5 New Skills Every Practice Manager Should Learn in 2021

No matter how you look at it, 2020 has been an unprecedented and unpredictable year. Whether your practice is ultra-modern, traditional, or somewhere in between, you undoubtedly made some major changes due to the COVID-19 pandemic. As we forge our way into a new, hopefully better year, it's time to consider what skills you should master in 2021 to help your practice succeed and thrive. From technology to coaching, here are five skills you should add to your arsenal.

1. Teletriage

If you haven't jumped on the telemedicine bandwagon yet, you're missing out on valuable opportunities. In fact, this technology is nothing short of game-changing. If the idea of committing to telemedicine is daunting, or your veterinarians are resistant, start small by triaging clients via text, photo, or video. From there, you can decide who needs to be seen in person and who can be served with a quick text exchange or video chat. Your PIMS can also help to facilitate telemedicine services. Once your team sees how easy and efficient telemedicine can be, they will jump aboard, and before you know it, you will have introduced a whole new skill set and revenue stream to your practice.

Pro tip: Once you've dipped your toes in the telemedicine game, consider the next step of signing up for an off-the-shelf app for your practice that allows you to exchange texts, photos, and videos with clients.

FREE HANDBOOK: How to increase efficiency in your practice.

2. Social Media Marketing

Does your practice have an active social media presence? Facebook and Instagram ads aren't the only form of social media marketing; it can be as simple as posting interesting facts, client education, and success stories. But, to maintain an active social media following, you must engage with your clients on a regular basis. You should post at least several times per week. Sound overwhelming? Instead of trying to remember to post every day, schedule a whole week's worth of posts in one sitting. You can use a social media scheduling program, such as Hootsuite, to schedule Facebook and Instagram posts. Someone will still need to respond to comments daily to increase engagement, but you can always nominate a tech-savvy team member with avid social media skills to tackle this.

Pro tip: Use a graphic design program, such as Canva, to create professional-looking graphics that accompany your posts.

3. Blogging

Simply having a website is no longer enough. Today's online world is highly competitive, and your site must meet a long list of criteria in order to rank high enough to even appear in your prospective clients' search results, much less top the list. Regularly publishing new, original, non-duplicate content is a way to improve your website's SEO and drive more traffic to it — and blogging is the best way to do this.

Posting blogs about dental disease, surgery, and allergies can help establish your practice as the local authority on common pet issues and give you somewhere to direct clients who have more questions about specific issues. One caveat, though: The blogs must be well-written and medically accurate. Each post should be written by a skilled and knowledgeable staff member, or consider using a professional writing and editing company. Either way, ensure that you have someone from your team with a clinical background fact-check and proofread each post.

Pro tip: After publishing each blog, post a teaser and a link to the blog on social media.

4. Performance Tracking

Are you familiar with your practice's key performance indicators (KPIs), such as average client transaction, total active clients, veterinary production, and new clients? Perhaps your practice owner tracks KPIs, and you don't need to get involved, but if practice growth is not measured and tracked, it is nearly impossible to set goals for a new year. Taking charge of this task will require intimate knowledge of a practice's finances, which your owner may not be comfortable with, but if you get the ball rolling, they may be willing to implement practices that will measure important KPIs for future success planning.

Pro tip: An up-to-date PIMS can likely track many of these KPIs for you — learn how to take advantage of all yours has to offer.

5. Success Coaching

Every practice manager considers themselves a coach, but true team coaching requires formal training and experience. Even if you have no desire to become a certified coach, taking advantage of continuing education opportunities and online classes focused on coaching will help you gain insight into your team's success and well-being. Armed with your new skills, you can become your practice's go-to person for conflict resolution and personal improvement — not because of your title, but because of your dedication and results.

Pro tip: Start with Veterinary Management Group's Certificate in Veterinary Practice Management for well-rounded training, then move on to more specialized coaching classes.

Make 2021 your best year yet by adding or refining these skills in your toolbox. Your team will be impressed with your initiative and inspired to pursue personal growth of their own.

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Sarah Rumple
Owner, Chief Creative Officer of Rumpus Writing and Editing

Sarah Rumple is an award-winning veterinary writer and editor. Since 2011, her work has focused on pet health/behavior and veterinary practice management topics. Her clients include individual veterinary practice owners, national corporations, nonprofit associations, media companies, consultants, and others. Learn more at sarahrumple.com.

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