The 3 “R’s” of a Running Successful Veterinary Practice

Without a doubt, there are many factor that contribute to success in the veterinary industry. Obviously, you need to be skilled, have a solid number of clients and take appropriate measures to attract new business and grow. But what is often overlooked and remarkably simple are the three fundamentals of success, each of which coincidentally begins with the letter ‘R.’ Focus your efforts on these three things and you will position your practice for sustainable profitability for many years to come. Let’s explore each of these fundamentals in greater detail below.

Recruiting

Walt Disney once said: “You can dream, create, design and build the most wonderful place in the world…but it requires people to make the dream a reality.”

This is absolutely true of any industry, but perhaps none as much as the veterinary field. Why? Because our success lies in our ability to forge and maintain long-term relationships, with both people and their pets. Having individuals on your team that exude passion for what they do is absolutely imperative. 

Beyond this, it’s essential that you hire a staff of individuals who complement and work well with one another. The saying “one bad apple can spoil the bunch” is quite applicable in our industry. If you aren’t careful about who you hire, you could easily end up with toxic employees who drive clients and fellow colleagues away.

If you want to be successful – especially if your practice is located in a highly competitive area – then you absolutely, positively MUST prioritize your recruiting efforts. If you don’t have the time, patience or judgment to handle this task on your own, then either delegate it or enlist the help of a professional.

Retain

According to a recent report from the American Animal Hospital Association (AAHA), the average annual employee turnover in the veterinary industry is a sobering 29.7 percent. That equals out to about double the national average. 

You’ve done all the hard work of finding and hiring the perfect people to join your team. The last thing you want to do is lose them to someone else and have to start all over again. Not only is this a tremendous waste of your precious time, but it’s also incredibly costly.

This is why you need to protect your investment by emphasizing retention as a top priority for your practice management.

There are a lot of different factors that go into retention, but the majority of experts agree that the most impactful one is engagement. In other words, getting employees to buy-in to their role in the practice’s vision, and subsequently its success. 

How can you improve engagement? Start by creating and nurturing a positive practice culture – one that encourages openness, honesty, trust and empowerment. Then, start every new team member off on the right foot by investing in a comprehensive onboarding strategy. Pay your team well, give regular feedback, set clear expectations and – most importantly – show them how much you value their wellbeing by emphasizing work-life balance.

Reward

The last piece of the puzzle, specifically as it relates to retention, is rewarding your employees on a regular basis. We’re not talking about an annual one-on-one or yearly raise. We’re talking about going out of your way to intentionally recognize a job well done. 

There are many ways you can do this, and some won’t cost you a penny, but can go a long way toward fostering employee loyalty and commitment. 

To determine your best course of action, sit down with each member of your team to learn about what motivates them to perform at their best. Every person is different. What drives one employee may not be effective with another. For one team member, the ability to grow professionally through continuing education opportunities may keep them plugged in, while another might thrive off something as basic as shout-outs in front of colleagues or a simple, sincere “thank you” for everything you do.

Regardless of what the actual reward itself happens to be, the underlying intent should be making each team member feel important and appreciated. This is critical, since employees who don’t feel valued at work are 34% more likely to quit within the next year. To prevent this churn, you must routinely validate your staff’s work and regularly reward their contributions.

When it comes to sustainable success in the veterinary industry, there are a lot of moving parts. At the end of the day, however, it is your people who will ultimately become your greatest asset. As such, you must allocate the appropriate attention and resources to making sure you are recruiting the right individuals, doing enough to keep them engaged and regularly demonstrating how much you value them. Do so and you’ll be ripe for continued success.

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