Management tips for veterinary practicesPublished on 12th June 2016
Running a veterinary practice can be rewarding and enjoyable. According to The Telegraph, Britons spent around £7 billion in vet bills last year. Working with animals can also be profitable, as long as the business is managed effectively. There are a number of factors that can affect whether a veterinary practice is successful or not. On one hand you’re trying to satisfy clients by trying to keep costs down, but at same time trying to run a business. In this article I’ll be discussing the top 5 factors and business decisions that can affect whether your veterinary practice is a success story or a struggler.
Managing your revenue
Know what’s earning your veterinary practice money. You need to be making money from your services, not from the items you have on sale. Supplements such as flea medicine and animal dietary food may not be worth buying in bulk since customers mostly get these products from their local pet shop. Having food supplement sachets sitting on your shelves for months isn’t wise as they’ll eventually reach their sell by dates and result in losses.
Offering added services is a good way to bring money in. Services such as a dedicated dog grooming facility are worth considering, as are animal based events such as meetups and animal outings where you can earn money from ticket sales.
What’s in your inventory?
It’s always important that you know what stock you have. Don’t rely on just skimming over your shelves, you need to know exactly what you have so you can make informed decisions and avoid wasting money. Using inventory management software like Fakturama or inFlow that automatically updates itself whenever a customer purchases an item is a great way to achieve this. If you are going to sell flea medication, for example, you need to know what and how much is selling. Also, don’t stock up on various brands of the same item, stick to one brand type for each. After all, what’s the point of buying multiple types of flea medication or cat food? The less wastage the more money that goes into raw profit.
Effects of Pricing
Simply cutting your expenses doesn’t always guarantee higher profits. Sometimes the key distinction between a successful and a struggling veterinary practice can boil down to how much they’re charging their clients. Practices that charge fractionally less than their competition have a tendency to be more financially stable. However, practices that charge higher fees and treatment costs tend to be more successful. Ultimately, this means you have to experiment and try to find the right balance between satisfying clients cost-wise and fulfilling the demands of a successful business.
If you’re going to charge higher fees, explain your costs to your clients when they first come to your practice. Any animal-lover wants their animal to receive the best possible care. By explaining your costs you should be aiming to convince them that they’re getting value for money, and that that is something they wouldn’t get from another veterinary practice.
Creating bundles is also a clever way of generating revenue if you’re unable to match your competition. Be creative with what you offer, try combining neutering surgeries with vaccinations and physical exams for a period of time. Though it may incur losses at first, you may recover these costs from running payments that can offer financial stability.
Enhance your client’s experience
As soon as a client steps inside your veterinary practice you need to create the very best of impressions. The reception area must be warm and welcoming, and the staff you hire equally so. Maintaining friendly body language is important, especially when greeting both your client and their animal. When clients and their animals are waiting, consider allowing reception staff to give out free treats and remind them to always make eye contact. Sometimes it’s the little things that count.
It’s also important that clients aren’t left shocked or upset by the price of treatment. Sometimes the cost the of treatment can be hefty, and the costs usually get higher as their animal gets older. It can be especially expensive when dealing with the aftermath of a heated brawl, as any cat or dog owner will tell you. The key to dealing with such situations is transparency. They need to understand all the aspects of their animal’s treatment that contributed to the cost. If you aren’t clear about costs, they’ll assume you’re trying to rip them off and they’ll look elsewhere for another vet. As a veterinarian and a person of business, it’s in your interest to make sure your clients feel they’re getting value for money.
Boost efficiency, use technology
Although it takes time to get up and running, using technology could save your veterinary practice a lot of time and money. EMR (electronic medical records) are becoming much more common in GPs and dental practices up and down the UK, and they should be used in veterinary practices too.
EMR allows your staff to easily get up to speed with an animal’s entire medical history as soon as they enter the consultation/surgery room. This technology also makes billing clients much simpler, and allows them to book appointments and view medical records faster. Overall, this technology will free up your time allowing you to do what’s really important – being a vet.
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