospital; San Leandro, CA
Basic Organization Course

I can become an effective leader in my life & business...

“This course really identified where I have been falling down in the leadership of our practice. I know now what I need to correct and how to do it so I can become an effective leader in my life & business. It also illustrates that I need to be at cause & no longer at effect. Excellent course!”

Rob Stables, DVM
Bow Valley Veterinary Clinic; Brooks, AB
Effective Leadership Course

This was a great exercise...

“This was a great exercise. At times scary and depressing, such as when I found out how much I had to bring in each week just to pay my regular expenses. At other times very exciting, like when I figured out how I could pay down my mortgage in half the time remaining on it. The importance of creating income taking precedence to managing expenses, and treating savings accounts as expenses that come off the top, were my biggest lessons.”

Hermen Geertsema, DVM
Geertsema Equine Services Inc.; Aldergrove, BC
Financial Planning Course

This course helped me to refine these skills...

“This course helped to bring to conscience level many skills which I’ve used roughly in the past. This course has helped me to refine these skills and learn and start to master new communication skills that will help with clients, employees and at home.”

Kirk Reese, DVM
Whitehouse Veterinary Hospital; Whitehouse, TX
Improving Business Through Communication Course

Everyone can improve their communication skills...

“The “Improving Business Through Communication” course drilled various techniques which give you control over communications in practice. Everyone can improve their communication skills by being aware of the situation and what techniques can be applied to have efficient and pleasant interaction.”

Lisardo Martinez, DVM
Hospital Veterinario Le Jeune; Miami, FL
Improving Business Through Communication Course

Monday, August 23, 2010

Practice Tip 12 - Staff Morale


Having high staff morale in a practice is a key successful action of highly successful practices. It makes it fun to come to work when the team has high morale. The problem is, with the field we are in, where patients do have problems and clients do get upset, how do you do this? How do you protect your staff morale?

Firstly most staff work at a veterinary practice because they love animals and really care.

Not everything in a practice goes according to plan or the way we wish it would. We experience losses that are contrary to our goals. We, working at a practice or in life, develop personal viewpoints on things based on what we perceive are going on… not necessarily what IS going on. Witness the effect of one grumpy client upon the reception staff, right?

The problem is, without having the overall picture of the practice in mind, we can develop a low-morale viewpoint that we are not succeeding in our goal or purpose. Enter in the scene where the staff are then reminded, by the owner or the office manager of all the mistakes that are occurring.

The result?
An imploding team that has the viewpoint that all they do is make mistakes and have clients who are grumpy and who don’t want to pay for services.

The solution?
Internal Promotion. Promote your successes constantly to your staff. At every opportunity point out what they are doing right, which opens the door to being able to correct them without their morale dropping.

So this next week try these tools and build more positive viewpoints:

Internally promote the practice wins - those successes in surgery, those clients who raved about the practice, those thank-you cards that came in, etc...

Show staff at every opportunity where a patient that came in on a yearly activation and vaccination appointment led to the handling of a dangerous or potentially dangerous medical condition.

Once a day, with each staff member, point out one thing they are doing correct. We all like praise and flourish in it...

The result?
Viewpoints that are more positive than negative with your staff.
Enjoy a happier, more high morale team

Sounds simple? It is. Try it out and watch what happens.
Questions? Give me a call.

Thursday, August 19, 2010

"I look forward to applying the skills learned."

“MBS is a fun course that is applicable right away. It opened up my eyes to an infinite number of ways to closely monitor my business in a quick glance. It will help me more effectively monitor my staff without being dependent on the natural swings of interpersonal sentiments. I look forward to applying the skills learned.”

Chris Garden, DVM, Practice Owner
Camino Animal Hospital
Management By Statistics Course

"This course gave me some pretty handy tools..."

“Wow – I was intimidated at first glance through the workbook but really had fun with this course. I learned a lot about myself through the drills – some of it being that I already had some skills in place. Addition of the other skills made me feel great. I want to be a good listener and I want to be heard. I want to be a good gatherer of information. This course gave me some pretty handy tools to help me achieve my goals. This course was fun and I’ve already used a couple of techniques back at the clinic...”

Nina Ferguson, Director of Administration
Kamloops Large Animal Veterinary Clinic
Improving Business Through Communication Course

"The drills help me improve..."

“I found the many communication drills were effective at uncovering my weaknesses in direct communication. The drills help me improve and to be more mindful when interacting with another person."

Tom Morrow, DVM, Practice Owner
Critter Creek Veterinary Hospital
Improving Business Through Communication Drills

"What a liberating feeling!"

“This course has given me the basic skills to effectively assess the state our clinic is in and be at cause on how to effect change. What a liberating feeling! The sky is the limit once you understand how to be in control over your business."

Julie Maarhuis, Office Manager
Cottonwood Veterinary Clinic
Ethics for Business Survival Course

"I've enjoyed this course..."

“I enjoyed this course more than any so far! I’ve learnt that even though my intentions were good in dealing with employees, I was doing them a disservice! I can’t wait to get back to the clinic and put what I’ve learnt into action!"

Hollie Seymour, Senior Tech
James River Animal Hospital
Executive Basics Course

Monday, August 16, 2010

Practice Tip 11 – Client Compliance and your quality of care…


You may have heard the joke about the veterinarian who won the lottery - they practiced till the money ran out, right? At first glance this may seem amusing but without some skill in the art of client compliance there is some sobering truth to it.

Fact: Many veterinarians do what we do for the interest and activity of the medicine and surgery and with only a secondary regard for financial remuneration. When faced with client objections to our treatment plans we 1) take procedures off the quote and lower the quality of care, 2) don’t charge for procedures, or worse, 3) try and charge for them with out the client’s go a head (dangerous).

These actions ,if unhandled, can leave a practice that is delivering less than optimum medicine and dangerously close to insolvency. Euthanasia of pets with treatable conditions can increase as well (just look at Emergency Medicine these last couple of years). With out some skill we get trapped between what is best for the clients’ pocket book and what is best for our patients needs. So what is a solution? Enter the fine art of Client Compliance.

First realize that there are clients who DO want to and WILL spend money at your practice when they FULLY understand what you are trying to do. But in recession economies there is a lot of fear associated with spending any money not deemed absolutely necessary. Client compliance is the tool to use to remove invalid objections (I.e. the client is financially qualified but resistant to spending money) to your treatment plans and keeping your quality of medical care high. This starts with you being interested in your client and what the problem is.

Client Compliance Rule #1:
When you are in the exam room keep your attention there, not on things happening outside. Thousands of client surveys have told us that the number one reason they chose their veterinarian is they are interested and the care.

Client Compliance Rule #2:
A confused client will not understand what you are trying to do and will be unable to make a good decision. More often than not the decision they make will be to not go ahead with your treatment plan.

Client Compliance Rule #3:
To do this takes time and you must block off enough time, ideally 30 minutes, for each client presenting a major problem with their pet. A detailed estimate in simple words will do wonders to explain everything that you are doing and will add value to your services in the eyes of the client. Work on getting agreements with the client for each of these steps. If the client is not confused and sees good value and they are financially qualified they will go ahead with your treatment plan.

So try this next time you go into the exam room:
1. Give yourself and the client enough time… a 30 minute consultation...
2. Be interested in your client…
3. Communicate clearly about what is happening with the case… Do not use ANY large medical terms that will confuse the client. Keep it simple!
4. Always print and work off a detailed estimate that breaks things down...
5. Get the client’s agreement on each step of the estimate…

If the client is financially qualified watch them give you the go ahead
And keep your quality of care high!

Sounds simple? It is. Try it out and watch what happens.

Questions? Give me a call.

Do the VPS Client Compliance Builder course.

Friday, August 13, 2010

This course is the catalyst for the beginings of change...

“This course is the catalyst for the beginnings of change and growth of our practice. It outlines the process we need to follow, and if we do, there is no reason we can’t attain our goals.”

Shelagh Morrison, DVM
Formulas for Business Success

Learning different ways to communicate...

"Reading the statistics properly and knowing how to apply the formulas will make goal setting and Battle plans much easier to do. Learning different ways to communicate well with your staff was also very informative."

Lynn Armstrong, Dir. Admin
Breaking The Code

I am excited to utilize these tools...

“So much of my life up until now has been a series of dreams, plans; so many of which have failed to come to fruition. Now I know why.

All I had were plans, without the actual structure or series of necessary steps to make those plans a reality.

I am excited to utilize these tools; whether they be applied to a goal of cleaning out the garage, making sure I have the garden this summer, that vacation, lifestyle, clean office or secure retirement. I just have to work through each step, one-by-one and finally get there."

Janelle Walker, DVM, Practice Owner
Policy and Planning Addendum

For my overall health I need to have Personal Integrity in place...

“The Personal Integrity Course really made me take a good look at my own life, my own code of honor, and what my own ethics are, but more important than that was the need for every business or family to instill the importance of their own personal ethics and integrity in their staff, family, or children. It is never too early or too late to put your ethics in. It is your right and your duty to have the integrity to put in place a code that you live by in your day to day life. ...For my overall health I need to have Personal Integrity in place.”

Colleen Davis, Practice Manager
Personal Integrity Course

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Practice Tip 7 – Control


Good question, right? As private practice owners we all paid the price of admission and signed up for success. Or so we thought. Many times stress, burn out, low morale, not enough business, too much business, working too many hours, low profit etc… quickly moved in .

These are all signs of poor control. The problem (and solution) comes down to this seemingly simple law: Control is the ability to either speed something up, keep it the same, or slow it down. It’s pro-active in it’s approach. With this in mind, get the idea that you either control something (like driving a car), or like a passenger it controls you. So how does this relate to your practice?

For starters, very few of us really know how to first compile objective data to diagnose the condition of any area in our practice and then use this data to proactively speed an area up or slow it down. For example, early on I kept going to my accountant with the monthly statements and asking “This data is interesting but what can I do with it?”. He had no practical solutions. But as clinicians we naturally think this way, right? We compile subjective and objective patient data, make an assessment (diagnosis or tentative diagnosis) and then proceed to make a proactive treatment plan to improve the condition of the patient.

So how about doing this with your practice?
Here’s a place to start:

Pick some basic objective things to track over time
- monthly New Patients and Client Visits are good ones to start with (Note: just like your patients, a practice has different systems that work together. Each can and should be monitored like you monitor the heart rate, the white count etc… of a patient).

Graph these out to develop your Management Dashboard
- just like in your car - so you can visually see the direction these areas are heading.

Keep it up to date
...and develop your external and internal marketing plans as tools to use to pro-actively influence the areas you are tracking. Over time you should feel more and more in control.

This is the foundation of good practice management.
Questions? Give me a call.

Friday, August 6, 2010

We can now detail out the steps we have taken...

“This addendum put all of the theoretical knowledge from the Ethics for Business Survival course into a real-life context in our practice. We can now detail out the steps we have taken and need to continue with to affect a sustainable practice growth with organization and efficiency that will make the management side of our Veterinary careers much less daunting and more enjoyable.”

Shelagh Morrison, DVM
Ethics for Business Survival Addendum II

With practice, this will work!

“It was a lot of material to digest and understand but at the end of it all I’m really feeling positive about what I’ve learned. It will be great to finally have a way of using measurable statistics to decide what I need to do to improve my business and keep my staff motivated. With practice, this will work!"

Steve Duns, DVM, Practice Owner,
Ethics for Business Survival

It will be especially useful in staff training...

“Finished study skills. It will be especially useful in staff training. I will be more aware of vocabulary and make sure everything I say is understandable by everyone. Also, make this clear when my staff is talking to clients, minimize unfamiliar words and terms."

Thomas Morrow, DVM, Practice Owner
Study Skills for Life Course

"Can’t wait to get a script written and get the clients in the door!”

“This course really gets you thinking about compliance on a different level – from the standpoint of understanding how a good salesperson can dramatically affect compliance. Can’t wait to get a script written and get the clients in the door!”

Dr. Rob MacPherson, DVM, Practice Owner
Client Compliance Course

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Practice Tip 10 –Responsibility

and sub-standard patient care...

Mistakes DO happen, right? But two different scenarios recently emerged with two practice owners that involved sub-standard patient care by attending staff. Thankfully the patients survived but the corrective actions required for the staff members involved were quite different. Here are the two scenarios and results.

Scenario A:
Staff member discharges a feline patient with a commonly used NSAID but miscalculates the dose. She later discovers her mistake, brings it to the practice owner’s attention and calls the client to bring the cat back in for care. Appropriate medical treatment is given and the cat survives. The staff member insists on paying the bill. The client comes into pick up her cat and brings a thank-you letter to the staff member and money to reimburse the incurred fees. The staff member refuses to accept the money but thanks the client for her understanding.

Level of Responsibility: HIGH

Result: Staff member was validated for her honesty and was corrected using established written Policy & Procedure. She remains part of the high-standards team.

Scenario B:
Staff member discharges a small canine patient with a commonly used NSAID but neglects to send the client home with a tuberculin syringe to accurately deliver the dose. She tells the client to “just squirt some in his mouth”. The client follows the verbal directions, over-doses the dog, and the next day brings the dog back in for medical care. Appropriate medical treatment is given and the dog survives. On questioning, the staff member shrugs the incident off and says that the client was a nurse and “should have known better”. On further questioning, the staff member admits some responsibility but is appalled that the practice owner and head-tech are accusing her of not caring”.

Level of Responsibility: LOW

Result: Staff Member was discharged from the high-standards team.

So try this next time you have sub-standard patient care:
Don’t drop your standards!
Look for an appropriate level of responsibility in the staff member. Validate their “rightness” in taking responsibility and positive action.
Correct and retain the staff member using written policy and procedure.
Replace staff member that place responsibility outside themselves.
Sounds simple? It is. Try it out and watch what happens.

Questions? Give me a call.