Case study: A strategic planning conference for a veterinary practice

Case study: A strategic planning conference for a veterinary practice

Think you don't have time for strategic planning? Check out this case study, which shows how one practice used a year-end review to plan for next year's success. You just might find the time after all.
Dec 01, 2011

Lake Hope Veterinary Center (LHVC) is a seven-doctor practice co-owned by Drs. Linzell and Davis. The practice holds an annual two-day strategic planning conference, facilitated by a management consultant, in December at a local hotel and conference center. Attendees include the practice manager, the financial and compliance manager, the IT manager, and the reception and technician team leaders. One of the practice's associates, Dr. Rose, is on the partner track and participated for the first time this year. Here are the results from this year's conference.


The agenda

Here's an overview of the LHVC team meeting.

1. Review vision statement and mission statement and modify as necessary. Based on the discussions, the group decided to keep their existing vision statement and to modify their mission statement.

> Existing vision statement: "Happy, healthy pets and cheery, satisfied clients."

> New mission statement: "We preserve and protect our patients' health and nurture our client relationships."

2. Discuss the past year's accomplishments. Each segment of the management team presented a list of the group's achievements during 2011 (see "The accomplishments").

The operations
3. Review the practice's operations in 2011. The financial manager presented the annualized results of operations (see "The operations").

4. Perform a SWOT analysis. The group developed a list of LHVC's strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats (SWOT) and then developed goals and an action plan for 2012 based on their analysis. Together with the consultant, the group settled on the following:

GOAL 1: Update the LHVC operating and shareholder agreements.

> Drs. Linzell and Davis will review the existing agreements, which function as organizational documents that stipulate how the business will operate. They are reviewed every three to five years. Drs. Linzell and Davis have decided to review the agreements ahead of Dr. Rose's buy-in to make any necessary changes. They'll discuss possible changes on January 10, and again in 2014, when Dr. Rose buys in.

> Drs. Linzell and Davis will meet with their attorney on January 20 to discuss and seek input on the changes.

> The attorney will update the documents by March 15.

GOAL 2: Plan for Dr. Rose's buy-in with a target date of 2014.

> Continue to mentor Dr. Rose, discussing "Building blocks that create successful owners" and "Topics to discuss before becoming partners" from Benchmarks 2010: A Study of Well-Managed Practices (see

> Delegate responsibility for the practice's medical development plan to Dr. Rose (see "Always look ahead" below). Explain to her the responsibilities, resources available, and time necessary for this management project. Dr. Rose will receive 10 percent of the management fee, or $10,000, for her management responsibilities.

> Drs. Linzell, Davis, and Rose will attend the Veterinary Economics Progress in Practice valuation workshop at CVC Washington D.C. in April.

> Work with the practice's management consultant to identify opportunities to improve profit and value.

> Value the practice in December 2012 for planning purposes.

GOAL 3: Review and approve 2012 budget.

> Institute a fee increase of 3 percent on non-shopped services (projected revenue: $100,000).

> Recapture missed charges (projected revenue: $50,000).

> Focus on improved healthcare compliance in key areas of six-month exams, wellness lab work, fecal testing, and dentistry (projected revenue: $200,000).

> Add new services (see Goal 4) (projected revenue: $100,000).

> Reduce inventory cost (projected savings: $70,000).

> Reduce the amount of outsourced IT support (projected savings: $13,000).

> Offer pay increases to existing team members and hire two additional receptionists and two additional technicians (projected cost: $198,100).

GOAL 4: Add new services in 2012

> Add laser therapy (Dr. Rose).

> Add rehabilitation therapy (Dr. Davis).

> Add acupuncture (Dr. Linzell).

GOAL 5: Hold quarterly strategic planning conferences in 2012.

> Schedule one-day conferences in March, June, and September.

> Discuss progress with implementation of annual action plan.

> Modify annual action plan if necessary based on implementation results.

> Schedule the practice's next two-day annual conference in December.

What's the difference between a vision and mission statement?

A vision statement defines the way an organization looks to the future. Vision is a long-term view, sometimes describing how the organization would like the world to be. Example: "A world without poverty." A mission statement is a company's purpose. The mission guides the actions of the organization, spells out its overall goal, provides a path, and influences decision-making. It provides the framework within which the company's strategies are formulated. Example from Google: "We organize the world's information and make it universally accessible and useful."

Always look ahead

As a veterinary practice owner, you must ensure that all employees have the medical knowledge they need to work efficiently, effectively, and productively. Visit for a plan to help your team keep up with the times.