Veterinary practices that maintain a consistent standard of care stand the best chance of surviving in today's economic climate.
- Veterinary practices in which doctors and staff maintain a consistent medical philosophy and standard of care stand the best chance of surviving and even prospering in today's economic climate, a practice consultant told CVC Kansas City attendees Saturday afternoon.
Taking steps to enhance internal consistency was one of seven key suggestions Denise Tumblin, CPA, president and co-owner of Wutchiett Tumblin and Associates, of Columbus, Ohio, offered in her two-part presentation, "Financial strategies for the new economy."
"If everyone is on the same page and conveys a consistent message to clients, good staff control will follow, along with optimum patient care," Tumblin says.Besides her message of consistency, other strategies Tumblin recommends include developing and sticking to a manageable budget, encouraging staff to enhance their skills and expand responsibilities, monitoring and capturing charges, enhancing client compliance, paying close attention to inventory and developing an exit plan by taking steps to improve practice value before it is time to consider selling.
When it comes to monitoring and capturing charges, some practitioners have the mind set, "I won't bill Mr. Smith for that fecal exam. He's already paying enough for the physical exam and vaccine," Tumblin says. "Some will give three vaccinations but bill only for two of them. If a pet spends five days in the hospital, some owners will charge for three days' stay, and when multiple injections are given, they won't bill for all of them. Yet their costs for staff and overhead don't go down. This is pure profit that can help sustain the practice and keep it viable. It's a mistake not to charge clients a fair price for legitimate services," says Tumblin.
Consistency applies to enhancing client compliance with medical recommendations, she says. When speaking to owners, "make it easy, create urgency and make it personal. Send consistent messages with concise, clear and specific recommendations."
It's also important to keep close watch on inventory, reducing it where possible to keep drugs, medical supplies and laboratory materials at no more than 17 percent to 18 percent of revenue, Tumblin suggests.
A good exit plan begins early, she explains. "Ask yourself, what is your practice worth now? What steps can you take now to improve the value for a future sale? Who will buy your practice when you're ready to sell? These are questions you need to find answers for well before it's time to sell," Tumblin says.