Every veterinary practice needs a strategy for long-term growth. Without one, your business runs the risk of becoming stagnant
and you're left at the mercy of guesswork, intuition, and trial and error—all of which can miss the mark. Long-range strategic
planning, however, can be overwhelming and full of economic theory and number crunching—until now.
In his best-selling book Winning (HarperBusiness 2005), Jack Welch, former chairman and CEO of GE, tells us that planning for long-term growth doesn't have
to be a scary process. Instead, look at it as having an "Aha!" idea and investing the resources to make it work. Here are
three simple steps to make sure your practice is paving the way for long-term success.
1. Unleash your creativity. First, come up with an idea—a smart, realistic, and relatively fast way to gain a sustainable competitive advantage. Have
a brainstorming session to identify potential needs of pet owners that you and your team could address. The possibilities
are endless, but here are a few suggestions to get you started:
> Is there a demand for a specialty service or a board-certified specialist on your staff—full-time or otherwise?
> Could you offer a unique service such as a drive-through window for pharmacy pickups or a pickup/drop-off service for clients
who live within a given radius of the hospital?
> Would your hospital benefit from a nighttime attendant for hospitalized pets? Or perhaps a team member who's fluent in more
than one language for clients with limited English proficiency?
2. Delegate, delegate, delegate. Now that you've got an idea, someone needs to take the reins and make it a reality. You have to have the right people in the
right jobs doing the right things at the right time. "The fact is," says Welch, "you get a lot more bang for your buck when
strategy and skills fit."
3. Don't be satisfied with the status quo. Be relentless in seeking out the best ways to achieve your goal and bring your idea to fruition. But don't stop there. Surround
yourself with team members who love to learn. Embrace change, adapt your plan, and continually make improvements over time.
"Strategy is unleashed," says Welch, "when you have a learning organization where people do everything better every day. You
can have the best big 'Aha!' in the world, but without this learning culture in place, any sustainable competitive advantage
will not last."
Veterinary Economics Editorial Advisory Board member Bob Levoy is the author of seven books, including 101 Secrets if a High Performance Veterinary Practice and 222 Secrets of Hiring, Managing, and Retaining Great Employees in Healthcare Practices.