Today's Veterinary Business

JUN 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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4 Today's Veterinary Business Viewpoints Viewpoints YOUR TURN Today's Veterinary Business provides a forum for readers to comment on anything in this journal and on any topic relevant to the business of veterinary medicine. We welcome letters of 600 words or less — the shorter, the better. Please email submissions to editor Ken Niedziela at kniedziela@NAVC.com. Include your name, professional degrees and credentials, workplace or city of residence, and contact information. Hire a business pro During my lunch today I read the April/May 2018 copy of your magazine (along with Harvard Business Review) and enjoyed just about all of it. One article was of particular interest: "The Goldilocks Concept." I enthusiastically read and silently cheered on lines in the article such as "A hybrid model, in which we have expert veterinary leadership coupled with great business acumen …." I thought this was exactly what the veterinarian owner/practice manager relation- ship was all about. However, the article then went on to suggest that veterinar- ians could "easily" acquire strong business and leadership skills since they had "mastered" organic chem- istry and physics. While I have the utmost respect for the education that a veterinary student must en- dure, I do not believe all veterinar- ians have the skills needed to be exceptional business people, man- agers and leaders. What's more is I do not think they can be full-time veterinarians and full-time business managers and do both well. The article completely failed to mention that if independent practices had seated the right people as business leaders within their practices years ago, not only would those hospitals have been more successful but the corporate model would have gone up against an already strong business model, not a fragmented, flailing one. Today's hospital managers are highly educated, highly creden- tialed professionals who have skills that some veterinarians simply do not have, will not have and cannot learn regardless of how they did in physics and organic chemistry. All those associate vets unin- terested in ownership — well, they are uninterested because they don't have this business acumen or the desire to even attempt to acquire it. They want to practice medicine and have a life outside of practic- ing medicine. Every time I get the chance, my advice to third- and fourth-year vet students when they ask me how they can have this is simple: Find yourself a great practice manager, have a trusting, transpar- ent relationship with them and allow them to be exceptional managers while you are an exceptional vet. The perfect hybrid is one with an owner-veterinarian who es- tablishes exceptional veterinary medical protocol, has a basic un- derstanding of business, has a clear vision of the practice goals and has a strong practice manager to help facilitate that vision. Adrienne Simmons-Turner, LVT, CVPM, SHRM-SCP Rice Village Animal Hospital Houston What dog shortage? I am a hospital administrator in Tempe, Arizona, and have worked here for nine years. I have a degree in entrepreneurship from Grove City College. I have done thousands of hours of continuing education. I have volunteered with rescues and the county shelter, and we run a donation center out of our hospital for all the rescues in Phoenix. Your article "The Looming Dog Shortage" [February/March 2018] is the most asinine thing I have ever read in a veterinary journal. The article angered me so much that I couldn't hold back. Not only is the article so far from the truth, but do you realize the impact this has on irresponsible Craigslist/backyard breeders/puppy mills? You are justifying their behavior. Half the dogs we see that were adopted from Craigslist or a backyard breeder have parvo, were never properly vaccinated or de- wormed, their mothers weren't on puppy food while nursing, and they come from terrible environments you couldn't even imagine — flea and tick infestations, taken from their mother at four weeks because the "breeder" didn't want to deal with the puppies any longer, etc. You got stats from The Wash- ington Post showing that about 5.5 million dogs went into shelters and 2.6 million got adopted. 700K were euthanized and 700K were moved to other rescues. Do you no- tice the math doesn't quite add up? What about the other 1.5 million? Do you know that 1 in 600 pit bulls gets a forever home? We are pulling dogs from dog farms in oth- er countries, and we are euthaniz- ing dogs daily at our county shelter. I really don't think we need to be worrying about making more dogs at this time. I am shocked that you would publish something like this. So disappointing. Caroline Morder Hospital administrator McClintock Animal Care Center Tempe, Arizona Murky writing The writing in "The Changing Veterinary Landscape" [April/May 2018] was so jargon-laden and run- on that the article was useless. In example No. 1, the last para- graph states, "In particular, this will result in veterinarians having more access to animals than previously imagined and give them the time to work on unique cases that the other companies are unable to address." I think the first part meant that veterinarians would have access to more data about their patients. The second part seems to be a non sequitur. There is nothing about having more data that gives a veterinarian more time to work up a case. And who are the "other companies"? DogVacay? Rover? Those aren't veterinarians, so of course they would be unable to address a medical issue. In example No. 2, the run-on sentence "Doing so requires the development of an entrepreneurial mindset that creates opportunities for focused experiments that ques- tion value propositions and perpet- ually iterate on possible solutions in order to focus on areas of greatest value for the client base" is just a mess! What does that even mean? There were more examples, but that's all the time I'm willing to spend on this article. Gretchen Norton, DVM Summit Veterinary Service Silverthorne, Colorado Obsolete markups I have been a veterinarian for 15 years and have owned a successful practice for the past seven years. I don't get a chance to read much in vet-based magazines, but recently I had a chance to pick up your April/May issue. I am always looking for ways to improve the business side of my practice. The article "Do the Math" really missed the mark with its recommen- dations for markups. In the past, 100 percent markups may have been tolerable to clients, but not anymore. Flea and tick preventives are brand recognized and plastered all over the internet. A 12-pack of brown Heartgard Plus costs about $67 to purchase from Merial. At 100 percent markup, you charge the client $134 for that pack. Maybe you can give them a $12 rebate so they net $122. They feel pretty good until they get an email from Petmeds.com that lists the same product for $90, 25 percent less than they paid. (And that's not even the cheapest on the internet). You have burned this client. Every future visit, if there is one, is going to have them won- dering how cheap they can find everything you recommend and doubting whether the prices for all your services are fair. Product sales continue to be a successful part of my business. I keep my product prices comparable with my digital competitors. I count on clients being repeat customers and word-of-mouth referrals when they are treated fairly, which will lead to more sales volume in the future. These aren't one-and-done products; these are products that the pet should be on forever. I think by continuing to tout outdated markup rules you are leading unwise veterinarians down a path to being script writers rather than script fillers. You should write an article with a more modern inventory concept like "margin and turns" to help vets get caught up with today's business world. Adam Staff, DVM Chetek Veterinary Clinic Chetek, Wisconsin

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