Today's Veterinary Business

DEC 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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53 December 2018 /January 2019 • TODAYSVETERINARYBUSINESS.COM Staff Cost Let's pretend 20 employees make a conservative average of $20 an hour, taking benefits into account. Sure, some make less and some make more. But it's an easy average. 20 times $20 equals $400 during a 60-minute meeting. Subtotal: $400 Food and Drinks Of course, the most important part of any good meeting is the food. Depending on how fancy you want to be, you can easily spend $200 on 20 attendees. Subtotal: $400 in payroll plus $200 for food equals $600. Opportunity Cost When receptionists are in a meet- ing, they can't schedule appoint- ments. Meanwhile, nurses and doctors can't take care of patients. Let's assume the practice generates $2 million a year. How much does the hospital make per hour? Let's say the clinic is open from 8 a.m. to 7 p.m. Monday through Friday. That's 11 hours a day. Satur- day hours are from 8 a.m. to 1 p.m. — five hours. That's a total of 60 hours a week for 52 weeks, or 3,120 hours a year. Let's take holidays into ac- count. Seven holidays a year times 11 hours equals 77 hours. Do the math: 3,120 minus 77 equals 3,043 business hours. So, how much does the prac- tice generate per hour? We divide $2 million by 3,043 business hours. The hour-long meeting potentially costs $657 in lost business. Grand total: $400 in payroll plus $200 for food plus $657 in opportunity cost equals $1,257, or $21 a minute. Let's be conservative and say the meeting is monthly. That's over $15,000 a year! If you add all the other meetings that invariably take place, you easily could spend $20,000 on meetings every year. How to Use These Numbers You can apply similar calculations to your clinic. Factor in the number of receptionists, nurses, kennel help- ers, managers and doctors, as well as the number of working hours and meetings, and then you'll have a good idea of where you stand. Using my calculations, here is how a practice owner or manager needs to look at poorly led meetings: • If the meeting starts six min- utes late, you burned $126. • Five minutes of warmup to chat about the weather, sport scores or the past weekend? That was a $105 icebreaker. • A "quick" three-minute dia- logue between two or three people that doesn't pertain to anybody else: $63. • Ten minutes of unfocused conversations of questionable value: $210. • Assuming a conservative 25 percent of the meeting was spent on topics not on the agenda, didn't pertain Staff meetings, department meetings, management meetings, lunch and learns. Veterinary professionals are not immune to the meetings epidemic that plagues many companies. Meetings are often a necessary evil, but many of them are unexciting, unfocused and unproductive. We rarely stop to think about the real cost of meetings because, after all, the attendees are clocked in anyway. Let's do some back-of-the-envelope calculations on an hour-long meeting. to most attendees or was a rambling recap of a previous meeting, the cost was $314. Some Meetings Do Matter Please don't misinterpret my point. Meetings are critically important in an efficient practice, whether to rally the troops, train staff mem- bers or get everybody on the same page. These are effective meetings. Sadly, however, many meet- ings are boring, follow a vague agenda at best and don't yield practical results. What can you do to lead effec- tive meetings that keep attendees motivated, engaged and creative the entire time? By tweaking a few things you can make your meetings stimulating, focused and fruitful. Before the Meeting Preparation is key. Four items require your attention before the meeting even starts. Purpose No meeting should be scheduled unless specific goals have been identified. Is the meeting truly necessary? Would a memo or an email suffice? This little exercise forces the organizer to generate a clear agenda. Leadership MEETINGS Time out! Money is wasted during each minute of a meandering back-office meeting. You need to set a tight schedule, establish ground rules and be selective with the invitations. 1 By Phil Zeltzman, DVM, DACVS, CVJ

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