Practice good medicine and the money will follow
“Practice good medicine and the money will follow.” This was the answer a wise veterinarian once gave me in response to my question of her plans on growing revenue in her practice. I love this advice because it is a springboard for a deeper introspection of how we can make this adage a reality. Good medicine and good business do not happen overnight; they both require solid planning, excellent communication and flawless execution.
How much would you like to grow your revenue next year? How many more new clients and patients would you like to see? The most successful practice managers and owners that I’ve met have a specific set of goals set for themselves for what they wish to achieve. Many of these goals are often tied to patient compliance or other metrics, though they reflect directly on revenue. Find out where there are opportunities for growth in your practice and pick at the ‘low hanging fruit’ first. Maybe you have a high number of senior patients – this would be an opportunity to create care plans that are tailored to that specific age demographic. Or maybe you are seeing a much smaller number of puppies and kittens. This may pose an opportunity to revisit your relationships with local shelters or breeders and evaluate your marketing plan for bringing in those newer pets.
You can’t do this alone, and fortunately a whole team of people that are passionate about pets surrounds you. One of the simplest ways to involve your team in the creation and execution of your revenue growth plan is to have them involved from the beginning. No one wants to ask how we’re going to make more money this year, but you can start the conversation by asking about opportunities. “Is there any part of our care process where we can improve? Are there things that we’re not doing now that our clients would like for us to do?” Your team has a wealth of ideas on how to improve your medicine and customer care, just ask them! The next step is to turn those ideas into executable action plans with defined, measurable goals.
To turn your goal into a reality, you must have a solid execution plan. For instance, if you want to increase the number of puppies that are coming in to your practice, you may want to look at where your current puppies are coming from. If you have rescue groups or animal shelters in your area, can you offer discounted first time visits? Can your team get creative about seeking out and establishing relationships with breeders, local theriogenology veterinarians, or other groups that will refer patients to your clinic?
You can’t measure everything, so focus on measuring what matters. Having a monthly milestone metric to monitor your progress will help you and your team keep track of how well your achieving your goals and whether or not you need to make course corrections. Being able to use a software solution that automatically sends you the desired metrics (such as the percent of puppies and kittens being seen at the practice that month) is a fantastic time-saver and a great visual to share during team meetings.
PS. Nobody’s Perfect
Don’t beat yourself up if there are dips in your revenue, but do figure out why they happened. Perhaps you just hired a new graduate that needs some extra mentoring and is not yet as productive as your more seasoned associates. Maybe there was a huge winter storm and for the safety of you staff you had to close your hospital for a couple of days. There are many factors, often beyond our control, that can affect how revenue performs. What we should be able to do is evaluate those situations and understand the reasons behind how we’re doing.
Sample Practice Goal Setting
We’d like to increase our clinic’s revenue for 2016 by 5% (not including revenue increases done by regular price increases).
In 2015 we determined that less than 50% of our patients were compliant with the recommendation of performing annual intestinal parasite screening. This year, we’d like to increase that to at least 75% compliance.
We will begin offering pre-paid intestinal parasite kits in the exam rooms. If clients don’t bring a sample with them, we’ll give them a sample collection kit with instructions and information on the importance of annual testing. We’ll remind them in 7 days with an email if they forget to bring in their sample.
Based on our compliance report, at the end of the first quarter, our intestinal parasite screenings have increased to 60% compliance. Go team! If we reach 70% by the end of the second quarter, we’ll have a team celebration!