Want Your Productivity to Skyrocket? Be the Cow

If you’re ready to become more efficient and productive, ask yourself these questions to discover what your 5 percent should be to the success of your veterinary practice.
Phil Zeltzman, DVM, DACVS, CVJ, Fear Free Certified
Published: January 20, 2018
If you’re regularly faced with a never-ending to-do list and a waiting room full of furry patients, it may be time to reconsider the responsibilities within your veterinary practice.

If you’re ready to become more efficient and productive, consider this advice: Be the cow.

No, really — be the cow. As author and entrepreneur Darren Hardy explains, “Let’s say you’re a cow on a dairy farm. You are the one who makes the milk — well, sort of. Once the farmer gets the milk from you, now it has to be sent to be pasteurized and homogenized and fortified and packaged and distributed and marketed and sold. The revenue needs to be collected and accounted for.

So, in the success of a dairy farm, only 5 percent is the making of the milk. And as the cow, that is all you can and should do. The rest of the process you have to leave to others’ expertise.”

That percentage, as small as it may seem, is vital to the process. Doing the magic 5 percent is what you need to focus on. Everything else should be delegated, outsourced or eliminated.

What’s Your 5 Percent?
Ask yourself these questions to discover what your 5 percent — or milk making contribution — should be to the success of your veterinary practice. Additionally, these questions will help uncover what someone else’s 95 percent must become.
  • What is it that only you can do? What are you made to do? What is your “genius zone?” What do you do that makes your practice successful?
  • Who do you currently have on your team who you could delegate tasks you don’t truly have to do yourself?
  • Who do you need to hire to take additional tasks off your to-do list? Depending on your position in the practice, it can be a personal assistant, a part-time or full-time helper, an outside professional (CPA, bookkeeper, social media expert) or a virtual assistant.

Ironically, the people you delegate responsibilities to may have more knowledge and experience in fulfilling the role than you do. This might include:
  • Filing business taxes
  • Taking X-rays
  • Managing accounting
  • Changing bandages
  • Updating the practice’s Facebook page 
  • Drawing blood
  • Negotiating better prices with a vendor
  • Taking patient history
  • Placing an order with a supplier

If you’re not accustomed to delegating roles, follow these six steps:  
  • Determine what tasks you feel comfortable letting go of.
  • Decide who will take on those tasks.
  • Communicate exactly how to perform each task well.
  • Define a realistic timeframe for each task's completion.
  • Provide the right tools and authority to take action and make decisions.
  • Review each task once it has been completed.

Of these six steps, the first one, “Determine what tasks you feel comfortable letting go of,” might be the most difficult for high achievers because they tend to convince themselves that only they can perform a certain task correctly. If this applies to you, ask someone you trust — a partner, a long-term employee, a spouse, a close friend or a mentor — to help you create the list.

Then, do a trial run. Find three tasks on your to-do list for the upcoming week or month and delegate them following the six-step process from above. Reflect on how much wiser it is to delegate those tasks. Then create a plan to permanently delegate those three tasks so you never have to do them yourself again.

Of course, narrowing down your role to just 5 percent might not be attainable depending on the specifics of your job, but the concept is what matters. Do what only you can do and delegate the rest. This is how your productivity will skyrocket.

The next time you’re feeling overwhelmed by your to-do list consider Darren Hardy’s advice: delegate as much as you can to your extended team, and be the cow.

Dr. Phil Zeltzman is a board-certified veterinary surgeon and serial entrepreneur. His traveling surgery practice takes him all over Eastern Pennsylvania and Western New Jersey. You can visit his websites at www.DrPhilZeltzman.com and www.VeterinariansInParadise.com.

Kelly Serfas, a Certified Veterinary Technician in Bethlehem, PA, contributed to this article.

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