3 New Years resolutions for practice managers

December 20, 2018
Brent Dickinson

Vetted, Vetted January 2019, Volume 114, Issue 1

After you take a cup o kindness for auld lang syne, heres what to purge and what to pursue in your veterinary hospital over the coming year.

It's that time of year again-too much food, too little time, too much to do and loads of regret. Once the dust of the holiday season settles, it's time to focus on improvements-both within yourself and at your practice. While the resolutions below may not seem to be self-improving, they are, as they recommend concentrating your efforts on efficient, powerful and constructive tasks, which needs to start with you. So, get goin'!

Trim the fat

No, I'm not talking about getting on the treadmill here. I think all of us could put our finger on at least one thing (or person) at our practice that we'd love to get rid of. Well, do it.

This year, our practice stopped providing radiographs. That probably sounds shocking, but here in central New Jersey, we are practically surrounded by specialty and emergency clinics that provide orthopedics, obstruction removals and other procedures related to radiology. This, coupled with the increase in dependency on ultrasound, meant our practice just didn't see a need to provide the service anymore. So, we sold our equipment and made the two-room suite into an additional exam room and surgery prep/utility room.

If there's a service you can't get your team to enjoy providing, an inventory item you don't really sell or a toxic team member, leave it (or them) in 2018. You'll be glad you did.

Take your practice to new heights … or curbs

Now that you've made room for change, don't slow that momentum. Send a team member to pursue a special certification. Pay a secret shopper to come into your practice and take notes.

Or, try something totally new for your customers, like curbside prescription pickup.

People like having the red carpet rolled out for them. Disney does this well and we should too! A drive-up prescription window would be nice, but if your clinic doesn't have the right configuration, it would probably cost upwards of $40,000 to make it happen. However, you can jump online and pick up a security camera and a metal parking space sign for under $200 total.

Set up the camera to alert you when motion is detected, and take credit card information and vehicle descriptions over the phone when orders are placed. When that white Ford Focus pulls up, run the order out to the owner with a treat in your hand for Fluffy. By taking a few minutes of your day to go the extra mile, you're making a lasting impression on your clients that their needs come first.

Now, slow down

Setting an example that's easy for team members to follow should be a priority for yourself. What looks better-trying to do 20 things but only completing 10, or trying to do 10 things and actually doing all 10 of them? Don't be unrealistic with the work that a team member can truly accomplish in a day. We want quality work, but busy days with lots of case load won't help us get it in the end.

Contrary to popular belief, you can (and should) change job descriptions after people start doing the job. Start by removing things from their job descriptions that they don't actually do. This sounds like horrible management, but let's be honest-if you bought a microwave expecting it to make toast, you chose poorly. It's the same with hires. You should be seeing their performance from day one, so if some expectations aren't being met, the blame is on you. Sit the team member down and show them the original job description. Then show them what you're removing and why. They'll probably have a terrified look on their face, but by emphasizing that you no longer expect them to do A, they should understand that you fully expect them to have the time to complete B.

Oh, and by the way-it's OK to stop expecting yourself to do so much as well. Cheers to a better year ahead.

Brent Dickinson is practice manager at Dickinson-McNeill Veterinary Clinic in Chesterfield, New Jersey.

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