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Short-Staffed? 5 Ways to Keep Your Clinic Running Smoothly

Updated: Nov 25, 2023

It’s easy to keep things operating like a well-oiled machine when your whole team is there to pull their weight. But what happens when one or more of your employees can’t make it in to work? If you’re not adequately prepared, being short-staffed can lead to frustration, delays and ultimately a poor client experience. The good news is, there are some ways you can help your team manage the workload even when there’s only a skeleton crew. Here are a few below.

Leverage each employee’s strengths

Each person on your team possesses his or her own strengths and weaknesses. This is why it’s so critical that you take the time to get to know each of your employees. When you have a clear understanding of what each team member is better at, you can adjust the schedule to play on those strengths when you’re short-staffed. For instance, you may know that one of your veterinary technicians happens to be extremely personable. Have that person man the front desk when your receptionist calls out sick.

Team-work makes the dream work

Rather than shift individual tasks over to one or two people, divvy up the workload amongst everyone who is in. By dividing up what needs to be done and getting everyone to contribute to a portion of the workload, you’ll avoid overwhelming your existing staff and also ensure that everything on the to-do list gets checked off successfully. Again, having a deep understanding of each team member’s capabilities can help you determine who should handle what when delegating.

Be strategic about appointment setting

This does take a little planning in advance, and will likely require some training for your scheduling team, but it’ll be well worth the extra time and effort when you’re short on staff. The key here is organizing appointments in a way that maximizes staff efficiency while also allowing ample time for patient care. For instance, you may book surgical or dental appointments on a certain day of the week. Don’t be afraid to play around with the schedule until you find what works for your team and your clients.

Use technology to alleviate the burden

While many aspects of veterinary care will always require a human touch, a decent amount can easily be automated. For example, there’s no need for your front desk team to remind or confirm appointments manually when this task can be carried out more efficiently through automation. Take advantage of the tools and technologies that are available to you today. Doing so will alleviate some of the burden of your team and make things much easier on those days when your entire staff isn’t present.

Reschedule if necessary

The goal should always be delivering the best possible client experience, and if you’re extremely short staffed, this may simply not be possible. In cases like this, you may have to make the difficult but wise decision to reschedule non-emergent appointments. It may be a slight inconvenience to some of your clients, but if you apologize and explain the situation, most will appreciate the extra effort you are making on their behalf.

Whether it’s due to the current COVID-19 outbreak or simply a case of the stomach bug, there will inevitably be times when your team isn’t operating at full capacity. By planning ahead and being strategic about scheduling, you can maintain your sanity and continue to deliver great service and care, regardless of your staff numbers.

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