- Kristina Villaruz
5 Signs You Need a Veterinary Practice Consultant
Updated: Feb 23
Could your business benefit from a veterinary practice consultant?
There’s no shame in admitting that you need help from time to time. Such is the case with many veterinary practice owners who find themselves in a situation where things like operations, employee morale and profitability simply aren’t quite measuring up to where they should be.
Consulting with a professional doesn’t mean admitting you’re not cut out to run a business. To the contrary, it’s actually a sign that you’re savvy enough to lean on an expert when doing so is necessary.
Just as your clients come to you for your expertise in caring for animals, working with a veterinary practice consultant is simply acknowledging that there are certain areas of the business that could benefit from the prowess of a business growth specialist.
What is Veterinary Practice Business Consulting?
A veterinary practice consultant can help by bringing a fresh perspective to how your business is currently being run. They can observe your current operations and make specific recommendations, based on their unique expertise, which can help you optimize your practice operations, boost employee engagement and, ultimately, improve your bottom line.
But determining whether enlisting the help of a veterinary practice consultant would make sense for your situation can be challenging. To make things easier, we’ve narrowed down five key red flags to watch for that could indicate that it’s time to call in the cavalry.
Red Flag #1: You no longer find joy in what you’re doing.
Sure, you may still feel that passion for animal health deep down in your soul, but the day to day drudgery of managing a busy practice has begun to drain the joy right out of you. You wake up in the morning with a knot in your stomach wishing you could just call in and hit the golf course instead.
What could be causing you to feel this way? Are you overwhelmed with too much work? Are you experiencing compassion fatigue? Is your team failing to pull their weight? Is there a toxic employee who is making everyone else feel uncomfortable and unhappy?
Figuring out what is making you feel so disengaged can be difficult – especially when it can be traced to multiple different factors. As an impartial third party, a veterinary management consultant can come in and observe the current situation to determine what is going well, what isn’t, and – most importantly – how to fix it. These individuals are trained to recognize business and team dynamics that can impeded the success of a veterinary practice.
Armed with the information obtained from this observational audit, your consultant can then make suggestions for specific operational improvements. They will then work directly with you to develop a strategy to resolve the issues at hand and get you feeling excited about going to work once again.
Red Flag #2: Employee turnover is at an all-time high.
If you’ve noticed lately that your employees seem to be treating your practice like a revolving door, chances are there’s something wrong with the way things are being run. Whether it’s the overall culture of your practice, a lack of career growth opportunities or something else, you simply cannot continue to run a successful business with high turnover rates. It’s not good for you, it’s not good for the team, and it’s not good for the client experience.
If retention is an issue, ask yourself a few important questions. What is your culture like? Is it positive, productive and healthy? How are your employees treating one another? How is your staff treated by those in leadership roles? Are there ample opportunities for your employees to learn and grow, both personally and professionally? Do your staffers have a clear path to career advancement when they are ready to move up the ranks?
There are a wide variety of reasons a veterinary professional will leave their current practice. While financial compensation may be high on that list, the bulk of the reasons tend to revolve around not feeling challenged or appreciated enough at work. Lack of communication is also a big problem in a lot of otherwise great veterinary clinics.
Veterinary practice business consulting can help shed some light on the things your staff likes about working at your clinic, and which areas they feel could use some improvement. Confidential employee feedback can be gathered so that underlying problems can be identified and addressed. This will ultimately lead to happier, more cohesive teams and loyal, engaged employees.
Red Flag #3: Your book of business isn’t full.
How many existing client appointments are you booking on a daily, weekly and monthly basis? Now, compare these numbers to the numbers from this time last year. If your book of business has stayed the same – or worse – gone down in numbers, then it’s seriously time to call in the help of an expert.
There are a number of factors that can play a role in a stagnating or shrinking appointment rate. These may include, but are not limited to: an increase in nearby competition resulting in additional choices for clients, nonexistent or ineffective appointment reminder systems, unsatisfactory client service, lack of or poor teamwork, inconsistent recommendations, inefficient practice workflow resulting in prolonged wait times for clients, and much more.
An experienced veterinary management consultant can take stock in the current processes of your hospital and pinpoint areas where adjustments could be made. These simple but targeted modifications to your practice management and operations can dramatically improve client service and patient care and streamline and enhance the client experience. In turn, happier customers will gladly spread the word, resulting in more business coming through your doors.
Red Flag #4: New business growth is stagnating (or worse – diminishing).
Another important question to ask yourself is how many new clients your hospital is attracting on a weekly or monthly basis. Now, take this number and compare it to your new client growth over the past three years. Is your new business growing, staying the same or decreasing? If it’s either of the latter two, then the time to take action is now.
According to a recent pet owner study conducted by the American Animal Hospital Association (AAHA), 61% of clients surveyed said that they’d chosen a new vet in the past five years. This staggering number is indicative of the importance of both client retention as well as new lead generation.
Growing your practice by adding new clientele is critical to its long-term sustainability. If these statistics are correct, 61% of people may leave your practice over the next five years, whether it’s due to a poor experience, more options or simply because they no longer have a pet. It’s essential, then, that you are taking measures to add new clients into the mix in order to prevent business shrinkage.
There are many reasons a veterinary practice may struggle with new client numbers. Whether it’s increased competition, ineffective marketing, inability to convert leads into clients, lack of community presence, limited service offerings, or a poor client experience. A detailed analysis of your particular practice by an experienced professional can help identify which areas you are lacking in so that you can adjust your approach and turn things around.
Your veterinary practice consultant will pour over new client numbers to pinpoint trends and compare your data with that of both your nearby competition as well as benchmarks at a national level. They will also evaluate how your practice is being run and what the client experience is truly like. Their resulting guidance should improve both retention of existing clientele as well as new client intakes.
Red Flag #5: Profitability is wavering.
Are you staying on top of your clinic’s profitability? Do you understand how your practice measures up with the national averages? Are you routinely altering and iterating to offer new services in order to continuously meet the changing needs of your clientele? How often do you initiate price increases for your current service offering?
According to Transition Elite, your veterinary practice should have all financial records organized and easy to understand. You will want to ensure that you have a record of all income, expenses, and assets.
Getting deep into the financial weeds of your business may not be a particularly enjoyable activity – especially if you’re like most practice owners who would much prefer working with patients than crunching numbers. But knowing where your practice stands from a profitability standpoint is essential to your ongoing success.
The fact is, a veterinary practice must be financially healthy in order for employees to be able to continue to learn and grow, for new technologies to be implemented and equipment to be purchased, and for innovative new services to be offered. These things all contribute to a clinic’s ability to compete in the market, attract new business and retain existing clientele.
This is an area where veterinary practice business consulting can make a truly measurable impact. These professionals possess a deep understanding of financial analyses. They can thoroughly evaluate the status of your practice, conduct a profit center analysis, benchmark against the national average, and identify opportunities to increase revenue and recapture lost earnings.
What to Do Next
If you’ve noticed one or more of the above red flags in your clinic, you have a few options available to you. First, you can ignore the warning signs and leave your practice’s future success to chance. Second, you can try and tackle these problems on your own, which means forgoing some of the important day to day job duties that are required in order for your practice to continue to run smoothly.
Or, third, you can enlist the help of an experienced veterinary practice consultant. This individual will help you identify and prioritize the most pressing issues in your practice and develop a step-by-step plan for overcoming those problem areas once and for all.
By honing in on and addressing the challenges you face as a veterinary practice owner and acknowledging the areas in which relying on the proficiency of an expert would make the most sense will ultimately save you time, energy and a great deal of aggravation.
Simply put, a veterinary management consultant can help transform your practice into a healthy, thriving and sustainable business, improving the workplace culture, boosting the client experience, generating more productivity and increasing profitability. As your business continues to improve, so will your bottom line.
Want to learn more about veterinary practice business consulting and how it can change your business for the better? Our Practice Growth Specialists are dedicated to helping private veterinary practice owners win more new clients, increase revenue and profitability, and maximize their business value. Best of all, our approach will be completely customized to your unique practice needs. You will receive one on one support that will help you define, achieve and exceed your goals at every turn.
If your practice is struggling in any of the above areas, we encourage you to give us a call and find out whether our Ultimate Practice Success program would be the right fit for you. Click here to schedule a free, no-obligation consultation with one of our practice growth experts today. You have nothing to lose and everything to gain!