North Devon-based Charter Vets, together with its sister business Torch Farm and Equine Vets, is a long-standing RoboVet™ customer – since 1990 to be exact. The business, which operates from seven sites, has grown steadily over the years. Two of its locations are classed as Tier 3 practices, perhaps better known to customers as veterinary hospitals, reflecting the highest standards of care and facilities provided. Julie takes up the story.
‘We have come a long way from our pre-RoboVet days. Looking back, we wanted to improve many aspects of the business and in fact trialled several systems before selecting RoboVet to make sure we made the right decision. Our old system was antiquated. In comparison, RoboVet has enabled us to automate routine tasks, such as appointment bookings and invoicing, that previously were time-consuming and error-prone. However, the one benefit which has had the greatest impact on the business is the ability we now have to share information across all our sites. This has resulted in greater efficiency and consistency in terms of treatments and working processes. It’s no exaggeration to say that RoboVet has lit up our world.’
As Group Pharmacy Supervisor, it is perhaps fitting that Julie singles out RoboVet’s stock control functionality for special mention. Charter Vets operates seven pharmacies and Julie is responsible for managing day-to-day operations, monitoring stock levels, pricing and procurement. Given the high volume of drugs and medical consumables used by the Group, this is a key role – one which has a direct impact on the bottom line. However, using RoboVet’s superior data analysis and reporting capability Julie and her pharmacy colleagues keep a watchful eye on expenditure, usage and wastage. As she explains, this is controlled tightly.
‘We began by creating different product accounts, categorised by animal type: farm, equine and small animals. This is our baseline. The system allows us to record all stock, orders, costs, accounts and usage. Stock usage is not just based on sales, but analysed by individual client as well.
‘Step two saw us setting up Functionality categories for all medicines and consumables. Each individual product is entered in and can be cross-referenced from multiple categories. Let’s take Naxcel, an antimicrobial used for cattle, as an example. It was set up in our system as a Farm account and categorised further by its product type – vaccination drug – and the manufacturer. We also record the product’s mark-up band and whether or not it can be sold from a vehicle (which it can). Finally, our records tell us if any discount schemes or healthcare plans apply to the product in question which can be passed on to clients. With this level of data analysis at our fingertips, stock control becomes easier to manage and the activity reports we run are more detailed and meaningful.’
With seven pharmacies under her wing, Julie applies a strict quarterly timetable to stocktaking and running the all-important status reports which confirm product levels, valuations, sales and, crucially, wastage. The results are shared with Group Directors at meetings held each quarter, where the figures are reviewed in light of the previous quarterly performance. The practice adopts a rigorous process, with Director Nich Roper extracting key data from Julie’s reports and presenting the results to the team. Julie then runs workshops with her Pharmacy colleagues to discuss any issues arising from the reports, using the findings to explore ways of improving stock control procedures.
Wastage – the term used to describe stock levels that are unaccounted for – is an expensive drain on practice finances if not managed correctly. However, using RoboVet’s stock control filter system Charter Vets can search levels by date range and run expiry reports on products that are batch controlled. This allows the team to sell stock before the use-by date has expired, minimising wastage. An indication of RoboVet’s influence is evident by the fact that stock wastage of farm animal products dropped from 37% in 2014 to less than 2% two years later as the Pharmacy team acted on the data from its expiry reports.
We have had a far-reaching impact on this busy veterinary business, streamlining processes that had become time consuming and difficult to manage. The results illustrate what can be achieved when vet practices act on the recommendations, insights and systems expertise provided. Not only does Charter Vets have a highly effective stock control function, but its long-standing partnership with us has been the catalyst for positive changes across the business.