3 Tips to Financial Stewardship

July 13, 2015

3 Tips to Financial Stewardship

Yes, this month we step into a conversation of financial stewardship and how everyone on the team is a steward of the hospitals’ good fortune and prosperity. Often times management and team members tip-toe around the topic of finances, when a simple approach may make a “taboo” subject comfortable.

Team members may benefit from knowing the general financial state of the veterinary hospital, identifying and implementing new services and tracking lost charges.

Technicians frequently ask me, “How do I get a raise?” I often respond, be a better steward of the hospital’s finances.

1. Share the bottom line

I know from experience, when a veterinary team senses the cash flow is poor, it may be blown out of perspective. When that begins to happen, a few hundred dollars becomes a few thousand.
To keep the finances in perspective, consider sharing a simple graph showing monthly income and expenses. In this way the team visually sees the ratio of services provided and what it costs to provide those services.
Team members don’t want to know how to build a watch (nor do they want to know the details of the finances), they just want to know what time it is (the bottom line). The graph (you choose the visual aid that suites your team) can be posted in the team lounge and reviewed on a monthly or quarterly basis.
The first time you share the information, consider giving them a little bit of background in finances, so they understand the concept of  “beans in and beans out,” as related to the veterinary hospital. Knowledge of basic budgeting improves financial stewardship.
2. Increase services, increase income 
You may have experienced this, thinking a few years back, when finances got tight the first reaction was to cut costs (a band-aid), when in all actuality, increasing services increases income, over the long haul.
Team members know all too well the concept of cutting costs to make a budget work, short-term. During an upcoming meeting, ask them to identify all the services your veterinary hospital offers. Often times a team will mention the usual services; wellness exams, dental procedures, surgeries, and vaccinations. To create a comprehensive list of services may take some time. The point is, identifying an all inclusive list of your services will help you identify what you currently offer and other services you may be able to provide. Your team may have inadvertently forgotten you provide at-home end-of-life care.
An example of a new service may include an assistant is be willing to provide puppy socialization classes. Or you may have a veterinary technician interested in becoming a specialist in anesthesia creating an opportunity for numerous new services. Increasing services is creating financial stewardship.
3. Track lost charges
Being cognoscente of lost charges can prove to be beneficial. Various surveys and documentations point to the fact that uncharged services costs a practice tens of thousands of dollars.
A team concentrating on properly charging can directly, positively, impact the bottom line.
  • Checking invoices thrice may be a step in the right direction of financial stewardship. Consider implementing a “thrice” rule before a patient is picked up and the client is checking out. These are services the client has been provided, not “up-selling” services.
  • Creating a flow sheet for outpatient care, inpatient care and surgery may assist the team in tracking lost charges.
  • Identifying one or two team members to review charges before lunch and prior to the “mad dash” at 4:30, may help.
  • Measuring and charting can be a visual aid encouraging them to keep it up and seeing how they make a difference as a financial steward.

Here is a simple example: If your team finds $5.00 of missed charges (to make the math easy) on 10 invoices a day, that’s $50/day for a 6 day week, equaling $300/week and $15,600/year!

That’s creating a teamwork of financial stewardship!

Yours in Financial Stewardship,
Rebecca Rose, CVT
CATALYST Team Consultant

  Rebecca Rose, CVT, President of CATALYST Veterinary Practice Consultants

Rebecca Rose, CVT,
President & Founder
CATALYST Veterinary Practice Consultants