Q&A: When to add an associate to your team
Are there quantifiable measures I can use to determine whether I'm able to add an associate to my practice?
Look at capacity issues you may have, says Veterinary Economics Editorial Advisory Board member Gary Glassman, CPA, partner with Burzenski and Co. in East Haven, Conn. Capacity is judged by determining the number of invoices a practice generates and the number of full-time equivalent (FTE) doctors practicing. In a small animal practice, a full-time practitioner should produce 3,000 professional invoices per year, and the practice should produce, in total, about 5,000 invoices per FTE doctor. Once a full-time doctor starts producing beyond these numbers, it's time to start thinking about hiring another associate.
Also, look at your appointment schedule to see how busy times book up and how long it takes to get an appointment during these hours. If busy hours are always full, it may be time to consider another doctor. Another sign of doctor capacity has to do with the surgery schedule. How long does it take to get a client in for a routine surgery? If it's more than a couple of days, you need to question whether doctor saturation exists. Additionally, if you're regularly asking clients who don't have an appointment to drop their pets off so you can review their cases in between appointments, it might be time to hire a new associate.
Low new-client numbers can also indicate that you need another doctor. Sometimes new-client numbers are low because new clients can't be seen at a relatively convenient time or in an appropriate time frame, so they look somewhere else. A full-time practitioner should see about 25 new clients per month.
Finally, look at your practice's geographic area and determine whether the population base around the practice is growing. If it is, consider hiring to stay ahead of the curve. When practices don't meet the demands of a growing area, they're inviting competition from local practices-or even new ones.