CVP Partner Hospital, Franklin Lakes Animal Hospital, Proudly Helps The Wildlife of Bergen County

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!

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Dr. Alan Pomerantz With A Fawn
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A Baby Raccoon! Look How Small!
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A Baby Raccoon Sleeping
Dr. Viktoriya Zilberman With A Fawn
A Baby Owl
A Baby Owl!

10 Tips For Creating A Happy Workplace At Your Animal Hospital: Part 2

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By Dennis McMichael, Practice Manager — Animal Hospital of Dauphin County

Previously, I took you through my first top 5 tips for a happy workplace. Here are my remaining top factors that I consider to be the most impactful in cracking open your workplace Zen (as a team). 

6. Set Goals (as a team): In professional sports a team’s shared goals are apparent and understood.  Moreover, the teams’ success towards those goals is blatantly, and sometimes brutally obvious (Go Phillies! Go Eagles!).  In the common workplace neither of these statements holds true; however, each member of the team plays just as much of a role in achieving the team’s shared goals.  As such the team’s involvement in understanding challenges, creating shared goals, monitoring progress, and managing their shared goals to success is paramount in fostering happiness and success.  Beyond that the involvement of fresh minds in the process will lead to new ideas and the discovery of untapped talents.

7. Create Happy Customers (as a team): The customer is always right because if the customer is wrong, your competition is happy to make it right!   Too often a disconnect occurs in considering customers as the primary resource for achieving success toward the team’s shared goals.  By assuming the role of a customer advocate, team members align and accomplish the customer’s goals, the team’s goals, and their individual goals while creating happy customers in the process.  And the happiest teams are teams working with happy customers!

8. Make It Personal (as a team): When was the last time you stopped a staff meeting and played a fun, interactive game? The gains realized are well worth the small amount of time sacrificed from the team’s everyday routine.  Team members connecting on a personal level greatly increases the probability of greater cohesiveness at the professional level.  Additionally, a little bit of camaraderie goes a long way in strengthening staff retention and creating more natural and enjoyable customer interactions.   At times, the most effective thing a team leader can do is create an opportunity for the team to interact freely without the constraints and distractions of the job obstructing the team’s ability to develop their relationships and identity.

9. Recognize Contributions (as a team): Teams and their individual members contribute their talents every day; however, only the largest accomplishments are consistently celebrated with any sort of fanfare.  “Great job making that copy, Mary!” and “You really nailed sweeping that floor, Joe!” are examples of praises very rarely uttered in the workplace.  But why not?  There is absolutely nothing wrong with recognizing another team member’s contributions to the overall success of the team’s shared goals.  In fact, offering such praise will play a crucial role in creating a happy team and an environment conducive to productive communication.

10. Love What You Do (as a team): On average we spend 45% of our waking hours at work or performing work-related functions.  That is way too much time to not derive some enjoyment from our jobs and our teams.  It is always a useful exercise for each team member to reflect on their position and identify the functions, responsibilities, and accomplishments that make them most content in their role.  Likewise, it is just as worthwhile to examine the less enjoyable tasks and look for ways to make them more enticing for the team member.  Even if the end result is the same, the exercise itself will help increase contentedness with the individual.  In the end, when we love what we do it shows.  And the effects are contagious to team members and customers alike!

A happy workplace requires an appropriate mix of all the ingredients to get it just right.  Similarly, different teams will have different mixes for what’s right for them; however, the ingredients will all still be there.  And the best part is that once your mix is established the workplace will become a lot of fun!


10 Tips for Creating a Happy Workplace At Your Animal Hospital: Part 1

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By Dennis McMichael, Practice Manager — Animal Hospital of Dauphin County

Throughout my youth and professional career I’ve had the pleasure of serving on and leading many teams with a variety of purposes and goals.  In each instance a number of consistent factors contributed to each team’s success, failure, and, ultimately, happiness.  And in each instance the team’s happiness could be directly attributed to our performance and application of those factors as a team.  While it would be nearly impossible to list all of the factors contributing to a happy team and workplace, the following list captures the top factors that I consider to be the most consistently impactful in cracking open your workplace Zen (as a team).

1. Be Humble (as a team): We all have faults.  The sooner we are able to acknowledge and accept this fact, the sooner we move past reactive and guarded habits and progress towards becoming proactive producers.  Some of the best people to have on your team are the ones who ask a lot of questions and force the team to rethink what they thought they already knew.  Leaders are no exception to this trait — as a matter of fact, leaders stand to gain even more from their own humbleness by forging important relationships and better understanding the resources available to them.

2. Communicate (as a team): Every success and failure begins and ends with productive communication or a lack thereof.  It is as simple as that, yet, we continually fall into the traps created by lack of communication or even unproductive communication.  A successful and happy team’s habitual response to unexpected adversity is productive communication.  This often takes the form of a 5 minute “huddle” to discuss the issue at hand, identify resources and possible solutions, and plot the path to success.  As humans contentedness is equivalent to happiness.  Internalized stress is commonly one of the largest barriers to contentedness.  The habitual response of productive communication and group problem solving eliminates this barrier before it even has a chance to take shape.

3. Create a Culture of Solutions (as a team): How much of your team’s time is lost to idle complaints?  Beyond time, what is the impact of idle complaining on individual and team morale?  Many people complain simply because it requires less effort than solving the problem in the first place; however, this is where the power of the team really comes to life.  If the team publicly recognizes their distaste for idle complaining, the team can successfully outlaw the behavior from the workplace and replace it with an expectation of productive communication.  Much like Planet Fitness’ “Lunk Alarm” combats “gymtimidation”, a staff unified towards productive communication is empowered to recognize and refuse idle complaining in a more comfortable manner that encourages productive solutions and a happy workplace.

4. Celebrate Your Successes (as a team): The ever-increasing demand for efficiency is at odds with the need for workplace happiness.  How many times have you thought “That was really a great accomplishment and it needs to be recognized when time allows.”?  Did you do it?  Did you do it publicly?  Celebrating successes boosts morale while providing a positive reinforcement of the team’s shared goals.  Additionally, creating a ‘shout out’-friendly environment can do wonders in promoting individual and team senses of self-worth.  These gestures are a catalyst for kindness.  No, the team doesn’t need to spend the entire day patting each other on the back.  Staff meetings, internal newsletters, group emails, suggestion boxes, bulletin boards, etc. can all serve as appropriate forums to share the love!

5. Own Your Mistakes (as a team): So you made a mistake — now what?  Human nature and tradition seem to tell us to shy away and let someone else fix it but where’s the growth in that?  Recognize the opportunity and turn the situation on its head.  The team and/or team member stand to gain valuable knowledge and insight by assessing the situation and envisioning a reasonable solution.  Furthermore, what could have been a confidence-draining experience can — if handled properly — become a confidence-building morale booster.  Finally, is there a lesson learned that can be used to benefit team members not specifically involved with this opportunity?  Make sure that teachable moment is appropriately shared and utilized!

Check back for Part 2 and my remaining 5 tips for a happy workplace!


Should Your Veterinary Hospital Offer Acupuncture Services?

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Written By: Emily L. Elliot VMD. Chippens Hill Veterinary Hospital

Acupuncture is a growing part of veterinary practices today and many pet owners are turning to this method of treatment for their pets. There are several reasons to consider adding acupuncture to your list of services at your veterinary hospital.

Veterinary acupuncture offers management for pain, seizures, immune support, and gastrointestinal therapy that can be used in addition to medical and surgical treatment and sometimes even instead of it.  Animals respond well to acupuncture and there is no placebo effect for them, though it is important to guide their owners through objective evaluation of response to therapy.  Veterinary acupuncture cannot be bought on the Internet and it increases client visits to the hospital.  The overhead in acupuncture supplies is minimal after the initial investments of time and education.

Education in acupuncture takes place usually in four sessions of four days each over about a year and can be found in a variety of locations and institutions around the country.   Beyond the basic education, certification by the International Veterinary Acupuncture Society, IVAS, provides credibility via requirements for education, examination, mentorship, a case log, and a peer-reviewed case report.  A veterinarian learning acupuncture makes a significant commitment in time and study of this centuries old medicine.

Once a veterinarian is qualified to offer acupuncture in practice, the support of staff and colleagues comes easily since the animals’ response to treatment gives visual results.  Internal referrals of existing cases in the hospital build the use of acupuncture quickly.  Animals with chronic conditions such as degenerative joint disease, intervertebral disc disease, and epilepsy do well with treatment and generally need long-term maintenance.  Acute cases needing short-term treatment include animals undergoing dental procedures, hospitalized patients with refractory vomiting or diarrhea, and post-op surgical patients.  All have better pain management and faster healing with acupuncture as part of their care.

In the next two installments in this series, I will compare acupuncture with laser therapy and discuss implementing acupuncture in general practice.


Measuring Performance At Your Veterinary Hospital-Recognizing Trends And Avoiding Potential Problems

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Written By: Travis Meredith DVM, MBA, DIP. ACT- Community Veterinary Partners; Director of Member Services

In spending time with many successful practice owners, I always find it interesting to learn how each tracks the performance of his or her veterinary hospital. Some veterinary practice owners have a very sales oriented approach to tracking current and future success while others feel that they are able to trust their gut by looking at the volume in their waiting room. One thing I realized is that there is no one metric that everyone follows to measure practice performance.

How is it possible that various successful veterinary practices I know can be so successful yet track their performance so differently? In my opinion, the answer lies in looking and listening to your practice’s performance and the frequency that the “diagnostics” are run.

I was given the opportunity to leave hospital ownership to run a business unit for a major animal health company where I was mentored by one of the biggest data nerds I’ve ever met. Each morning he made it a habit to do a 30-minute review of the previous day so he always knew what parts of the business were going well, what areas were in trouble, and where potential problems may arise. In doing this, he was able to focus his energy on potential problems before they became actual problems. In following just a few key metrics each day, he taught me how to stay ahead of potential problems that may arise.

When I returned to managing veterinary hospitals, I took the simple tricks I learned with me.  In looking at each practice type, I made sure to check for a few key metrics and just like the veterinary practice owners who run leading indicators or who reads the volume in the hospital waiting room; I followed those metrics every day.  Over time, this gave me the ability to gain a true pulse of each practice.  I was able to identified negative trends sooner, understand staffing issues more clearly, and be proactive to avoid potential problems and do things that make the practice more valuable.

Something to think about after reading this. Every morning when you arrive at your veterinary hospital you usually spend time evaluating each client and pet that is in the waiting room.  It’s important to show the same dedication to your business each day by taking 20 to 30 minutes to follow the key metrics for your practice.


CVP Member Network Shows Q3 Revenue Improvement in 2014

Each fiscal quarter we ask our Member Network hospitals to share their financial results with us. We then pull the data together and produce a benchmarking report. Benchmarking is a great way to see how your hospital is performing compared to your peers.

For the third quarter of 2014 (from June through September), our Member Network hospitals showed a strong recovery from a slow first half of 2014 Of the 25 hospitals in our group, 14 reported growth vs. the prior year. Across the network, the median change in revenue was 4 percent vs. Q3 2013 and ranged between -13% and +13% (for non-startup veterinary practices.)

Q3 Member Network Revenue Chart

 

 


Managing Your Veterinary Practice Like You Manage Patient Care

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Written By: Travis Meredith DVM, MBA, DIP. ACT- Community Veterinary Partners; Director of Member Services

Quite often as veterinarians, you will encounter a case where a pet’s health has been rapidly declining and their owner is growing anxious for you to solve the problem. Managing cases like this can be tough as you want to take immediate action and get the pet back to good health. As you think about managing a case like this, what do you normally do?  Take the animal straight to surgery?  Start him on medication?  Tell the family that it may be time to think about letting go?

Of course not.  As clinicians we are trained to use a systematic approach when we treat our patients. We have to take the time to examine the pet and make sure we are really listening to their owner.  We perform diagnostics and may even consult with outside experts on more complex cases. We come up with a plan, initiate a therapy and encourage the owners to follow our plan to give their pet the best chance at recovery.  And, as their healthcare provider, we make sure to follow up with the clients as many times as needed until the problem is resolved.

Managing a small business is no different in that a systematic approach is the best course of action. When I visit with colleagues about the topic of practice management I always use the same patient analogy.  For many veterinary practice owners, they continue to see their business declining and have not been able to pinpoint a specific cause.  Often we just blame it on the “economy.”  And while most veterinarians use a systematic approach to patient care, they do not always do the same to when finding a solution to bettering their practice’s financial health.

The same systematic approach used in patient care also should be used when successfully operating a veterinary practice.  1. Look and listen to what’s going on around you 2. Do the diagnostics 3. Get help from experts if needed 4.  Come up with a plan 5. Put the plan into action and 6. Monitor, Monitor, Monitor.  Over the next few months I’ll discuss at each of these components and hopefully better illustrate how the principles that ensure good patient care can mean financial wellness for your veterinary practice.


Visit Community Veterinary Partner’s Booth #4118 At NAVC 2015!

Will You Be Attending The NAVC 2015 Conference in Orlando?

Stop by booth 4118 for a FREE “Meet The Experts Series” featuring some of the nation’s leading veterinary business experts. Join us at our booth to sit down with one of five outstanding professionals in the fields of practice management, accounting, finance and business strategy. You’ll get answers to your questions, learn about new resources and more! NAVC 2015

 

 


Is It Time To Hire Another Doctor At Your Veterinary Hospital?

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IS IT TIME TO HIRE ANOTHER DOCTOR?  QUESTIONS TO ASK YOURSELF BEFORE YOU DO.

Written By: Melissa Bingham- Community Veterinary Partners; Field Operations Manager

Is it time to hire another doctor at your hospital?  It is a weighty decision.  As a practice owner, there are many things to consider, financially, operationally and personally.  It can be helpful to ask yourself some questions to be sure of what is driving your desire to add a doctor and recognizing if it’s the right time to add another doctor.  Most importantly, don’t move forward until you feel confident that your decision is based on good judgment and a good plan, not gut feelings or a knee jerk reaction.

Some questions that are important to ask yourself are: What is driving your desire to hire another associate doctor?  Have you been working long hours for a long time and want to cut back?  Do you want more time to devote to mentoring your medical team or giving back through community outreach?  Do you want to spend more time on a particular area of veterinary medicine of interest to you?  Do you need time to reflect, review and implement the next stage of hospital growth?

Yes it could be the right time to hire another associate vet for you but make certain is it also the right time for your hospital and your existing doctor team. Some alternate questions to consider are:

For your hospital:

– Do you want to expand your days of operation to be more available when your clients want to come in? -Do you want to add a doctor during your busiest times of day to increase appointment availability for clients?

– Do you want to add a doctor with an interest or specialty your clients want or need?

– Is your hospital in healthy financial shape to support the salary and benefits for an additional associate vet?

– Have you identified the personal production needed for an additional associate doctor to “cover” their costs and your profit margin?  Production is determined by the number of clients seen per day times the average transaction.  The new doctor will need to meet or exceed the personal production goal.

– Do you have the time, energy and interest to mentor a new graduate or onboard an experienced doctor?  If not, is there a doctor on your team who would enjoy the assignment?

For your existing doctor team:

– Is your existing doctor team feeling overloaded or working more hours or days than they want to work?

– Can your clients come in the same day for routine appointments with their preferred doctor?  Or is the next available appointment a few days or even weeks out?

– Are your busiest days and times always booked in advance?

– Are surgery days consistently full?

– Do you feel confident that an additional associate will add business rather than share existing business with the current doctor team?

– Do you need to hire a full time doctor?  Or could you fill the gap with a part time doctor and add experienced veterinary technician to your support staff?

Making the choice to hire an additional associate vet can be overwhelming.  Don’t let it be.  A careful review of the needs of your clients and the future needs of your hospital will provide reassurance as you make this important decision.


Key Data Points in Your Vet Hospital’s P&L Statement

Written By: Karen Felsted, CPA, MS, DVM, CVPM

The first question that people ask is:  “Why do I need to look at my profit and loss statement?”  The answer lies in an old cliché that says “If you can’t measure it, you can’t manage it.”  While it is easy to ignore clichés because you’ve heard them so many times, these phrases are generally clichés for a reason—they are widely applicable truths that should not be ignored.  Obviously these specific words have to be taken with a grain of salt—it’s not necessary to count the paperclips on a daily basis in order to manage the purchase of office supplies but managing most areas of a veterinary hospital well means you need to measure the activities involved.  Your veterinary hospital profit and loss statement (aka “income statement” or “P&L”) is a good starting point for revenue and expense analysis.

P and L Statement Example

Revenue

In most hospitals’ P&L statements, revenue is only displayed as a single number called something like “Fees-professional services.”  While comparing this figure for a month or year to the prior month or year and calculating the percentage change gives you some idea about the magnitude of revenue growth or decline, the profit and loss statement doesn’t have a whole lot of other information about revenue.  In order to analyze revenue more deeply, it’s necessary to look at some of the metrics related to the drivers of revenue—transactions, average transaction charge, revenue by doctor, new client numbers and revenue by category.

Expenses

In comparison, the profit and loss statement is an excellent source of information for expense analysis.  You’ll get better insights, however, if the information from the income statement is put into a spreadsheet that allows for comparison of changes over periods of time and allows the expenses to be reviewed as a percentage of gross revenue, not just in absolute dollars.

The key data points on which most of your time should be spent are the high-dollar items–labor costs (both doctors and staff), and drugs and medical supplies expense.  However, don’t forget the smaller items–all expenses should be examined in detail at least once a year.

The first comparison to be made for any given expense is between the current period (month, quarter, or year) and the prior period; for example, support staff costs are compared from 2013 to 2014.  Expenses that generally fluctuate with revenue changes are better examined by looking at them as a percentage of revenue rather than as a direct dollar comparison.  Support staff costs may have declined dollar-wise from one year to the next but if revenue is declining as well, the support staff costs may actually have gone up in proportion to revenue.  If you only look at dollar amounts, you won’t see this.

This internal benchmarking is often the easiest kind of analysis to perform because the data is readily available—it’s all internal.  However, there is no guarantee that improvement means a practice is doing well; it may simply mean they are doing less badly than before.  Some comparison to outside benchmarks is important to make that assessment.

AVMA, AAHA and Advanstar all collect and publish a fair amount of financial and operational metric information that can be used for this kind of comparison purposes.  No practice is going to be exactly like the practices included in the study population but this analysis is very beneficial for most practices.  For example, if your drugs and medical supplies expense is 17.1% of gross revenue and one of the published studies says this expense is 17% in a typical practice, you aren’t going to get too worried—it’s a minor difference.  However, if your expense is 25%, then you should do some investigating.  If the majority of practices can keep their drugs and medical supplies expense at 17%, why can’t you?  Improving your inventory control could drop a lot of money to the bottom line.

Once you have a handle on which expenses seem high, you need to look at the drivers of those expenses.  For example, if your staff compensation looks high, are staff working too many hours?  Is there too much overtime?  Are they overpaid?  Some additional metrics to look at in sorting out the issues are staff hours per transaction and staff hours per day (particularly in comparison to doctor hours/day.)  Does this fluctuate per week or month?  What can be done to increase efficiency?

Net Income

The last item to discuss is the “net income” figure on the P&L.  This is what’s left over after expenses are subtracted from revenue.  Perhaps the most important indicator of financial success in a veterinary practice is the true operating profitability.  Unfortunately this is the most difficult number to get because it doesn’t show up on any report a practice regularly receives, even when those reports are properly prepared.  The net income figure on the P&L is generally a meaningless number and doesn’t represent the operating profit.

Why is net income usually a meaningless number?  Net income (i.e. the operating profit) should represent what’s left over after all of the normal and necessary expenses of the veterinary practice are paid at fair market value rates.  Often times, not all of the expenses in a veterinary practice P&L statement are “normal and necessary” or they are not “paid at fair market value rates.  Some common examples are:

  • Practice owner compensation that is not calculated based on the medical/surgical/management work the owner does but instead is just a random amount determined by how much money is in the bank
  • Perks (trips to Tahiti, dry cleaning bills, liquor store bills, airplanes, personal lawn service, etc.)—i.e. expenses that are not necessary for the operation of the practice but are paid by the practice in order to gain a tax advantage
  • Salaries for family members that are not paid at fair market value rates
  • Facility rent that is not representative of fair market value

There are usually 8-12 adjustments that need to be made to an income statement to determine what true operating profit is.  You will generally need to get help from someone with veterinary practice financial expertise to know how profitable you are.

The P&L statement is a great source of information for making better management decisions.  A monthly review will help you identify problems early on when it’s easier to correct them.