A tug of war over veterinary receptionist tasks

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Q: What percentage of practices, large and small, would you say have the receptionist duties include taking the client into the exam room, pulling vaccines and filing and dispensing medications from the veterinarian at the end of the office visit? I feel its a lot of work for the front office team and takes them away from the phones and reception desk. The practice owner feels it would increase the payroll percentage too much for a technician to do.Overworked

Dear Overworked and Frazzled: 

The dilemma you present isn't uncommon but I think many veterinary practices try to solve the problem of who does which tasks without looking at the big picture. The owner says it will increase technician costs. So if that's the case, I am assuming that the owner is OK with increased

 customer service representative (CSR) costs? It is not an extra cost to the clinic if the technicians do these tasks and the result is reduced hours on the CSRs. 

Everyone wants to provide topnotch service, but they also want to charge the same fees as everyone else. Impossible. Your clinic needs to figure out a labor budget and stick to it, and it doesn't matter who does which tasks. 

Ideally we want your labor costs, including veterinarians, to be at 40 percent. You can spend it all on one position or give low salaries to multiple positions. 

The real question is whether  you are willing to charge for the level of service you want to provide. If the technicians filling the rooms works better for your practice, then you need to decide what to charge to offer that level of service to the client and still keep your numbers in line.

Good luck!

-Shawn

Got a question? Ask Shawn. 

Maybe you're tired of babysitting your team members. Perhaps you're looking for strategies to beat a bully. Shawn can help. Shawn McVey, MA, MSW, is a member of the Firstline and Veterinary Economics Editorial Advisory boards and CEO of McVey Management Solutions in Austin, Texas. Email your questions for him to firstline@advanstar.com, then visit dvm360.com/mcvey to read McVey's advice on other hot topics. 

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