9 episodes

For over 30 years, the Veterinary Hospital Managers Assn has worked to offer support and education for those who manage veterinary practices. The VHMA M2M podcast series is designed to tackle timely situations that are universal in practice. Listen for this month’s advice from experts in the trenches.

VHMA Manager to Manager Veterinary Hospital Managers Association

    • Business
    • 5.0 • 9 Ratings

For over 30 years, the Veterinary Hospital Managers Assn has worked to offer support and education for those who manage veterinary practices. The VHMA M2M podcast series is designed to tackle timely situations that are universal in practice. Listen for this month’s advice from experts in the trenches.

    Laying the Foundation for Thriving Teams Through Salary and Benefits with Melissa Stedman

    Laying the Foundation for Thriving Teams Through Salary and Benefits with Melissa Stedman

    “It’s amazing the amount of money you can find when you look for it,” today’s guest says when speaking today about salary and benefits for staff and employees. This is a hot topic in the industry right now because it is an unfortunate truth that technicians and other staff members are underpaid for their responsibilities in a practice or hospital. So what can we do as leaders to change that?
     
    Today’s guest is Melissa Stedman, a practice manager in the Philadelphia area and one of VHMA’s emerging leaders in 2019. She has experience in general practice, ER, privately owned, and corporately owned hospitals, so wherever you are, she has been there. What she has learned and continues to be passionate about is investing time and money into people. In today’s episode we talk about why and how we should pay more in salaries and benefits and how a mindset shift can change the industry. Melissa gives us practical ways to make this happen and where you may be able to find the money to do so by just making a few changes. It all starts with education, so let’s get started.
     
    Show Notes: [2:04] - How do we get people to love their job and stay? Melissa says that the stressful, high-pressure environment has a lot to do with it. 
    [2:45] - The average technicians are in their late twenties and are not making ends meet. Certified techs also come with a lot of student loan debt they can’t pay back with their hourly rate.
    [4:05] - Even leading in the market is not enough pay for the job. The reality is that technicians can’t pay their bills and it affects their performance and attitude.
    [4:54] - Pharmaceutical companies are taking techs away from practices because they can offer better benefits and salaries.
    [5:35] - Regarding health insurance, many hospitals say they cannot afford to pay for health insurance for their techs, but Melissa says that’s not true. Offering health insurance is crucial.
    [6:59] - Melissa shares an online store is a great way to make a little extra money to be able to pay your techs more. It isn’t a ton, but it's more than you’re making without it.
    [7:40] - Wellness blood work is another money maker that Melissa recommends to find more money that increases salaries.
    [8:27] - If techs know that wellness blood work can make more money for the practice and therefore for themselves as well, they will offer it and educate clients more effectively.
    [9:41] - People are the biggest priority. Melissa gives examples of how she runs training and education in her practice.
    [10:38] - You don’t have time or money for the turn-over and replacing someone if you don’t take the time to train appropriately upfront.
    [12:09] - Debbie points out the stress level on management and the rest of the team when someone leaves. It is very demotivating.
    [12:57] - Doing one on one meetings with everyone gives a leader an idea of what each employee needs and wants. Melissa admits that she is very transparent and takes the time to develop a relationship with staff.
    [15:23] - When faced with a solution that seems difficult to implement, Melissa explains that many practices will give up and say they can’t do that. But something has to change in order to keep people on staff.
    [16:48] - If our people are happier, our clients will be happier. Melissa shares results from a survey in which clients told her that her staff seemed so happy and it made a difference on where they chose to come for business.
    [17:43] - It is so important that staff look forward to coming to work everyday and not worry about their bills. It is not okay to pile on responsibilities in this field with little pay.
    [19:32] - Debbie shares some realities her staff faces in paying a toll on the road on the way to work. This is something to consider when determining pay.
    [20:48] - Melissa and Debbie agree that we can do better in this ar

    • 28 min
    Technician Utilization with Dr. Kate Harnish

    Technician Utilization with Dr. Kate Harnish

    Everyone seems to always need technicians. What are the reasons technicians come and go or we can’t seem to find the right fit for our practices? It is a difficult question to answer at times, but should you hire someone who is already certified, train someone you already have, or go out on a limb and hire someone completely new and uncertified? None of those are bad options, but there’s one major key in hiring and keeping a good technician: proper training.
     
    Today’s guest is Dr. Kate Harnish and just like previous guests, she is a real doctor in real practice implementing the strategies she shares with us today. Kate owns a practice in Pennsylvania with a team similar to many. She serves on the board of the Pennsylvania Veterinary Medical Association. She received her CVMP in 2019 and was awarded the VHMA emerging leader scholarship in 2020.
     
    Listen on to find out how Kate has been successful in finding, investing in, and keeping great technicians for her team.
     
    Show Notes: [2:26] - Regarding finding a technician with the right skills, Kate finds the best through hiring students and investing time and resources into training them.
    [3:30] - Debbie agrees and shares that she has also had a good experience with doing the same thing.
    [4:57] - The biggest difference that Kate has seen is that hiring students or recent graduates in the field are career-minded and driven.
    [6:06] - Wherever there are value-added services, technicians play a critical role. Kate lists several of the services that they can shine and help grow your practice.
    [7:27] - It takes a commitment of time and money to go through a technician program and take exams. Doctors need to properly train and utilize their skills.
    [8:03] - One of the biggest reasons for a technician leaving practice or the profession is that they are underutilized. Kate advises delegating properly.
    [8:39] - Kate gives the four things that she makes sure her technicians are trained in and what she delegates to them. Listen, assist, collect, and monitor are the four steps for technicians. She describes each one of these in detail.
    [10:30] - Kate doesn’t consider a technician fully trained until it has been a full 12-18 months and that does not include the time with them as a student.
    [10:59] - If you put the time in and repeat yourself kindly and patiently, you will have a great technician in a year.
    [12:04] - In the early days of a newly hired technician there is an acclimation period that could last a long time.
    [12:38] - Kate shares the story of a technician she hired from being a student in the beginning is now an associate. If you take the time to train, you may be guiding someone in their best direction.
    [14:27] - One big problem is technician pay. Many leave the job because it doesn’t pay enough.
    [15:07] - There is proof that shows that the well-paid technicians bring a lot more to the practice. 
    [17:02] - Debbie shares how she discusses raising pay and how technicians can help themselves by being open to new approaches with clients.
    [18:40] - There are three ways Kate likes to reward technicians after she has paid them as much as she can afford. They are food, social events, and special items with their name on them.
    [19:20] - Keep technicians satisfied, well-paid, and utilized and they will stick around.
    [21:25] - If you are taking on students, you know you are hiring someone who is in for the long haul. If you are hiring someone who doesn’t have past experience or isn’t a student, you still need to invest time and resources into them and push them towards certification.
    [23:18] - Even as frugal as most practices are, Kate and Debbie advise to invest in technicians and proper training because you will see the return.
    Thank you for listening. Remember you are not in this alone. Visit our website for more resources.
    Links and Resources:

    • 27 min
    Building a Positive Culture That Clients Can Feel with Kristie Buys

    Building a Positive Culture That Clients Can Feel with Kristie Buys

    We all want positive culture, but oftentimes we don’t know where to start and we give up too soon. Culture is frustrating! We all want it and no one seems to want to do anything about it. But there are things we can and should be doing that begin the process of building and maintaining a positive culture that not only the staff feels, but clients feel, too. 
     
    Today’s guest, Kristie Buys, has so many wise words for us when it comes to building and maintaining a strong culture in the workplace. Kristie is a hospital administrator outside of DC and part owner of Balance Veterinary Center. She has been a part of multiple startups and has a particular passion in practice building. The reason for this is her love for investing in teams and the people who will ultimately be responsible for helping maintain the culture she develops.
     
    Show Notes: [2:22] - This last year has been tough and curbside has been a challenge. But Kristie thinks that a lot of culture is a choice. We can choose to focus on gratitude.
    [2:56] - The foundation of client and clinic culture is those core values of your practice.
    [3:16] - If you can meet your clients with compassion, it will help build culture.
    [3:56] - During interviews and the hiring process, Kristie drills the core values of the organization and will remind herself and everyone of what they are periodically.
    [4:49] - Occasionally, Kristie even revisits core values and has other staff members contribute to the big picture. That’s how the value balance came from.
    [6:12] - A few years ago, Kristie’s hospital relocated so there is a mix of people who moved with them and a lot of newer staff members.
    [7:02] - Getting feedback from the team ahead of time is another strategy Kristie uses to make sure that her practice’s culture is not cliquey.
    [7:58] - Debbie points out that some practices without a positive culture tend to have a high turnover rate.
    [8:51] - Another strategy Kristie utilizes for retention is to cross-train everyone. 
    [10:40] - Even through the challenges, we need to always keep our core values and culture in mind. There are negative experiences in the industry, but how can you turn it around rather than spread the negativity?
    [11:42] - Sometimes when staff members are venting about a client and can’t seem to turn it around positively, we need to focus on the health and happiness of the pet. You have to call out the person venting and find the root of the problem.
    [13:17] - Everyone has a different reason for working in their job, but the culture of the team and the environment needs to be the same.
    [14:40] - Having the culture conversation over and over again can be uncomfortable if the culture in your location is not great. But it is a necessity.
    [16:14] - Debbie shares that she will always let a team member fail once, but then if they make the same mistakes over and over again, she can only assume they are choosing not to learn. 
    [17:00] - Having a positive culture doesn’t mean that you aren’t managing your team. 
    [18:24] - Culture is misunderstood that is always easy and fluffy. But we are all human with human emotions, so sometimes culture is not always simple.
    [19:56] - Kristie points out that sometimes it is hard to find the right people to fit the culture you are building, but it is important to make sure that you take the time to do that.
    [20:45] - A strong culture is that every single individual on the team helps build it and helps maintain it. Culture is not a goal you hit, it is a consistent process to maintain.
    [22:10] - The uncomfortable conversations are a really important part of building culture.
    [23:12] - Every disciplinary conversation Kristie has circles back to the core values. What core value was violated?
    [25:04] - Accountability is a huge piece of positive culture. Team members need to be held accountable for their

    • 28 min
    Translating the Numbers with KPIs with David Liss

    Translating the Numbers with KPIs with David Liss

    Happy New Year! It is my favorite time of year because we get to dig into numbers. Not everyone feels this way, of course, but it is one of my absolute favorite things to talk about. But once we’ve tracked our numbers and have seen our data, how can we discuss them with non-number people? We have to be able to translate the numbers in a meaningful way to see growth, but how?
     
    To answer this question, I’ve asked David Liss to speak with us for this episode. David has a background as a Veterinary Technician Specialist working in an ICU practice for more than ten years. He also was an ER department and hospital manager for two 24-hour practices and led the Platt College Veterinary program as Program Director. Today, he and I talk about numbers and how these numbers can be meaningful to specific team members. They can boost energy and are a fabulous tool to boost numbers for the new year.
     
    Show Notes: [1:45] - Debbie and David love this time of year because she loves working with numbers and spreadsheets.
    [2:37] - The problem for managers is to translate these numbers to those who don’t “speak the language.”
    [3:14] - It is recommended to think about the 5 W’s when giving information to your team.
    [4:29] - As a manager, David likes to zoom way out and look at the biggest numbers.
    [5:18] - David likes to see qualitative data and explains what this looks like for him when he digs into numbers.
    [6:19] - The translation of these numbers is the most important thing because specific points of data are important to different team members.
    [8:48] - David and Debbie discuss lab revenue data and the changes coming with where revenue will be coming from this year.
    [10:16] - There’s two ways to make more money. You can do more or charge more and Debbie points out that there’s a cap to how much you can charge before you lose clients.
    [12:20] - To the people who are medical, these talks about numbers also include talks about clients and compliance.
    [13:26] - These conversations turn into an eye opening experience for many employees and David says it can boost energy for them to try to get clients compliant.
    [15:26] - The staff already knows the gross income, but the costs are even more important.
    [16:57] - David describes an exercise he did with his team and the kind of point it made regarding costs. The exercise made a big impact on staff understanding.
    [18:49] - Share enough of the numbers that makes it apparent where that income is going.
    [20:18] - To tell staff that they need a certain percentage of visits in a year, it seems unattainable. But to tell staff that 1 or 2 more of something per day is doable and adds up in a year.
    [22:08] - Debbie and David discuss the high costs of new equipment and how to translate numbers to technicians on paying for it through services.
    [23:01] - David expresses why managers tend to feel guilty when talking about money.
    [24:10] - The purpose of the vet clinic is not to make money. It is to care for animals. But you have to make money to do that and you have to step into power a little bit in order to achieve that goal.
    [26:32] - The message is to break down these numbers to match the team member. What job do they do and how can these numbers change how they approach their job?
    [28:46] - The cool thing about KPIs is you can develop your own. Every practice is different and the KPIs that you track depend on the needs of each practice.
    [30:18] - There’s a lot of meaning when you track certain numbers for specific doctors, techs, or office staff.



    Thank you for listening. Remember you are not in this alone. Visit our website for more resources.
     
    Links and Resources:  
    VHMA Web Page  
    VHMA Coronavirus Resources VHMA Facebook VHMA Twitter VHMA on Linkedin About David Liss David Liss, RVT on Facebook David Liss VetBloom Web Page

    • 35 min
    Pandemic Holiday Plans with Marian Rowland

    Pandemic Holiday Plans with Marian Rowland

    With the holidays coming up, what are your plans to celebrate your team? This year is quite different than those in the past. I believe that right now, it would be irresponsible to host an elaborate party. But that doesn’t mean holiday plans are completely cancelled. So today, we’re getting creative with our guest Marian Rowland.
     
    Marian is a CVPM in Charlotte, North Carolina working in a 7 doctor practice. She loves the HR and culture aspect of managing a team and her creative ideas and encouragement during this unusual time is inspiring. We hope that the ideas we have in today’s episode will help spark your creativity and provide you with a way to celebrate your wonderful teams.
     
    Show Notes: [2:01] - Right now, it is corporately irresponsible to have a holiday party for our practices. Marian shares how things are going in the Carolinas.
    [3:02] - Debbie shares that her practice went back to open exam rooms in September but isn’t sure how much longer that will last before they go back to curbside.
    [3:31] - One of the Christmas traditions that Marian’s practice has every year is a holiday movie night at a manager’s home. They want to continue this this year in the parking lot of the practice.
    [4:46] - Debbie shares that her team has done really well in regards to HR and culture and she knows she wants to celebrate them.
    [6:02] - Practices have a holiday fund every year and instead of using it for a large event, get creative with the money you have. 
    [6:48] - Marian recommends a gift tree and a cookie bake off. We need to have something to distract the team from the disappointment of missing an event.
    [8:03] - Asking your team for ideas is also a great idea because there are people who think of something interesting.
    [9:27] - There are some county and state restrictions right now, but a safe pot luck with just the team members could be very fun.
    [11:49] - Something as easy as printing out something to bind at Office Depot that is personalized for the practice can be really meaningful.
    [12:27] - Marian and her managers hid hundreds of rubber duckies in her large building and her team would find them throughout the month. Whoever had the most at the end of the month won a prize.
    [13:45] - Don’t underestimate the little things and look ahead because ordering something to be shipped might be risky late in the month.
    [16:05] - We need to do something to celebrate our teams and our clients but the thing to remember is that it won’t look like last year.
    [16:42] - Instead of a Secret Santa, Marian is doing a White Elephant gift exchange which tends to be less stressful and more generic to make things easier on the team members.
    [17:50] - Remember, even in the years that we have under normal circumstances, there will be people who don’t come or participate. 
    [18:38] - Marian says that last year they had to get creative with a small budget because they were in a new building with new expenses that they were not accustomed to.
     
    Thank you for listening. Remember you are not in this alone. Visit our website for more resources.
     
    Links and Resources:  
    VHMA Web Page  
    VHMA Coronavirus Resources VHMA Facebook VHMA Twitter VHMA on Linkedin
     
    Park West Veterinary Associates  
    Marian Rowland VHMA Profile

    • 22 min
    Demystifying Strategic Planning with Jake Waas

    Demystifying Strategic Planning with Jake Waas

    All of our plans for 2020 flew out the window due to the challenges we’ve faced with Covid. Now that we are approaching 2021, how should we plan? 2021 seems just as questionable as 2020 has turned out to be, so why bother? Strategic planning is still just as important now as it always has been. We tend to be afraid of what might go wrong and because of that, we just don’t start. 
     
    Today’s guest on the VHMA Podcast is Jake Waas, an owner and practice manager in California. He is definitely the “Culture Guy,” because his team is a crucial part of his practice’s strategic planning. Although this year has turned out to be vastly different than they had planned for, listen on to hear how Jake managed to make the most of 2020 and his tips on moving forward into 2021.
     
    Show Notes: [1:47] - Jake considers himself a “culture guy” because he likes to get the feedback of the team and have them as a part of the process.
    [2:07] - Ideally, strategic planning would take place on site to discuss in person a lot of goal setting for the next year, but Covid has made things challenging.
    [2:51] - Generally, people think about strategic planning as a numbers game that is only concerned with money. But hiring, staffing, and equipment are also a part of this process.
    [3:48] - Jake says that they are always focused on improving their client service, quality in medicine, and making it a great place to work. They start planning on how they can raise the bar in these areas.
    [5:59] - Debbie notes that the numbers are the easy goals to set, but changes in staffing and unexpected repairs to equipment impact how these goals are met and must be planned for.
    [7:19] - Jake says that they had lofty goals at the start of 2020, but they had to change due to Covid and applauds his team’s resiliency.
    [8:07] - This year was a time to set some of the lofty goals aside and focus on the soft skills within his team, such as patience, compassion, and building a teamwork mentality.
    [9:40] - Be stubborn on your vision but be flexible on how you get there. That has been a great reminder for Jake and his team because they kept their priorities but had to adapt their plan this year.
    [11:16] - We are still a service industry and 2021 is a questionable year to plan for.
    [12:24] - Jake encourages his team to share their ideas and gets excited when their vision is bigger than his.
    [12:56] - The main thing to listen to when planning is what your market is asking for.
    [14:20] - Planning is far more than sitting down with the numbers.
    [15:46] - To hit financial goals, increasing prices always feels like the easiest way to do that, but it isn’t always the best option.
    [17:21] - Jake not only likes to look at the number of transactions, but the average amount of a transaction. By looking at both, he can make goals for doing more with what appointments they already have.
    [18:38] - Where does training fit in with your strategic planning?
    [20:15] - Jake breaks down what strategic planning looks like by listing a lot of the things that should be looked at and addressed.
    [21:50] - Jake and Debbie both recommend the book Traction which helps you break down big goals into smaller, more manageable chunks.
    [22:45] - At the end of the day, when we are in the midst of this challenging year, follow your gut. If you feel something needs to change, move in that direction. Take one thing at a time.
     
    Thank you for listening. Remember you are not in this alone. Visit our website for more resources.
     
    Links and Resources:  
    VHMA Web Page  
    VHMA Coronavirus Resources VHMA Facebook VHMA Twitter VHMA on Linkedin Covina Animal Hospital Jacob Waas on LinkedIn Jake Waas VHMA Member Directory Profile
     
    Traction: Get a Grip on Your Business by Gino Wickman  
     

    • 25 min

Customer Reviews

5.0 out of 5
9 Ratings

9 Ratings

mishaht3 ,

Great listen

These podcasts are excellent for a new manager and great refreshers for the experienced PM. The content is relevant and helpful. Keep them coming!

Kellie O. ,

Much needed podcast in the industry!

As soon as I saw Debbie Hill was hosting, I knew it would be great and it was.

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