In conversations with our Veterinary clients we know some struggle with the management of their practices and could benefit from the advice and skill of a seasoned Veterinary consultant. While we are not business consultants, we felt that creating this article, “The Ultimate Guide to Veterinarian Consultants” would be helpful to provide some sage advice and guidance in the practice management arena. I am making it available here on this post and hopefully, it will benefit you.
Your practice, as one of your largest assets, can provide you with a lifetime of income if run expertly. Our expertise is showing veterinarians how to better harness the financial power of the practice to build personal wealth, get out of debt, go out and the top of your game, and live your life stress free of money. We want you to achieve the success we know is possible. Hope this helps!
– Eric Miller
The Ultimate Guide to Veterinarian Consultants
Managing a veterinary practice is not always easy. Veterinarians are committed to lifelong learning so that they can provide their patients with the best care possible using cutting-edge technologies. However, they typically aren’t equipped to handle the challenges of managing a business. Veterinary practice managers and owners have a lot on their plates; they must ensure their patients continue to receive excellent care while also addressing problems like excessive staff turnover, declining revenues, and clients going elsewhere.
A common response among many leaders to a crisis is to find a way to solve it on their own. When the problem grows too large for the vet practice owner to handle on their own, however, it may be time to bring in an expert like a veterinarian consultant. In this article, we’ll be discussing everything you need to know about vet consultants. Let’s dive right in.
What Does a Veterinary Consultant Do?
If a customer contacts your practice and says they need treatment for their dog’s ear, you would want to see the animal in person before prescribing anything. That’s because you know from experience that a dog’s ear condition is rarely isolated and that a thorough physical examination of the dog, ears and all, is the best way to diagnose and treat it. To that effect, it’s important to hire a veterinarian consultant who can evaluate your business thoroughly and identify areas for growth.
Veterinarian consultants offer expert advice in the form of assessments and recommendations to improve the quality of care provided by clinics and practices. It is their goal to develop or execute business strategies that will boost a veterinary clinic’s productivity, employee satisfaction, and customer retention by analyzing training methods, employee output and scheduling, facility administrative procedures, and financial records and budgets.
A consultant may be brought in to help a new vet practice owner get their clinic up and running, or an established clinic may bring one in if there is a glaring problem. Their top priorities are promoting healthy business practices and veterinary care of the highest possible standard.
How To Become a Veterinary Consultant and What To look for in a Veterinary Consultant
Here are some of the characteristics that a good veterinary consultant needs to possess:
Education and Experience
Veterinarian consultants typically have doctoral degrees in veterinary medicine in addition to years of practical experience. Bachelor’s degrees in science or other related fields are typically required for admission to veterinary medicine programs. Then, to become a licensed veterinarian, one must first complete a four-year Doctor of Veterinary Medicine (D.V.M.) program and then take the appropriate licensing exam for the state in which they intend to practice.
For some veterinary consulting jobs, a specialist degree beyond the D.V.M. or relevant clinical experience is required. For instance, a management course can equip them with the know-how to manage staff, day-to-day operations, and financial resources.
Excellent Communication Skills
It’s important for a veterinary consultant to have strong verbal and written communication skills. For instance, they should be able to articulate their directions clearly and offer insightful criticism. They also need to have excellent listening skills, as this is the best approach to ensure that the client’s requirements and issues are understood and addressed in a timely manner.
Confidentiality and Reliability
While discretion and dependability may seem like obvious traits, they are not always guaranteed. Since you’ll be disclosing a lot of private information to the veterinarian consultant, it’s important to find someone who will keep it safe. You should look for a vet practice consultant who is trustworthy and has your company’s best interests at heart. In other words, the best veterinary consultant to hire is the one who gives you peace of mind that they’ll be there for you whenever you need them.
When to Hire a Veterinary Consultant
Professional veterinarians should be free to focus on patient care while their support team handles the practice’s administrative tasks. The unfortunate reality is that when issues arise, practice owners often have to deal with them on their own.
Trying to do everything involved in running a vet clinic, on top of dealing with the practice’s day-to-day operations, can become quite taxing. This is where a veterinary consultant can help. So, how can you identify when it’s the appropriate time to work with a practice management consultant?
The following are some telltale indicators that it might be necessary to hire a professional consultant:
Revenue Stagnation or Decline
A clinic’s lack of profitability is indicative of its overall health, which has far-reaching consequences for both the clinic and its owner. If a clinic isn’t earning enough profit, it might not be able to attract the best veterinarians, give its employees competitive benefits packages, or invest in cutting-edge technology to provide care of the highest possible quality. It’s not uncommon for business owners to find themselves in situations where they can’t afford to give themselves a salary.
When profits are low, it’s time to call in a veterinary consultant to help you improve your practice management. To maintain a successful practice, effective methods of patient acquisition marketing are necessary. Managing a practice efficiently is crucial to its growth since it allows for the smooth onboarding of new patients and their care.
A qualified consultant for veterinary practices typically possesses extensive business knowledge and practical experience. When a practice owner has this expertise at their fingertips, they are better able to streamline their operation, create successful marketing efforts, and provide better service to their clients.
Problems with Employees
The productivity of a business can be negatively affected if the working environment is one where employees are constantly irritated and anxious, making it difficult for them to focus on their work. This can lead to mistakes in diagnosis, treatment, or other areas. It is crucial to have skilled and knowledgeable employees if you want to continue providing high-quality service to your clients and patients and encourage repeat business.
This involves choosing a team that can be molded through training, is inspired to give their all, and is committed to staying with the practice. Many vet clinic owners are clueless as to how to do this. The habit of employing “by the seat of one’s pants” is popular among practice owners. Another common scenario is hiring someone because they seemed like a good fit in an interview but then having to let them go shortly afterward.
Although money is sometimes cited as an employee’s motivation for quitting, the real reasons have more to do with individuals feeling underappreciated and bored in their roles. When there is a breakdown in communication between members of a team or between employees and management, it can lead to a culture where workers don’t feel “heard.” These issues, along with others, lead to a high turnover rate in the clinic’s staff, which in turn leads to a decline in the facility’s performance. Problems such as financial pressure, unhappy pet owners, and exhausted employees are possible outcomes.
There is a clear need for a vet practice consultant if there is a high rate of employee turnover or burnout. An experienced veterinary consultant can lend their knowledge to the hiring and training processes. Problems can be identified and addressed, leading to more content and cohesive teams.
Participating in the Practice Rather Than Focusing on Improving the Practice
Maintaining and improving your veterinary practice is as crucial as doing actual work within it. Most vet practice owners, however, don’t have the freedom to spend additional time on business-related activities. Even businesses with dedicated management teams often struggle to focus on long-term planning due to the urgent demands of the moment.
Many overworked veterinary clinic owners make the mistake of focusing all their energy on running the company rather than working on it. If you’re stuck at the practice all hours of the day and night, trying to keep things afloat, it’s time to bring in a professional veterinary consultant. It can be helpful to have an “external viewpoint” from a qualified consultant to break through the fog of daily operations and regain control.
Deterioration in Service Quality and Professionalism
The veterinarian and their staff usually have the training and experience to provide excellent medical care to their patients. Even the most technically competent veterinary staff can’t keep clients from leaving if they provide sluggish and uncaring service that makes pet owners feel like they’re being ignored. Clients may be discouraged from returning if they have the impression that the practice is unstable or unwelcoming due to constant conflicts and high turnover rates among employees. It may also lead to poor treatment for patients.
When clients start avoiding your vet clinic in favor of others and complaints start piling up, it’s time to rethink your approach to customer service and recruit an outside expert to help. A veterinary consultant can help improve the efficiency of the clinic’s services and instruct the front desk staff on how to interact better with clients. Simply doing these two steps can boost service quality at any vet practice. In addition, a veterinary practice consultant can assess the clinic’s service offerings, pinpoint the inefficiencies, and help in developing a plan to fix them.
Appointments with Customers Are Decreasing
Multiple factors can lead to a decline in patients seeking medical care, such as:
- An increase in competitors leading to more options clients can choose from
- Failure or absence of a client notification system
- Poor or inadequate service to customers
- Inconsistencies in medical advice
- Lack of teamwork
- Longer than necessary wait times for clients because of ineffective clinic workflow management
A skilled veterinary management consultant, especially one who has worked in a veterinary hospital before, may evaluate all the clinic’s processes and operations and identify areas to recommend changes that will result in better care for patients, more satisfied clients, and an increase in repeat business.
New Clients Are Hard To Come By
A 2014 AAHA (American Animal Hospital Association) pet owner poll performed by Trone Brand Energy revealed that 61% of clients had selected a new vet within five years. These statistics are startling and highlight a serious need to examine how to maintain existing clients while acquiring new ones. Considering the inevitable loss of clients over time, it is essential to expand your customer base by attracting new ones if you want your practice to endure. Choosing a new vet is most often done for convenience, when getting a new pet or while moving.
Reduced new client numbers can be attributed to several factors, including a rise in the number of veterinary clinics in the area, ineffective marketing, a failure to turn phone shoppers into actual clients, a weak local presence, a shortage of appealing services, and veterinary staff that isn’t focused on the quality of the client experience.
Before their visit, a professional veterinary practice management consultant will research and analyze your hospital against your nearest competitors in the market. The consultant will look at your practice’s new patient statistics to analyze trends and compare them to national averages.
Then, the veterinary consultant will visit your facility and assess the team’s efficiency and effectiveness at every stage of a client’s appointment to pinpoint any weak spots that may be addressed to provide better service and experience. Better client retention and more interest from potential new customers should follow.
Mistakes in Marketing Strategy
Successfully promoting businesses is a challenge for even the most competent entrepreneurs. And, to be honest, it’s another field that makes use of expertise and technology that veterinary medicine doesn’t have.
If you’ve tried display ad campaigns, SEO initiatives, and Facebook advertisements with no success, it might be time to bring in a consultant. Marketing efforts need to result in more people visiting your website, booking appointments, becoming familiar with your brand, and eventually becoming clients. If you aren’t making any progress or seeing any kind of return on your investment, it’s probably time to try something new.
Consultants can leverage both your and their expertise in the field to develop a single or series of targeted campaigns. Ads that are contextually relevant and use the proper keywords, voice, and style across many platforms set you apart from your competitors and build trust in your brand, laying the groundwork for future success.
How to Choose a Veterinary Consultant
The first step in hiring a consultant is determining precisely what it is you need help with in your business.
Each consultant will have their own unique set of skills, areas of expertise, and topics of interest that they are most passionate about pursuing on your behalf. The ideal candidate will be a suitable match for your needs. That’s why it’s essential to put your objectives on paper first: Are you looking to enhance the quality of medical treatment and documentation or improve your finances? Searching for a buy-in or buy-out strategy? Or do you have problems with your staff?
Generalists are the best option if you want a thorough overhaul or if you have a large list of things you want to modify. On the other hand, support for a specific problem calls for a specialist, whether it’s a financial audit or the recruitment and onboarding of new management. For instance, an M.B.A. and psychology degree will provide you with very different skill sets, so look at what you need.
Then, dig up some back issues of D.V.M. Newsmagazine, Veterinary Economics, AAHA’s Trends, or any of the other periodicals you subscribe to that frequently cover management-related topics. Just whose works and views do you find most compelling? How would you describe your practice’s guiding philosophy?
Many of these periodical articles are written by vet consultants, and while you may want to get in touch with them, you should also skip over anything that doesn’t appear relevant to your goals. Regardless of which consultant you end up hiring, you can utilize the articles as a foundation for explaining your objectives. You can even refer to conference notes. Which presenters did you enjoy hearing most at management meetings? Check if they are available as practice consultants.
Your next step should be to contact the AAHA or the Association of Veterinary Practice Managers, Consultants, and Advisors (AVPMCA) to obtain a list of consultants. They have brief biographies of all the consultants available. In many cases, you can learn a lot about a vet consultant or consultancy firm just by browsing their brochures, so feel free to request as many as you’d like. Once you’ve figured out who you’re interested in, it’s time to start making some calls.
Have any of your colleagues ever hired a consultant before? Ask about who they picked, how satisfied they are, and why they made that decision. One important question to ask, just as when checking for a job reference, is always, “Would you work with them again?” Call the remaining consultants on your shortlist to learn more about their services, rates, and approaches.
There are many opportunities to network with these experts at conferences. When you approach them, they will almost always be eager to strike up a conversation. Choose someone you can talk to easily and open up to. Feel free to discuss your practice and its goals with them confidently. What they really care about is seeing you succeed in your endeavors. They won’t pass judgment on you.
However, remember that not all vet practice consultants contribute to journals, and that not all of them will be well-known names. Famous consultants will often charge more than those who are less well-known. However, that is not necessarily an indication of better service.
If you can’t have an open and honest conversation with a potential veterinary consultant, keep looking. You will have to share sensitive information with this expert, such as your income, your goals for the future, and the reason you decided to open a clinic. These are delicate matters, and it is not uncommon for a client to bring a great deal of emotional baggage to a consultation.
Finally, don’t even try to get started if you aren’t dedicated to making improvements. Incorporating new practices requires a lot of work and can be very stressful. It calls for trying new things, some of which may make you feel uncomfortable or uneasy. You shouldn’t feel like you wasted your money on it because you didn’t fully commit to or feared the implementation process.
Focus your energy and enthusiasm, but don’t lose sight of the fact that you have the potential to soar to greater heights by trying something new.
What Are the Benefits of Working With a Veterinary Consultant?
Managing a practice isn’t a walk in the park. Constant innovation in technology, the emergence of new competitors actively seeking market share, and the regular restructuring of tax and regulatory frameworks all contribute to an ever-shifting business climate. Handling employees can also be difficult and time-consuming.
A single person just cannot meet all these demands. However, adding staff members in an attempt to solve an existing issue may end up causing even more complications down the road. For this reason, many veterinary clinics and hospitals choose to work with vet practice consultants. How can a veterinary consultant benefit your business? Here are a few advantages:
The key benefits of hiring a veterinarian consultant are their expertise, professional abilities, and influence they bring to the table. Expertise in industry trends, market challenges, and cutting-edge technology and techniques may be more readily available from consultants due to their exposure to multiple practices.
The workplace is isolated from the rest of the world, making it difficult for employees to keep up with external events. Furthermore, workplace politics and the desire to advance one’s career can sometimes prevent employees from giving their honest opinions. Veterinary consultants can help clinics and hospitals evaluate internal practices and procedures from an objective, third-party viewpoint. Veterinary practices might use this time to reevaluate and adjust their objectives to better fit their long-term strategies.
Success relies heavily on making informed company decisions, and among the most important strategic tools for doing so is conducting thorough market research. Conducting market research involves examining and assessing a company’s target audience. Market researchers study topics like customer needs and wants, competitive strengths and weaknesses, and emerging market trends. This analysis will help in the creation of useful strategies and action plans.
Expert veterinary consultants spend a lot of time learning about the state of the industry and how it is evolving. This allows them to do the most comprehensive market research possible. They also make an effort to learn about the shifting nature of the market and how it operates. As a result, they can forewarn vet clinics and hospitals of impending trends and innovations that may influence performance.
Cost and Time Savings
Veterinarian consulting services are paid for on an as-needed basis. Costs can be reduced significantly compared to those of hiring a full-time worker with the same degree of experience.
Consultants also get a head start because of their extensive experience and familiarity with industry standards. For instance, having a consultant examine your process can help you spot inefficiencies in record time. Vet practice owners can save themselves time and effort by enlisting the services of a consultant rather than figuring things out on their own.
Vet consultants can provide you with some distance from day-to-day business problems. Because they are not personally invested in the veterinary practice, they are better able to recognize and address problems, such as those that arise when introducing a new piece of technology or executing a merger or acquisition.
Perhaps you’re stumped by a daunting problem, or you’ve stumbled upon an excellent opportunity but don’t know how to make the most of it. Regardless of the circumstances, a competent veterinary consultant will be able to help. They will be able to assist you in determining what you want to accomplish and how to go about doing it.
Veterinarian consultants are highly valuable to any practice they work with. They offer practitioners an invaluable external perspective and expert judgment, and they help veterinary clinics and hospitals in developing efficient strategies and roadmaps.
Nobody knows your veterinary practice better than you. Even if you’re confident in your abilities to manage your practice single-handedly, it’s still your responsibility to ensure that everything is in order.
The first step in building a successful veterinary practice is recognizing the obstacles you encounter, then acknowledging the areas in which you lack the knowledge, the time, or the objective viewpoint to solve those problems on your own. With the help of a veterinarian practice consultant, you can improve your clinic’s health, efficiency, and profitability, as well as create a conducive working environment for your entire veterinary staff. Doing so usually leads to better results financially and improves the bottom line.
Moreover, if a veterinary consultant provides you with the knowledge you need to become competent in the future, you may have just invested in yourself as well as your practice.