7 bad moves

7 bad moves

Sep 01, 2006

You don't always have to be a trailblazer. Your predecessors likely dealt with practice management problems that appear to be unique to your operation.

Of course, some found successful solutions. Others learned from the mistakes they made when they took a wrong fork in the management road.

Here are seven of the most common management mistakes that practitioners make—and advice about how you can avoid each one.

Mistake 1: Do it all yourself

You've heard it many times: If you want something done right, do it yourself. It's a classic philosophy with an undeniable grain of truth. However, when it comes to running a busy veterinary practice, too many owners suffer from a dangerous overdose of do-it-yourself-itis. A failure to understand the importance and necessity of delegating hinders growth in small businesses, say management consultants Andrea Michalek, an independent consultant in Philadelphia, and Wally Adamchik, a consultant with FireStarter Speaking and Consulting in Raleigh, N.C.

"Just because you can complete a task, doesn't mean you should," says Michalek. "Outsource anything that's not a core competency of your business. Without hiring any additional employees, it's now possible to get the outside help you need at prices you can afford."

Adamchik agrees you should look outside for help with some jobs. "Some business owners and professionals go broke saving money," he says. "Rather than outsource their Web design and maintenance, for example, they do it themselves, because they can. Of course, this takes them away from the work they do that makes the biggest difference to the business. They're saving money doing their own Web work, but they're losing money in the long run.

"Of course, looking to outside help often won't be necessary. Given a proper opportunity, your team members will likely surprise you with positive results."

Mistake 2: Misunderstand marketing's role

Often practitioners get so busy dealing with day-to-day operations that they never get around to putting together a business-building marketing program. That's a serious mistake. Marketing is a basic building block. Yet many owners shy away from all but the most obvious ways to promote themselves and their practices.

Take weekends off
Does your entire marketing program consist of an expensive phone directory ad? If so, it's time to think about a more comprehensive approach.

While advertising is an essential part of marketing, it's only that—a part. An effective marketing program embraces all facets of your practice. To be effective, you must nurture and promote your business image, sell yourself as well as your practice, and concentrate on making your services the best choice for your prospective clients. There's no other way. Competitive prices alone won't do it. And a high degree of professional skill alone won't do it either.