Put pounds on your veterinary practice—in a good way

Put pounds on your veterinary practice—in a good way

Create a fit, toned hospital that won't run out of steam before you reach your goal. Use advice from "The Biggest Gainer" coaches and participants to shape up the financial health of your practice and reach your best in fiscal fitness.
Apr 01, 2013

Shawn McVey
You've probably seen or at least heard of the NBC television show The Biggest Loser, in which fitness gurus give contestants the tools and motivation to fight their lifelong battle with weight loss and fitness. "The Biggest Gainer" program (sponsored by Idexx, Merial, Midwest Veterinary Supply, and Purina) is the financial fitness version of this program in veterinary medicine. But instead of practitioners looking to shed a few pounds, I focus on practices engaged in a fight to get—and stay—profitable.

And like dieters struggling with a personal fitness regime, these practice owners often set themselves up to fail at their goals by sabotaging their own potential. A dieter can ruin the best-laid plans by keeping unhealthy food in the kitchen, not planning time for workouts, not getting the support of other dieters, and failing to measure the small achievements that result in long-term change. All of these symptoms apply to practices if getting fit means improving financial and compliance behavior in the practice.

That's where "The Biggest Gainer" comes in. It's a focused, four-month program with the goal of taking back sales from big-box retailers and online pharmacies, improving client compliance, and boosting practices' bottom line.

Now let's dig into some of the advice I offered practitioners in the program to launch them into new realms of financial health.

Get off the couch

First, we focused on helping practice owners and team members stop the cycle of denial and understand that they are their own biggest barriers to success. This is just like The Biggest Loser, when the trainers sit the overweight contestants down in a room and tell them, "Your life is going to be forever different." Today, you take control of your business.

Now I know what you're thinking. I've heard the responses before: "We're too small to compete against big-box retailers. The clients won't pay what we have to charge. It's too hard to get everyone on the team to focus on this because veterinary employees don't want to feel like they're salespeople."

Your team members want to feel like they're animal healthcare providers and don't understand how to overcome the barrier to become educators and accept sales as part of the job.

My response: Every practice that participated in "The Biggest Gainer" program that focused on a specific sales or compliance area saw an increase of 100 percent to 1,000 percent in compliance. A lot of their fears about becoming salespeople weren't realized. This wasn't expert salesmanship as much as focused attention on education and a team-wide interest in providing an important new or pre-existing service to clients and their pets.