It’s always our most popular content as it means you can get insights on what others are thinking, what you should focus on and get access to useful resources. Whilst you wait for the eBook, here’s what you can start planning for, where you can do some research and access some key tools to help you!
1. Budgeting and navigating the Cost of Living (CoL) crisis
Whilst budgeting is always something you’re thinking about and an annual exercise, the CoL across the globe has made it even more challenging. Our eBook has extracted some useful nuggets to help you think about budgeting better. See the excerpt on balancing budget when considering tools and technology:
Ian Ramsey (professor of small animal medicine at the University of Glasgow) encountered a budget-evaluation discussion with colleagues when discussing the “nice to have” diagnostic tools: which ones would provide pieces of the jigsaw (less expensive) and which ones would give the most comprehensive picture (more expensive). It was around balancing effectiveness and affordability, seeing it less as cutting corners.
“Whilst it can be frustrating knowing you can potentially do more with the expensive option, it’s vitally important to recognise that working to a tight budget is no less valuable and no less caring – you are still, very much, doing ‘a good job’. You are still helping the animal and its owner. Still, it is crucial to remember that you and your colleagues, armed with less diagnostic information than usual, are more likely to get it wrong. That is statistics, not a reflection on you, your knowledge or your abilities.”
2. Building commensurate revenue through insurance, credit options and pet-health plans
50% of people in our survey are for pet-health plans and the remaining 50% were indifferent, but here’s why it’s a hot trend and topic in the veterinary industry for 2023 and something you should still consider despite the split. Because its benefits are just too strong to ignore, especially, in the CoL when it offers a guaranteed revenue stream for veterinary practices and financial flexibility for customers. Here is yet another snippet from the eBook and all the pros:
- It establishes a good “norm” for the practice.
- It provides continuity of care as well as a guaranteed revenue stream.
- It builds better client “connection” and relationship-building. “Bonded” clients.
- It “educates” the client in the right way and reminds them of the importance of continuous pet-care.
- Provides a shared understanding of pet-care and increased compliance rates.
- Offers preventative health-care before becoming complex, untreatable or chronic conditions.
- Provides financial flexibility.
Many vets view it with animal-health care as a top priority:
“With pet-health plans, this increases the likelihood of optimal-health and means the patient will achieve maximum enjoyment and a long, comfortable, balanced life. Education is key and a plan to complete this is essential so pet owners understand their animal and veterinary requirements.” Survey participant, anonymous, October 2022
The Vet Times also reports on other channels such as credit options, providing financial freedom for veterinary practices and pet-parents. This is being used widely across Australia and becoming more common in the UK.
In addition, our upcoming 2023 eBook offers 5 tips of how to better communicate and offer affordability to your customers. Keep an eye out!
3. Mental health
This is a no-brainer, but this topic can never fall by the wayside at any point. It’s also encouraging to see that is has greater salience in the industry and beyond. Unsurprisingly, the majority of our participants in the survey selected this as being one of the top and continuous challenges in vet practices. The upcoming eBook consolidates all the mental health advice with key contributors from veterinary influencers, senior vets, veterinary recruiters, veterinary psychologists, HR consultants and more. Here’s an excerpt from Dr. Nadine Hamilton, psychologist, author and international speaker where she addresses how to deal with being overwhelmed.
“It’s two-fold here. There’s unrealistic expectations from others – the clients, colleagues, friends – just the expectation that you can fix everything. That you can perform miracles and things like fitting in another consult when you’re extremely exhausted. The pressures mount up. And then there’s pressures you might put on yourself. Many deal with imposter syndrome, not feeling good enough, trying to be perfect and so on. It’s a double-whammy.”
One of her highly recommended coping mechanisms and one that she always provides to her veterinary clients, is using Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT):
“If you’re going over and over in your head I should’ve said, this I should’ve done that, you just spiral, creating more stress for something that isn’t going to change. It isn’t useful or doesn’t change anything by wishing it was different. Being able to accept and acknowledge the reality of what is, is a big part of recovery and coping. It’s evidence-based and it works. It’s having the ability to deal with the demands of everyday life, there’s always something that we wish we could change, but having an acceptance or different perspective on it shifts things in a good way. It puts you in the signature of gratitude too.”
4. Training in the global vet shortage crisis
Much like mental health, training has an inextricable link to overall staff satisfaction and retention. A survey by OnSwitch in 2021 also revealed that 60% of small animal vets work overtime that is not compensated by time off, rewards or monetarily. And despite veterinary practices knowing they have to be agile and flexible with hours and shifts, staff should be compensated. Or they end up burned out, disgruntled, unhappy and leave the practice. This challenge comes of top of the fact that there’s fewer qualified vet staff available to hire! So this eBook talks about how you can increase their staying ability especially in light of the vet shortage crisis. Examples include the types of training you can carry out, how to fund it and the importance of regular performance reviews. See excerpt below:
In an interview with Kay Ritchie, a veterinary recruiter, in our Paws, Rewind and Play podcast, she emphasises that investment in training is a sign of respect and cultivates a much happier and productive workforce. This interview occurred in 2021 and hence comments on salary may not be relative to the current cost of living crisis, however comments on performance reviews, communication and reward are very relevant.
“Investment needs to be huge. Generally salary is not the reason people are motivated or changing roles. There’s an assumption that people want an increase. It’s more about the support and from a training perspective, and personal experience, we know that the appraisal side of things at clinics is not the best. Managers don’t give their staff the time that they need to tell them where the improvements need to be made, but more importantly- what they are doing really well. As an industry, we fall down bit, we don’t congratulate or motivate our staff enough.”
You may want to think about softer skills as well as clinical and medical skills:
- Communication skills
- Leadership skills
- Conflict management
- Mental health first-aid
- Team-work skills and collaboration
- Confidence (combatting things like imposter syndrome)
- Time-management (not from a clock-watching perspective but from a work-life balance perspective and more efficient use of time)
- Technology training (to encourage productivity and streamlining efforts to save time for everyone)
5. Technology and equipment
This is closely linked to trend number one! But in the context of budgeting and the CoL, our eBook provides advice on how to focus your strategy so you can direct your budget in the right ways, especially for things like equipment and technology which can seem expensive. In our survey, when asked about the key industry trends, a Clinical Director commented his practice would be:
“Focusing on a smaller number of procedures for higher cost, rather than high volume/low cost (because of staff shortages) and potentially doing more in-house work if clients cannot afford referral.”
This might mean the practice is more focused on investing in specialist equipment to carry out this in-house work. If another practice and their strategic focus is focused on say, building customer loyalty and encouraging repeat visits, they might want to invest in online booking and better customer marketing/communications, where investing in diagnostic tools take a backseat. It’s all about managing your priorities aligned with your strategy and soon our 2023 eBook will be able to help you. But in the meantime, you can also use our 2022 WorkBook to help you look at different areas of your practice and get the planning started right away!
To conclude, it’s always worth remembering, that whilst technology and equipment can appear expensive in the short-term, its long-term advantages often outweigh the initial cost and provide endless benefits and eventual return on investment. As highlighted by one of our key contributors, Dr Alex Hynes, senior vet, Director and Chief Client Officer at Animal Emergency Services:
“When you add up and what it can cost if you’re not doing things like efficient stock controls or hours of labour if you’re not utilising technology in the right ways, it’s a false sense of efficiency to skimp on technology or think you can work around it, which in the long run, can really just take more time and money away from you.”
Overall, we’re very excited to share our 2023 eBook with you and want to thank all of our survey participants and contributors to its findings, solid advice and inspiration that we can share with the industry.