Incorporating Planning Tips Today to Make Your Veterinary Practice Stronger Tomorrow

Most practice managers and veterinary teams can quickly feel overwhelmed in today's high-demand, high-stress environment. At times, it may feel like your focus is simply on putting out fires, one after the next. This is never sustainable in the long run, so it's important to consider smart planning tips to make the transition from firefighter to fire-preventer.

The best way forward is usually to take a moment and make a solid plan for the future, which will help improve your practice culture during chaotic times. Here are some planning tips to support your team today and make a stronger practice tomorrow.

Stay in Your Lane

To survive challenges in the industry, we need to play to our strengths. Recognize what yours are—and are not—then find help to fill the gaps. For example, if your team needs the kind of emotional support you are unable—or unqualified—to give, seek professional assistance through consultant groups such as VetPartners. We need to attend to our teams' well-being, but we can't be in-house therapists.

  Elevate patient care without overwhelming staff. Learn how.

On a business level, staying in your lane can overturn the old model of trying to be all things to all clients. Assess what you do best and focus on improving that, prioritizing resources accordingly. What is your practice most proud of? Identify that passion and drive it down the road. The goal is to find and stay in your lane—weaving all over wastes time and energy.

Make Time to Work on Your Practice, Not in It

As veterinary practice managers, juggling so many tasks within the practice often means we don't take time to work on the practice as a whole. Neglecting this critical effort only weakens the business over time, so it's important to schedule small chunks of time daily to build a healthy habit. Set aside 20 minutes every day to advance your learning.

One way to do this is to join a veterinary management group, such as the Veterinary Hospital Managers Association, that has ongoing discussion boards and continuing education opportunities. Then, incorporate what you learn into your daily schedule and goals—for example, strategies to mitigate no-show clients.

Look Outside the Box

As you stretch your wings, you may find answers to your challenges outside veterinary medicine. For example, what technology options are businesses generally adopting? How have other industries developed strategies for hiring and retaining key employees? How can the HR blog posts inform strategies for team members?

SmartBrief and similar business news aggregators can be a good place to start. Even setting aside just 15 minutes a day could uncover strategies that make your practice better. Also, seek leadership and management communities outside veterinary medicine and use their fire to ignite your own.

Move From Firefighting to Fire Prevention

It's time to apply the lessons learned from preventive care for our patients to our practices. Staying in ongoing crisis mode is not helpful to anyone; instead, we need a prevention plan. A great first step is to include your team on this journey and do more than just welcome their input—actually follow through and incorporate it. With the full team behind you, it'll be far easier to head off issues before they happen.

You may also wish to professionally terminate the veterinary clients who routinely cause problems and who fail to appreciate what your practice can offer them. That will get the focus back on the vast majority of wonderful clients who support and benefit your practice.

Ultimately, we need a proactive approach to practice management if we are to prepare for the future of ourselves and our teams. When you adopt these planning tips, you will all move confidently into tomorrow—patients included.

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Nancy Drumm
General Manager, Capital Vets

Nancy Drumm is the daughter of a veterinarian and the granddaughter of a dairy farmer. She started working at the family practice at the age of 8, helping her father see patients after dinner, and the practice has been part of her entire life. She has been a farmer for many years as well. She has a burning interest in how things work and enjoys the challenges of running a business. She combines that curiosity and a willingness to try new things with a desire to use data to help us all make better decisions for our lives and practices.

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