Common sense management (Proceedings)
In the mid 1970's, the National economy started to slow down while the number of veterinarians continued to increase. Concerns were expressed that too many veterinarians would be produced by the year 2000. In the late 1970's and 1980's some practices experienced reduced numbers of clients and no-growth or slow growth gross incomes resulting in declining net incomes.
Since the early 1980's increased interest and attention has been paid to practice management. Private practices, veterinary schools, technical schools and continuing education meetings have since focused on improving management techniques. In the 1970's very few veterinarians graduated from veterinary school with management training. Now most schools offer at least some management information.
In the early 1980's the profession started to evaluate not only the quality of services provided, but how those services were provided. The American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA) instituted a Department of Marketing in 1986 and this signaled the start of public education about veterinary medical services. As the AVMA developed seminars in marketing veterinary services and national and regional continuing education programs added management topics, interest by book, magazine, Internet and journal publishers also increased.Management consultants and practice management speakers (DVM's, CPA's, MBA's) increased in number and visibility during the 1990's and into the 2000's. The entire profession was infused with new information and techniques to improve the understanding and delivery of veterinary services. Colleges and Schools of Veterinary Medicine also became engaged in teaching and using practice management information due mainly to decreasing financial resources and increasing pressure from private practitioners. In the 1990's veterinary technician schools also started to offer management courses.
In the later half of the 1980's and into the 1990's, the profession was propelled along the "fast track" of management. Numerous seminars, lectures, books, and journal articles provided a plethora of basic and advanced information. Many practices now use, on a regular basis, client demographics, computerized inventory monitoring, on line appointments, target marketing, practice web site, personnel profiling, client profiling, institutional advertising and situational leadership. The 21st Century is the period of Management Communication and application.
In fact, maybe we are becoming so technical in management and so concerned with using the "cutting edge" information that we forget about using common sense. Voltaire probably said it best: "Common sense is not so common." In the race to effectively manage our practice, do not forget or overlook the importance of common sense basics. How about the basic areas of clientcommunications, professional attitude, professional appearance, collections and fees, routine call backs, delegation, incentives, personnel selection, etc.? Do we have the common sense areas under control? Without the common sense approach to management, all may be lost.
Ten of the most important common sense management basics are briefly reviewed.
1. Team Building: The practice team consists of clients, staff, veterinarians, vendors/suppliers, patients and management support. Communications must be open and positive with all team members. To maximize communications regular staff meetings must be held. Do you hold at least regular monthly meetings with staff and veterinarians? When meetings are not held monthly, communications and team building break down. Do you ask clients, "how you are doing"? Focus groups, casual listening, questionnaires and follow-up phone calls can provide valuable input into total team communications. Open, honest and informative communications must be provided to each client. Remember our clients are not veterinarians. Do you provide an incentive for staff and veterinarians to follow? Motivation through incentives work for everyone on the team. Have you developed a mission statement and provided specific goals to attain? Is the practice goal oriented?
2. Attitude and Image: The appearance of each practice member (kennel person to veterinarian) is extremely important to the overall image and well being to the practice. When clients come to a veterinary hospital/clinic, they expect to see professionals. Do you still feel like, act like, and look like a professional? Attitude is said to be everything. A positive attitude usually gets positive but a negative attitude always gets negative. Our attitude will often determine our altitude in life.