3 Things I Have Learned in the 12 Years of Owning my Practice

by Rebecca on November 9, 2014

Creative Light Bulb Idea And Difference ConceptWhen I started my practice 12 years ago, I really had no clue about business.  I had no clue about accounting, HR, no systems in place and no one but me to do everything including cleaning instruments and making packs.

Thankfully, I am in a much better place and now have a thriving, surgical practice with great assistants and great systems to keep us on the right track.  I certainly do not claim to have it all figured out but I have learned so much about what it really takes to run a successful and thriving practice.  These three things have been fundamental to creating a business that I am proud to own.

#1-Relationships are the best marketing tool

I knew when I first began that relationships mattered, but nothing has meant more to the growth and success of my business than the relationships I have with our referring veterinarians, their staff and also our clients.  There is nothing better than hearing what good things an owner heard from their veterinarian about you.  Spoken words create a bond between the pet owner and us often times without them ever meeting us face to face- that is incredible to me.

Relationships are your best marketing tool as well.  It is easy to get caught up in the “we have to grow, make more money” mentality but great relationships take time.

I believe if you focus on building great relationships with your clients you will never run out of great clientsPeople continue to visit your hospital over the one right down the road because of the way you make them FEEL-don’t ever lose sight of how important that is!

#2-Who you start out with probably is not who you end up with and that is okay

Finding and hiring the right people is TOUGH.  I honestly can’t imagine ever doing that without using a DISC profile.  The DISC has enabled me to figure out just the right “type” of person we need to complement the team.

This is not something I did for the first 8 years and it showed.  We had “good” people but they were not the “right or best” people for the job and that was draining on both them and me!

On that same note, it is important to realize that the same people may not always be with you and not only is it okay it is probably BEST for both you and them.

#3-I am the rate-limiting factor in my business

This can be the toughest pill to swallow for any business owner- it certainly is for me!  When things are not going well I always have to look at what I could be doing better first.  Am I not being clear about my expectations?  Do we have proper systems and checklists in place? 

In the past, I did not have good systems and checklists in place and that lead to mistakes happening. Human error is unavoidable unfortunately but systems and checklists can keep this to a minimum.

I am not saying that you as the practice owner have to be micro-managing anything.  As a matter of fact, if you feel like you have to constantly micro-manage someone-you probably have made a hiring mistake.  Instead, you need to empower your team to do the best job they can by having the “best” people as well as having appropriate systems in place to ensure that things are not constantly slipping through the cracks.

Your hospital will never out grow your leadership ability.  John Maxwell speaks of a principle called the Leadership Lid.  Your hospital will never reach its greatest potential if you are not working on reaching your greatest potential as a leader.

If you are a practice owner, this is not optional.  You must invest some time and money into developing your leadership skills.  Even if you are not the owner, investing in developing your leadership skills will make you a better veterinarian, parent, friend and colleague.

I am interested in hearing from you even if you are not a practice owner, what lessons have you learned working in veterinary medicine?

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{ 4 comments… read them below or add one }

Vet Changes World November 9, 2014 at 10:38 am

We’ve used the Disc profile in practice and I’m curious how you all use it. For us it just helped us understand the folks we had better and made for smoother interactions. You all use it for hiring purposes? Do you hire one “type” or just use it to help create a balanced team?


Rebecca November 9, 2014 at 3:11 pm

We use it for new hires. I have learned which type of person works best in each position. We def. want a diverse team- three of me would not be good!!! Also helps us interact with people better- for example we communicate differently with a high C vs high S which makes for a better experience for them and us. We talk about it in some capacity at least once a week and I can’t imagine not using it now!


Vet Changes World November 9, 2014 at 10:18 pm

Interesting. While we definitely saw some trends in different positions, we also saw areas where having a mix of different types within a position was helpful.


rebecca November 10, 2014 at 5:25 am

I bet that is true- my team is so small we don’t have multiple people in the same positions. Understanding DISC has been so helpful to me for sure! Thanks for commenting!


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