Advice Unleashed (April 2018)

Tips and insight from business, financial and practice management experts.
Published: April 10, 2018
positive feedbackThe Power of Positive Feedback
Research proves the importance of encouraging words for employees
in hospitals and on hospital teams, says Wendy Hauser, DVM, vice president of veterinary relations for Crum & Forster Pet Insurance Group. “One study showed that 67 percent of employees whose managers provided positive feedback were highly engaged in their jobs, whereas only 31 percent of employees whose managers gave only negative or corrective feedback were engaged,” she says. “If all [they] hear about is what’s not working well and [they] never get those pats on the back, it’s amazing that 31 percent persevered through that.”

To give great positive feedback, watch your body language. “Be very aware of your eye contact, your facial expressions, the tone and pitch of your voice, how loud your voice is, and how rapidly you’re speaking,” Dr. Hauser says. Make sure you convey an upbeat message in a manner that matches your words.

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It’s also important to catch employees when they’re at their best. “Seek the things we take for granted in their daily performance, and look for opportunities to give positive feedback in the moment and in front of everyone else, depending on the employee’s preference,” she says.

Missed MoneyWhat Are Missed Charges Costing You?
Missed charges are a huge issue for veterinary practices, averaging $64,000 per doctor per year, according to Joy Fuhrman, DVM, MBA, director of finance and operations for Shepherd Software. “If you have two veterinarians in your practice, you could hire a third just by capturing all that additional revenue,” she says. Other data show that, on average, 10 percent of charges are missed. “If your average transaction charge is $130 and your technician misses that $13 nail trim, then 10 percent of your revenue for that patient is walking straight out the door,” she says.

To ensure that charges don’t slip through the cracks, Dr. Fuhrman advises using appropriate software and training the entire team — not just the technicians and front desk staff
but also the veterinarians. “These are important ways to drive revenue and grow your practice,” she says, “because that’s money that goes straight to the bottom line.”

MillennialsMillennials Want Coaches, Not Bosses
“Our typical veterinary culture is
very stale and study,” says Heather Romano, managing director of human resources and training at iVET360, “and millennials don’t really respond very well to that.” Millennials tend to focus less on making money than older generations do and more on making a positive impact, according to Romano, who suggests altering management style accordingly.

“We can change the way we talk to our employees to help them understand how they are making a difference in our hospitals,” she says. “We can be more like coaches instead of bosses to all our employees.” Millennials respond well to that approach because it helps them understand the reasons behind systems and procedures. And baby boomers and Gen Xers feel respected, which is important to them, she says.

Tips for Adding Boarding Services
“If you’re considering adding boarding to your practice, you have some real built-in advantages,” says Greg Taylor, CEO of the Mason Company. “You already have a referral network, which is huge, and practices that add boarding usually see a bump in routine services such as teeth cleaning and vaccinations, because you will have customers showing up on a routine basis.”

A fixed-cost business, boarding is expensive at the outset, depending on the number of runs added, Taylor says. “It could easily cost you $1 million to house your first animal, but it’s going to cost only a few bucks to house the second, third and so on,” he says. “You want to make sure you have the revenue stream to wash over those fixed costs, and veterinarians already have that with their patient base.”

Try to make the most of your building’s footprint, which is both the biggest cost and the biggest constraint. “Make sure you have as much capacity as possible by using things like stacked run systems, specific runs for small versus large dogs and even true two-story systems,” he says.

Finally, although a full grooming operation isn’t necessary, you must at least offer baths for the dogs, Taylor says. “You’ll need to incorporate that into your design, as well as purchase the appropriate equipment.”

Resume SkillsTailoring Your Resume
The top of an attention-grabbing resume goes beyond the basics (name, cellphone and email contact information, and your city and state) with specifics tailored to the position being sought, says Stacy Pursell, founder and CEO of The VET Recruiter and a Certified Employee Retention Specialist.

“That means replacing an objective or mission statement, which might not line up perfectly with the organization’s needs and current openings, with a professional summary that aligns more closely with the hiring company’s expectations,” she says. Other tips: List your work history in reverse chronological order, making it as relevant as possible to your job search, and limit your resume to two pages.

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