Fatten up your revenue

Three income-plumping strategies more practices should be using.
Nov 01, 2007

There are occasions when you congratulate yourself for tightening your belt a notch or two—you've worked extra hard at the gym to work off those second and third helpings at the Thanksgiving table, for example. But looking at your practice's profit and loss statement is not a time to be feeling lean.When it comes to practice revenue, an ever-expanding bottom line is a good thing.

We tracked down a couple of practices that have hit on ways to keep their coffers full. They're the highest-priced hospitals in their communities, but their clients wouldn't think of going anywhere else. Why? Read on to find out. Then consider how you can implement these three strategies in your own hospital—whether you're the practice owner setting clinic policies, an associate looking to increase your production, or a manager responsible for tracking practice finances.

1. Find and hold on to the best team members

"The biggest difference between us and the guy down the road is our staff," says Dr. Brent Cook, co-owner of Kingsbrook Animal Hospital in Frederick, Md. "Clients come to us because they know Nora; they know Eileen."

Dr. Cook and his partner hire only licensed technicians, and they make a conscious effort to "let them be technicians, not animal restrainers," he says. Receptionists observe exams and

The bottom line
surgeries so they can speak with clients knowledgeably. And when a client comes in for an appointment, a team member hands that person

a business card. That team member is the client's contact for all communication with the hospital. "That way when they call, they can just ask for Nora instead of having to explain their pet's situation every time," Dr. Cook says.

Furthermore, when clients are facing a particular health challenge with a pet, the doctors select a team member who's been through a similar situation to talk to them about it. "Whether it's a cat urinating in the house, a splenic mass, or a tooth abscess, we see these things every day as doctors," Dr. Cook says. "But clients have never been through it before. If someone can say, 'I've been in your situation and I know it's difficult,' they feel much better."

Revenue review
In addition to superstar talent and a focus on empathy, the practice owners' attitude is key to a great team. Luanna George, LVT, hospital administrator at Orchard Park Veterinary Medical Center near Buffalo, N.Y., says her owners' thoughtfulness is one of the biggest factors affecting team loyalty. "The partners here are three of the kind-est people I've ever known, and they really do put the staff first," she says.

The result? Incredible staff longevity. One team member has been at the practice 40-plus years, and two others more than 30 years. Employees with a 10-year history at the hospital are not uncommon—George is one of them.

Now, while it's one thing for us to recommend that you find good team members, we know it's easier said than done for many practices. How do Kingsbrook and Orchard Park do it? "Many of our team members find us," Dr. Cook says. "They've heard about us and want to work for us."

Which brings us to the next point.