Businesses across the country are struggling with staffing issues and the veterinary world is NO exception. During the pre-pandemic years finding great staff was a challenge, but since the pandemic began finding and retaining great staff has become a tumultuous experience. What follows are some interview questions that have helped veterinarians and their office managers sift through potential candidates – when you can get candidates. And the increased competition for workers has made this an employee-driven vs. employer-driven market. You’ve got to know your budget and get clear on what additional perks or benefits you may be able to offer in this now highly-competitive hiring process.
General Questions for Every Role – Veterinarians, Vet Techs, Vet Assistants, Office Managers, and Front Office
1. What are you looking for in a team and an office?
2. What does self-motivation mean to you?
3. What in particular motivates you?
4. How do you organize your day?
5. In a perfect world, how many hours per day and per week would you like to work?
6. How do you deal with conflict in the workplace? Describe a specific situation and how you dealt with it. Would you do anything differently now that you have had time to reflect?
7. How would the previous veterinarian you were employed by describe you if I were to call him/her? What about the other team members, what would they say? Would they say you were on time every day? Easy to get along with? Fun? Great with the patients and the clients?
8. What do you think are your greatest strengths? And what are your greatest challenges?
9. Describe a situation when a client was upset and describe what you did to rectify the situation or help.
10. What are three things you liked most about your last two positions/offices? What are three things you would have changed and why?
11. Describe a great day at the office.
12. What work situations, tasks, or duties cause you stress?
13. Where would you like to see yourself in two years? Where would you like to see yourself in five years?
14. If you weren’t in the veterinary field, what would you be doing? What are you most passionate about?
15. What qualities in a person do you think are important for this position?
16. How would you set the pay scale for this position? What qualifying events or skills would warrant a different pay scale or increase in compensation?
17. What do you think a bonus should be based on?
18. What benefits are most meaningful to you?
19. What have you learned during the pandemic? How did it affect your short and long-term goals?
20. Did you work remotely? Was that easy or difficult for you? How do you feel about being back in an office, working with a team, and having interaction with patients and clients all day?
Additional Questions for Specific Roles
1. Have you been involved with placing veterinary supply orders? Explain your process.
2. What have you normally done during downtime?
3. How do you talk with clients about recommended treatment for their pets? Provide an example.
4. What are your most/least favorite procedures?
5. Describe the perfect veterinarian to assist and why?
1. How would you describe your management style?
2. What are your thoughts about micro-managing?
3. What steps do you take when you realize that you have made a hiring mistake?
4. Do you enjoy being at the front desk or in an office behind the scenes?
5. What do you bring to a team to keep them motivated and smiling?
6. In your previous office did you have full responsibility for the accounts receivable? What was your average production to collection ratio?
7. In your previous office, how would the staff describe you?
1. How do you welcome new clients and patients to the practice?
2. What have your past responsibilities been? Which did you enjoy most?
3. How do you talk with clients about treatment costs? Provide an exact example of presenting treatment and negotiating a financial arrangement.
4. How do you describe a perfect schedule and how do you create it?
5. How do you fill any last-minute appointments?
6. Do you enjoy scheduling? What do you enjoy about it?
1. What does a perfect schedule look like to you?
2. How do you encourage clients to accept treatment for their pets?
3. How do you ask for referrals from existing clients?
4. What do you do at a new patient/client appointment?
5. What types of procedures do you like to do?
6. Are you comfortable being the only veterinarian working in the office?
7. How would your current/past veterinary assistant describe you? How would an owner veterinarian or office manager describe you?
8. What are your goals for each patient and each day?
Perhaps, you are a few years out of school with DVM credentials under your belt. Maybe you have been working as an Associate Vet and your confidence has grown to the point where you’re ready to take the next step with your career – owning your own practice. However, the mindset of this prospect can seem overwhelming and daunting. Most of your schooling has trained you for the practice of medicine, with the bare minimum of business course offerings. You spent more time focused on diagnosing parasites and animal dermatology than on economics classes and how to manage a business.
Perhaps you’ve heard through the grapevine that some of your fellow vets from school have taken the leap and purchased their own practices. Now you’re curious about purchasing your own practice and what your life would look like. But you’re not 100% sure that this is the right move for you. You are confident as a veterinarian, but not so much as a business owner.
Some of the questions that we field when working with potential buyers are the “what if” scenarios. What if the stock market crashes and I’m stuck owning a business that’s now underwater? How can I finance the purchase price of a practice while I still have student debt? What if I wait until I start a family and buy a house first before owning a business? On a good note, maybe the one positive part of living through the pandemic is that it has proven that being a veterinarian is not only an essential service but one that is resilient to major upheaval where other businesses have failed.
Undoubtedly, the financial aspect of owning a business is the biggest obstacle that every business owner faces. A good veterinary transition broker will help you understand the long-term potential of positioning yourself as an owner instead of staying in your current role as an Associate Veterinarian. Brokers are there to guide you through the complexity of purchasing your own practice. They can also act as a consultant on how to build your business and succeed. Our brokers at Omni Practice Group want you to be successful and that continues after the purchase of your practice with consulting services that we offer.
And yes, life will throw things your way that nobody is prepared to deal with. But having a plan in place gives you peace of mind to help you focus on building your business instead of worrying about what the future holds. Nobody wants to reminisce with classmates at a class reunion with regret about what your life could have been like. The should-have, would-have, could-have scenarios tease all of us with decisions that we wish we made earlier in our careers.
If you are ready to take the first step and start the learning process on how to begin your next journey, reach out to one of our experts and we can schedule a one-on-one meeting with you.Read More
Most veterinarians dream of eventually owning their own veterinary practice. But veterinarians tend to put off ownership for a variety of reasons. A couple of big reasons are that you have never done it before, you are not familiar with the process, or you’re just completely afraid of the unknown.
A great philosopher once said, “If you can dodge a wrench, you can dodge a ball”. What does that have to do with buying a practice? A lot, actually. What the philosopher is referring to is that if you can dodge an object, a wrench, for example, you can dodge another object, such as a ball. Applying this theorem to the practice buying world, if you have ever completed a major purchase, or made a major decision, the process and steps are the same.
We know you have made major decisions in your life, otherwise, you wouldn’t have a DVM behind your name. You decided which veterinary school to go to. In doing so, you did research. You looked at the pros and cons of each veterinary school and weighed them. You may have talked with some friends or mentors who went to those schools. You analyzed other factors like the location, cost, and how good of veterinarians the schools have turned out. You also may look at socio-economic considerations. Then, you made the decision and lived with it. And here you are facing another major decision in your life. Purchasing a veterinary practice.
Buying a veterinary practice is similar. The first step is figuring out the variables of what type of practice you want. Where do you want to practice? How many rooms do you want to have? Do you want to own the real estate? Do you want a practice with high production or one that you can build? Once you’ve come up with your criteria, the next step is to locate potential practices that may be on the market. You may also consider doing a startup. You analyze the practices that are on the market. You may see one or two you like. You contact the broker to get information on the practice. This is typically called a practice prospectus or practice offering memorandum. Some brokers will send tax returns, profit, and loss statements, and practice management reports up-front. You get all this information, and it looks like it is written in Latin. You may not have any clue how to read the reports. The broker can go over the numbers with you, or you can also hire an independent broker, phone a friend who understands business, or possibly a CPA. After you have looked at the numbers and that passes your and your advisor’s scrutiny, the next step is to go see the practice.
You contact the broker and set up a showing of a couple of practices. Looking at a practice is like looking at a house for sale. You may see things you like and things you do not like. But know that things can be changed. We have had doctors decide they don’t want a practice because the carpet is outdated, or the paint is ugly. There are people who can paint and change out the carpet. They do it for a living. They’re called painters and carpet layers. So, don’t exclude a practice because it is ugly. Have a little vision and think about how you may make it your own style.
Another one that throws potential buyers off is equipment. The exam tables may be dated and worn, the x-ray machine may be old, etc. Prices of equipment have come down. Remember, you may be in this practice for 20+ years. Spreading out the cost of new equipment, even if it’s $50,000 or $100,000, can be as little as $2,000 per year.
After you have looked at the practice, you like the location, but there may be one or two things that do not fit your criteria. Remember that the cash flow of the practice is always the number one consideration. I have been selling practices for 15 years and I have seen some ugly, small, outdated practices collecting $1,000,000 and taking home $500,000. I have seen ugly practices collecting $400,000 and taking home $250,000 on 3 days of work per week. Don’t judge the book by its cover. It is what’s inside, or the cash flow inside that really counts.
After you have decided that this is a good practice and you would like to purchase the practice, you make an offer through a letter of intent. It is a non-binding agreement where the broker typically provides a template. You can either come up with your own offer or work with your advisor to come up with the offer. If it’s a good practice and the broker has reasonably priced the practice, make a good offer close to or at the asking price. DO NOT LOW BALL THE PURCHASE PRICE IF YOU ARE SERIOUS ABOUT PURCHASING THE PRACTICE! You will just upset the seller and they won’t even want to work with you after receiving a low-ball offer.
You will want to begin contacting bankers who specialize in veterinary practice financing. Brokers know almost all of them and which ones are lending at the moment. Ask the broker for a name or two. The banker will ask for your personal financials. They love to see you have some cash in the bank and not much credit card debt. Bankers will be more interested in how the practice is doing. They love to see a practice with great cash flow.
You next jump into due diligence on the practice after the offer has been accepted. You go into the practice on the weekend and go through the charts, x-rays, equipment, etc. There are checklists you can use to do the due diligence or bring along an advisor. However, be careful with advisors as some will just want to look for the bad things in the practice. Don’t throw out the baby with the bathwater if they point out vaccine appointments are not what they should be. Remember, almost everything can be fixed. Just note it and continue on.
If everything goes well on the due diligence, you let the broker know you are moving forward. The seller’s attorney will draft up agreements. You will then hire your own attorney. Ask your advisor or broker for a veterinary-specific attorney. Using a non-veterinary attorney will cost you additional money. We have seen non-veterinary attorneys charge double, triple, and more to put agreements together. After the agreements have been “agreed” upon, the next and final step is closing. At closing, you sign the agreements and take over the practice.
There are some additional steps in the process that your broker can help you with, but these are the basic steps in purchasing a practice. So, just like purchasing anything else or making any major decisions, you just need to go through the steps, rely on your advisors, and dodge those wrenches! As always, we are here for you for a free consultation, just give one of our experienced brokers a call.Read More
If you already own a veterinary practice, have you ever considered buying an existing veterinary practice located close to your first practice and merging the two together? If you ask most doctors, they will say the best way to build a practice is through taking care of your patients and bringing in new patients via word of mouth and marketing. And, they would be correct. However, acquiring a second practice and merging the two together makes sense in many ways.
First off, have you ever calculated the cost of acquiring a patient via old-fashioned word of mouth? It requires a lot of work if you include everything from building your brand, training your staff, maintaining a spotless, high-tech practice, etc., the cost could easily be hundreds of dollars or more per patient. The cost of acquiring a patient via marketing is even more. Acquiring a veterinary practice with existing patients can typically run from several hundred dollars per active patient to $1,000 per active patient. Slightly less to maybe equal to acquiring a patient through a normal channel. However, you get a high volume of patients very quickly in addition to adding income to your pocket.
Secondly, you acquire a stream of revenue at a near dollar-to-dollar relationship. If the selling practice is producing $500,000 per year, you should be able to repeat the $500,000 in revenue by merging the practices together, or worst case, slightly below the $500,000. The good news is you don’t bring over all of the expenses of the selling practice. You typically can save in a number of ways including reducing the staff of the selling practice, utilities are not double as the practices merge to one location, there is only one rent payment (more on that in a minute), only one set of books, so only one payroll service and one bookkeeper and accountant and several other services can be eliminated. So, while getting most of the revenue to increase your practice collections, you only get a portion of the expenses. This increases the income of the practice owner – you!
Thirdly, by acquiring another veterinarian’s office, you reduce the number of practices in your area by one. Less competition equals more new patients for you. You can hire the selling doctor as an employee to help with the veterinary transition as well as perform some other things that will help with patient retention.
Contact us today for a free consultation!
Happy New Year! We would like to wish you a new and improved year over 2020 and 2021. If you’re like most people, you have set some New Year’s resolutions. Perhaps one of them is going to the gym. Another may be eating healthier. A third popular one is spending more time with family and friends. Statistics show that on average, it takes 32 days before people give up on their resolutions. My thought is why wait? I’m having a hot fudge sundae for lunch and not going to the gym! But how about a resolution to further your career as a veterinarian?
One way to further your career may be getting out of your current dead-end associate job and finding a new one. As you know, there is a shortage of veterinarians who want to be associates. As such, corporates are offering bonuses to sign on with them. Some are quite generous. There may be some stipulations around how long you need to stay working with them, however. If you don’t want to work for a corporate-owned practice, there are a lot of individual practice owners looking for associates as well. You can check your state associate website for ads or give us a call and we may know of some openings.
Another idea might be expanding your role in your current associate position. Perhaps you want to do surgery or certain procedures that you like to do. You can start by talking with your practice owner and see what kind of opportunities he may be able to provide. You can also work part-time in another office which may be willing to give you the opportunity you’re looking for.
A third way of growing your career in 2022 is by purchasing a practice. Now, don’t stop reading yet. Practice owners make 15% to 20% more than associate veterinarians make. They also build equity in their practice typically paying off their entire loans in 10 years. If you purchased a $500,000 practice and simply sustain its production, you now have earned 15% to 20% more per year PLUS, you’ve earned $500,000 of equity in your practice. If you grew it 10% per year, you now have over $1 million in equity. I know many associate veterinarians are afraid of owning a practice. They think corporates are going to take over the world and corporates get better deals on supplies. First of all, corporates will not be taking over the world. There will always be room for individual practice owners. In fact, if I had a choice, I would take my dog to an individual owner before I would take it to a corporate owner. I think most pet owners would agree. Regarding better deals on supplies, I’ve had several supply reps tell me that they would give the same deal to an individual as they would to a corporate owner. Supplies as a percentage of gross revenues make up a small number. So, even if they did get better deals, it would not make that big of a difference. Don’t be afraid of owning a practice and competing against the corporate big guys. You can provide a much better and more personalized experience than they can.
These are just a few ideas for your New Year’s resolutions if you haven’t come up with your own. Now, go to the gym, grab a salad, and then, go improve your career!Read More