Saturday hours are something of a tradition; 77 percent of practices that open on Saturdays have maintained weekend hours for more than 10 years, according to the 2005 Veterinary Economics Business Practices Study. Ninety-one percent have offered Saturday hours for at least six years. But there is one bright spot: Almost half of weekend workers keep it to half a day or less on Saturday.
Still, there are clear downsides to working on weekends. Here's how one practitioner summed up the problem: "It's not fun to be here on Saturday. And when they can, clients put off medical problems until Saturday when staffing is minimal. 'She was getting sick on Monday, so we watched her Tuesday, and she was getting worse,' the client says. 'By Wednesday she was really sick, so Thursday we called for an appointment. Yesterday I only worked a half-day and golfed 18 holes in the afternoon and hoped that she'd make it until today, Saturday. So you can see, she's pretty sick now.'
Figure 1: How many hours are you putting in?
"I also lose money on cases seen on Saturday, because we're rushed and overlook work and charges. Finally, my staff doesn't want to work on Saturdays.
What your colleagues say
"We went Monday-to-Friday about 15 years ago. The change has meant less turnover. We took no loss in income and lost only a few clients—mostly people we were glad to lose. Besides, plumbers, electricians, appliance repair people, dentists, physicians, insurance agents, and government workers don't work on Saturdays! Why should we?"
Figure 2: Exploring your options
This doctor isn't alone in thinking the price is too high. A solo practitioner with 30 years in practice says, "It's my time to be closed on Saturday." And another respondent explains, "I need time for management chores, and I'd like some personal and family time after 20 years in practice."
Possible influences on profitability
No surprise, team members don't enjoy working weekends, either. And 40 percent of doctors with Saturday hours say the biggest challenge is nonveterinary staffing. Understandably, owners seem to be trying to manage this challenge by scheduling fewer people.