The world has changed at an alarming rate in the space of mere decades – especially in the field of vet medicine. Advancements in medicine and technology, new laws governing animal welfare and veterinarian conduct, and more legislation around running veterinary practices have all made the regulatory landscape more complicated. As if seven years at vet school wasn’t enough! What’s more, the business landscape has become fiercely competitive, with smaller practices contending with large chain, mounting property prices and raised customer expectations. It’s little wonder that you might feel anxious about the best way to go about vet practice management.
Running a practice and practising vet medicine are two different jobs
Running a veterinary practice isn’t only about caring for your clients’ beloved animals (we wish it were) – it requires just as many hours looking after the business. Issues that affect businesses everywhere apply to your practice too: finance, HR, business development, marketing and sales, IT… the list goes on. As a vet, your area of skill and passion is on the clinical side, not necessarily on the business side. Getting involved in HR issues, managing partnership agreements, or the sale of your practice drains time and energy away from your main goal and source of revenue – caring for your clients’ pets.
The long-term success of your practice depends on your ability to manage the legal side of your business
Many factors contribute to the long-term success of a vet practice. Skill as a vet surgeon is obviously high up on the list, but without proper vet practice management, you won’t have a practice in the first place. Many practice owners underestimate how much legislation is involved in running a business – specifically, a vet practice. Besides the usual red tape that applies to businesses throughout the UK, vet clinics have their own set of regulations, not dissimilar from those that apply to dental practices. And unless you hold a law degree alongside your medical qualification – or happen to read legal journals as a pastime – you simply won’t know how best to follow legislation.
Employment contracts, staff manuals and stakeholder agreements all need to be managed carefully
For example, does your practice have a recruitment policy? Does each staff member have a clearly defined role description, contract and access to a staff manual? What about disciplinary procedures and data protection policies? Other integral parts of vet practice management include ensuring that there are solid agreements in place between partners and shareholders, and that you’re adhering to ever-changing business legislation and commercial property law. Unsound vet practice management risks running into potential legal issues or disputes – all of which are costly, a drain on your time, extremely stressful and can damage your brand. You can avoid all this by partnering with an entity that can give you the right legal advice for managing your practice.
If you’re unsure about whether you’re managing your practice as smoothly as you could be, or whether you need expert legal advice, download the self-audit checklist.