Dog Days of Summer: Tips for Practice Managers During the Busy Season
Spring and summer are the veterinary busy season, and very quickly the clinic can go from a steady pace to full speed ahead. How do we keep efficiency at the forefront when our wheels are spinning? Here are some work hacks and tips to help you focus on the right work and lighten your load.
Stay Productive, Not Just Busy
Delegate. Asking for help can be hard, especially when everyone else seems to have a lot going on, too. But you'd be surprised how often your team members want to help. After all, it's in everyone's best interest when tasks run smoothly. Take a few small but frequent tasks off of your own plate; ask someone to compile a list for ordering, get someone to spot-check inventory, or see if your team can send you some social media ideas for the clinic.
Many hands make light work — and when you use your team to help you with tasks, not only do you maximize your time, you empower your team. Sharing the workload allows you to prioritize and keep your focus on more urgent tasks — which should help you avoid late nights playing catch up.
Plan ahead. Ask your lead team members to put together some protocols to keep efficiency going during the busy season. Have them discuss methods of dealing with the crazy times and how the practice can run successfully and smoothly. It's easier to stay efficient if we all do things a similar way every time.
See if reception can set guidelines to streamline work-in appointments into drop-off appointments, or if your technicians can create a protocol to expedite surgical check-ins and discharges. When you allow people who do the job every day the autonomy to set the standards and procedures, you get instant buy-in.
Refresh existing procedures. It may be beneficial to run a refresher on triage for walk-in/emergency cases so the staff is consistent from the front desk to the treatment area. By communicating well with each other, we can prepare for the more chaotic days.
Use Teamwork for Scheduling
Vacation requests start rolling in at this time of year. I currently have about 20 vacation requests sitting on my desk, and we are a small practice!
Don't let the influx of vacations paralyze you; let the team work together to find scheduling solutions. For instance, put together a calendar specifically for time-off requests. That way, everyone can see who wants which days off, and they can work with each other to get shifts covered. This quick hack will hopefully get people to work it out among themselves.
Get a Leg-Up on New Hires
If you are like every other veterinary practice in the country, you might have trouble finding new staff — practices everywhere are clamoring for doctors and technicians. Don't give in to the temptation of putting hiring on the back burner during your busiest season. Try these tips to make sure you're not stuck shorthanded.
Start early. Don't wait until you're unexpectedly understaffed and have to turn away new potential clients — be proactive and put out feelers for new grads. Hit up the veterinary and technician colleges to see if you can place a job ad or maybe secure an extern. Offer graduates a chance to shadow a staff member at your practice. Who knows? A soon-to-be grad could be your next practice superstar.
Scope out local talent. See if there's a nearby job fair. Don't discount people who've never worked in veterinary care; keep an eye out for potential. New blood brings new ideas and ways to make your practice better. Outside perspectives and extra hands can spark positive changes within the practice. You never know who your next new team member may be!
Management comes with finding ways to think outside the box. Increasing efficiency means finding ways to improve your veterinary practice. Upping your delegation, communication, and hiring can do wonders for surviving the busy season.