10 things you learned in the recession


Veterinary practice owners found out that trust and dependability count and that real estate isn't a guarantee.

What did you learn from the recession? Before you start cursing and pounding your head on an exam room table, take a deep breath and read on. There's always a more positive spin on living through tough times in a veterinary practice. Here are 10 post-recession-era mantras that consultants at Lacher McDonald CPA in Seminole, Fla., say their clients learned this time around. Are they true for you?

1. Relationships count. If you give your all to clients, they'll choose you during tough times as well as good.

2. Team members matter. Employees who are treated well, trained efficiently, and rewarded and appreciated for their efforts will work hard to help your practice tough out the down times.

3. Lousy workers are left behind. You know the dead weight you keep around because you're too lazy to fire them. But when payroll dollars become a liability, you know who to axe. Of course, it would have been better never to have hired your lackluster team members.

4. Banks don't want to repo your practice. Conscientious lendees like you get nervous when they're late on a payment-or suddenly realize they can't make it. But banks want to work with you, not bankrupt you and get pennies on the dollar. New terms are negotiated, and extensions are granted.

5. Your friendly face is needed. Lousy news in the financial world and on the evening news sours moods. That makes your friendly face-and the smiling faces of your team members-that much more important to clients. We all like friendly people, and friendly people are usually repaid in kind.

6. Trust is king. Trust is the commandment of good living. Double-crossers, cheats, and crooks will be remembered after this recession. People spend their money with those they trust and who have been loyal providers through thick and thin.

7. Dependability is divine. It may seem boring to work hard all the time, doing what you say you'll do. But clients notice, team members notice, and your bottom line will notice. A solid work ethic reaps benefits.

8. Needs change. Not-so-thrifty people are driving to bankruptcy court in fancy cars with lattes in hand, then walking to the bus in expensive shoes. Veterinarians who've cut back on the extras when the extra money disappeared are still around.

9. Real estate is no guarantee. We've all learned that the boom doesn't last forever. Real estate value doesn't always go up. Treating a practice or a home as an ATM doesn't work.

10. Stocks don't always sail high. The stock market isn't always on a steady climb. Promotions for Wall Street could read: "If you had invested $10,000 five years ago, you would have less now than what you started with." It may not sell mutual funds, but sometimes it's the truth.

Eventually the recession's crash course in squeezing the most out of finances and making the most of new and existing clients will end. Hopefully you'll have gleaned great gems of knowledge from the harsh conditions, and when the economy turns around, you'll be stronger-and smarter-than ever before.

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