Benchmarks and financial monitoring are more important than ever when the numbers are down. Rhonda Eyman, PhD, CVPM, recently wrote about financial software in the latest edition of the Veterinary Hospital Managers Association newsletter. Here are the highlights:
1. Know your software—and your boss. Familiarize yourself with your program's reporting functions and capabilities. And don't forget to ask the practice owner what he or she wants to see; tailor your chart of accounts to reflect this.
2. Know your benchmarks. Always measure your numbers against industry standards. That way you'll know when your visits aren't matching up to high-performing hospitals or when your expenses are consuming too large a percentage of revenue. Using set percentages as benchmarks makes it easier to identify areas for improvement. (Suggestion: You can compare yourself to Benchmarks 2009: A Study of Well-Managed Practices.)
3. Know your numbers. Don't just rely on the practice software to spit out what you need. Tailor the reports. For example: Take your income and expense data and create a monthly spreadsheet with your numbers and comparable industry benchmarks. This "dashboard" shows whether your practice is running at high speed or stalling. You'll see budgeting problems and weak areas, and you'll be building data for year-to-year comparisons over time.
If you need a little guidance in short-range changes and long-term planning, get back to the ol' monitor and keyboard. You won't be sorry.