Written By: Brian Miller, Receptionist and Social Media Specialist, Liverpool Animal Health Center
Another unique group of patients we treat at Liverpool Animal Health Center are government agency dogs. The New York State Police, United States Border Patrol and the City of Oswego bring some of their K9 officers in to be treated by our doctors. This relationship was not designated by the agencies themselves, but rather, by the individual handlers. According to Dr. David Clegg, the first K9 officer we treated was owned by a trooper whose other dog was already a patient with us. The doctors were immediately impressed by the bond shared between the partners. This particular K9 officer eventually needed to have his spleen removed, and his handler was very happy with the end result. Through him, word began to spread about our practice, and we began to see more of these four-legged officers. Dr. Clegg says that “Each handler we see here is great. They love their dogs and will do whatever they can to follow our recommendations.”
One of the officers who began bringing his animals to LAHC was New York State Trooper Jeff Cicora who has been stationed in Central New York for over 20 years, and was chosen to become a K9 handler in 2001. He and his wife began coming to our practice in 2005. At the time, they owned a cocker spaniel, and Officer Cicora’s partner, “Devitt.” Sgt. Cicora says that they had tried other local offices, but “When we finally tried LAHC we were pleasantly surprised at the friendly service provided by the staff and doctors. If it was really busy, the awesome receptionists (Patti, Robbi, and Brian) would find a way to fit us in. They went above and beyond to help us with our veterinary needs. When we got in to see the doctors we were treated with respect and given medical information in a way that we could easily understand. In all the years that I have been going to LAHC with my K9 partners, I have never questioned their ability to give my dogs the very best care available!”
When it came to Devitt, as well as treating Sgt. Cicora’s next partner “McGinn” and all of the other officers that came through our doors, Dr. Clegg states that the doctors have to be aware that the animals are working dogs and need to be able to perform their job. “They are no different than a service dog for someone who is deaf or blind. Being able to work is part of their life, and we need to acknowledge that the dog cannot simply stay home and lay on the couch for two weeks.” This type of care was not lost on Sgt. Cicora. “We were always treated like family and if Devitt or McGinn ever had a medical problem the staff and doctors at LAHC took immediate action and treated the problem,” says Cicora. “We certainly didn’t request or demand special treatment but the doctors always seemed to take a special interest in us. They seemed to know the importance of the job and duties that we performed on a daily basis and did everything they could to make Devitt and McGinn comfortable and get them back into service as soon as possible.” He goes on to say, “Our K9 partners’ health is very important and you should always feel comfortable in knowing that your dog is getting the best treatment available. You should be able to trust your vet just as much as you trust your dog. Police work is inherently dangerous and you must be able to trust that your vet is trained and prepared for the worst case scenario if your dog goes down.” Sgt. Cicora finishes with a statement that is not only a wonderful compliment, but succinctly summarizes the feelings we yearn for all of our clients to have. “We have found ourselves in the office quite frequently over the years for a myriad of reasons and built a great rapport with the staff and doctors. If I ever had leave either of my partners, I knew they would be well taken care. I trusted that the doctors and animal caretakers would protect them like I protected them. I never had any reservation about their care. I am proud to say that I consider the staff at LAHC to be a part of our family.”
At Liverpool Animal Health Center, we not only strive to exceed our client’s expectations, but to set ourselves apart from our many competitors. By defying convention and providing some of the aforementioned services that others do not, we continue to prove why our hospital is the premiere destination for animal care in Central New York.
Community Veterinary Partners is proud to announce a new partnership with Manhattan Cat Specialists and Arnold Plotnick, DVM, MS, ACVIM. Located in New York City’s Upper West Side, Manhattan Cat Specialists is CVP’s first feline-only veterinary partnership. “At CVP we are extremely excited to partner with Manhattan Cat Specialists and Dr. Plotnick” Says Scott Kirker, Vice President of Finance. “Their level of service and devotion to the cats of New York City is truly one of a kind, and we can’t wait to see what the future holds for our partnership.”
Dr. Arnold Plotnick received his veterinary degree from the University of Florida in 1988 and then completed an internship in small animal medicine and surgery at the University of Pennsylvania. He worked as an associate veterinarian at the Cat Hospital at Towson in Md., and then returned to academia and completed a residency in small animal internal medicine at Colorado State University. Dr. Plotnick became board certified in internal medicine in 1997. He served as chief of staff of VetSmart Pet Hospital in Columbia, Md., before returning to his home town of New York City to become vice president of Animal Health at The ASPCA.
Dr. Plotnick is also a well-known writer. He authored CatFancy’s “Ask the Veterinarian” column for many years and is a frequent contributor to Catnip magazine. He is a co-author of The Original CatFancy Cat Bible, and is the current author of “Body Parts” in Catster magazine. He is also the writer of the popular blog “Cat Man Do.” Dr. Plotnick is extremely passionate about veterinary medicine as well as New York, “After the tragic events of September 11, 2001, I was inspired to play a part in the renewal of New York by founding Manhattan Cat Specialists in January 2003.” Says Dr. Plotnick, “I have devoted myself solely to feline medicine since then, and Manhattan Cat Specialists has blossomed into the premier feline-only veterinary practice in New York City. I am proud to move forward with Community Veterinary Partners.”
About Community Veterinary Partners
Community Veterinary Partners invests with veterinarian owners who want to continue running the medical side of their practice, but want help with the day-to-day administrative and team management tasks. CVP currently has 14 partner hospitals in its family. Find more information about Community Veterinary Partners and its family of veterinary hospitals at www.cvpco.com
As mentioned in the last post, the Bayer study identified a number of attributes that practices which continue to grow during this post-recession economy have in common. Not entirely surprising is that two of those attributes are marketing related: the first is a belief by the practice owner that marketing and advertising were critical to the practice’s success and, secondly, that the practice is an active user of social media such as Facebook. The study also looked at attributes associated with practices who are experiencing declines in visits and found that both of those factors were marketing related: the veterinarian felt that advertising undermines his/her credibility as a veterinarian and the practice lacks referral arrangements with other pet service providers.
What IS surprising is that 74 percent of veterinarians do not completely agree that marketing and advertising are important tools in running a successful practice today. Without that commitment, it’s unlikely those practices will be effective in using marketing strategies to attract new clients.
What do you think? How much time do you spend on marketing and advertising? What have you found to be most successful?
See all of Dr. Karen Felsted’s blog posts.
Written By: Karen E. Felsted, CPA, MS, DVM, CVPM, CVA
Many factors are essential to the practice of quality medicine and surgery; including an appropriate range of high-quality equipment for both diagnostics and treatment. The decision to purchase some pieces of equipment may be an easy one—for example, it may be clear that the practice needs a new anesthetic machine. Because the practice already uses this equipment on a daily basis and the cost isn’t too great, the decision is clear cut to replace the current unit. The purchase of more expensive assets or those not previously used in the practice, however, requires more planning and forethought than does the purchase of equipment or supplies with a much shorter life, lower cost and for which there is an undisputed need.
As with any equipment purchase, it is first necessary to understand what the goal of the acquisition is in YOUR practice. Two of the most common reasons for purchase are:
-The new equipment will improve patient care
-The new equipment will increase profits
We can assume that a practice won’t even consider the purchase of equipment if the answer to the first question above isn’t yes. This would appear to be an easy question to answer but it’s not always. For example, it’s generally agreed that ultrasound is a great diagnostic tool; thus purchasing an ultrasound unit should improve patient care. But this may not always be true. What if clients don’t want to pay for the cost of this new test and decline the recommendation? What if the doctors in the practice don’t have the skills to properly perform the imaging or interpret the results of what they see? In either of these cases, just owning an ultrasound won’t improve patient care.
A harder question is certainly if the new equipment will increase profits. When replacing a piece of equipment the practice uses regularly (for example, an anesthesia machine), the expectation usually isn’t that this will increase profits. The expectation is that the practice will continue to generate the profits that equipment already provides. It’s a different story, however, when the practice buys something it’s never had before—a digital x-ray, an ultrasound, or a laser—something that allows the practice to expand the services it already provides.
Net present value (NPV) analysis is an excellent tool to help in understanding the potential profitability of the purchase—this analysis estimates the total cash outflows involved with the purchase of an asset compared to the total inflows. A positive outcome equals a profitable purchase. NPV analysis also incorporates the time value of money into the calculations. While incorporating the time value of money gives more accurate information, it is also more difficult to do and many small business owners will enlist the aid of their accountant or financial advisor in performing this analysis.
This calculation should be be performed over the full expected life of the equipment in order to estimate the total profitability. Any amounts expected to be realized from the sale of the equipment at the end of its life should be recognized as an inflow and any costs of disposal should be recognized as an outflow. This is a particularly useful calculation when comparing the potential profitability of two or more pieces of equipment. It’s important to remember, however, when comparing the profitability between two choices that the timeframes must be similar for the results to be the most meaningful; $100,000 in lifetime profits from a piece of equipment with a five year life isn’t the same as $100,000 in lifetime profits from a piece of equipment with a ten year life.
As with any analysis, good data is critical to good results. A number of variables will be used in these calculations such as the cost of the equipment, the additional annual costs associated with the asset (such as a service contract or supplies), the expected cost savings to be obtained from usage or the anticipated increase in revenues. If these items are not accurately estimated, the results of the acquisition analysis may be erroneous. Some examples include:
– The cost of equipment does not just include the sticker price. Other components of cost include tax, installation, training, and interest costs if the asset is financed.
– One point that is always touted as an advantage of digital radiography is the ease of taking the images and the reduced staff time required. This is true but reduced time spend on imaging doesn’t always result in reduced costs. Unless the practice actually cuts back on the number of staff hours, there will be no reduced staff costs from purchasing this equipment. The staff may be available to do other work which can be advantageous but that is not the same as realizing a true cost savings.
– It’s easy to overestimate the additional revenue that the practice will bring in from the new services; one way to help get an accurate figure is to go back through a month’s work of cases and determine where the new service could have been used in place of what was otherwise done. Could an ultrasound have been done in-house instead of referring the client out? Could laser treatment have been performed? Of course, just because something is possible, doesn’t mean clients will accept it so those factors have to be taken into account as well. In the case of laser therapy, will the potential inconvenience of having to bring the pet into the practice multiple times reduce acceptance?
One final comment about the financial aspect of buying a new piece of equipment—just because the new item may not do much more than break-even financially, it doesn’t mean a practice has to forego purchase. However, the owner and manager need to understand the financial ramifications and not expect something that is not possible. In cases like this, the purchase is no different than if the practice owner chose to use his or her profits to purchase a boat. The purchase doesn’t necessarily add profits and value to the practice but it brings pleasure to the owner. This is only a bad thing if there was an expectation that things would be different financially. Pre-purchase financial analysis can go a long way in helping owners and managers manage their expectations and make a good decision.
Please join CVP, Ceva Animal Health and The Calico Group for an entertaining and enlightening day on the impact of behavior on our day-to-day practice lives. In what promises to be outstanding event, we’ll review and discuss the importance of the many interactions between all parties in the doctor-patient-client relationship. The day will be a unique mix of clinical, practical, and management concepts and provide attendees pragmatic ideas for tackling common problems.
In addition to a fantastic line up of speakers and topics, enjoy the day in one of the most unique venues in our area, meet some of the staff of the Elmwood Park Zoo and get a one-of-a kind view of one of the area’s most popular family attractions
Sunday, May 17th, 2015
9 am to 3:30 PM
Elmwood Park Zoo
Canopy Gardens Hall
1661 Harding Blvd
Norristown, PA 19401
Please RSVP to your local Ceva Territory Manager or to Dr. Travis Meredith at firstname.lastname@example.org
Written By: Emily L. Elliot VMD. Chippens Hill Veterinary Hospital
While a veterinarian is learning veterinary acupuncture, offering treatments to pets belonging to staff members gives both the veterinarian and the staff member confidence in the treatment and the results. Once certified, the clinician offers treatment to clients’ pets, and it is easy for the staff members and colleagues to endorse the modality they have seen achieve results. In the typical case load of general practice, there is ample opportunity to treat epileptics and geriatric pets with degenerative joint disease, for example, in conjunction with medication and nutritional supplements. Acupuncture is particularly beneficial for animals who have impaired hepatic and renal function for metabolizing medication, since acupuncture gives them pain relief that allows the owner to give fewer drugs.
Typically, animals come to the clinic weekly for initial treatments, which are later scheduled less often once the animal is stable. Typical chronic conditions need a monthly maintenance treatment, which allows practical monitoring of the animal’s weight, body condition, and blood work. The other benefit of acupuncture in general practice is the opportunity to communicate with the client. While the animal’s acupuncture needles are in place for 10-20 minutes, the veterinarian and the technician have time to educate the client in disease management, and give the client tremendous confidence in the care and concern the office has for customizing the care of the individual animal.
Acupuncture further maximizes the veterinarian’s time, since once the clinician gets a progress report, evaluates the patient, and places the needles with the technician holding the animal and talking with the owner, the veterinarian can move on to another exam room to see another patient, returning to the acupuncture patient in 10-20 minutes to remove the needles and schedule the next visit. Record keeping for acupuncture is straightforward, and fees can vary with demographics but should reflect the investment in time and training required to learn the skill, and the time of the technician assisting with the treatment. Once skilled, veterinarians can reach out to individual colleagues or present talks at local veterinary associations to explain the benefits of acupuncture for referral cases. Establish a consultation fee for referred clients at their first visit in addition to the fee for acupuncture. Of course, respect for the referral relationship gives colleagues trust so that they continue to send cases for acupuncture treatment.
In the third installment in this series, I will compare acupuncture and laser therapy.
Emily L. Elliot, VMD
Written By: Karen Felsted, CPA, MS, DVM, CVPM
It’s a new world out there in veterinary medicine and the things that were enough to guarantee practice success twenty years ago aren’t the same now. While there are many things practices need to focus on, the following are some of the most important.
1: Practice Good Quality Medicine
This one goes without saying but, unfortunately, it’s often not enough to insure practice success. Unless you amputate the wrong leg, clients can’t judge the quality of the medicine you practice. They judge veterinary hospitals by things they can understand-generally communication and client service. You can be the best doctor in the state, but if clients don’t feel they got value for the dollars spent in a way they understand, they won’t come back.
2: Back to Basics
Wowing clients is great but it’s more important to make sure their basic needs are met. If the owner of an itchy dog comes to a practice, is 45 minutes late being seen, doesn’t understand what the doctor is saying is the cause of the itching, and doesn’t get the promised call back the next day, sending the dog home with a cute bandana won’t make up for it.
3: Know What Your Clients Want
There’s lots of information out there about “what clients want.” Much of it is very valid and applies to most clients of most practices. But it’s critical that you regularly gather information about what YOUR clients want and how happy they are with your practice. The best way to do this is to regularly ask clients about their experience with your practice via regular client surveys. However, you can also gather this vital information by: welcoming client complaints and making things right, reviewing record transfers and tracking client complaints to identify any patterns and whether or not changes in the practice are reducing the complaints.
4: Offer Payment Options
The price of veterinary care continues to be an issue for many pet owners. They want to provide the best care but are struggling with many demands on their money. We know that payment options make a difference—multiple studies have shown that clients who have pet insurance or a third party veterinary credit card or are enrolled in a wellness plan visit the veterinary practice more frequently and spend more money on veterinary services. Understanding the options yourself and educating clients makes a big difference in how pet owners take care of their pets and how well your practice does.
5: Don’t Shoot Yourself in the Foot
Look at your practice from the client’s perspective. When you discourage a client from visiting their pet during its two night stay at your practice, how does the client feel? The pet owner knows that when their human family members are in the hospital, it’s a different story—they can visit regularly. They want to do the same with their furry family members—they want to be able to see that their pet is being well-taken care of and they want to reassure their pet that he/she hasn’t been abandoned. What do you think my cousin thought when she picked up her cat following surgery and the technician said: “We gave him some food this morning but he wouldn’t eat. It might be because of the e-collar. Take that off when he gets home and see if that makes a difference?” What she thought was: “I just spent $3000 at this place and they’re starving my cat!”
6: Give Clients the Information They Want
A recent study looked at the top 5 health topics pet owners wanted to talk to their veterinarians about and the top 5 health topics veterinarians wanted to talk to pet owners about—only 1 topic was the same on both lists! This doesn’t mean that the practice team should ignore the issues they think are important when talking with clients but it does mean they need to make sure client questions and concerns are addressed as well. The simplest way to do this is to ASK: ·
– Is there anything else going on with Fluffy that we haven’t covered?
– Is there anything else going on with Fluffy that we haven’t covered?
– Did you have any questions about what we have discussed?
– Do you have any other concerns?
– Are there any other questions you have?
– Can I do anything else for you?
7: Make Clear Recommendations
If you say: “At some point you might want to get this dental done,” the client’s not going to do it—a dental just doesn’t sound like something truly important to the health of the pet. But if you say: “Fluffy needs a to have her teeth cleaned and polished” or “I recommend that Fluffy have her teeth cleaned and polished” or “It is critical that Fluffy have her teeth cleaned and polished”, then the pet owner will pay attention. The specific words are less important than the clarity of the statement you make. According to one study, pet owners are 7 times more likely to follow their veterinarians’ recommendation when it is clear and unambiguous.
8: Get Help When You Need It
Veterinarians are great at practicing medicine; they are usually not great at preparing tax returns, writing legal documents or investing for retirement. We advise our clients to see a specialist when it’s warranted; we should do the same. There are many attorneys, CPAs, consultants, financial planners, lenders, architects, brokers and business appraisers who work exclusively with veterinary practices and veterinarians and can help you achieve the success you are looking for.
We’re Looking For An Experienced Groomer!
Our partner hospital, Aston Veterinary Hospital, is seeking an experienced professional groomer to join their team. Aston offers a great environment, team and a flexible schedule. If you or someone you know is interested, please call Karen Moyer at 610-494-5800! http://www.astonvet.com/
Last year alone, our partner hospital, Franklin Lakes Animal Hospital, cared for over 1,300 sick, injured and orphaned wildlife. They are the only CVP Partner Hospital who is able to care for wildlife. The wildlife they provide veterinary care for ranges from tiny birds to deer and even hawks. With no one else in the area to care for wildlife, they have partnered with Animal Friends of Franklin Lakes (AFFL) a full-fledged tax-exempt charity to provide this much needed veterinary care. AFFl works hard to procure funds and supplies to pay for the needs of all the wildlife brought into Franklin Lakes Animal Hospital. Last summer, AFFL was even able to help fund the salaries for two full-time college students to assist with the wildlife feeding and care at our hospital.
Franklin Lakes Animal Hospital and Community Veterinary Partners are proud to support the wildlife in Bergen County, New Jersey and will continue to work with Animal Friends of Franklin Lakes to help our furry friends. To learn more visit http://www.franklinlakesanimalhospital.com/animal-friends-of-franklin-lakes or http://www.animalfriendsoffranklinlakes.org/ . Also, check out some photos of wildlife at FLAH below!