Dr. Jim Guenther, MBA, CVPM, co-owner of Strategic Veterinary Consulting in Asheville, N.C.
The best business advice I ever got was to take a Dale Carnegie course, which teaches you how to make friends and influence people. It’s everything you ever wanted to know about client service in a 12-week course. It teaches you how to be a good person, how to listen, how to get people to talk, and how to be at ease throughout.
Dr. Ernest Ward Jr., owner of Seaside Animal Care in Calabash, N.C.
My father gave me two great pieces of advice. First, he taught me to run my business like I’m selling my business. My father was an old-school entrepreneur. He’d start or buy a business, build it or fail, and then move on to the next challenge. My father isn’t much for words, but when he spoke, he chose his words carefully. He instilled in me the belief that if you run your business as carefully and profitably as possible, you maintain focus and maximize opportunities. Too many practice owners adopt an “I’ll work on that later” philosophy. Before long the practice is poorly profitable, has high staff turnover and low morale, and palpable workplace tension.
My father told me, “You don’t try to sell a dirty car. You clean and polish it, patch up all the holes, make sure it’s in good working order, and then sell it.” Needless to say, my father drives a clean car. And when it came time to trade in, you know the rest of the story.
My dad’s second piece of advice was, “Leave it better than you found it.” Regardless of what you’re confronting, an overarching principle should be the desire to make it better. Take the time to give back to your family, your community, and your profession. Each of us possesses skills that can benefit others. Find out how you can contribute and do it. You’ll understand just how true the saying “you get what you give” really is.
Dr. Jim Kramer, CVPM, owner of Columbus Animal Hospital in
My father started his veterinary practice in 1951 and worked until he died in a car crash in 1984. The best advice he gave me was, “If what you’re doing isn’t working, do something differently.” That’s true wisdom and it has stood me well.
Dr. Dennis Cloud, owner of Rock Road Animal Hospital in
St. Louis, Mo.
Three things come to mind. From my dad, “The most important thing you have to sell is trust.” From my uncle, “The harder you work, the luckier you get.” And from my first boss, “If in doubt, do it.”
Dr. Fred Metzger, DABVP, owner of Metzger Animal Hospital in
State College, Pa.
Don’t hire family or friends.
Dr. Craig Woloshyn, owner of Sun Dog Veterinary Consulting in
Spring Hill, Fla.
The best business advice I ever received was from my mentor, J.K. Hicks, who told me when I was planning my first clinic, “Don’t buy too much stuff!” Today we’d say, “Do your homework and be certain your major purchases will be profitable for the business.” We are seeing practices in serious financial trouble because they have too much debt, much of which supports equipment that loses them money every day. As much as we love our jobs, our clinics are still businesses, not hobbies, and to be successful we have to run them that way.
Dr. W. Andrew Rollo, associate at Madison Veterinary Hospital in Madison Heights, Mich.
Sell high and buy low! When times are tough and business is down, that’s usually the best time to find opportunities to grow and improve. We just need some creativity and ingenuity to come back even stronger.