Avoiding layoffs (Sponsored by Intervet/Schering-Plough Animal Health)


While cutting expenses is a critical part of a recession plan, it's not a good idea to lay off employees without fully evaluating the effect the decision will have on the business.

When business is down, the natural response is to look for ways to cut expenses and offset the revenue loss. It's a matter of simple math: When you subtract line A from line B, you want to see a profit

While cutting expenses is a critical part of a recession plan, it's not a good idea to lay off employees without fully evaluating the effect the decision will have on the business, says Deborah Reeder, RVT, executive director and former president of the American Association of Equine Veterinary Technicians (AAEVT). "Layoffs during a time of economic hardship may seem like a quick fix," she says. "But letting your technicians go may end up costing you more than you would have spent by keeping them. In fact, it could cost thousands of dollars to rehire and retrain that person's replacement when the practice is ready to gear up again."

Here's another way to look at the landscape. (One that emphasizes the cost-cutting opportunities and revenue boosting benefits of hiring—and keeping—a technician on staff.)

Cutting costs

Technicians' knowledge of pharmaceu-ticals, services provided, and work flow makes them perfect for regulating and managing inventory. Put a technician in charge of entering data and record keeping and you'll see savings and a decrease in missed charges.

Also encourage them to look for areas of excess within the practice. They can suggest ways to streamline processes to improve practice efficiency, create value, and provide better service to your clients.

Increasing revenue

When you delegate effectively, you free up the doctors' time so they can provide complete care and see more patients per day, says Jamie DeFazio, LVT, of the New Bolton Center in Pa. "While the technician is doing blood work or getting vaccines, the veterinarian can be filling out a Coggjns form or performing a physical," she says. Reeder estimates that using a technician well can generate an additional several hundred dollars a day by giving the practitioner time to perform additional services or see that additional appointment he or she can charge for. "That's huge," she says.

Facilitating client communication

Building and solidifying client relationships clearly contributes to making your practice successful, and this is another area where technicians prove invaluable. The technician can build rapport with clients and earn their trust, laying the groundwork for a lasting relationship with the practice. "If clients trust you and you build loyalty, your client base keeps coming back," says Reeder.

Working together toward solutions

If you're already using these strategies, you may need to be more creative about generating revenue or cutting costs. "Start setting budgets in various areas, reallocate job responsibilities, and ask staff members for ideas on how to generate more revenue," Reeder says. "Soliciting input from the team gives you more ideas to work with and makes your team members feel like part of the solution."

"If you do have an employee whose cost may outweigh the value he or she currently brings to the practice, meet with him or her and brainstorm ways to create more value for their position before letting that person go," she says. "A thoughtful solution could turn the situation around."

Ultimately, the ability to deliver exemplary care and client service may be the difference that lets an equine practice survive this difficult economic period. "Look at your technicians' salaries and compare them to the income they generate," says Reeder. "When you look at the big picture, the return you see from investing in technicians may be substantial."

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