We Love A Good Distraction

Would you rather do anything than focus on the business side of your veterinary practice?

iStock/Andrew Genn

Admit it: You love a good distraction. Something that you can address quickly and easily that takes your focus off of the harder problems, or the ones that take more time, or the ones you don’t like. Maybe you don’t do it on purpose, but I’ll bet if you are honest with yourself, you will notice this happening multiple times each day.

It’s so much easier (and more pleasant) for you to do a lameness exam than to handle that conflict between the front desk receptionists. Or to drive to an extra call this evening rather than head back to the clinic in time to discuss inventory control issues with your office manager. It’s so much nicer to talk to your aggravated customer a little longer in the barn than to drive back to your office and the disarray that is your bookkeeping.

Distractions are Bad for Business!

It’s true that each of the scenarios mentioned above are part of your job…a lameness exam, the extra call that can put money on the books, dealing with a disgruntled client so your staff doesn’t have to. But often those decisions are based not on what is best for business, but on what is most comfortable for you in that moment.

There was a very good veterinarian who loved to practice equine veterinary medicine. He was an ambulatory vet who covered a lot of territory. He was good with horses and good with clients. The problem was he was that he was very bad at business.

Customers had to call him up to get billed…some didn’t get billed for nearly a year! His bookkeeping was in disarray, even after he hired someone to “keep the books and do the billing” for him. He didn’t transmit the information from each call to any sort of record system, so he often was trapped by his bookkeeper and tried to recall a week’s worth of farm visits and exams while under pressure. 

Needless to say, his business suffered.

If all you want to do is practice veterinary medicine, then go to work for someone else. Don’t do yourself, and your clients, the disservice of inattention to business details. That is “veterinary non-compliance” of the worse kind. 

Even if you are the best vet in the world, if you are disorganized in your business, your clients will lose respect for you. They see how you conduct the business portion of veterinary practice, and they take that as an indication of how you conduct your medical portion.

If you want to run a veterinary practice, then understand that the medical side is just one part of that practice. You have to do the rest to be successful. That includes personnel management, bookkeeping, taxes, inventory, federal and state regulation compliance, etc., etc., etc.

Business is not as much fun to most veterinarians as the medical side of practice…they just want to use their education and experience to make animals well, and keep them healthy. When offered continuing education, it is seldom that a vet will choose to go to “How To Understand Your Cash Flow Statement” over “New Treatments for Stifle Problems.”

Think of business education as vaccination for the health of your business. It might not be pleasant when administered, but it can keep you (and those around you) healthier. That’s the bottom line!

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