Veterinary work is incredibly rewarding, but it can also be challenging. Overcoming these challenges can help you take your practice to new heights. The veterinary industry is seeing new challenges due to the changes in the industry from the past few years. Throughout the pandemic the veterinary profession has done well, especially considering the significant growth in the industry due to the increase of pet ownership. To keep your practice relevant, it is important to be aware of common industry challenges and to develop strategies to overcome them. Here are the top three business challenges that veterinarians face and ways to overcome them to keep your practice growing.
Many veterinary practices struggle with retaining clients. Client retention is one of the best indicators of the quality of service your practice provides. Improving your client retention can also increase revenue. Increasing client retention by 5% can lead to an increase in profits by 25-95% (Bain & Company). It costs significantly more to acquire a new client than to retain an existing client.
To improve client retention, focus on your team’s soft skills. Ensure that they are properly trained in communication, positivity, teamwork, and more. Client surveys can be another good way to increase client retention. Survey clients shortly after appointments to track what your team is doing well and where you have room for improvement. Lastly, an automatic reminder system can help increase recall. Sending texts can help remind clients to come in for vaccinations, check-ups, or other important appointments.
Veterinary medicine has one of the worst retention rates in the healthcare field (VetX International), which can be a major challenge for your practice. Your employees are essential to the success of your practice. In the post pandemic world, many veterinary staff members are feeling stressed, overwhelmed, or exhausted.
The way you manage your team is essential to retaining your skilled staff members. You can do many things to help improve staff retention. Offering opportunities for employees to grow and expand their skill sets will keep them feeling engaged in your practice. Employee incentives are also effective ways to make sure employees feel recognized and want to keep coming into work each day. Mentorship programs can help employees get the support and guidance they need to feel successful in their positions. One of the most important things you can do is have open communication. Make sure employees feel comfortable sharing problems they have and be sure to address valid complaints promptly. Finally, if an employee does leave, perform an exit interview to determine why they are leaving.
Likely the biggest challenge veterinary practices face is burnout. Over the last year, burnout rates have increased significantly in the veterinary industry. Increased demand with decreased staff has led to increased wait times, stress levels, work volume and staff turnover.
Addressing staff turnover can help reduce burnout among your staff. It can also be helpful to invest in innovative technology to lessen their workloads as much as possible. The most important thing you can do to help with burnout though, is to build a good practice culture. Create an environment where all employees feel comfortable and safe. Create flexible schedules to keep employees from burning out. And check in with employees often. Talking through problems and working together to find solutions can ease stress a lot and help prevent burnout.
As a business owner, you will face challenges running your practice. Thankfully, challenges are not permanent, and you can overcome them. Creating strategies and solutions can help you work through your challenges and grow your practice. When you face challenges, the sooner you implement strategies, the sooner you can overcome them.
If you feel like you need more support to overcome your practice’s challenges, we are here to help. LifeLearn has resources to save time, improve operational efficiency, and strengthen client communications and education through the entire pet owner journey.