Running a small veterinary clinic can be challenging – especially when you’re working with an equally small budget. But important tasks like billing, marketing and calendar management need to get done. Outsourcing these and other functions can be a cost-effective way to keep your practice running smoothly while enabling you to focus your efforts on delivering the best possible patient care. If this is something you’re seriously considering, here are a few important things to keep in mind.
Before outsourcing any business function, you should first carefully weigh how mission-critical it is to your practice’s success. Typically speaking, the more critical, the more complex, which could be an indicator that outsourcing may not be the best option. List all of your tasks and evaluate each one to determine whether you’d really be comfortable turning it over to an external third-party.
Impact on Clients
Some veterinary practice functions involve direct contact with clients, such as scheduling and follow-up. How do you feel about someone outside of your clinic handling interactions with your book of business? If you’re okay with it, the next logical consideration would be who you trust to handle those interactions. At the end of the day, it all comes down to impact on client satisfaction as that is the lifeblood of your practice.
You’re certainly not the first practice owner to consider outsourcing, and you won’t be the last. As such, the pipeline of talent is already in high demand. Understand that finding the right individuals or partners to farm out work to may take time and patience – especially if you want to get it right (which you obviously do!). Be prepared and willing to put in the time to thoroughly search and properly assess potential partners. Never settle!
Outsourcing ≠ Offloading
One of the most common (and costly) mistakes veterinary clinic owners make when outsourcing business functions is to assume that doing so equates to simply eliminating things from their to-do lists. Regardless of how carefully you’ve chosen your partners, outsourcing rarely means handing off complete responsibility. You can and should also be providing input, support and oversight.
Many commonly outsourced tasks, such as client billing and IT management, carry with them a certain degree of liability that must be taken into consideration. For instance, you want to be absolutely certain that the accounting firm handling your books keeps all personal client information carefully guarded. Likewise, you want to be sure that your network and all the data contained within remain securely protected from potential breaches. Again, this is where exercising due diligence when choosing a partner comes into play.
Outsourcing may be the best business model for your practice today, but what about two, five or ten years down the road? As you grow, you may very well discover that moving some or all of your previously outsourced tasks in-house just makes more sense for a variety of reasons. To prevent unnecessary hiccups in the future, make sure any contracts you sign allow you the flexibility you may need if and when the time comes.
Farming out your business functions can be an attractive option, particularly for smaller veterinary practices or those in areas where industry talent is difficult to come by. Not only does outsourcing help optimize expenditure, but it also enables staff to focus on what they do best – client service and patient care. But as with any business decision, contracting out work should be done with care. The tips above should enable you to make wise decisions that will make outsourcing a net gain for your practice.