Lucky Number 7: 7 Resolutions That Will Boost Your Practice’s Success in 2017

Those New Year’s resolutions you made two weeks ago…how are they going?

Seth Jurman (Practice Manager, Sycamore Veterinary Hospital and Rhawnhurst/Elkins Park) put many people’s feelings into words: “The problem with resolutions [is]…they make us feel good at the time and offer hope and light at the end of the year. We truly intend to improve and better ourselves; and for a month or two we stick to our resolution then at some point we get side tracked and lose our drive and focus.”

If you feel this way, you’re not alone. Lots of people think they’ve failed if they’re not perfectly working towards their resolutions two weeks into the new year. Fewer people have the persistence (and hope) to pick themselves up and get started again.

Recommitting to your goals and resolutions is a big part of being successful in them.

When I asked for resolution ideas from Martha Snowman (Practice Manager, Chippens Hill Veterinary Hospital), she embodied the hope of this season: “You caught me at my favorite time of year… Imagined or not, it always seems like a fresh start and so much is possible.”

We reached out to CVP practice managers for their New Year’s resolutions and were inspired by the thoughtfulness they put into their vision for the next 12 months.

That’s why we put together a list of great ideas for resolutions in two categories:
1. Resolutions for Practice Managers & Veterinarians
2. Resolutions for Veterinary Practices

Resolutions for Practice Managers & Veterinarians

Put yourself in the pet owners’ shoes.

It’s easy to forget that the people whose pets you see every day enter your practice with uncertainty and possibly some fear about the news you’ll give them. Putting yourself in owners’ shoes will help you communicate with them better, which will help them better understand what you say, increasing their confidence in themselves and their confidence in you!

Ultimately, you’ll build a stronger bond with your clients by doing a few simple things:

  • Actually listening – Dr. Nina Shapiro (professor of head and neck surgery, David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA) says, “We’re always rushed…and the inclination is to move things along. When patients start to talk and tell their story, we need to consciously stop, button our lip, and let them finish.”
  • Communicating at their level – After you’ve listened to them, it’s your turn. Your patients shouldn’t be talked down to, but, “It’s easy to forget that not everyone is familiar with medical vernacular, and even when they are, it may not be so in the same way,” says Dr. Joanne Intile. Explain things clearly, and let them ask questions.
  • Putting out a survey – Want to know how owners feel about your practice? Ask them! Make your questions specific to get specific results.
  • Considering their demographic – Seth Jurman (Practice Manager, Sycamore and Rhawnhurst/Elkins Park) says, “I really want to understand the generational make up of each person. What a baby boomer expects and wants from their visit may be the same as a millennial however how we present ourselves must be different to yield the same results.”

  • Take a breath before you meet a client and remind yourself that you’re having a conversation with someone just like you!

    Continue your education.

    Vets and practice managers hear a lot about continuing education as a means to improve their practices. Seth says New Year’s resolutions at Sycamore Veterinary Hospital always include obtaining more CE credits and increasing training. But don’t neglect your own improvement!

    Dr. Patty Khuly VMD sets aside one Sunday a month to catch up on papers and journals, so she can stay up-to-date on trends in animal care and client communication, etc.

    CVP’s weekly newsletter is an easy way to stay on top of what’s going on in the industry. It includes brief summaries of top news stories, so you can get updated quickly. And we link to the full pieces, for when you have time to read them. Get all your news in one place.

    Practice self-care.

    Self-care is especially important considering the rates of depression among vets. A survey found that more than one in six vets has considered suicide, and many of their peers are unaware that others sometimes feel hopeless, despite often feeling sad themselves. Arwen Wainscott (Practice Manager, Allen Road Veterinary Clinic, Shippensburg Animal Hospital, Mt. Rock Animal Hospital) hopes to schedule a specialist to talk to staff about compassion fatigue, so they can recognize it in themselves and others and “…be able to help when someone seems like they might be getting rundown.”

    What can you do?

  • Meditate. – Taking 10 minutes a day to meditate can do wonders for your mental health. With practice, it can bring a sense of peace that makes tough situations feel easier and can teach you to approach every day and task with calm and focus.
  • Don’t forget your hobbies. – You work hard. But there are some things you just love to do for fun (or relaxation). Don’t neglect them! Taking your vacation time is something else you can do for you. Arwen (Practice Manager, Allen Road, Shippensburg, Mt. Rock) wants to spread her vacation time out in 2017: “…so I can hit the ground running and come back refreshed.”
  • Schedule your sleep. – A ‘good night’s sleep’ isn’t just a phrase: Sleep is good for you! Keep your brain and heart healthy and your mood bright by scheduling your sleep. It may be the only way you actually get it.

  • Resolutions for Your Practice

    Get active on social media.

    Scheduling regular updates on social media can build a strong connection between your practice and your clients, potential clients, and your community at large.

    If you’re just starting out and have someone on your team who is interested in posting regular (key word!) updates, let them try their hand! Or hire someone for social media management.

    Where could you post?

  • Facebook – Can be somewhat long-form but should still be quick; including videos & pictures is popular
  • Twitter – 140-character updates
  • Instagram – Image-based; great for showing pictures of patients or your team at work

  • What could you post?

  • Updates on open/close times
  • Details about your team’s community service
  • Pictures of patients and team members
  • Surveys

  • Improve telephone etiquette.

    Recent data analysis revealed the day of the week when practices miss the most calls: Monday. More specifically, Monday from 9 to 10 AM. Are you well staffed during this period? How about during August, which data shows as the busiest month of the year?

    Learn more about the findings from Moneypenny, and consider doing research of your own about your busy times, so you can improve your service.

    Make your waiting room more comfortable.

    You may not give it much thought, but it’s where many of your clients spend most of their time, so make your waiting room as comfortable as it can be.

    Here are a few great ideas from dvm360!

  • Create a kids’ area—complete with little lab coats!
  • Add an aquarium – It’s engaging, especially for children, and calming.

  • Work together—more!

    Martha (Practice Manager, Chippens Hill Veterinary Hospital) knows about the benefits of working together: “We have a leadership committee that consists of 1 person from each department. The group meets every 3-4 weeks to discuss improvements and problem solve in each other’s group. It’s a great way to successfully approach improvement without being adversarial. Results have been great!”

    2017 is just another opportunity to do better! We’d love to hear what you have planned for yourself and your practice this year. Comment here, or tweet us @cvpco!

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