Communication, part III: Mastering the true essence of practice satisfaction and success
When it comes to achieving financial success as practicing veterinarians, we are definitely our own worst enemies. I can't believe that according to national averages, a pharmacist and an optometrist earn more than a veterinarian! That is really sad! Why? Because most of us are afraid to charge what we are truly worth. Afraid that a client will balk or reject our recommendation and treatment plan if we charge what we feel we deserve. We seem to lack the confidence to look a client in the eye and comfortably let him or her know what our diagnostics and treatment plan will cost. We need to start feeling proud about what we do, what we know, how hard we work, how nice our facilities are, and we need to start charging accordingly for our time and services.
I've always been a strong proponent of the notion that financial success often follows personal success. You've got to believe in yourselves. When you are really happy at what you do, you begin to exude a certain air of confidence that is contagious to all around you. You become a more competent salesperson, selling yourself, your hospital, and your diagnostic and treatment plans. Don't kid yourselves into thinking that we don't have to sell ourselves all day long! I know I'm a good salesman, but the truth is, by being good at selling what I do, I'm given the opportunity to do what I love to do. One of my younger associates would always complain that I always got the good cases. He would go into a room and never be able to convince the pet's parents to allow him to run the appropriate diagnostics. I remember one day that I was about to go into an exam room to see a patient and he said to me "good luck—they're not going to spend anything on that dog." So I proceeded into the room and, I guess, performed my magic. Ten minutes later the dog and I came out of the exam room, marched into the main treatment room, and I proceeded to do a complete physical exam, including blood and urine analyses, radiographs, ECG, tonometry—the works. Am I a better doctor than my associate? No, but I'm obviously a better salesperson, or I exude more confidence, or the clients simply believed that my motivation was strictly to provide better health care for their four-legged child. No wonder why I have so much fun practicing—I get to practice good medicine, I have great clients and patients, I am continuously faced with new case challenges, and because of all this, I make a very nice living. Most importantly, I delegate all the parts of practice that I don't like.
Speaking of delegating, many of us fail to appropriately utilize one of the best assets we have—our technicians! Most of our technicians should be fairly proficient at drawing blood samples, running fecal exams, inserting catheters, administering medications, doing basic examinations, performing dental prophys, preparing medications and discharge instructions, monitoring patients during anesthesia, etc. and hopefully are being compensated well according to their experience and skills. But, how many of them are really worth their salaries by helping us increase our profits, and actually adding to our job satisfaction? How many technicians not only perform the duties expected of them, but actually generate business and income for your practices by identifying and implementing new profit centers? In today's competitive marketplace doctors need to call upon everyone in the practice to generate revenues in ways appropriate for their job responsibilities, and technicians have many golden opportunities everyday to do just that.The examination room is an ideal place to spend this "quality time." From a products/services perspective, the technician should be promoting heartworm tests and prevention, dental prophys and all ancillary home care dental products, good grooming (and all the products that go with this), flea and tick control (and the TONS of products which go with this), nutritional services and counseling, training sessions/classes, annual or even semi-annual fecal examinations, and, of course, vaccinations. I can't begin to tell you how nice it is for me to walk into an examination room, and, because of the excellent work that my technician had done before me, be able to market our products or services so easily. I truly believe that if the groundwork is solidly laid by our technicians, than our jobs are much easier.