How I re-energized my veterinary practice


The new year can leave us tired. CVPM, Bash Halow shares three things he did to reignite his team and hit the new year running.

(Igor Normann/

Try outside help to terminate negativity

The first thing I did to give my team a fresh start in the new year was hire a local psychologist to conduct a two-hour workshop on the benefits of positive thinking and how to end our cycles of negative thought. Inviting an experienced, accredited professional into my practice to help my team members think better of themselves-and better of those with whom they work-was a direct way to improve safety and performance at my practice. Taking the time to find, hire and schedule a psychologist to come breathe new life into our jobs also showed my team that I care not only about their performance, but their mental and emotional wellbeing too.

To find this professional to come to the practice, I did a Google search for ‘licensed behavioral psychologist, Madison, WI.' I also know of other practices that have used online resources and courses from the University of Pennsylvania Positive Psychology Center.

Go digital with client education

The idea of putting client education tools online came to me when I saw one of my technicians showing a client how to clean ears. I thought to myself, "Why on earth don't I have a video of this?" I realized that thousands of pet owners are probably cleaning their pet's ears wrong, and an online handout or video would be a great help to them. Plus, the additional online content would give my website more authority with Google and serve to bring in a stream of potential new clients to my practice.

I started by taking all my handouts (you know, the ones that are a photocopy of the photocopy of the photocopy of the photocopy that we made in 1997) and had my IT support put them on my website. Next, I had two of my team members, Jackie and Karen, make a video of how to clean ears. Since I can't get anyone in my practice to agree to be in a picture, let alone a video, (I doubt I am the only one with this problem) I instructed them to only include their arms and hands in the shot. For this specific video, we used my dog, Casper, who loves getting his ears cleaned. For other client education videos, such as how to give insulin injections, we use a stuffed dog-doll.

Using her iPhone, Jackie filmed Karen holding a cotton ball in her hand and shaking it in front of the camera as if to say, "See, this is a cotton ball." She did the same thing with the other hand, demonstrating the cleaning solution. Karen doesn't speak during the video, but rather demonstrates, with exaggerated gestures, the steps one takes when cleaning and medicating a dog's ear.

Afterwards, Jackie gave the video to her 14-year-old son, who edited the film, inserted text explaining each step and laid down a free track of music downloaded from Bensound. I gave him $25 for his efforts and he was thrilled.

When the video was finished, I uploaded it onto our YouTube Channel, (ironically, I watched a YouTube video on how to set one up … it was easy) and then inserted the video into the online handout I created (I watched a YouTube video on how to do that, as well). I imagine by 2020, we'll have a whole library!

Get off-site to get back on track

I'd had it up to here with, "I'm so busy, I don't know who's doing what anymore." "It was time to have a serious leadership meeting on the direction of the practice, but each time we tried to have one in-house, we were interrupted every 10 seconds with, "Excuse me, but I can't find the …" or "Pardon me, but will you help …" or "I hate to interrupt, but Mrs. So and So is here and she needs …"

Reserving the conference room at the Ramada Inn was only $225. My team and I were there from 8 a.m. to noon. The hotel even threw in sandwiches, chips and bottled water. Our favorite vendor pitched in to help with the cost and also dropped off a breakfast platter. The room had very comfortable chairs and a huge dry erase board to help us work through ideas, which I loved. The session was productive, insightful and liberating. Finally, back on track!

Things are still hectic (as they'll always be), but it's much easier to manage because we now have direction. We're no longer rushing around, have healthier mindsets and strategic purpose.

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