Setting Goals for Your Veterinary Practice in 2020

The beginning of a new year is the best time to reflect on what you've accomplished over the past year as practice manager and to set goals for the next 12 months. Your team expects you to meet 2020 with new, innovative ideas for growth and improvement, and setting goals is a great way to become a more effective veterinary team leader.

To start your list, here are five goals — the first two specifically for practice managers and the last three for your practice as a whole — you might aim to accomplish in 2020.

1. Obtain Certified Veterinary Practice Manager (CVPM) Certification

Veterinarians and veterinary technicians aren't the only team members who can improve their skills with specialty certifications. The Veterinary Hospital Managers Association (VHMA) offers a certification program for practice managers that helps to develop management skills, offers educational opportunities, and connects you to a network of like-minded veterinary professionals.

You must meet certain criteria before applying for CVPM certification, including:

  • Employment as a veterinary practice manager for a minimum of three years.

  • Completion of 18 college-semester hours in business management-related courses.

  • Forty-eight continuing education (CE) hours devoted to management.

After application approval, candidates take an extensive examination that includes questions related to human resources, law and ethics, marketing, practice organization, and finance. Following initial certification, practice managers must complete 48 CE hours every two years to be recertified.

As a CVPM, you'll gain in-depth knowledge of every aspect of veterinary practice management and stay up to date on the latest management trends in the industry, which will help you improve your practice's service, profitability, and culture. It's a win-win.

2. Complete Veterinary Practice Management Continuing Education

You may not need CE courses for certification, but keeping up with current developments and trends is still important. Maybe you're facing changes in state employment laws or culture and well-being issues in your practice. Perhaps you want to learn how to use the latest social media channels to reach current and potential clients. Either way, the more CE you take, the better positioned you'll be to advance your practice.

CE opportunities are available for veterinary practice managers in a variety of formats. National veterinary conferences, such as VMX and WVC, provide full practice management programs taught by leading experts. If you prefer not to travel, many CE courses and webinars are also available online.

Get technology resources to help practices adapt business through this period of uncertainty

3. Improve Client Communication

Your clients love to hear from you, so give them ample opportunities to connect with your practice. Today's pet owners expect you to reach out on multiple platforms, and if you don't take advantage of current technology to connect, you're missing valuable opportunities to educate your clients on how to keep their pet healthy and increase client retention. In 2020, try adding monthly blog posts on your website, weekly social media posts, or text message reminders. If you don't feel tech savvy enough to navigate online resources, enroll in a technology class or ask one of team members for help.

4. Increase Your Practice's Efficiency

Every practice can save time and streamline processes. Start by polling team members on their frustrations and pain points, and then brainstorm ways to address them. If you still use paper charts, transition to a chartless system to significantly improve hospital efficiency. If you've already made this transition, take the next step to replace paper forms (e.g., client check-in, consent, and treatment forms) with digital versions.

5. Expand Community Outreach

Increasing your community's awareness of your practice is a great way to grow your client base. Boost your practice's exposure in 2020 by participating in local events. Design and print branded T-shirts, and jump into activities, such as:

  • Festivals. Set up a table at local festivals, and hand out your business card with a free dog biscuit or cat treat.

  • Parades. Form a team from your practice and walk with your pets in annual parades, such as the July Fourth parade.

  • Community Service Events. Volunteer at community service events to meet new people and spread the word about your practice's generosity and animal-centered values.

  • Open Houses. Invite the community into your practice by hosting an open house where children can practice giving stuffed animals their "shots," pets can enjoy a treat or two, and pet owners can tour your practice and learn about the high-quality care you provide.

Don't let your practice get stagnant — setting goals will improve your personal management skills and grow your practice, team, and career. Introduce your 2020 goals at the January team meeting, and address progress at monthly meetings to stay on target. When your team members see your impressive goal list, they may feel inspired to make lists of their own. Here's to a happy and productive new year!

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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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