Exploring Well-Managed Practices

Jan 01, 2005
By dvm360.com staff

Matching associates and practices is an ongoing challenge. How do you find an associate? What can you do to make your job offer attractive? What steps can you take to nurture an associate along his or her career path? How can you retain a long-term associate or potential owner?
   To answer those questions, Wutchiett Tumblin and Associates and Veterinary Economics developed the 2004 Well-Managed Practice Associate Management Guide, a resource to assist practice owners with hiring, training, evaluating, and compensating both long-term and soon-to-be-owner associates. The result is a study of how some of the best-managed practices in the United States are finding, retaining, and developing the profession's future leaders.
   One hundred small animal practice owners completed a detailed management questionnaire to provide this data. We focused on this group of high achievers so we could set benchmarks that show what's possible in practice. After all, you don't want to manage your practice to be average--you want to reach your potential.
   Several of the 15-year participants in The Well-Managed Practice Study reported this was the most challenging survey yet. Because this year's study was less statistical in nature, the questions required careful consideration about processes and perhaps a little soul-searching about what practice owners truly want. We think you'll agree the participants came through with flying colors with their thoughtful responses.
    As a possible counterpoint for select questions from each chapter, we conducted a separate survey of associates. Interestingly, in many cases the associates' responses were very similar, and in some cases identical, to the owners. However, there were differences of opinion. For example, the owners' perception of the amount of time they personally devote to training and mentoring new associates was almost double what the associates reported experiencing.
    We present the key study results in five chapters that focus on hiring, training and mentoring, compensation and benefits, preparing associates for management and ownership, and working with a long-term associate. In each section we give recommendations that can help boost your efforts to a new level, and where appropriate, we also include such tools as hiring protocols, job descriptions, evaluation tools, and doctor compensation guides to help you apply the data to your practice.
    Clearly, the practice owners surveyed for The Well-Managed Practice Study do a lot of things right. They put patients first and never lose sight of their mission to protect pets' health and well-being. They run their practices efficiently and have profit available to fairly compensate the veterinarians and owners and reinvest in technology and facilities. They feel enthusiasm for their work. They demonstrate respect for doctors and staff members. Leadership is visible through owners' energetic passion for life, appetite for learning, optimism, and focus. And they view their practice as a work in progress.
   We tapped the same group of doctors to develop the 2003 Well-Managed Practice Companion Animal Study, which focuses on financial management. Our three main objectives:
   

  • Track important financial indicators and share them with the profession.
  • Uncover trends that you face in practice.
  • Share management concepts that can help you practice better medicine, improve your standard of living, and increase money available to reinvest in your hospital.


  •    The chapters in this study focus on fees, revenue, expenses, and ownership transition. And again, we provide both the hard data and then recommendations for setting and hitting targeted financial goals for your practice. Plus you'll find a community survey, a management statement worksheet, a list of components included in a valuation report, and more.
        Finally, to address your most pressing management challenge in practice, we offer the Well-Managed Practice 2002 Employee Management Guide, which offers data and recommendations on strategic hiring, team training, evaluations and promotions, scheduling, compensation and benefits, and communication. Our goal here: To help you reduce management headaches and build a strong team.
       Your team members need you to be a strong leader, a mentor, and a well-respected employer. That means you need to find the inspiration to resolve the management challenges you face. If you do, everyone--including your patients, clients, and staff members--will reap the benefits.
        We believe this study can provide that kind of insight and inspiration--and we wish you our best as you tackle the challenges and explore the opportunities of practice.