Mentor the veterinary associate in your midst

May 16, 2019
Brendan Howard, Business Channel Director
Brendan Howard, Business Channel Director

Brendan Howard oversees veterinary business, practice management and life-balance content for dvm360.com, dvm360 magazine, Firstline and Vetted, and plans the Practice Management track at all three Fetch dvm360 conferences.Brendan has proudly served under the Veterinary Economics and dvm360 banners for more than 10 years. Before that, he worked as a journalist, writer and editor at Entrepreneur magazine and a top filmed entertainment magazine in Southern California. Brendan received a Masters in English Literature from University of California, Riverside, in 1999.

Entrepreneurial millennial Dr. Eva Evans told Fetch dvm360 Baltimore attendees that associates might need a little mentoring and encouragement to think about owning a practice.

"Bark softly and carry a big stick. Here, I'll help you!" (Nadine Haase/stock.adobe.com)

If you want a young veterinary associate, say, a millennial, to consider buying your veterinary practice, you might need to do more than asking, “Wanna buy?” before signing the papers and walking off.

In her session “Why you should sell to a millennial, why millennials should buy and how to get it done” at Fetch dvm360 Baltimore, millennial practice owner Eva Evans, DVM, explained that while she chose to start up her own practice, she would have bought the right practice in her area.

And she says some millennials will need some encouragement from you. “Even if your associates don't come forward and say they want to do this,” she explains, “you can show them it's not as big and scary as it seems [to own a practice].”

What should you do when cultivating your own future practice buyer? First, remember that not all associates want to own (or should). Here are a few of her other tips for cultivating the right doctor in your midst:

Recognize curiosity, drive, problem-solving and grit in young doctors. Even if they don't approach you about owning or buying, keep your eyes peeled for traits that might make for a good practice owner who never considered the prospect.

Mentor and encourage the associates who show interest. Share financials, tax and payroll data, revenue and profit information. You don't need to run an Open Book Management practice (see Dr. Ross Clark's book for more on that), but you can start sharing how you run not just your treatment area, but your hospital's business side.

Even if you hire a competent practice manager to help with finances, personnel management and more (and you should, because a new owner will want one), recognize that associates will need to be comfortable enough with the nonmedical parts of the business not to be spooked.

“Many don't feel they're qualified due to lack of business training,” Dr. Evans explained. “You can teach them.”