We see embezzlement in the veterinary office all too often. The average embezzlement amount REPORTED is over $100,000 in a veterinary practice, and we know most is not reported or ever discovered. Please review the following tips to avoid embezzlement, as well as signs from employees to be aware of.
-Limit access to practice management software to make adjustments, and format software to disallow deletions or changes after the close of each month. Assign passwords to each employee. Ensure the software company understands that you are the only person that can make changes to the software.
-Clearly set expectations and protocol for making adjustments.
-Review daily reports for adjustments, provider production (ensure there are no “zero” charges), collections, over-the-counter collections, and audit/deletion. Ask questions and research as appropriate.
-Review and confirm the accuracy of daily reconciliation of deposit, petty cash, and cash drawer. Confirm monthly bank reconciliations.
-Review accounts receivable aging reports each month and research any accounts as appropriate.
-Do not allow team members to purchase things for the office and be reimbursed.
-Match up all accounts payable checks with statements and confirm accuracy. Watch for vendors or names you don’t recognize or come up frequently.
-Confirm all bills and credit card statements are accurate.
-Never sign a blank check for a team member, client, or vendor.
-Ensure checks are in numeric order and keep all voided checks.
-Look for trends, such as missing checks, incorrect deposits, missing charts, increased adjustments, and patient complaints.
-Review the details of each team member’s paycheck and year-to-date numbers.
-Perform background checks according to state law.
-Have your veterinary-focused CPA involved with your bookkeeping
-Implement a comprehensive written Office Policy and Employee Manual
Potential Employee Warning Signs
- Resistance to change or having your veterinary CPA or consultant view additional practice information
- Collections have slowed with no justified reason
- Daily deposit reconciliation is not being done timely or is inaccurate
- Adjustments increase with no justified reason
- Team member refuses to take a vacation, wants to take work home, has a financial crisis, and/or resents your income and lifestyle
By Corey Young, DDS, MBA, ABI and Jen Bennett, OMNI Practice Group
Congratulations! You just achieved a major professional milestone in completing the purchase of your new practice.
There are many tasks that will require your immediate attention after closing, but one often overlooked item that is crucial to your transition is ensuring you retain the staff.
Here are some helpful tips for you to consider:
The first thing you will want to do is a formal “meet and greet.” I highly recommend that you meet your new employees within two days of the seller notifying the staff. This will help ease their anxiety about who the new boss is and give you an opportunity to personally remind them that they are an asset to the practice. It is also always a nice touch to schedule the introduction during lunch hour and as a kind gesture, to bring lunch for all. Be sure to check with the seller on any dietary restrictions, food allergies, and favorite restaurants.
Next, your new staff will be worried that you will be making changes that may negatively impact their lives such as pay, benefits, work hours, scheduled time off, etc. Make it a top priority to understand their concerns and to assure them that you will carefully evaluate all potential changes before making any decisions. While things might not be run exactly how you want them to be, be sure to weigh the consequences of losing a key staff member because of a decision you might make. Sometimes it is better to leave things intact while you get yourself established with the staff and with your new patients before you implement your desired changes.
Finally, you will be busy but find time to make a personal connection. Set aside one-on-one time with each staff member, get to know them, what they care about, and why they got into veterinary practice. Establishing a relationship early on will pay dividends down the road as your new patients will certainly be asking their trusted veterinary technician, assistant, or office staff member, “What do you think about the new guy/gal?” The goal is to not only retain your staff but to retain patients as well. Having staff in your corner is critical to your long-term success.
In Washington State, Governor Jay Inslee has halted all non-emergency services and elective procedures for the next 8 weeks forcing most medical offices to close during this time (hospitals, surgery centers, dental offices, etc.)
Rent is still due!
The obligation to make a rent payment is not automatically stopped because your business has been forced to close! Here are some ideas of what you can try:
Talk to your Landlord.
Engage with your landlord right away. It may be news to them that your office has been forced to close, leaving you with little to no ability to produce revenue. They might in a situation to help, though this is a negotiation not a guarantee. Ask your landlord if they would be willing to waive or reduce your rent, a 90-day deferral of rent could be option, or just pay the CAM/NNN – anything can help. Offer to make it up over time once the doors are back open and you’re treating patients. Remember the landlord may be having their own financial hardships, but they do have an interest in you being able to pay the rent for years to come.
Check-in with your Insurance Agent.
Some insurance policies have coverage for unique circumstances in the case that you are not able to run your business. This may help with covering rents and loss of wages.
I am not an attorney, nor is this an attempt to provide legal advice. So, check-in and consult your attorney, make sure they specialize in Commercial Real Estate Law with a focus on Medical leases and contracts. On rare occasions, your lease may include Force Majeure, which could offer relief in unforeseeable circumstances that prevent someone from fulfilling a contract, but this is unlikely. After a quick review of a traditional WA State Commercial Brokers Association Lease, there was no Force Majeure clause within the document.
Ask your attorney about Common Law which is prevalent in many states. This may address the impossibility to perform and make an income, it doesn’t automatically relieve you from your rent obligation, but the fact that you are forced to perform only emergency procedures in WA State may allow for an avenue for relief.
Banks across the nation are offering short term Small Business Loans at low rates as a method for giving small businesses financial aid. First, check-in with specific banks that focus on loans for Medical providers. Small Business Loans are available now. Some larger national banks may offer other loan programs or allow for deferred payments for the time being. Now may also be a good time to refinance your practice loan into a lower rate loan and saving you money.
If you need help getting in touch with a qualified attorney, banker, want to talk about your specific circumstances and ideas, or just want to tell me I am wrong, please contact me at Steve@omni-pg.com.
Connect with Steve on LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/steve-kikikis-378b8697/
Freshen up your practice – Buyers like to see a fresh, clean and somewhat updated practice. That does not mean you need to do a complete remodel and spend a $100,000. It does mean you need to take a look at your flooring and your walls. If you have large holes in your wall or your flooring was leftover linoleum from World War II, you should fix the holes and put in new flooring. Talk to your landlord, sometimes they will help with the cost. If you have equipment that is held together by the “fix everything” duct tape, contact your local equipment rep and have it fixed.
Update your technology – We run into an occasional practice owner that considers indoor plumbing as new technology. If you are in that category, or if you have not done any technology updates since Richard Nixon was president, you should look into digital x-rays and other technology that will not only appeal to buyers but will help you increase your production in the practice. Contact your equipment rep for the latest and great technology.
Financial Review – Have a meeting with your financial planner or advisor to see where you currently stand with your retirement portfolio. This will help determine how soon you can possibly retire, how much more you may need to put away to retire and/or how much you need to get out of your practice sale in order to retire.
Practice Valuation – You should get a valuation done on your practice. This will help your financial planner and you see where you stand with your entire portfolio. Some doctors rely heavily on their practice sale to be a piece of their retirement nest-egg, so if you don’t know what your practice may be worth, you don’t know what size of nest-egg you have. Call Omni for a free snapshot valuation.
Clean up your books – If you have been aggressive in running expenses and other items through payroll, you should work on making sure the books are clean. If you have multiple practices, but run all of your income and expenses through one tax id number, you should ensure you can separate the income and expenses of both practices. Meet with your CPA to analyze your numbers and see if you are in line with industry averages.
Grow your practice – One of the worst things you can do is take your foot off of the gas pedal. If you want to maximize the value of your practice, keep production at least level with prior years. A growing practice sells quicker and easier than a dying practice. If you don’t know how to grow your practice and make it more sellable, contact a consultant, or have a practice assessment done.
These are just a few items that you can do to help prepare your practice for a sale. If you work on these items now and over the next 3 years, you will maximize your practice value, enlarge your pool of potential buyers and be able to sell your practice quicker.
Common Reasons for Veterinary Practice Valuations
There are several reasons doctors need to know the value of their Veterinary practice. The most common reason is for Veterinary practice transitions or sales. Valuations help to determine if the asking price is reasonable, to figure out a reasonable asking price to begin with, and to ensure the practice is profitable enough to invest in; this is also important to know when considering a merger. Doctors should also get their practice valuated within ten years of retirement and every two years after for estate planning purposes. Therefore, it is important to make sure the valuation is not a cookie cutter process.
Rule of Thumb Should Not Apply
No two Veterinary practices are the same, so no two valuations should be the same. Often veterinary practice valuation are conducted using a rule of thumb method. The method does a major disservice to both the seller and the buyer, as it often does not highlight the practice’s uniqueness and how that influences the actual value of the practice in question. For a true valuation, many aspects of the practice must be taken into account and evaluated by experts with extensive formal training and resulting certifications, such as the experts at OMNI Veterinary Practice Group.
When looking into Veterinary practice valuations, it is important to make sure the professionals have extensive experience performing said valuations. The team at Omni Veterinary Practice Group; example, have helped hundreds of doctors buy and sell their practices using accurate valuations based on the practice itself and are considered Veterinary industry experts in practice valuations. As members of the Institute of Business Appraisers and the Practice Valuation Study Club, OMNI Veterinary Practice Group offers accurate and individualized valuations for Veterinary practices in Washington, Oregon, and California.
To learn more about why and how Veterinary practice valuations are conducted, or to request a free consultation in the Washington, Oregon, or California areas, please contact the expert staff at OMNI Veterinary Practice Group. OMNI’s team of experts are dedicated to ensuring each client’s success through transitions, valuations, consulting and other real estate services in the Veterinary field.