Simon Robinson is owner, principal vet and sole proprietor of Andover-based Strathmore Veterinary Clinic. Simon took over the running of this 60-year-old independent clinic in 2010 and has been a Vetsolutions’ customer for around 20 years.

The Strathmore Veterinary Clinic is a single site business, operated by Simon, three vets and six nurses and has an impressive 1,100 animals registered with its Pet Health Club. However, despite a busy appointments diary, the financial performance of the business failed to reflect the high levels of customer footfall – a common issue across the industry. As Simon notes, the clinic faced some serious challenges. For the last three years, turnover had remained static and, according to his accountant, profitability was lower than that of comparable independent vet businesses. So, there was much to ponder but no immediate solution to what had become an ongoing problem, until, that is, he attended the 2015 London Vet Show. Simon takes up the story. . .

“My introduction to Sparkline CEO Greg Robinson was memorably blunt, ‘What are you doing about your missed charges, mate?’ he asked. I stood my ground defiantly, protesting that our processes did not allow many costs to slip through the net, however that was before Greg showed me a demo of Sparkline and the costs missed in a typical clinic. It was then that the penny dropped. We were guilty as charged! Our processes were far from watertight and it became obvious there was a clear correlation between missed charges and our disappointing financial performance.”

The financial performance of the practice failed to reflect the high levels of customer footfall. Simon signed up to Sparkline immediately and the software was installed within 24 hours. Initially, all customers receive individual coaching on how to use Sparkline and access the valuable metrics it pulls from RoboVet™’s data. A simple traffic-light system indicates where performance is improving, standing still or worsening based on the previous year’s results, and data can be analysed by process type, on a vet-by-vet basis and across individual practice sites. As Simon acknowledges, Sparkline allows him to see at a glance where there is the greatest potential to grow his business and also identify the areas that are holding him back.

Our average transaction fee has increased from £43 to £50 – a 15% increase. Net profit has leapt from 13% in 2015 to 23% this year.

“Sparkline has given us much greater control. Data is updated automatically and I can’t wait until the 6th of each month to review the figures and see how we stand. Previously, it was a bit like walking through a dense forest with no clear sense of direction. Now, we know exactly where we are going and the steps we need to take to improve. “We also benefit from the online one-to-one sessions with Steph (Our Sparkline consultant Stephanie Bryan) where we discuss practice performance over the quarter and agree our strategy for the following period. Steph’s really got to know our business. It’s great to have someone onside who understands the industry so well and helps us make the most of the data provided by Sparkline.” Sparkline excels in identifying missed charges and this had an immediate impact on Simon’s revenue by confirming that the clinic had previously failed to charge for a range of fees including theatre, clinical waste, consumables and hospital waste. Hospital fees for day patients and inpatient consultation charges also fell off the radar. In addition, Steph was instrumental in helping Simon utilise a closely related RoboVet feature called POS Actions (Point of Sale Actions) essentially a string of charges triggered automatically when a single procedure is booked.

Simon also highlights Sparkline’s ability to analyse the revenue generated from specific processes, citing dentistry as an example. “We had been looking to push our dentistry work for some time. In fact, I had bought some new dental equipment at the London Vet Show and organised the necessary staff training, so had already committed time and money to taking us down this particular road. However, there was something in the back of my head doubting our capacity to recoup the investment. Not only that, how could we know for sure if it had been successful? I needn’t have worried. With Sparkline we were able to measure the results and they made good reading. Over six months we handled 44% more dental cases resulting in a 51% increase in income compared to the previous period. Not only has the data confirmed that we were right to prioritise dentistry, but this has had a galvanizing effect on staff morale – we are all delighted with the results.”

Sparkline metrics also extend to analysing the performance of each vet based on the number of repeat consultations they have handled. As Simon notes wryly, the results from his practice made him sit up and take notice. “This metric is called Cases Per 100 Primary and I understand that the average figure in single site, independent practices hovers around 50. You can imagine my reaction on being told that my vets scored between 23 and 72. That’s an extensive range by any standards, so there’s good and bad news: Some vets are performing exceptionally well, while others may require additional support to improve their conversion ratio. This is not about apportioning blame – I’m responsible for staff training and development so the buck stops with me. However, what cannot be ignored is the potential loss of income to the business this represents. Thanks to Sparkline, we can now address the problem.”

As Sparkline founder and CEO Greg Robinson acknowledges, his software provides the metrics that allow practice owners to focus on areas of strength and weakness, but it’s how they respond to the data that really counts. Ignoring a problem is no solution. For Simon Robinson and his colleagues at Strathmore Veterinary Clinic, Sparkline has initiated improvements across the business that have resulted in significant financial benefits as he explains.

“Sparkline was installed in our clinic in January 2016 and since then, we have seen a 14% increase in turnover without increasing staff numbers so that has had a direct impact on our bottom line. What’s particularly pleasing is that our average transaction fee has increased from £43 to £50 – a 15% increase and by tightening up on our appointments process, new client conversion and return consultations are showing an 8% improvement on last year. We have also generated over £20,000 more from dental treatments this year, fully justifying our decision to focus resources in this area of work.”

My management of the business has benefited from having access to data that makes decision making so much easier. As for that all important net profit figure, well this has leapt from 13% in 2015 to 23% (for the 10 months of 2016) and there is scope for this to grow further in the remaining two months of the year.

This vindicates fully Simon’s decision to purchase Sparkline and, more importantly, to make the necessary changes to the management of his business.

“While our financial results are delighting the team and my accountant, there’s more to Sparkline than that. I feel my management of the business has benefited from having access to data that makes decision-making so much easier and, of course, we can now measure our performance accurately on a regular basis. After many years, we are charging properly and, interestingly, there has been no adverse reaction to our costs from clients. In short, I believe our business is in a much better place thanks to Greg, Steph and Sparkline.”