There is no doubt that we are facing a global recession. The extent to which it will affect veterinary practices is unknown, but an astute business owner would be wise to at least give this some thought, and NOW is the right time to do this.
Regardless of whether you are thinking about the value of your business or carrying on being a business owner, in times like this, maintaining your profit margins is critical.
If you are selling, then the element that has the greatest impact on the value of your business is PROFIT. Low profit means your business values low and higher profits means it values for more.
If business ownership is going to be your calling for the next few years, then profit is also going to be important, because this is how you are going to maintain your lifestyle, keep your team gainfully employed and continue equipping your practice so that you can treat your patients optimally.
In a recession, one of the challenges you will face will be that pet owners may struggle to pay large bills. So, in the absence of being able to charge more, where can you look at improving your financial position?
The answer lies in being more efficient – being able to do the same or even more work without feeling like you are working harder. Another way of looking at this is the ability to maintain your current workload by running leaner. To do this, your business needs structure and the ability to leverage on tools that help to do the same things faster. And there are literally hundreds of things you can do in this space, but it requires a slight change in focus.
Here are some examples:
Having a good X-ray processor instead of an old slow one – this may sound like a paradox because it costs money to have this bit of equipment but, in a veterinary practice, your greatest expense is the ‘time of your team’. If it takes people longer to do a job, your wages are higher. And this is particularly true of items of equipment that are used FREQUENTLY.
If we are thinking about running leaner and the paradox of getting extra equipment, then consider also NOT buying or upgrading equipment you do not use! An ultrasound machine is a good example of this. The average vet practice does under 20 ultrasound procedures per full time vet a year – that is at best one every 2 weeks. So be honest with yourself, if you don’t use it, don’t upgrade it or buy it.
Technology is probably one on the greatest levers you can use in times like these. A great example here is enabling and encouraging online appointment scheduling. This allows customers to book at any time of day and zero input from the reception desk – less staff time.
For the reasons above, APL Accountants is going to make EFFICIENCY and LEAN TEAMS the focus of many of their materials and events over the next few months, because we feel that this is the best strategic focus for the next 12 months.