Hire a consultant to tune up your practice

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Think your practice could benefit from some expert help? A consultant may be the way to go. But it's not enough to just hire help. You must know what you want to accomplish, pick the best-qualified consultant to help, and act on his or her advice.

Think your practice could benefit from some expert help? A consultant may be the way to go. But it's not enough to just hire help. You must know what you want to accomplish, pick the best-qualified consultant to help, and act on his or her advice.

The variety of services veterinary practice consultants offer is as varied as the services that veterinarians provide pets and their owners. So think about what kind of expertise you need. Do you want a consultant with specialized financial know-how? Do you need someone with more general expertise who can see the big picture? Do you want to focus on team building? Do you need help retiring? Your answers should help you decide who to hire.

Not surprisingly, practice owners tend to hire a consultant to solve a particular crisis, such as declining income or skyrocketing turnover. However, consultants rarely find a crisis that's fueled by one issue alone. So be prepared to receive a recommendation that addresses seemingly day-to-day management changes. These everyday issues are likely at the heart of your problem, and without changes here the problem will most likely recur.

Once you're out of the fire, a consultant can help keep your practice on top of ever-changing management trends, including legal and regulation issues, human resources, compliance in marketing, and strategic succession planning to head off future problems. Keep in mind, your consultant may identify challenges and solutions that require involvement from other experts.

No matter what you hope to accomplish, consultants are change agents. They will ask you to change your approach. And yes, change is difficult. But you'll need to embrace change to achieve your goals and make it worthwhile to work with a consultant.

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