Steps to Success

There is one constant among us all–we all want to be successful. But how do you define success? Is it growth? Profits? Productivity? Client results? Reducing risks? Improving services? All of these answers point to a measure of success, but the ones that are most important to you differentiate your equine practice. 

You learned that you need to measure your success and communicate these results to improve the practice. But, do you know what to measure to give you the results you need?

Step 1: Define your goals and be sure your team understands them.Make the goals challenging, but achievable. Set expectations so employees know their role for reaching these objectives. If your staff doesn’t know where the practice is heading, they won’t know how to help.

Step 2: Once your goals are set, determine the metrics you want to use to measure the performance of your practice and your team.

Here are a few examples:

Goal: Inspire and motivate employees and/or improve efficiency

Measure: Management effectiveness. A person in a position of power is responsible for creating an environment where people feel safe to share feedback, which many practices need to improve. Employees are not going to speak up if they feel they are going to be punished. Think about it like a horse. A nervous horse isn’t going to relax around an anxious or jumpy handler. A nervous horse also isn’t going to perform well. If you, as a leader, exhibit those same qualities, your people will likely pick up on this and mirror those behaviors. Your actions can either inspire or demotivate a team. Get an accurate assessment of how you are perceived based on feedback from others. Put together a development plan to address two or three specific behaviors to improve.

Goal: Decrease employee turnover

Measure: The results of your recruitment efforts. The success of your practice goes beyond treating horses. No matter what you define as success, improving your equine practice depends on having the right processes, protocols, products and people in place to make it happen. Become more aware. Are employees performing well together? Are they staying for the long term? Recruit wisely. Ask employees what makes them want to work for your practice. Ask them why they are leaving.

Goal: Create a competitive advantage

Measure: Understand your strengths and weaknesses. Help your team look at the advantages and disadvantages of your decisions–whether it’s how you communicated with a horse owner or how you handled a conflict between an office manager and technician. Make sure you are asking them questions instead of giving all the answers. If the group is trying to understand an issue, discuss the issue. Know the facts. Agree on what to do next. Brainstorm ideas for how to best resolve the challenges. Your staff can help provide you with the information you need to make good long-term decisions for the practice.

Goal: Increase customer base or loyalty

Measure: Customer satisfaction. Why do your customers keep coming back? What do they like about your practice? How they are treated by your staff? Keep in mind the many factors that influence customers. If you learn to engage your employees, you’re collaborating more with them. You are better understanding of what’s going on. When engagement improves, chances are you are going to come up with a better diagnosis, a better treatment and improve relationships internally and externally.

Rodney Jackson, author of this article, is a leadership coach and consultant for PeopleFirst from Zoetis. He works with veterinarians, equine business owners, pork and cattle producers, and ranch and farm retailers to meet their human resources, training, development and leadership needs. PeopleFirst is the industry’s first comprehensive human capital and business management solutions program. These services were created in direct response to challenges customers expressed with managing today’s complex agricultural businesses. For more information about building your team, contact Rodney or your local Zoetis representative, or visit

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