5 steps to consider before promoting a new partner at your practice
Are you looking for the next best successor at your veterinary clinic? Here are a few considerations to help ease the process and select the best candidate for the role.
Aspiring veterinarians learn a robust mix of invaluable education when attending veterinary school ranging from the anatomy of animals to how to diagnose, manage, and treat patients. However, one skill that might slip under the radar due to little training or preparation is business management.
To ease the cloudiness surrounding this subject, Fetch dvm360® conference speaker, Charlotte Lacroix, DVM, JD, owner of Veterinary Business Advisors Inc. (VBA) in New Jersey, outlined 5 different steps law firms follow when promoting within and how each can be used to help clinics successfully elect the right person for the job.
Step 1: Identifying your ideal candidate
When deciding to promote a staff member, Lacroix explained that you will need to foster a mentor/mentee relationship. But to do that, you must first identify the ideal candidate.
According to Lacroix, the ideal candidate must possess excellent communication and emotional intelligence skills along with being a skillful veterinarian. If you are promoting upon retirement, she advised ensuring your practice is left in the hands of not only a skilled veterinarian but someone who can communicate efficiently with clients and support each staff member's emotional needs as well.
Establishing the skill sets you want in a successor demonstrates to your team that there is zero tolerance for biases or favoritism at your clinic, thus promoting an inclusive and safe environment.
Step 2: Assessing critical areas of performance
After identifying a potential successor, you must now assess critical areas of performance (CAPs). You can complete this by creating a list of competencies that are beneficial to both you and your practice.
Lacroix made it clear that although this list will vary from clinic to clinic, the overall goal is to define the skills your chosen canidate needs to be successful with each of the established CAPs.
Step 3: Defining how to measure competence
Lacroix identified 4 ways to measure criteria: quantitative, qualitative, prospective, surrogate measures. Here's a breakdown of each.
Quantitative and qualitative measures
According to Lacroix, a few ways to measure competence quantitatively include:
- Gross revenue generation
- Hours worked
- Average client transactions
- How many clients the candidate sees daily
When measuring qualitatively, Lacroix explained that it’s imperative to take notice of the candidate’s contributions to the practice. This includes factoring in feedback made by both clients and staff alike. Is it positive, or negative? How are they with building client relations? These are all vital things to consider when selecting an ideal candidate.
When using prospective measures, Lacroix advised that it’s important to consider the potential future impact of the candidate’s current investment. An example of this can be based on their CE attendance to marketing efforts.
Surrogate measures involve mentorship time invested in the candidate. This type of relationship, though not proven, can help foster a more qualified candidate for your clinic.
Just like measuring the CAPs, the criteria are different for each practice. It is important to have established what is important to you as a current owner and where you would like to see your practice strive towards after you leave. This systematic approach also validates fairness among the individuals in case you are evaluating multiple successors for the role.
Step 4: Outlining the assessment process
Create a method that incorporates the metrics you provided from the previous steps. Lacroix explained that through this, you can assess your candidate's growth and potential to help make the final decision.
One way to complete this is by creating a partner profile spreadsheet. Through this unique tool, you can evaluate the criteria you laid out for your successor in an objective way. The veterinarian can complete the spreadsheet for each meeting (ie, biannually, quarterly, or more frequent), or put the responsibility on the candidate to “prove” competency by offering examples of the criteria.
Step 5: Putting the plan into practice
The final step is perhaps the most vital yet daunting. Now, according to Lacroix, is "the time to put the planning into practice."
Start by identifying potential candidates within your practice, or even informing new hires that there is an opportunity for practice ownership. Clearly lay out what you expect from them including the minimum of how many hours to work per week, gross revenue production, and possibly a down payment savings plan. Finally, meet with them throughout the next couple of years to monitor the process and answer any questions they may have for you.
When it comes to fostering a successor, certain pitfalls can come up whether they are in your control or not. Proper and clear communication during all steps will help ensure a smooth transition for your successor and prevent any issues when it comes time to moving forward. Some elements that affect the transition may include a poor economy or an unwillingness to say goodbye for retirement. These delays may not only cause cold feet and tension between mentor and mentee but can also delay retirement or have the mentee pull out entirely.
To help prevent this from occurring, Lacroix advised both parties to be aware of the timeline of succession and commit to it. This—along with open communication and flexibility—is needed to succeed.