5 ideas and top tips for Practice Managers

Improve your clinical outcomes and operational success at the practice for 2023

By Kim Lam

23 March 2023 6 min read


If you’re a Practice Manager, kudos to you as the multiple hat-wearer you are! It’s a job that requires strong leadership, excellent project management skills, a knack for developing solid relationships amongst staff and clients alike; as well as managing both clinical and non-clinical matters.

This article aims to provide you with the top tips and best practices for veterinary Practice Managers. When it comes to delivering excellence, there are key areas that a Practice Manager typically assumes responsibility for:

  • Overseeing the day-to-day operations whilst being involved in the future development of the practice.
  • Working alongside the Client Director or acting in the main role of managing client relationships.
  • Ensuring client-facing teams and receptionists are providing excellent professional service.
  • Owning the veterinary Practice Management System (PMS).
  • Managing the support team, finances, client complaints, people/line management, and H&S on-premises.
  • Involvement in staff recruitment and overseeing staff inductions and onboarding. Includes probation reviews, appraisals and staff wellbeing.
  • Facilitate and improve client footfall/relationships and improve acquisition/loyalty.
  • Monitor and support accounts/payroll and banking.
  • Production of key business reports and practice strategy.

With all of this in mind, it’s a lot of responsibility and things to be in charge of. Here are five top tips for Practice Managers to achieve quick wins alongside longer-term returns.

1. Optimise your communication channels with customers and use automated reminders

In your current Practice Management System (PMS), there should be an option that allows you to facilitate automated communications. Whether this is to promote your services through a newsletter, add self-serve appointment bookings on your website or provide easier client marketing, you should speak to your current PMS provider and get a sense of which features and training your teams can better utilise for improved communications.

For example, see how our client Broadford Vets supports their own customers every step of the way.

2. Get on top of missed charges and claim back up to $100,000 in revenue per annum!

Since a Practice Manager is usually responsible for practice reporting and identifying key opportunities when it comes to billing and accounting, missed charges are an obvious area to review. It’s easier than you think to tackle or spot any non-compliance and gaps in the charging process. In our Missed charges article, we show just one way of more efficient and effective billing through the ‘Estimates’ function in Ascend, our cloud-based practice management system. However, there are multiple ways you can plug the gap, such as better performance and reporting dashboards.

As a practice Manager, you should familiarise yourself with the key reporting functionality within your PMS. This will allow you to identify chargeable opportunities and business growth opportunities. You can also ask your PMS provider how to use key KPIs to better manage the practice and strive for the right goals. 

3. Get better at planning and don’t be afraid to raise your prices

As a Practice Manager, there’s no doubt you’re strategically involved in decisions on how to position the practice, along with who you’re targeting, what services you’ll offer, and defining and setting what the goals are. In this manner, it’s really important to plan better. Although this sounds simple, because of all the various storms from COVID-19 to the current Cost of Living (CoL) crisis, many practices have been stuck in firefighting mode and continue to be.

In our interview with Gemma Barmby on our Paws, Rewind and Play podcast, we discuss why it’s important to be “on your business” and not in it. Along with key tips, such as, not being afraid to raise your prices in order to tackle the CoL and stay “on the black side of the line” in your accounting. It’s an interesting episode which also reminds veterinary practitioners and practice managers to reframe their relationship with the word “profit” too so that it’s not viewed as a dirty word.

Veterinary practices and the industry are inherently compassionate. When it comes to commercial matters and doing things like raising prices in order to survive or to maintain customer loyalty, decision-making can be fragile. Practice Managers can strengthen their commercial astuteness through better planning and foresight.

4. Train, train, train

A large part of the Practice Manager’s role is involved in elements of people management. This includes hiring, training and management of staff. This can be around staff rota, coordinating performance reviews, reviewing salaries and benefits, as well as being responsible for Continuing Professional Development (CPD). Since there’s also a mandatory requirement for staff to achieve a certain level of CPD points too, it makes sense to ensure both the Practice Manager is fully trained in the right ways for delivering high-performance. It’s astonishing to discover just how many powerful features and functionality are being underutilised at a business!

Covetrus company Crampton Consulting Group (CCG) offer a suite of training options, including their Practice Management School program. The program is available online and in-person covering leadership fundamentals, managing people, marketing for results, retaining people and improving practice profitability. Perfect for new or aspiring practice managers!

Training also indicates that the practice is investing in its staff and employees. This has a large impact on staff satisfaction, morale, motivation and performance. Due to the global veterinary shortage and mental health issues in the industry, Practice Managers must stay vigilant for staff training opportunities. Our interview with Kay Ritchie, a Veterinary Recruiter, on our Pays, Rewind and Play podcast demonstrates some good examples of the importance of performance reviews and using those to identify training opportunities.

5. Invest in your veterinary practice brand and critical marketing efforts

In our Paws, Rewind and Play episode with Ian Shapland, Co-Founder of VetDigital, we explore the importance of brand equity and combatting the myth that marketing is solely about flyers and advertising. Practice Managers can leverage branding, community marketing, and value proposition work to establish their identity and inform strategic decisions.

Ian’s interview highlights that investments in marketing can uncover opportunities, address global vet shortages, and help tackle the CoL crisis. Our final top tip for Practice Managers is that they must invest in suitable policies, processes, tools, and technology. They should ensure that all business aspects embody values and planning from the strategic stage.

If you are interested in other tips and improving your practice outcomes this year, see our 2023 top trends content here.