YOUR FACILITY IS THE FIRST AND LAST thing clients see when they visit your practice. Imagine their impression if your hospital
feels cramped. Do they stand in the waiting room, shuffling side to side as clients and animals sidestep their toes? Do they
wait longer than they need to because there aren't enough exam rooms available? If your growing practice has your facility
splitting at the seams, it's time to make a change.
Expanding or remodeling your facility is one way to accommodate growth and help increase your revenue. And more than a third
of the practices surveyed for the 2005 Well-Managed Practice Study are planning facility renovations or new buildings. But
building a bigger and better facility isn't the only way to grow. Consider these options before you think about knocking down
the walls. Then decide whether major reconstruction is the remedy for your cramped conditions.
Increasing hours and adding appointments
If you're short on funds for remodeling, renovating, or relocating, consider extending your hours and scheduling in more appointments.
One caution with this approach: Make sure you're adding client activity—not just stretching out appointment times or creating
gaps in the workday.
Answer these questions to determine whether you have excess or untapped client demand: Are appointments booked two to three
weeks out? Do you frequently ask clients to admit their pets for the day because you don't have appointment times available?
Do your front-office staff members routinely squeeze extra appointments in to satisfy patients' needs—causing the doctors
to run late? If you answered yes, then this strategy might be right for you.
Adding staff members
To extend your hours and add appointments, you may need a boost in staffing support. Then again, maybe you're already pushing
your staffing coverage to the limits.
Do you delay necessary medical services like radiographs or laboratory testing because you don't have enough time to complete
the diagnostics? Does necessary medical care fall through the cracks because everyone on the team's too busy to think about
making the recommendation and educating the client? These situations could indicate a need for additional doctors and/or staff
members. And with the additional help, you'd grow practice revenue and use your existing space better.
Maximizing your current space
You may find physical ways to use your space more efficiently, too. Look at the layout of your practice. Do you see opportunities
to take back areas that have been overtaken? For example, is file storage consuming too much room? Decide what you really
need on-site and move the rest to an off-site location. Maybe you could recover enough square footage to add that extra exam
room without any major renovations.
Revamping your facility
Of course, sometimes the space needs remodeling or an addition to make it usable. Dr. Bill Skaer and his daughter Dr. Christen
Skaer of Skaer Veterinary Clinic in Wichita, Kan., realized that if they limited boarding, they'd create enough space to add
a fifth exam room. With the improved client flow and efficiency, as well as the potential to add client services, the fifth
exam room would generate more revenue than the boarding cages.
Figure 1 Funding an expansion