Your Veterinary Voice episode 6: Meet Brian Conrad, CVPM
It's almost a constant refrain among the editors here at dvm360.com: How best do we combine medicine and business?
Because—we're about to get real here, folks!—it's not always easy. We talk to clinicians all day long who aren't very interested in the business side of things. Then there's the staff and client drama we know is happening at veterinary practices across the country, getting in the way of the goal of conducting the best medical care for pets.
Which is precisely why we wanted a podcast episode with a CVPM who just .... gets it. Brian Conrad is that guy—he's an innovator who isn't afraid to admit his mistakes. He's a leader (and president of the Veterinary Hospital Managers Association, NBD) who takes more pride in inspiring other young managers than spending time talking about himself. And he's a devoted father who struggles with life balance issues like everyone else in this industry.
Business Channel Director Brendan Howard and Brian Conrad have known each other for years, and it shows. It's an honest conversation about the state of veterinary management, medicine and what the future will bring. And we're happy to share.
Short on time? Check out these talking points.
At 5:10, Brendan talks to Brian about his "next big thing" mentality—he's always pushing his practice to the new and innovative, and meanwhile treating his staff like well-loved chefs in his test kitchen of a practice. He and his owners want to elevate the level of medicine they practice. We think sometimes the most effective leaders are young, green and right under your nose—which was certainly the case with Brian.
At 7 :05 Brian mentions how important technology is to his practice. (They offer free WiFi, for instance—the password? "Bow wow meow." Awww!) Check out these 4 tools to connect with pet owners in your own right.
At 12:10 the conversation turns to tech failures. In an effort to appeal to clients from a tech perspective, Brian admits one of his biggest failures—remember those giant tablet things from 10 years ago? Yeah, he spent $10,000 on them. Oops. But hey, it's good to try new things! Check out more failures behind your hospital's lack of new ideas.
At 14:35 Brian talks about pushing his practice toward creative, innovative technology and client service solutions. He thinks of himself as a dreamer who wants "champagne on a beer budget." Here are a few quick tips to spark entrepreneurial, creative thinking in your own practice.
At 17:20, Brian talks about how he was the youngest person to accomplish the CVPM designation (until he was recently beat out by a fellow board member of the Veterinary Hospital Manager's Association). See, kids? Being a young manager is possible. Here's a similar story from the Practice Manager of the Year contest.
At 21:05 Brian discusses the need for more CVPMs. If you're a DVM considering this, check out this article. And if you're a team member, go here for more information on whether certification is worth it for you.
At 24:00 Brendan mentions how most money talks in veterinary practice are done indirectly—for instance, a practice owner might not come out and say directly to the manager, "Your job is to make this practice profitable." Brian agrees, noting that many owners would rather focus on medicine, letting the manager take care of problems, namely, staff or client-related issues. And then the profit is forgotten. Is your practice profitable? If you're not sure, try these tips.
At 27:16 the conversation shifts to matters of life balance, which has been a hot-button issue for the veterinary industry recently. Brian admits struggling with making time for his daughter and … making sure to get his articles for dvm360 done on time. (Geez, Brendan! Cut the guy some slack!) All kidding aside, Brian agrees that finding a balance between family and work is high on his priority list. For data on career, family and happiness, go here.
Finally, Brendan asks Brian what has him fearful of the future for veterinary medicine. At 33:45, Brian brings up pharmacies, specifically, big-box stores' pharmacies handling pet medicine and the threat that poses on veterinary practices. His advice? Quit your whining. Sure, he doesn't support them either. But it's all about making the customer happy. The manager plays a key role here—he or she has got to push to be just as innovative at serving the needs of the customer. For ideas on how to do that, go here and here.