Today's Veterinary Business

AUG 2018

Today’s Veterinary Business provides information and resources designed to help veterinarians and office management improve the financial performance of their practices, allowing them to increase the level of patient care and client service.

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49 August/September 2018 • TODAYSVETERINARYBUSINESS.COM H.R. Huddle columnist Dr. Charlotte Lacroix is founder and CEO of Veterinary Business Advisors Inc. She serves on the Today's Veterinary Business editorial advisory board. learning or able to think as well. As a result, the Forbes article pointed out, when management needs the team to be at its best, employees are distracted, less productive and unable to focus effectively. Suggestions for breaking this cycle include: • Identifying early successes and celebrating them. • Ensuring that the vision con- tinues to be supported. • Clearly defining milestones and timelines. When a milestone is met, anyone responsible for the suc- cess must be acknowledged from the top. This will help to validate the transformation vision, keep the team energized and spur the momentum even further. Careful monitoring of early milestones also will highlight if and when the plan needs to be adjusted, and how. To continue to support the vision, it's important to determine which aspects of your workplace culture support it, which ones don't and which ones don't have a signif- icant impact either way. What do you keep? Only the elements that support the vision. As one example, the Forbes arti- cle shared how a company had a vi- sion for collaboration. Yet a trip to its office revealed an "ocean of cubicles" and people wearing headphones. Although this setup might be effec- tive at some workplaces, it does not support the vision of collaboration. After the office space was revamped, people stopped using Google Chat to communicate with someone two cubicle spaces away and instead began to talk in person. Barriers to Change This challenge is not new. In fact, Harvard Business Review identified reasons that change management fails in a well-thought-out arti- cle back in 1995. Titled "Leading Change: Why Transformation Efforts Fail," the article listed eight reasons, the first of which focused on not es- tablishing significant urgency. More than 50 percent of transformation failures were caused by this factor. Other errors included: • Weak transformation leadership. • A lack of vision. • Under-communication of the vision by a "factor of 10." Some companies, the article noted, failed to remove obstacles blocking the transformed vision. Obstacles can include the way the workplace is organized, poor compensation that causes people to focus on their self-interest rather than the new vision, and, worst of all, "Bosses who refuse to change and who make demands that are inconsistent with the overall effort." The article also stated that regressing to the old ways is easy during the first five to 10 years when the new vision is still fragile. Finally, Harvard Business Review noted: • Leaders must consciously demonstrate how the new approach is improving per- formance. Team members shouldn't have to make those connections on their own (or misinterpret them). • Top management needs to continue to implement and use the new vision and approach. The article ended with this thought: " In reality, even successful change efforts are messy and full of surprises. But just as a relatively simple vision is needed to guide people through a major change, so a vision of the change process can reduce the error rate. And fewer errors can spell the difference be- tween success and failure." replenished each year. I recommend $2,000 to $3,000 a year per doctor. This doctor-driven approach gives associate veterinarians some autonomy in how they wish to use their charity accounts and at the same time makes clear that the practice is not a non-profit organization and that care must be taken in how much charity services are provided. A practice tip here is to use the fee exception report in the practice management program to charge against the charity account. The re- port will alert you anytime a doctor charges less than the stated fee. Even if you don't use doctor charity accounts, I suggest that you print the fee exception report weekly or monthly and tell the doctors how much profit they gave away. Another Possibility Some practices use discounts to incentivize clients to take advantage of services or products being pro- moted. An example is offering, say, $40 or perhaps 20 percent off a den- tal cleaning done during Pet Dental Month. Once again, I must disagree with this marketing strategy. You in essence are telling pet owners that you overcharge them throughout the year but now are charging ap- propriately for the service. Instead, why not promote Pet Dental Month by offering a product or service? You could offer a com- plimentary bath, a day of boarding, a grooming service, a home dental care kit or a bag of food. Many times, the product or service you offer will have a higher perceived value to the client than the dis- count but will actually cost you less. Another advantage is the client might not be familiar with the com- plimentary product or service and, once she experiences it, she might take greater advantage of your practice's services in the future. I live by the statement that price is only an issue in the absence of value. You also should be aware of the following formula: If you believe as I do that price is indeed only an issue in the absence of value, then you need to decide how you are going to in- crease the value of your services in the client's mind. The formula dis- played above states that you have only two options: You can either in- crease the benefit or decrease the cost. Unfortunately, many people in this profession have chosen the easier and simpler road of offering discounts or not charging for the first office visit. Instead of discounting services, I suggest that you enhance the value of your services by educating clients about the benefits. Try this: • Explain what is involved in a dental procedure. • Show a video on dental procedures so that the client can see and understand all that is involved. • Give a tour of your clinic so clients can see that you operate a real hospital, complete with surgery, anesthesia, radiology and a laboratory. • Create a virtual video tour that will educate them about the quality and excellence of what you do. I would much rather spend time and money educating clients about the quality and excellence of my practice than discounting or giving away services. Isn't it time to truly value your services and stop giving things away? Practice Smarter columnist Mark Opperman is president and founder of Veterinary Management Consultation Inc. and co-author of "The Art of Veterinary Practice Management, Second Edition." Continued from Page 47

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