The Best HR Apps For Veterinary Practice

The Best Veterinary HR Apps

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Why Is Wage Such A Slippery Subject?

by Sheila Grosdidier, BS, RVT, MCP, PHR

“Because every time we talk about evaluations, the team believes that means a raise is going to be given.” I hear this often and offered in a heightened emotional delivery. What is it about talking to our team about their wage provides fuel to this incendiary topic? Here are 3 ways to tame those flames and make what your team takes home in a paycheck a positive, mutually beneficial to the practice and your people:

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  1. Don’t wait until it’s overdue or appears to be forgotten – As a de-motivating activity, there is little that can top not living up to expectations in the eyes of the team. Their manager told them that they would have their wage reviewed yearly and now it’s been 18 months without so much as a sticky note identifying a timeline for this discussion. Identify with your team solid dates for this discussion; make a scheduled appointment to demonstrate your commitment to assuring this important conversation will take place.
  2. Talk more often, not less – Part of the emotional connection to discussing wage with a team member is that it’s not a common occurrence. Team members often comment to me when I am in their veterinary practice that it’s taboo to talk about their wage among other team members, let alone with the manager or practice owner.
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    Fix this – meet with your team members on a quarterly basis and talk about performance, make the discussion about wage at a separate time. Yes, this sounds counterintuitive, why not talk performance and money together. It’s the pattern that you need to consider. Talking to a team member every few months for 10-15 minutes enables managers to establish rapport and connection with the employee and telling a team member their performance is noted, and likely appreciated. Add in the ability to coach and provide feedback and this becomes a recipe for effective and productive discussions. Now, when you talk about wage in a separate, but equally important meeting, the employee can see that their manager has a good understanding of their performance and it is tied to those prior discussions. Oh, I have to say it. Federal law prevents employers from disciplining employees from discussing wage. Just don’t go there.

  3. Plan it, don’t fake it. – The impact of increasing an employee’s wage is dramatically diminished (can I say erased?) when it’s seems to occur on the fly or after they request the consideration. Want to get the best impression to your team about how you consider their performance and look to stay competitive with wage? Use a compensation statement. This ultra-important tool allows you to outline clearly what an employee receives in total compensation, not just the wage. Identify their vacation time, continuing education, uniforms, discounted veterinary services (it was a crazy amount for me and my 9 cats), etc. Let them know that even if the wage isn’t at the top of the earning capability for other industries, there are some benefits to be proud to receive and value.


Yes, it takes some time and some energy to make this part of the culture of your practice, the return on that investment in team retention, satisfaction and performance makes it a better bet than almost any other stock. Put your stock in your team and watch the dividends grow.


To gain a full grasp of veterinary practice management skills and knowledge, check out one of VMC’s nationally acclaimed seminars. Attend one of our next Veterinary Practice Management seminars; Financial Boot Camp in Los Angeles on February 4th or the H.R. Boot Camp in Dallas on February 15thSeats are filling up quickly – register now!

Subscribe to Our Newsletter to Receive Valuable Veterinary Practice Management Expertise below:

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5 Veterinary Practice Time Savers

By Mark Opperman, CVPM

Are your team members always busy—or at least appear busy—yet the work isn’t getting done? Are you frustrated by team members’ frequent complaints that they don’t have time to get projects completed? The problem may lie in your inefficient systems and processes. Here are 5 ideas that will significantly improve efficiency in your veterinary practice.

  1. Go paperless

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    The day of paper medical records is gone—that type of system is a dinosaur! It’s long past time to make this change in your practice. Is it easy? No. Is it worth it? Yes! Every veterinary software company has a protocol you can follow to make the transition. Contact your software company to find out what you need to do to make this happen for your practice. I promise it’ll be one of the smarter things you’ve ever done to improve efficiency in your practice.


  1. Use templates
    Once the switch from paper medical records to electronic medical records has been accomplished, your next step is patient care templates. Many software systems already have templates. All you need to do is modify them for your practice. Imagine having a discharge order form already formatted so that all you have to do is fill in the blanks and check off the boxes. You can do the same for your outpatient exams, surgery log, anesthesia log, dental medical record and medical care plans just to name a few.


  1. Embrace technology
    Are there enough computer terminals in your practice, or do people often wait in line to use a terminal? Do you use writing tablets, iPads or other technology in the exam room to help you communicate with clients and improve efficiency? Might an additional credit card machine help your receptionists invoice clients faster, so that clients won’t have to wait. Today, technology needs to be updated every three years or so—some might even say sooner. A newer, faster computer or printer might be an easy way to pick up the pace in your practice.
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  1. Manage inventory with barcodes
    Many distributors and software companies will help you set up barcode scanning throughout your practice. Barcode scanning can be a thing of beauty when used correctly. It cuts down on a lot of inventory mistakes, ensures proper pricing and reduces the time needed for inventory management.


  1. Script your conversations
    When a client calls to ask about heartworm, feline leukemia or West Nile virus, how do your team members respond? Some receptionists and technicians may be clear and concise in their communication, while others suffer from what I call “verbal diarrhea.” The other question is, what are team members telling clients—and are they all saying the same thing? I strongly suggest practices develop written scripts for some of their most common communication topics. People don’t need to speak exactly from the script, but scripts help team members remember to cover the important points.

These are only 5 ideas to save time and to improve efficiency and profitability in your practice. Truth be told, they were pretty easy to come up with. Sometimes it’s the little things that can have the biggest impact—not enough phone lines, clients waiting to process credit cards because a phone line is busy, running between multiple printers for client receipts because they’re too slow. Take a look at your processes and talk to your team members—they are a great source of knowledge. Together, try to identify the areas where your practice is inefficient and start taking steps to improve upon those parts. The rewards can truly be great.

To gain a full grasp of veterinary practice management skills and knowledge, check out one of VMC’s nationally acclaimed seminars. Attend the next Veterinary Practice Management seminar; It’s What’s Up Front That Counts! in Memphis, Tennessee on January 17th, in Houston, Texas on February 21st or Long Beach, California on February 28th. Register now to attend!

 Subscribe to Our Newsletter to Receive Valuable Veterinary Practice Management Expertise below:


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Stop the Revolving Door at your Veterinary Practice

By Monica Dixon Perry, CVPM


Trying to keep clients is hard enough, but problematic employee turnover on top of that can be a nightmare. Here are a couple ways to retain employees.

How would you feel if your newly hired associate veterinarian resigned after only two weeks of employment? If you are an owner or manager involved with personnel management, you may find my comments don’t sit very well with you. But if you are experiencing high turnover, it is time for change on the personnel management front and that time is long overdue.

As a consultant at VMC, Inc., I speak on the importance of the steps one must take when recruiting, interviewing and attempting to retain employees. Still, not a week that goes by that I don’t hear from managers or owners looking for help because someone quit or has been terminated. I feel exhausted for those who have to repeatedly place ads, interview, hire and train employees.

Why is turnover so high in our industry?

Or, maybe I should ask, why do we still accept that turnover will be high and has to be commonplace in our industry? My plea to managers and owners is to put an end to this vicious cycle that has negatively influenced our profession. I see many practices struggling with low new-client numbers and volume while, at the same time, many others are experiencing off-the-chart growth. Although a number of factors can contribute to a practice’s success (marketing, location, reputation, etc.), I have discovered that the practices that struggle the most have what I refer to as a revolving door. They have receptionists running the front desk with less than one year of experience. Their technical members are not being leveraged and properly utilized because thorough training was not provided. Their kennel members often possess poor communication and customer service skills and their associate veterinarians feel underappreciated and are looking for a way out.

If we, as a profession, would invest just a fraction of the time that other industries do in recruiting and training, excessive turnover could become a thing of the past for veterinary medicine. Let’s stop simply trying to fill vacant positions with a warm body and do due diligence when preparing and placing ads. Job descriptions and training programs should be created and in place for all positions within the hospital. Reference checks, pre-employment drug tests and working interviews should be consistently performed and not optional. We have to be equally committed to hiring the best fits as we are to promoting preventative medicine. Don’t be the practice more committed to creating wellness plans than to reducing your turnover.

Show appreciation for your team members

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Too often I see owners and managers who aren’t showing appreciation for their team members. What does it take to say “thank you” and “you are appreciated” every now and again? What does it take to look at average pay scales for your area to make sure you are offering fair wages? What does it take to look at your benefits to make sure you are offering competitive packages? I have owners who wonder why they have problem employees when they are paying them minimum wage. The adage “you get what you pay for” is what immediately comes to mind. I have been extremely fortunate to work for two employers who truly value their employees, not only from a financial standpoint, but from an appreciation standpoint as well.

Employers need to see their team members as their biggest asset. I am still taken aback as to why some employees work for a company for 10 years or more and receive no paid vacation. If the desired outcome is to have the cream of the crop, then decisions should be made regarding what you, your clients, patients and existing team deserve. To you owners who have practice managers, hold them accountable and let them know that high turnover is no longer acceptable. To hire right, thoroughly train and retain should be the expectation with all employees. Your managers should be committed to this vision and not have a hit-or-miss approach. They need to keep employees motivated, engaged and challenged. If they are doing this consistently, I am convinced that high turnover no longer has to exist in our profession.

My hat goes off to the managers and owners who have gotten this right. With all the challenges that come with running and owning a business, high turnover is one challenge that is created unnecessarily. As the saying goes, you are only as good as your help. Make sure you are doing everything you can to cultivate the best.

To gain a full grasp of veterinary practice management skills and knowledge, check out one of VMC’s nationally acclaimed seminars. Attend the next Veterinary Practice Management seminar, Principles of Veterinary Practice Management in Virginia Beach, Virginia on January 6, 2016 or in Austin, Texas on March 16. Register now to attend!


 Subscribe to Our Newsletter to Receive Valuable Veterinary Practice Management Expertise below:

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Training Is Not A Pain! Excellent Answers to Your Toughest Team Training Questions

by Sheila Grosdidier, BS RVT


Veterinary Training

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Got questions about how to make training more successful? Here are some great answers to common questions:

“What should I do about my staff’s resistance to team training?”

Explain what’s in it for each individual and the entire team. Having several staff members able to perform the same tasks means better coverage when someone needs time off.

Management support, positive reinforcement, and participant feedback are integral to training success. Emphasize how training encourages discussion and new ideas, leading to better task management and greater cost efficiency.

“Having a new team member shadow another employee doesn’t really show how the job is done. How can new-hire training be improved?”

Use this proven teaching technique: See One, Do One, Teach One (SODOTO). Everyone will need to be open-minded to this experience so that team members learn the most they can from each other, and the teacher must be ready to explain the hows and whys of what’s being taught.

Here’s how it works. Each student will

  1. Observe the teacher performing a task.
  2. Take a turn in performing the task, repeating it until feeling confident in the new skill.
  3. Teach the task to another staff member.

For example, using the SODOTO method, a vet tech teaches front office staff—who’ll go on to teach another employee—about a pet medication that’s commonly prescribed for home use. In the process, the entire team learns how to communicate knowledgeably with pet owners about medications. This creates a connection between the clinic and the client.

Remember that to make this training effective, there must be structure and consistent feedback. Create a written protocol that employees can refer to as they learn during the SODOTO process. Also, consider recording your training sessions on video. Videos can be reviewed later for coaching purposes, providing an excellent way to assess individual and team performance.

“What do you do when you’re going over training repeatedly but no one is listening?”

Veterinary Training

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Periodically, it’s necessary to verify that the entire team understands topics that seem like common knowledge: basic safety measures, dispensing heart worm medication, flea protection options, etc. Here are some tips to enhance the training experience:

  • Make things lively with small groups, case-based presentations—even games. Creativity and variety make basic information more memorable, interesting, and easily assimilated.
  • Anticipate that some people learn best by doing, while others are verbal or visual learners.
  • Allow team members to focus. Ensure that they are relieved of tasks such as answering phones, and eliminate causes of distraction and interruptions. (Multiple small training sessions may be required.)
  • Additionally, consider teaching the staff specific listening techniques to enable more successful training.

“How can I incentivize team members for training?”

Use a game to introduce friendly competition among staff. Start with a monthly meeting to discuss a specific topic, having announced it at least two months in advance to give everyone time to prepare. In this game, each employee discusses the topic with as many clients as possible; the winner is the employee who receives the highest client compliance.

  • For each round, the practice arbitrarily chooses the characteristic that will determine which clients are to be approached—for example, those who have brown pets, are wearing green, or have overweight dogs.
  • The team should have a list of the practice’s services or products. (Make sure everyone understands them.)
  • Team members will need resources and reference material to effectively communicate the topic to clients. For example, if the topic is dental health, team members should have items such as before-and-after photos of dental cleanings; published information emphasizing dental care health benefits; and brochures about the services offered at the practice, such as dental x-rays and why they are important.

Prizes can include gift cards, time off, or a new book. Choose topics anticipating health awareness events or subjects such as how to clean dogs’ ears, understanding pet food labels, and the importance of preventive medicine. This game encourages teamwork and engagement while it educates pet owners, and your team members will feel confident about talking to clients regarding products and services.

To gain a full grasp of veterinary practice management skills and knowledge, check out one of VMC’s nationally acclaimed seminars. Attend the next Veterinary Practice Management seminar, It’s What’s Up Front That Counts! in Omaha, Nebraska on December 13, 2015. Register now to attend!

 Subscribe to Our Newsletter to Receive Valuable Veterinary Practice Management Expertise below:

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