No practice, pet, or person has been untouched by the COVID-19 pandemic. Our profession has responded with a virtual transformation in the way we operate. In many ways, the changes we’ve made put us in a much better place than we were before. And every day brings us one step closer to full recovery and a return to normalcy.
Meanwhile, veterinary practices continue to face challenges – and not necessarily the same ones we saw at the start of the pandemic. Where many practices fought to keep their doors open in the early months of COVID-19, some of those same businesses later found themselves handling overflowing caseloads and capacity issues.
Fortunately, lessons we’ve learned in the pandemic can continue to guide us as we look toward the future. Many of the strategies and tools we’ve been using will serve us well as we continue to build resilient, successful, and thriving veterinary practices in a post-pandemic world.
3 Ps for business stability
So, what should practices be doing now? A good strategy for building business stability boils down to 3 Ps:
Productivity: Optimizing operations
Optimizing productivity is a critical concern for veterinary practices. Many practices are busier than ever – and while a surge in business is a good thing, it’s also introducing new pain points. One is simply managing demand. Add to that protective measures like social distancing, temperature checks, and health questionnaires, and it’s taking our teams longer to do normal day-to-day tasks.
With veterinary teams stretched thin and working harder than ever, we need processes that streamline operations and relieve some of the pressure. One place to start is to make sure you’re using your whole team efficiently. Veterinary technicians are critical and often underutilized members of our veterinary care teams. Here are tips to help you make full use of veterinary technicians in your practice, which can make both them and other team members more productive.
AVMA also has ready-to-use resources that make it easy to educate clients about new rules in your practice and what to expect when they come in for an appointment. Download these clinic signage and social media images to help get the message out.
Our practice management resources include more tools to help you simplify and streamline operations—from payroll and accounting to pricing and purchasing.
People: Supporting wellbeing at the organizational level
While key indicators suggest the veterinary sector will see a strong economic recovery from COVID-19, the challenges of the pandemic have created stress and increased burnout levels for many veterinary teams. Many of the same trends causing productivity challenges also can add stress. Our team members are delivering patient care at a supercharged pace during long and hectic workdays, and many also face additional challenges at home – like overseeing remote schooling, childcare, or caring for sick family members.
Now is a time to hyper-focus our efforts to improve team wellbeing. Leaders should be evaluating their workplace cultures and committing to make changes that focus on reducing stress, boosting job satisfaction, and fostering a healthy work-life integration for the whole team. One way to do that is by having open and honest conversations – with both our teams and our clients. Here are strategies to make sure you’re maintaining strong lines of communication.
Of course, there’s only so much we can control. Clients also are facing pandemic-related challenges, and stress levels run high across the board. This could impact client interactions with the veterinary care team, as tension and heightened emotions often go hand in hand. It’s important for team members to know that their leaders and colleagues have their back, even as we strive to show empathy to those who might be struggling around us.
Performance: Forward-thinking solutions to build business success
Whether we’re weathering an economic downturn or riding a wave of growth, innovation is a key component of financial stability. Since day one of the pandemic, veterinarians and our teams have showed agility, developing strategies to continue supporting patients and serving clients. Now, as we look toward the future, it’s crucial to bolster our practices for whatever lies ahead.
This continues to be a time to save as much as possible to protect and build the rainy-day fund. It’s also a good idea to assess your business strategy and make sure it aligns with the latest economic data and research. Use the data as a guide to implement new or improved programs and services that enhance patient care, build client relationships, and boost business success.
Tools to help build business
AVMA has many interactive tools to help. The Veterinary Industry Tracker shows you real-time veterinary data trends and comparisons, helping you monitor business activity across the profession and get benchmarks for comparison with your own veterinary practice. The tool is powered by a partnership between the AVMA and VetSuccess.
Our profit and loss calculator allows you to create a personalized profit and loss statement and compare it against other practices with similar staffing or revenue levels. This information can help you identify opportunities to change spending patterns, develop new revenue, optimize staffing, or make other improvements to increase profitability and stay competitive.
The veterinary workforce model projects future supply and demand for veterinarians and veterinary services in key categories. View nationwide industry trends, and drill down to your specific location, practice type, and areas of interest to discover the information most pertinent to you.
Explore our many other practice management tools to help guide forward-thinking business decisions that enhance your opportunities for success.
COVID-19 financial relief
If cash flow is a concern in your practice know that you’re not alone. And there are government relief programs that can help. These include:
Veterinarians should understand these programs and learn which options may be best for your individual circumstances. Maintaining cash flow during COVID-19 also provides insight to help optimize both the revenue and expense sides of practice.