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Spring Is Around the Corner – Time for New Beginnings

By March 7, 2024March 13th, 2024Blog

This afternoon Tucker and I went for a long walk. We have two alternate paths that we take depending on how much time I have between meetings. Today we took our long route. This one is Tucker’s favorite not only because he loves to smell the multitude of different smells but he has also made dog and human friends all along the way. When we get to the crossroads between the short and the long route Tucker always does his best to drag me towards the long path. Our first pause is usually to see Jax and Bandit. These are 2 little Shih Tzus who race to the fence so they can visit with Tucker. Unfortunately, today they were inside. But as we slowed and approached their yard I happened to notice the forsythia bush was beginning to bloom. Here in the south that is always one of the first signs of spring. A few houses down a bunch of daffodils had made their way to the sun.

These flowers had me thinking that now is always a good time to implement changes that we’ve been pondering all winter. It’s time for new ideas to make their way to the surface just like the spring daffodils.

Perhaps you read this and think, “Debbie, things are going fine I don’t think we need to change anything.” and maybe it feels that way, but I guarantee you there’s something out there that you can do that will make your business run smarter, better or faster.

Let’s start with technology

Let me say that I like technology when it is used appropriately and I dislike technology when we hide behind it rather than communicate directly. Tools that I find helpful are apps that help us remind our clients of services, enable them to book their own appointments, allow us to send out documents like new client forms and surgical release forms and even video instructions on how to perform home care after discharge. I think text messaging through our landline is a wonderful client communication tool, however using it to deliver test results that are abnormal is inappropriate. The same goes for email. Distressing test results should always be given on the phone or in person. You can certainly email copies of the test to the client but always make a call to walk through the results. So, if you don’t have these technologies in place I have a few favorites that I will list at the end.

My next suggestion for a spring fresh start is to get into the habit of monitoring your practice through data. I am often shocked when I begin consultations to find that practice owners only review their profit and loss statement at the end of the year. The profit and loss statement is the equivalent of blood work on a patient. We monitor it frequently to make sure our patient is stable. If you wait until the end of the year to review your profit and expenses it is too late to make adjustments. We should also be in the habit of viewing other reports from our practice management software. Do you know if your appointment schedule is booked? Do you know which of your doctors is underperforming compared to your other associates? Do you know who your top clients are? Are you watching your accounts receivable? Do you know how frequently your inventory is turning? Do you know how much overtime you are paying? These are all important facts to know. Without this information you are not managing your practice – you are simply coming to work and hoping for the best.

How is your client service?

Maybe now is the time to take a hard look at how your customer service team is performing. Having a phone system that allows you to view the number of missed and dropped calls will help you determine if you need to hire another CSR. Listening to recorded calls is also helpful. Insufficiently trained front office staff can be driving away potential new clients. In recent conversations with the CEO’s of two different veterinary marketing companies, they shared that even though the search engine optimization for a client practice was performing far above normal, the practice was not seeing an uptick in new clients. Both of these folks called their respective customer’s practice. One was received rudely. The second was immediately asked to hold and was still holding more than 6 minutes later! Truthfully, a new client who has no connection with the practice is going to tolerate either of these scenarios. Do some spring cleaning and upscale training for these vital team members. Need a good book to help you? Hospitality in Healthcare has you covered.

Is it time for a fresh coat of paint?

A common challenge for business owners is becoming unaware of the wear and tear on their facility because they see it every day. Performing veterinary care is hard on a building. Leashes scrape off layers of paint from door facings, toenails scratch our floors, floppy eared dogs shake their heads and sling ear cleaner and gunk in the most unusual places. Styles and colors change. Since clients can rarely judge the quality of medicine they are receiving because they are not medical professionals, they must judge us on other things. Great customer experiences, immaculately clean and well-kept buildings, well-marked parking spaces with no potholes in the lot, furniture in good repair and a clutter free environment are all things that are reflected in our client’s opinion of our practice. If you want to know how your business appears to your clients, come in the front door, take some photos and enlarge them so you can see sections in detail, or ask a friend to come and do a walk through and list what they see. Appearances do matter. So do odors…just sayin cat pee and pine cleaner do not impress!

Once a year, in the practice I first managed, we would do what we called the “Big Clean”. Everyone on the staff came in on a Sunday. We provided food and we all took a section of the building to deep clean. Cage banks were moved. Desks in the offices were cleared and then moved out for cleaning. Books came off the shelves. All the art was taken off the walls and dusted front and back. Scuffs and scrapes were cleaned and repaired. We were brutal about tossing old brochures, tools, documents, magazines and anything else that was no longer used or useful. It was cathartic and no one was above grabbing a mop. Walking in the next day with everything perfect, clean and in place gave us all a great sense of accomplishment.

So, embrace SPRING and find the things you need to do to make your practice shine like those lovely yellow daffodils.

Tools That Can Help

  • Weave – VOiP Phones -Record calls, see peak call times, text, send forms
  • ChckUP– data mine your PIMs + more ( above chart is an example of the daily huddle report)
  • Ignite Training – Team Training Online
  • VetTalk – Automatically sends instructional videos to your clients using service codes used in the invoice-

Disclaimer – I either perform work with or have affiliation with these companies.


Debbie Boone’s New Book:

“Hospitality in Healthcare”

Today’s healthcare consumer demands more than just an appointment. They want healing and human connection. Providing an exceptional experience at every step of the patient journey requires active participation and collaboration from the entire medical office team.

Read More!