The Power of Deploying Vet Tech Champions in Your Practice

What if there was a way to improve client compliance while also improving work satisfaction and career growth opportunities for your team? Developing and deploying veterinary technician champions in your practices can do just that, and once set up they can be self-sustaining, giving you great long-term benefits.

Here's how to best deploy these champions in your practice plus some tips on empowering your team members to help them level up.

What Are Vet Tech Champions?

Vet tech champions are senior team members who champion an idea in your practice. They take on the role of subject experts, tasked with educating, cheerleading, and improving your practice's performance in their chosen area. Given the right tools and support, they have an opportunity to develop leadership skills as they train other vet techs, take pressure off your doctors by leading client conversations, and even help to develop new revenue streams as they learn about products and services you might not have implemented yet. For practice managers, empowering vet tech champions is a great way to share the responsibility of maintaining and growing your practice.

Where And How To Deploy Them

The most effective areas to use your champions are where regular compliance represents the best medicine and ongoing growth for your practice. For me, that means veterinary preventive care. The first areas we focused on in my practices were intestinal screens, routine blood work, and preventive oral care. As we started to educate pet owners on the benefits of health maintenance, we realized our wellness plans created a convenient way to provide those services every year, so we also focused on being able to explain the plans to clients.

Finding the right team member to work in each particular focus area matters just as much as choosing the area itself. In my practices, I've found that successful champions often self-select—they already have an interest in the area, want to learn more, and are passionate about educating others. As a manager, having a self-motivated team member allows you to be less prescriptive in what you want them to do, and focus more on giving them space to create results. Start with an initial brainstorming session to identify what you're trying to achieve, and then let them come up with ideas.

To be effective, your vet tech champions will need a few things from you. First, you need to delegate authority to them—this could be discussing the work they are doing at an all-hands meeting, asking your doctors to engage them in rooms to communicate directly with pet owners, or creating time for them to train colleagues. If you don't create that space for them, they'll struggle to get support from the rest of your team. You also need to be ready to provide both time to research and prepare materials, and resources to support their project. This could be anything from professionally printed posters for clients to gift cards to reward the best-producing team members. Make sure both your champions—and the rest of your team—know that the whole practice supports the work they're doing.

Tips on Setting Vet Techs Up for Success

As with many great ideas, when it comes to success, you'll need to focus on the details. These are a few things I've learned while encouraging vet tech champions on my teams:

  • Setting clear and realistic goals is essential. Make sure your champion knows what success looks like, when it will be measured, and how.
  • Create regular follow-up times to track progress, so a great idea doesn't get forgotten or sidelined.
  • Focus on areas that will have a meaningful impact on your practice. It will be easier to maintain momentum if everyone understands why it's important.
  • Encourage your champions to focus on fostering excitement rather than focusing on negatives.
  • Be open to ideas, from a 'dog graph' on the wall that your team colored in to represent their progress, to a plushy worm that acts as an icebreaker in talking about intestinal parasites. It's really interesting to see what your team comes up with.
  • Don't do too many things at once. Choose a few ideas to help grow expertise and compliance in your practice, and then you won't have a constant barrage of ideas thrown at your team and clients.
  • Be ready to reward your champions for their work. They're making a difference in the practice and should be compensated as such.

Real success is when you have your vet tech champions up and running and don't need to micromanage them between your check-ins. Knowing that you have people in your organization that are working to make things better without needing your input feels great, and it gives you more time to focus on your own new ideas.

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Des Whittall
Practice Manager

Des Whittall is an owner and manager of two veterinary clinics and pet resorts in Texas. A software engineer by training, he worked with an investment bank for 13 years in roles ranging from technical support to business divestment, managing large international teams and complex vendor relationships. With his partner, he has grown the clinics and resorts and is focused on developing businesses that can provide high-quality medicine and development opportunities for their teams.

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