Are you grooming your practice?


Are you grooming your practice?

May 01, 2005

I know of a number of equine veterinarians who worked for years, delivering excellent service to clients and providing jobs and other economic benefits to their community, only to close their doors and walk away in the end with nothing. These dedicated practitioners created a job for themselves, but not a sustainable, growing business that would have value for a potential buyer.

Don't let your investments go to waste. Instead, learn what steps you need to take to improve your practice's value today—and to get a fair price when you're ready to sell.

Grooming tools All successful practices have great leaders, a clear vision, repeatable and reliable service, and benchmarks that help them monitor their financial results. As you evaluate your practice in each of these critical business areas, think about:

1. Leadership. Every small business owner needs a group of talented individuals to help along the way. This dream team will inspire you and help you prepare, manage, and monitor your success.

Theory into action : Mentoring for ownership
Your team of advisors should include a certified public accountant, an attorney, a banker, a veterinary practice consultant, an insurance agent, and a certified financial planner. These qualified individuals will aid you in developing a practice with a solid foundation and a sustainable and successful business.

When choosing these advisors, be sure to pick people you think you'll trust and enjoy working with. You'll be sharing details about your practice and your business approaches, so you need to feel comfortable. Also consider whether they're familiar with the veterinary profession and therefore may have a better feel for what's typical or out of the ordinary.

Great leaders inside your practice are important too. Of course, great practice leadership starts at the top. When you delegate well and empower your team, everyone develops leadership skills and learns what it takes to work well together.

2. Vision. Deciding who you are and where you want to go gives you a clear sense of direction and purpose. And your thinking on these issues can easily evolve into your mission statement and your vision for the practice. You'll use these guiding principles as your basis for making decisions.

Your mission statement details who you are and where you want to go. You'll use it as a basis for developing your vision. Your practice vision should answer these questions: Where are we going, and what will we look like in the future? It's a belief system that promotes dialogue between leadership and team members and generates momentum that keeps the practice team moving toward its goals.

Everything your practice team does needs to be tested against your vision. If the actions don't pass the test, there's no reason to pursue them.

Cross reference
A vision usually won't change unless there's a fundamental change in the business. If you become disabled, for example, then you'll likely have to revamp your vision to take into account your new circumstances.

3. Systems. You and your team members want to do more than create satisfied clients; you want to create advocates for the practice. To accomplish this goal, your team needs to create strong bonds with clients by establishing systems, such as billing and credit policies, that ensure great service. Ideally, your systems will be easy to learn, well understood by everyone on the team, and used consistently.