Want a high-performing practice? Take yours to the next level (Proceedings)


Gross income in a veterinary practice can be broadly classified into two categories: active income and passive income.

  • Attendees will learn the few items separating high performers from the typical practice. Attendees will learn skills that will augment their ability to ensure pets receive the care they need and deserve.

  • Attendees will learn the critical keys to creating capacity – leverage and delegation – which allow the doctor to see more patients each day.

  • Practitioners can – and should – employ tactics and strategies to augment compliance.

  • Your communication skills – i.e. getting your clients to "Yes" – is equally important to your clinical, diagnostic, surgical skills

  • Compliance rates today are inferior. A minority of your clients receive the care you know to be in their best interest.

  • Most veterinary practices have too many doctors, and too few non-DVM health care team members – seriously compromising the number of clients seen each day.

  • Credible research consistently shows that higher non-DVM staffing levels are positively correlated with higher practice performance and healthier practices.

  • Investments in non-DVM health care team members produce great returns.

Gross income in a veterinary practice can be broadly classified into two categories: Active income and Passive income.

Active income is income that can only be generated by a veterinarian.

Examples of veterinary services that require the doctor's direct, full-time involvement include:

  • Examining the pet

  • Diagnosing

  • Prescribing and initiating treatment

  • Performing surgery

  • Certain client consultation activities

In veterinary medicine, it's critically important that doctors maximize their time and talent by generating income that only they can generate – active income. These are the highest-value, most highly remunerative activities which require a license to practice veterinary medicine.

Many revenue producing products and services in a veterinary practice however, do not require the veterinarian's direct, full-time involvement. Passive income is income that can be produced without the veterinarian's direct, full-time involvement. Practice income generated by members of the health care team is termed passive income.

A significant economic problem exists in practices where veterinarians spend too much time producing passive income (when they could/should be producing active income). What tasks or activities in your practice currently performed by a veterinarian, could be delegated to other members of the veterinary health care team? Consider organizing a team meeting to "brainstorm" lists of products and procedures that could (should) be performed by non-veterinary support personnel. Alternatively, for one week, have each member of the veterinary health care team pay close attention to the activities of the doctors. Note all the things done by a veterinarian that could have been done by a health care team member. Share your lists with one-another and with the veterinarians, the goal being to identify ways to shift those activities to the support team.

Dramatic increases in practice income are a function of how well the practice is positioned to generate active and passive income. In a practice with a pet-centered philosophy, the veterinary health care team will be an integral part of practice productivity. Effective use of the time and talents of veterinary health care team members cannot be overemphasized.

Compliance is a most-serious quality of care issue. Today, millions of cats and dogs do not receive the level of care you believe is best for them. The opportunity to provide more and better care to your patients is omnipresent. The business opportunity inherent in improved compliance is staggering. The untapped potential in your patient base may be double your current production

Most practice teams judge their level of compliance by "gut feel" rather than measuring actual compliance rates, and they think their compliance rates are quite high. But a comprehensive, in-depth study by AAHA showed that in almost every single case, the level of compliance is significantly lower than what practice teams believe (AAHA's "The Path to High-Quality Care – Practical Tips for Improving Compliance," copyright 2003, back cover)."

The profession's failure to consistently and confidently make recommendations – with conviction – for what is truly in the pet's best interest has resulted in low compliance. The quality of care delivered today is significantly less than what is possible. My personal challenge is that within 48 hours of returning home, you would take at least one action step to begin improving compliance in your practice. Pets benefit, clients benefit, and the entire veterinary health care team benefit!

Other topics in this section will include

  • The State of the Profession

  • The Profit Equation

  • Nature of practice expenses (fixed and variable)

  • The implications of a fixed-cost business

  • Nature of practice income (active and passive)

  • The Gross Income Equation, including the specific items impacting the Average Charge per Transaction and the Number of Transactions

  • The importance of attracting and retaining high-quality veterinary health care team members

  • The importance of continuously investing back into the practice (plant, equipment, health care team members/CE, etc.)

  • The importance of client loyalty/retention

  • Product Profitability Equation (Earns X Turns)

  • Non-DVM health care team members are your greatest asset...don't think of them as a necessary cost or overhead expense.

  • Veterinarians see about one-third the caseload of physicians – largely due to understaffing

  • To create capacity (see more patients each day), you must invest in hiring and retaining outstanding non-DVM health care team members.

  • Sharpening your communication skills will jumpstart your practice.

  • If you communicate better, more pets (and pet owners) will benefit from your clinical, diagnostic and surgical skills.

  • There exists a body of knowledge which – if studied and practiced – can and will save pets lives and contribute to their health and longevity.

References/Suggested Reading

Well-Managed Practice Study – Wutchiett, Tumblin & Associates (Advanstar)

KPMG Mega-Study


Influence – Robert Cialdini, PhD

The Path to High-Quality Care – AAHA Press

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