Pam Stevenson, CVPM
Founder, VetResults

Do You Need A Manager?

The financial success of a practice depends on many things, with the ability of the practice’s veterinarians to provide services being the most important. Can you be an effective practitioner when you are concerned about employee reviews, an OSHA inspection or when to schedule interviews for hiring a receptionist? On the other hand, can you be an effective manager when you have worked a ten plus hour day as a veterinarian, or do you cut your practice schedule to provide time for management? Aside from the professional activity, what time is left for family and personal needs? How much professional burnout is caused by veterinarians trying to do it all? If you do not have a manager now or your present manager is not effective, consider your options:

  • Hire a manager.
  • Share a manager with 1 or 2 other non-competing hospitals.
  • Train (or have trained) a promising staff member.
  • Have a contract manager hire and train and office or practice manager.
  • Use the services of a contract manager.

How Do You Justify the Expense of a Manager?

Common belief holds that spending money on a manager reduces the net profit to the practice owner. That can prove true if the owner does not use some of the time formerly spent managing to generate additional income. However, if having a manager allows the owner five additional professional hours per week at an average of $250 per hour, this alone would increase the annual gross income by over $50,000. Realistically, the additional available hours would be more like ten to fifteen each week when you consider the time available and reduction of stress.

An effective manager will increase the gross income and the net profit of the practice. Even using conservative figures, funds would be available for management personnel, the practice would benefit,and the owner’s quality of life would improve.

All of the above is wishful thinking if the practice hires an unsuitable manager. Actually, it could be a disaster. This and loss of control are two fears that keep practice owners from hiring managers. Most veterinarians do not have the training or the time to thoroughly interview prospective employees. If the owners are to delegate some or all of the control of the practice to a manager, they must be certain to select a qualified applicant and to implement systems for checks and balances.

Who Will Do What?

Before you hire a manager, take some time to decide what you want the individual to accomplish for you, how you will transfer control and how to structure his or her compensation. Lack of clear communication regarding your expectations can spell disaster and frustration for you and your manager. Transferring control and responsibility is probably the most difficult aspect to consider when hiring a manager. The compensation package can be somewhere between 2%-5% of the gross revenues of the practice. An office manager would cost in the 2% range, while a hospital administrator would cost closer to 5%. This 5% should include your entire management expenses including the administrator or manager, office manager, bookkeeper and the owner’s compensation for management duties.

It’s Worth It

Being a CVPM and career manager, I admit to a biased opinion on the need for management personnel. I see veterinarians whose home life and personal happiness are suffering because of the demands and stress of being a practitioner and a manager. These activities are difficult to combine effectively in a growing and developing practice. Consider the potential for growth in your personal and professional life if you could concentrate on the practice of medicine and share the burden of management with a trained manager.

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