Maximising EOFY success: setting SMART goals for your veterinary practice

With expert insights from Paolo Lencioni, Director & Senior Accountant at APL Accountants and Profit Diagnostix

9 May 2024 5 min read


Goal setting for your veterinary practice is an ongoing process. Usually, it is not a "one and done" task (if you frowned at this line, keep reading!)

Many practices are aware that goal-setting is a must but once set, it often collects dust. Due to the chaotic nature of veterinary operations and the general busyness of a practice—strategic efforts, management, and monitoring often fall by the wayside.

You find yourself working in your business and handling things on a day-to-day basis, however as Gemma Barmby, a business consultant whom we interviewed last year, kindly reminded us, planning and forecasting are crucial:

“Scrape out the time to focus on the bigger picture, it’s no longer sustainable to keep being pulled into ad-hoc tasks, emergencies, and type tasks—the cycle will just repeat itself if it isn’t disrupted.”

This is particularly true regarding the upcoming End of Financial Year (EOFY) requirements. This period isn’t just about wrapping up financial transactions; it’s an opportune moment to reflect on the practice’s performance, set new goals, and chart a course for future success.


Understanding the significance of EOFY for veterinary practices

For practice owners and managers, leveraging this period effectively can lay the groundwork for sustainable growth and success. Here’s why EOFY matters:

Financial evaluation: conducting a thorough financial review at the end of the year allows veterinary practices to assess revenue, expenses, profitability, and cash flow. By analysing these metrics, practice owners can identify areas of strength and pinpoint areas that require improvement. Paolo Lencioni profit diagnostix APL accountants

Paolo Lencioni (a former veterinary surgeon, turned accountant) provides wise advice on preparing for EOFY and how to be prepared for the new financial year:

“As an accounting firm, we make sure all our veterinary clients have ‘tax planning’ meetings 2-3 months before the end of the financial year. Surprisingly, less than 20% of accounting firms offer this. Because business owners are often higher net earners than average, by not doing this process, tens of thousands of dollars in tax minimisation will be missed. With 3 quarters of the year completed, your accountant can predict how much taxable PROFIT your business is likely to have, as well as profit from any other investments like investment properties. You can then use this to pay larger dividends or salaries, distribute income, reinvest etc.”

Tax optimisation: proactive tax planning before the end of the financial year can result in significant cost savings for veterinary practices. By leveraging tax deductions, credits, and incentives, practices can optimise their tax position and maximise their financial resources.

Strategic planning: setting aside dedicated time at the end of the financial year for strategic planning enables veterinary practices to establish SMART goals and initiatives for the upcoming year. Whether it’s expanding services, enhancing marketing efforts, or investing in staff development, strategic planning sets the trajectory for growth.

Performance analysis: examining key performance indicators (KPIs) such as client retention rates, average transaction value, and appointment scheduling efficiency provides valuable insights into practice performance. Identifying trends and patterns allows practices to make data-driven decisions and implement targeted improvements.

Your teams can also align goal-setting to tackle the three major challenges outlined in our latest eBook “Top Industry Trends to Watch in 2024 and Beyond,” which include:

  • Navigating the economic conditions and cost of living
  • Finding solutions around the global veterinary shortage and staff recruitment/retention
  • Managing staff burnout and mental health

Or simply, your veterinary practice goals may simply be aligned with your own unique set of values or challenges, for example, if you’re a start up, it might be about staff recruitment and new client acquisition. Alternatively, start with your weaknesses:

Lencioni reminds us:

“As you approach the end of the year, it’s a good time to review areas where your business may have underperformed, for example, has your practice been doing fewer dentals than the average practice per full time vet? Having an idea of these weaknesses in advance can then allow you to prepare key strategies in advance of the next financial year so that you can hit the ground running rather than only starting the planning process as the year starts.”

Naturally, it’s easy to be vague about goals such as “we aim to increase the number of new client bookings by 20% by the end of the year,” which appears to be specific but let’s dive into how this could be smarter.


Setting SMART goals for success and banishing generic mediocrity

We’re sure you’ve heard of SMART goals, but here’s a reminder of what they are: Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, and Time-bound.

Taking the example above, it also requires an examination of your past performance in order to see where your benchmark is and where you want to go. So, instead of saying “increase bookings by 20%” which is quite vague and generic, break it down.

Let’s say your average number of bookings or appointments is already 35 per day, but you want to increase this to 38 per day (+3). That’s 15 extra appointments per week or over a five-day period. And potentially a significant increase in revenue. Specificity and clarity are important, and it must be time-bound. Here’s how your goal will become more SMART:

“Ensure there are at least 50 extra appointments booked by the end of each month and to reach this within the next six months to equal x% in increased revenue by the end of the year.” (15 x 4 = 60 per month, but we shaved off 10 appointments to try and keep this realistic and achievable.) 

This sets a new standard and provides you with a quantifiable goal that can be monitored and measured. Now you’re no longer driving aimlessly around without a destination. If your average transaction value for each appointment is $80, then you know 50 appointments equals an extra $4000 per month in revenue. 

But it will require thoughtful planning, staffing considerations, work/life balance capacity, etc. It also starts the creative process of brainstorming how you will achieve it. Not all goals carry equal weight or urgency, so you can prioritise them based on value alignment and their potential impact on practice growth and sustainability. Then develop solid action plans that outline steps and milestones to achieve each goal.

Here are four examples of an action plan to achieve the above goal:

  1. Online appointment scheduling: Implement an easy-to-use online booking system that allows clients to schedule appointments conveniently from their smartphones or computers.
  2. Identify missed charges (which can cost you up to $113,000 AUD per year!) and plug those gaps, ensuring clients are billed properly. You can use your practice management system (PMS) to help track these missed charges and rectify them.
  3. Promote preventive healthcare packages: encourage clients to book regular preventive care appointments by offering discounted packages or bundled services. For example, we like the way Pet Universe promote their packages. This is an excellent way to increase revenue and attract repeat clients, encouraging more appointments.
  4. Reminder notifications: implement automated appointment reminder notifications via email, SMS, or mobile app to clients leading up to their scheduled appointments. Reminders reduce no-shows and last-minute cancellations improving appointment compliance.

Defining your SMART goal in this manner means your practice can:

  • Foster client growth and repeat business
  • Enhance client satisfaction and loyalty
  • Develop your team and cultivate a balanced work/life balance
  • Attract and maintain high revenue consistently

Whether it’s increasing annual revenue by a certain percentage, improving client satisfaction scores, or expanding services to new geographic areas, clearly defined goals provide clarity and focus.

For those looking to get help with identifying key growth areas or sticky points, Crampton Consulting Group also has practical courses for setting and achieving goals as well as setting and managing KPIs.


Monitoring, measuring and adapting your SMART goals using your PMS

Goal-setting is an iterative process. Continuously monitor progress, evaluate outcomes, and be prepared to adapt strategies as needed. Use your Practice Management System (PMS) to investigate and identify opportunities or gaps before, during, and after goal-setting.

With the right setup and through smart reports or business intelligence dashboards, KPIs and metrics can be automatically set and tracked through the modules or integrations found in your PMS.

To make sure your teams are productive in the right ways, it is important to regularly monitor your practice’s metrics, performance, and proactive efforts. It is recommended to do it on a regular basis, such as weekly or monthly, rather than annually.

This will keep you from suffering losses or postponing actions until the last minute of the financial year. With the correct tools, you can easily have all of your practice’s metrics and health at your fingertips, which can be a huge enabler.


Final tips on being prepared for EOFY reporting and ensuring a healthy veterinary practice

While goal-setting is an ongoing task, there’s one practical thing you can take advantage of, as Lencioni reminds us:

“Make sure that you pay your staff superannuation before the end of the financial year so that you can get a deduction in the current year, as superannuation is often a significant expense. Don’t leave it to the last few days of the year either, because it has to clear into the employee’s bank accounts before the end of the year – there is often a delay of more than 4 days between payment and clearing so many businesses inadvertently miss this deduction in the current year.”

The EOFY presents a prime opportunity for veterinary practices to assess performance, set goals, and position themselves for success. By understanding the significance of this period and adopting a proactive approach to goal-setting, practice owners and managers can drive growth, enhance profitability, and deliver exceptional care to their patients and clients.