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  • 09 Jun 2018 4:42 PM | Sarah Rumple (Administrator)

    Have you heard? There's a big event coming up!

    WHAT: The VetPartners 2018 Mid-Year Meeting
    WHERE: Westin Denver Downtown, Denver, Colorado
    WHEN: July 11-13, 2018
    WHY: Below are 8 reasons you shouldn't miss THE EVENT for veterinary practice management consultants and industry experts:

    #1: The networking can't be beat.

    via GIPHY

    Making your way in the world today takes everything you've got... Taking a break from all your worries sure would help a lot... Wouldn't you like to get away? Sometimes you wanna go where everybody knows your name... And they're always glad you came. 

    At the VetPartners Mid-Year Meeting, everyone will learn your name in no time (if they don't already know it), and they'll all be glad you came (especially you). 

    #2: You'll get smarter.

    via GIPHY

    Whether you're interested in helping your veterinary clients with setting up loyalty programs, connecting with pet owners on an emotional level, or improving mental health and wellbeing in the veterinary practice, you'll walk away from the Mid-Year Meeting armed with powerful knowledge that will help you and your clients.

    #3: The Hot Rocks topics are seriously hot.

    via GIPHY

    The VetPartners membership consists of some of the highest caliber professionals in the industry, and a few of those members will be focusing on the hottest topics affecting veterinary professionals and their businesses today. Here's a glance at a few of the Hot Rocks topics:

    • Hiring in the Veterinary Profession: Why Lack of Speed Kills
    • The Psychology of Customer Acquisition 
    • Making $HIT Happen for Practices: Using Data to Increase Compliance and Revenue
    • Blending Social Impact and Financial Return: Alternative Ownership Approaches for Veterinary Clinics
    • Conflict Transformation: Can't We All Get Along?

    #4: You won't have FOMO if you're not actually missing out.

    via GIPHY

    No need to sit on your couch with a glass of wine all by yourself on July 11 with tears streaming down your face as you scroll through your Facebook newsfeed and see all the fun photos from the meet-n-greet reception. Instead, you'll be in those photos (but you'll probably still have a glass of wine).

    #5: You'll get to let loose.

    via GIPHY

    Two words: CareCredit Social. It's practically a famous event, and it never disappoints. Don't miss this unforgettable reception on Friday night from 6 to 8 p.m. 

    #6: Location, location, location. 

    Denver is one of the most beautiful and lively cities in the country, and we get to hang out there during our meeting this year. How lucky are we? 

    #7: Live music from VetPartners' very own band, the No-Lo Prophets.

    via GIPHY

    During the Thursday evening reception, our very own No-Lo Prophets will be providing the musical entertainment. (Want to contribute your musical talents? Contact Deb Stone!)

    #8: Did we mention the networking? 

    HOW: Register here! (Before June 18, members pay $395. After June 18, members pay $445. Non-members pay $695. Registration fee includes the exceptional education, a meet-n-greet reception on Wednesday, and breakfast, lunch, and receptions on Thursday and Friday.)

    See you in Denver!

    VetPartners photos courtesy of G. Lynn Davis.

  • 20 Mar 2018 6:43 PM | Anonymous

    The 2015 annual AAHA/IDEXX Laboratories State of the Industry included an analysis of 1,001 clients to determine factors that owners rank as critical in strengthening their bonds with their veterinary hospitals.  One was forward booking appointments.

    “Forward Booking” appointments is the practice of scheduling the patient’s next appointment before the client leaves the hospital. Forward booking appointments is a relatively common practice for medical re-evaluations with approximately 76% of hospitals reporting this practice, yet recent data suggests that only 11% of veterinary hospitals are utilizing this approach for semi-annual and annual preventive care examinations . What are the barriers to forward booking appointments?

    1. Perception

    My previous role as a technical service veterinarian provided a tremendous opportunity to discuss veterinary business operations and management with a broad range of practitioners and managers.  When forward booking appointments came up, the reaction was often negative, with the owner or team member stating, "their clients don't want to do this."   According to the State of the Industry report, “6 of 10 pet owners said they would forward book their next appointment before leaving the practice. In fact, nearly half of all pet owners said they prefer to as long as a reminder is given.”

    2. Process

    Implementation of forward booking appointments can be overwhelming.  Follow these steps to incorporate this practice into your hospital's daily operations:

    A.     Obtain buy-in from the team.

          Explain to the team that clients want tools to simplify preventive care.  Forward booking is one such tool.

          Discuss the findings of the State of the Industry report. Despite our perceptions, the majority of clients are used to this method in their everyday lives (example: human dental appointments) and like it. 

          Discuss the benefits to the team in forward booking appointments. Possible benefits include better, more timely care for pets, less overdue reminder phone calls to make (consistently a least favorite staff activity!) and an appointment schedule that runs more smoothly because preventive care visits are scheduled in advance.

    B.     Ask your team what concerns they have with forward booking appointments? For this system to be successful, the staff must have their worries heard and solutions brainstormed by the team.

    C.     The hospital must have an appointment schedule that is consistently available one year in advance.

    1)     Designate a team member to be responsible for inputting the normal hospital operations schedule for the next 13 months.

          Your hospital doesn't use a computer based appointment scheduler?  No problem, just purchase the paper scheduling system for the following year.

    2)     Select a day of the month that that team member will be responsible for updating the schedule so that it is always complete for a year in advance.

          The schedule is updated one month at a time within a designated period.

    3)     Objections that might arise:

          We don’t know what the doctors’ schedules will be. The hospital appointment schedule is relatively stable.  The doctors are routinely scheduled, and adjustments are made to the timetable as needed.

          It takes a lot of time to input the hospital schedule. There is an initial time commitment.  Once the schedule is in place for 13 months, it requires minimal time to update it one month at a time.

    D.    Communicating the new policy with clients

    1)  Decide who will explain the new procedure to the clients.

          Will this be the responsibility of the technician, customer service representative (CSR) or doctor?  Clear communication is critical to success.

          My hospital successfully implemented this process in 2012.  What worked well was when the doctors initiated a brief conversation with the clients explaining that we were beginning to schedule preventive care placeholder appointments in advance.  The doctors went on to explain that my CSR would schedule that appointment before they left.  It was extremely uncommon that any client objected.

    2) Decide what will be said when forward booking the appointment:

          When clients understand the “why” behind the recommendation, there is better adherence:

    “Mrs. Smith, we are committed to keeping Fluffy healthy and happy. Because animals age faster than humans, regularly scheduled examinations are necessary to detect diseases early. Dr. Hauser would like to see Fluffy in 6 months, which is the first week in February.  How does Tuesday, February 2 work?

    3)  Tell the client that they will receive a reminder two weeks before their appointment.  If the appointment is not at a convenient time, rescheduling during the reminder call is easy. 

          It is important to ask clients how they prefer to receive their reminders: phone, text, email or postcard, and honor their preferences.

          Design a process for reminding owners.  Who is responsible for confirming the appointments? Confirmation is one of the most important parts of forward booking, because non-reminded clients may not show up for the appointment.  It is also an important aspect of customer relationships to make these phone calls.  Clients don't enjoy missing appointments; the embarrassment they might feel could cause be detrimental to client bonding.

    4)  Differentiate forward booked appointments

          Use color coding to designate forward booked appointments.  It is necessary that forward booked appointments are easily recognizable so that the advance reminder notification occurs two weeks before the scheduled appointment.

          By color coding forward booked appointments, the hospital management can track the number of "no shows."  "No shows" are an important metric; above 10% missed appointments would indicate that the reminder process needs to be modified.

          Establish team goals for forward booked appointments, both made, and the percentage kept.  Celebrate successes as a team!

    When animal health care teams embrace the concept of forward booking, everyone wins.  Our patients receive more consistent and timely healthcare; clients are appreciative of the ease of scheduling, and teams benefit from smoother day to day operations with more visits.


    EXAMPLE: Procedures Guidelines Forward Booking Appointments

    Team member responsible: Sally

    1)  Initial Action Step: On August 25, 2017, Sally will input the hospital's appointment schedule for the next 13 months, so that appointments could be booked from September 1, 2017, through October 31, 2018. 

    2) Repeating Action Step: On or around the 25th of each month, beginning on September 25, 2017, Sally will add input an additional month’s schedule, so that on September 25 she will be updating the schedule to include November 2016. 


    By entering the schedule initially to include 13 months of appointments, clients can appropriately be forward booked for appointments occurring in 12 months.

    By designating a particular time of the month for Sally to update the schedule, the process of maintaining adequate appointments for forward booking is ensured. 

    3) Sally will program color codes for all forward booked appointments in the computer.

    3) Doctors explain to clients when they would like to see the pet next and that the appointment will be scheduled by the CSR (customer service representative) before they leave.

    4) CSR schedules forward booked appointment.

    5) Two weeks before the forward booked appointment, the CSR reminds clients of their appointment, including what services are due. If the client does not confirm the appointment, make two additional contact attempts. 

    6) The hospital manager tracks the number of forward booked appointments that are kept compared to "no shows."  If there are >10% no-shows, modification of the reminder process is needed.


    1.  https://www.aaha.org/graphics/original/professional/resources/library/


    2.  Forward Booking Appointments, Partners for Healthy Pets. http://www.partnersforhealthypets.org/Tool_Track.aspx?id=370

  • 14 Mar 2018 6:39 PM | Anonymous

    Hiring the right people is NOT easy. If it were, every company would be doing it. Obviously, this is not the case. However, you're not concerned with every company—you're only concerned with your business, and rightly so.

    Unfortunately, the hiring process is like any other: the people involved in it are susceptible to forming habits. Habits can be both good and bad, but when it comes to the hiring process, bad habits are easy to cultivate.

    To change, identify bad habits, stop doing them, and replace them with good ones. Then, practice those good habits until they become second nature. That, all by itself, will improve your hiring process. Sounds easy, yes?  But what if you don’t know what is going wrong?  If you have trouble identifying bad habits – those that keep you from getting the results you want – you’re not alone.  It can be difficult to understand how you are contributing to problems without the help of a professional, However, by incorporating these tips into your hiring regimen, you may find you rid yourself of bad ones you didn’t even know you had!

    What are the essential habits you should practice? Here are three that will immediately improve your hiring practices and the quality of your hires.

    #1—Know the job description and position thoroughly.

    Job descriptions are "ground zero." If you "miss the boat" at this early stage, then it almost doesn't matter what you do the rest of the way. You can't have a fuzzy idea of what the person will do within this role. You need to know what they will do exactly, including all of the duties and responsibilities involved.

    Only then can you formulate a crystal-clear profile of the ideal candidate, including their skill level and experience, as well as their soft skills and interpersonal prowess. After all, it's difficult to precisely hire what you want if you don't know what you specifically want.

    #2—Assemble an interview TEAM.

    Having just one or two people interview the candidate is a mistake, especially if the people will be directly involved with the position in question. You not only need to have multiple people interview the person, but they must also represent a cross-section of your organization.

    People from other departments should be involved, including those who can bring a different mindset and mentality to the task of deciding if this person would be a good fit.

    #3—Have a conversation, not an interrogation.

    You need to know as much as you possibly can about each candidate. How do you acquire that knowledge? By getting them to open up about themselves, and the best way to do that is to get them to relax and lower their defenses. You want the person to talk about not just their professional goals, but also about what motivates them and even their weaknesses.

    The goal is to have a candid conversation, not a one-sided discussion. If a member of your team is particularly warm and inviting and able to make candidates feel at ease, then consider letting that team member talk with candidates first.

    The list above represents three good habits that every organization should incorporate into its hiring process. Before you can make them a habit, though, you have to implement them and utilize them at least once.

    If you have questions about your company’s hiring process and what you can do to improve it, then consider reaching out to a search firm with the experience necessary to help identify and recruit the best candidates in the marketplace.

    Copyright 2017 Stacy Pursell

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