Editor’s Note: This column is adapted for reprint with permission from Deborah Reeder, RVT. It originally appeared in the Intervet PIP (Partners in Practice) newsletter.
When business is down, the natural response is to look for ways to cut expenses and offset revenue loss. It’s a matter of simple math: When you look at the bottom line, you want to end up with a profit.
While cutting expenses is a critical part of having a recession-proof plan, there is concern that some practices may start laying employees off without fully evaluating the lasting effects that decision will have on future business. Too often, those employees are technicians.
Layoffs during a time of economic hardships may be a quick fix, but letting go of your technicians may end up costing you more than you would have spent by keeping them. The amount of money you may feel you are saving by eliminating a technician goes far beyond his or her wage or salary—into the thousands-of-dollars range to rehire and retrain that technician’s replacement when the practice survives the economic slowdown and is ready to gear up again.
Before rendering staff salaries as unnecessary liabilities, consider the cost-cutting and revenue boosting benefits of hiring—and keeping—a technician on staff.
Technicians’ knowledge of pharmaceuticals, services provided and workflow make them perfect candidates to regulate and manage inventory. Put them in charge of entering data and keeping a record of appointments and you’ll see savings and a decrease in missed charges. Encourage them to look for areas of excess within the practice—they can suggest ways to streamline outdated processes to improve efficiency, create value and provide better service to clients.
Pat LeBlanc, DVM, of Michigan State University, says that technicians free up the practitioner’s time so that the latter can provide complete care and see more patients per day. Jamie DeFazio, LVT, of the New Bolton Center in Pennsylvania, agrees. “While the technician is doing bloodwork or getting vaccines, the veterinarian can be filling out a coggins form or performing a physical,” she says. We estimate that utilizing technicians well can generate an additional several hundred dollars a day by saving practitioners time and allowing them to perform additional services or see that additional appointment, for which they can charge.
Building and solidifying client relationships are integral parts of a successful practice, and an area where technicians prove to be invaluable. Your staff is your “brand” and good technicians can help set your practice apart in their client service and client relations.
The technician can build rapport with clients and earn their trust, setting them up for a lasting relationship with the practice. If you have loyalty, and if you’ve got trust, then you have a client base that’s going to keep coming back.
Remember, while it may be tempting to react and see a quick fix as a solution, technicians are a valuable resource and can make the difference in your client service. And the ability to provide exemplary client service may be the difference that enables a practice to survive this economic period. A slow time is often the best time to invest in education and training, and to cultivate client loyalty by offering client education seminars. “It may be worthwhile for practices to look at the technician’s salary and compare it against the added income they are able to generate because of [that employee’s] presence,” says Reeder. “They may have to give a little bit up front, but the profit they will see in return for the investment in that employee may be substantial.”
To learn more about the AAEVT, its upcoming meetings, educational resources or other information, visit www.aaevt.org.