Veterinary professionals are seeing troublesome trends in the industry: practices are seeing more overweight patients, pet visits are declining and clients lack a basic understanding of the importance of preventive care. A growing number of practice managers support the belief that to reverse these trends the practice culture must be changed to focus on preventive care to ensure improved client compliance and better pet healthcare. Managers who are interested in advocating for a preventive pet healthcare approach in their practices can access tools and information to guide them through the process. The practice owner's support and approval of the approach is an important first step.
One tool managers can use to guide them through the process of implementing a preventive pet healthcare project is the recently published, Preventive Pet Healthcare: Your guide to becoming a PRACTICE CHAMPION. Over the next few months, Practice Pulse will highlight strategies from the guide. For the first installment, the focus in on the first step in the process: gaining owner approval.
Introducing the Project
Owner approval is closely tied to owner education. Managers who provide good information about the what and why of preventive healthcare can increase the likelihood that the owner hears and understands what the manager is proposing. According to the CHAMPION's Guide, prior to any discussion managers should be sure to:
- Schedule the appointment for a specific time and in a location that is free from distractions. This is not the type of project that should be presented on the fly between meetings and appointments.
- Replace the manager's cap with the owner's cap and think like a boss. The manager's job is to sell the project and gain the support of the owner. For a presentation to resonate with the owner, it should address his/her point of view and concerns.
For pointers on how to prepare an email to request a meeting with the owner, the CHAMPION’s Guide's sample email outlines the major points that should be included, such as: a brief list of the advantages of implementing the project, the time commitment involved and reference to the manager's enthusiasm about the project.
When the owner agrees to the initial meeting, the next step involves preparing for the face-to-face appointment, which should cover the project's purpose, benefits and process, clearly and effectively. The CHAMPION’s Guide suggests talking points that managers can incorporate into the presentation. The talking points are organized under eight key topics, which include:
- What you are proposing to do
- How you plan to accomplish it
- What’s in it for the practice
- What’s in it for the Practice Champion
- What’s in it for the Team
- What’s in it for the Client
- What’s in it for the Patient
- What is the time commitment
Managers can make a strong presentation by reviewing the pointers listed under each topic, becoming familiar with the content and rehearsing to ensure a confident and comfortable delivery. The presentation should focus on transmitting information, as well as delivering an energetic performance. Enthusiasm is contagious and the level of enthusiasm may influence the owner’s perception of the project.
A quantitative list of stakeholder benefits is available in the CHAMPION’s Guide. These are powerful inducements that can impact on how the proposal is received by the owner.
Taking the first step into the unknown can be daunting, but the CHAMPION’s Guide provides the insights and strategies to move forward with confidence.
It’s All about Change
Implementing a preventive healthcare protocol involves change: changing attitudes, changing perceptions and changing business practices. Change is best introduced through a series of manageable actions and the CHAMPION’s Guide provides guidance to managers embarking on the process by outlining steps and offering usable tools. Mangers who adopt some or all of the comprehensive approach detailed in the stand a better chance of getting buy-in and support for their proposal.
Your guide to becoming a PRACTICE CHAMPION is an important tool for ushering in change in your practice.
To order the workbook, it is free to the first 1,000 VHMA members who order in 2015.
Next Month…Get it in Writing!