PORTLAND, Ore. – iVET360, a national veterinary management services company that helps private practice, primary-care veterinary hospitals optimize operations, improve customer outreach practices and track analytical trends, is providing these five team member training and development tips for veterinarians looking to grow their business.
Strategies like these have been instrumental to the success of the 90 veterinary hospitals iVET360 assists. iVET360 clients experienced record growth in 2015 and saw a 17 percent average increase in revenue and a 24 percent increase in new client growth by utilizing strategies like these.
Experts from the Portland-based company recommend for all veterinary hospitals to utilize these proven tips to improve their practice efficiency and team member productivity.
1. Evaluate or Create Your Culture: Inadequate culture and poor environment are becoming the number one reason veterinary employees are leaving their jobs. With well-qualified employees becoming harder and harder to come by, veterinary practices can no longer afford to ignore staff sentiment. Money is no longer the only motivating factor; for a veterinary practice to be competitive with other workplaces for the best employees, it must be willing to look inward and create a work environment people will look forward to being a part of each day. Evaluate your hospital and its culture: Have you defined the path you want all employees to be moving toward? How is this communicated to the team, and how often? How do your employees feel about the environment you have created for them? Do they feel fulfilled? Do they feel connected to the practice and its vision for the future? Answering these questions, and acting on your findings, can help to ensure a strong, solid workforce.
2. Pay Attention to Appointment Conversion: A practice naturally loses a certain percentage of clients each year, sometimes due to conditions they can’t control (clients move, patients pass away), and sometimes due to conditions they can (poor client experience). In order for a practice to continue to grow, it is critical that the individuals answering the phones have the training and knowledge to ensure every potential new client that calls gets an appointment. Training your staff to use active language and proactively scheduling appointments when speaking with new callers will help to capture as many new clients as possible, keeping your active client base robust.
3. Address Client Compliance: No matter how many active clients your practice has, it means nothing if they don’t comply with your recommendations. Unfortunately, lack of client compliance means a lower quality of care and outcomes for your patients, which can affect culture, reputation, and, of course, revenue. Your practice and individual doctor average transaction charge is the best way to track client compliance. Take a look at your ATC over the past year. If it has decreased, or not increased, then you may have a compliance issue. This almost always stems from less-than-effective communication between doctors, staff, and your clients. While there is no silver bullet to improve client compliance, there are many small adjustments your entire team can make to improve compliance. Evaluate how treatments are recommended to your clients: How are unapproved treatment plans followed-up on? How do your technicians discuss basic needs, such as heart worm prevention? How do your doctors and staff handle difficult, high dollar treatment plans? Do they assume the client won’t approve it? Do they alter the treatment plan when they see how much it will cost the client? Even addressing these few points can make a difference, and an in-depth analysis and overhaul of how treatments are recommended to your clients can shift your care and revenue to the next level.
4. Improve Team Accountability: The majority of practice owners do not enjoy holding their teams accountable for their actions since it usually involves some form of confrontation. However, one of the largest culture killers is lack of accountability, especially when there is a sentiment of “unfairness” surrounding certain employees. Lack of accountability doesn’t just affect your culture, it can be detrimental to patient care and is essential to hospital operations. This happens when people who are not held accountable don’t worry about making mistakes since there will be no consequences. Accountability does not mean firing people, it means ensuring they understand their role, perform to expectations, and see consequences when they do not. If you are noticing an uptick in pharmacy mistakes, basic record keeping errors, appointment booking errors, or if you are seeing or feeling a sense of animosity among the staff, you are likely facing an accountability problem. The worst part? The people who are putting forth the effort end up feeling unappreciated and leaving, while the offenders stick around, knowing they’ve got a good thing going. It can be hard to reflect on whether we are “fair” to everyone, but holding people accountable for their actions, both good and bad, is an essential part of running a successful, harmonious practice. Ask yourself what consequences people actually face when they make a mistake, and how positive actions are recognized daily (yes, daily!), and adjust your management and communication accordingly.
5. Develop Supervisor Leadership Skills: This is an often overlooked aspect of practice ownership. Frequently, supervisors are individuals who have no leadership experience, they moved up through the ranks due to longevity, loyalty and sometimes because there was just no one else. However, their lack of leadership knowledge can create an adversarial culture without practice owners knowing until there has been a massive turnover with only one common denominator- the supervisors. Owners should communicate their vision for practice leadership style to them. Then take the time to nurture these skills in them. Talk them through both easy and difficult decisions and actions you have to take, asking them why they think you handled it that way. Provide them with books and seminars that specifically preach the kind of management you want to be practiced in your hospital, and then discuss the material with them and how it will be implemented. Allow them to make mistakes, but also be sure these mistakes are talked about the same way a medical mistake would be. Your supervisors should be a direct representation of the vision for your practice and culture. Making the investment in their success in this role will elevate the supervisors, your team, client service, patient care, and very often, your revenue.
“We want to help veterinary hospitals perform at their best, grow and continue serving their clients,” said Matt Murray, CEO of iVET360. “By providing tips like these we are able to share helpful insights we have collected over the many years in the industry with veterinarians who are interested in doing more.”
iVET360 provides independently-owned, primary-care veterinary hospitals with management services. Their services include overseeing staff development, marketing and providing financial, operational and customer care analytics.
Established in 2013 and headquartered in Oregon, iVET360 is a practice management services company that provides critical support to veterinary hospitals across the nation. Their specialists educate and assist proven veterinary practices with staff development, marketing and analytics to ensure complete implementation of business strategies into the daily activities of the hospital.
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Also published on Medium.