First Name *
Last Name *
Email *

How can I grow my veterinary practice if I’m treating patients all day?

Another frequently asked question we get on How To Grow Your Veterinary Practice is:

How can I grow my veterinary practice if I’m treating patients all day?

The simple answer to this is YOU CAN’T!

In order to grow your veterinary practice you MUST find time to work ON your veterinary business rather than just working IN your veterinary business. Notice we said veterinary BUSINESS rather than veterinary practice. The sooner you realize that, as practice owner, you are running a business not solely practicing veterinary medicine the sooner you will be to being able to grow a substantial business.

In Michael Gerber’s best-selling book “The E-Myth Revisited” he introduces a premise, which when applied to the veterinary profession, infers veterinarians make the fatal assumption that just because they understand how to do the technical work of their practice – i.e. practicing veterinary medicine – they also understand how to build a practice that does that work.

His reasoning behind this argument is that veterinarians, starting their own practices, build practices that are heavily dependent on their own skills, talents, interests and tendencies. That they end up devoting their time, energy and life to what amounts to “working for a living” even if it is self-employed and finally they sell their “job” for break-even or even a net loss on all of the investment they’ve made.

The Entrepreneurial Veterinarian, on the other hand, builds a practice that can run itself in the hands of professional management, giving her the time to invest in other businesses or whatever else she wants to do with her life. The practice provides an income that she does not have to “work” for and provides a valuable asset for her future. In effect the Entrepreneurial Veterinarian builds an enterprise that can be grown as big as she sees fit.

Isn’t that the sort of practice that you dreamt of building?

To quote Michael Gerber:

“…your practice must be designed, so that it can do what it does systematically, predictably, every single time.”

By introducing systems you can create a consistent excellent experience for your clients every single time.

Why is McDonalds the most successful franchise of all time and the most successful burger restaurant? Well it isn’t down to the quality of their food as there are many burger restaurants with better quality burgers. The answer to both questions is their systems. A McDonalds in Seattle uses the exact same operations manual as a McDonalds in Orlando or New York or London, England or Sydney, Australia.

So while aren’t equating the services a veterinary practice provides with serving hamburgers, we are saying that you can implement systems in your practice. McDonalds has a systems-dependent business not a people-dependent business and you must develop a systems-dependent practice rather a than people-dependent practice.

What are the benefits?

When you systematize your business you instantly create a number of benefits:

1.       Your clients will be happier because they know they will get a consistent experience every time they visit your practice.

2.       Your staff will be happier as they will have a consistent way of doing things.

3.       You will be happier because you know that every consultation will be done your way.

4.       You will be less reliant on any individuals as any new clerical or reception staff can be easily trained to follow the systems that have been created for their area. The days when staff members could effectively hold you to ransom over your perceived fear that your practice can’t run without them are over!

5.       You will be able to take time off from your practice, safe in the knowledge your practice will still be in one piece when you get back.

6.       If you want to open a new practice in a different area you will already have the blueprint and systems manuals in place to get it up and running  very quickly!

7.       If you already have more than one practice you can be sure that things will be consistent to the point where if a staff member from one of your practices needs to fill in for a staff member at another one there will be no training required.

8.       Your practice becomes much more attractive to potential buyers as they will be effectively buying a turnkey operation that runs itself.

What can you systematize in your practice?

In your Reception

Every client should receive a consistent first class experience and every member of staff working in the reception area must know exactly what they need to do to provide it. Here is a sample of some of the systems you should have in place to enable your reception staff to do their job properly:

·         Answering the telephone.

·         Greeting clients.

·         Pre-consultation.

·         Post-consultation. 

·         Dealing with complaints.

Consulting Rooms

Systems for your veterinarians and veterinary technicians to follow in the consulting room are even more important in ensuring first class patient care and a consistent experience for your clients. The idea is not to constrain their abilities as a veterinary practitioner but to ensure that mistakes are not made and that consultations and procedures are carried out in the way you want them to be. Examples include:

·         New patient appointments.

·         Your systems for diagnosis.

·         Your systems for treatment.

Back Office

Your back office should obviously have systems for patient recording keeping, accounting and dealing with staff issues but here we are going to focus on the systems that 99% of veterinary practices don’t even think about which are Marketing Systems. Marketing systems are generally created in the back office and then deployed throughout the practice.

For example at the very least you should have  systems in place for the following:

·         Client Referral System

·         Testimonial Collection System

·         Up-sell/Cross-sell/Down-sell Systems

One of the keys to implementing systems within your practice is delegating tasks to your staff and making them responsible for their completion.  For example, make it the job of one of your team to run your client referral system including the tracking of who was referred by who and the rewarding of referrers.

Most veterinarians prefer practicing veterinary medicine to running a veterinary business but by implementing systems and delegating tasks it is possible to enjoy both!