When business is down, the natural response is to look for ways to cut expenses and offset the revenue loss. It's a matter
of simple math: When you subtract line A from line B, you want to see a profit
While cutting expenses is a critical part of a recession plan, it's not a good idea to lay off employees without fully evaluating
the effect the decision will have on the business, says Deborah Reeder, RVT, executive director and former president of the
American Association of Equine Veterinary Technicians (AAEVT). "Layoffs during a time of economic hardship may seem like a
quick fix," she says. "But letting your technicians go may end up costing you more than you would have spent by keeping them.
In fact, it could cost thousands of dollars to rehire and retrain that person's replacement when the practice is ready to
gear up again."
Here's another way to look at the landscape. (One that emphasizes the cost-cutting opportunities and revenue boosting benefits
of hiring—and keeping—a technician on staff.)
Technicians' knowledge of pharmaceu-ticals, services provided, and work flow makes them perfect for regulating and managing
inventory. Put a technician in charge of entering data and record keeping and you'll see savings and a decrease in missed
Also encourage them to look for areas of excess within the practice. They can suggest ways to streamline processes to improve
practice efficiency, create value, and provide better service to your clients.
When you delegate effectively, you free up the doctors' time so they can provide complete care and see more patients per day,
says Jamie DeFazio, LVT, of the New Bolton Center in Pa. "While the technician is doing blood work or getting vaccines, the
veterinarian can be filling out a Coggjns form or performing a physical," she says. Reeder estimates that using a technician
well can generate an additional several hundred dollars a day by giving the practitioner time to perform additional services
or see that additional appointment he or she can charge for. "That's huge," she says.
Facilitating client communication
Building and solidifying client relationships clearly contributes to making your practice successful, and this is another
area where technicians prove invaluable. The technician can build rapport with clients and earn their trust, laying the groundwork
for a lasting relationship with the practice. "If clients trust you and you build loyalty, your client base keeps coming back,"
Working together toward solutions
If you're already using these strategies, you may need to be more creative about generating revenue or cutting costs. "Start
setting budgets in various areas, reallocate job responsibilities, and ask staff members for ideas on how to generate more
revenue," Reeder says. "Soliciting input from the team gives you more ideas to work with and makes your team members feel
like part of the solution."
"If you do have an employee whose cost may outweigh the value he or she currently brings to the practice, meet with him or
her and brainstorm ways to create more value for their position before letting that person go," she says. "A thoughtful solution
could turn the situation around."
Ultimately, the ability to deliver exemplary care and client service may be the difference that lets an equine practice survive
this difficult economic period. "Look at your technicians' salaries and compare them to the income they generate," says Reeder.
"When you look at the big picture, the return you see from investing in technicians may be substantial."