A veterinarian wouldn’t try to remedy a medical problem without proper diagnosis and a treatment plan. The same should be said for growing a veterinary practice — whether it’s a new business or an established one. Taking action without first developing a plan can do more harm than good.
Planning was an important step for Carolina Equine Hospital, with a new location in Browns Summit, N.C. The practice was in a growth mode and its staff needed to make sure they had a clear vision for the practice over the next five years. Here are some tips from veterinarians Rebecca Stinson and Andrea Boyer, who discuss developing a strategic plan that makes goals more attainable and less overwhelming.
“It can be very stressful when you just show up to work, you pay your bills and you have no idea where your business is going,” Dr. Boyer said. “Without having an overall plan, you’re going to end up struggling. You’re not going to have that team of support in the office. You’re not going to have the growth that you need to sustain a practice.”
For veterinarians, advancing a practice means not only providing exceptional animal health care services but also focusing on good management, marketing and financial planning.
“Most of us as veterinarians are so busy practicing veterinary medicine that we don’t take time to plan a treatment program for ourselves and our business,” Dr. Stinson said. “Without a treatment plan for your business, your business is going to have a hard time measuring response to treatment. Not having the ability to measure response, you won’t know when you need to make adjustments in your plan.”
To help develop a strategic plan at Carolina Equine Hospital, they sought guidance from PeopleFirst™Strategic Planning Services from Zoetis.
“Our PeopleFirst consultant, Dr. Bob McManus, was a veterinarian who had been in mixed-animal practice,” Dr. Stinson said. “He had a real concept of what the industry was doing nationwide and really understood our needs.”
The strategic planning process helps define business objectives and identify an overall strategic direction. Starting with an introduction to strategic planning, the curriculum continues with stages of activating the strategic plan specific to your clinic or business. After completing this curriculum, owners will walk away with a strategic intent statement, business objectives, core strategies, and action and monitoring plans.
With their consultant, the staff at Carolina Equine Hospital was able to set out some basic objectives. The process involved breaking everything down into steps for short-term and long-term goals and determining who would be responsible for each objective.
“We came out of that meeting very motivated,” Dr. Boyer said. “We felt good about our company, and we felt good about our plan. We’re each able to work towards the whole picture.”
With their written plan, they will strive as a practice to accomplish the goals they set by 2017. The team has follow-up sessions with their consultant to review strategic statements, provide feedback and discuss how to use these tools to better engage the staff. They also will measure their progress and review benchmarks they have set for the practice — such as in-hospital patients, haul-in visits, dollars per transaction and the net profit per client visit.
“These are benchmarks we can measure time and time again,” Dr. Stinson said. “It was great to sit down and see that when we all think about it and talk together, we recognized that we all want to go in the same direction together.”
For information on how PeopleFirst consultants can help you develop a strategic plan for your veterinary clinic or business, contact your Zoetis representative or visit growpeoplefirst.com.