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Strategic Planning...essential for success in your veterinary practice

Posted in Guest Blogger @ Sep 1st 2015 - By Sue Crampton, CCG/Provet
Strategic Planning

Do you have the skills and knowledge to develop the necessary strategic plan for your veterinary business?

As our industry grows and diversifies, it is becoming more and more apparent that we need to be innovative in our business practices. Besides our veterinary duties we are also business people, customer service managers, human resource coordinators and counsellors to our clients. Often we are time poor by the very nature of our business. Finding the time to achieve anything outside of the appointment schedule on the computer can be impossible.

Identifying your Critical Success Factors goes a long way to determining the non- negotiables for practice success. If you are looking to make more money your Critical Success Factor (CSF) may centre around profit margins, cash flow or a decrease in expenses. CSF’s are intrinsically linked to the practice vision, mission and values.  These are often determined by a strategic plan.   

Critical Success Factors...determined by a strategic plan

Strategic planning is the process of determining where the practice is going, how you are going to get there and how you will know if you got there or not.

Whilst there are a multitude of models and approaches to creating a strategic plan, the overall emphasis is on goal-based planning and clear KPI management strategies.  Strategic plans are commonly created for a three year period although they can range from 1-10 years.  

Whilst it is often the case that practice owners and partners know where they are going, strategic planning is a meaningful developmental tool for communicating goals and strategies to other members of the team. It ensures all staff are on the same page and ‘buy in’ to the practice plans for success.

Benefits of strategic planning

Additional benefits come from clearly defining the purpose of the practice, stakeholders involved, goals and objectives and ensuring the most effective use of resources available. Moreover, strategic plans foster a sense of ownership and pride in the practice and forms the foundation for establishing mechanisms to measure success. Attempting a strategic plan is a daunting task, especially when practices are caught in the cycle of ‘fire fighting’ (meaning they are constantly reacting to problems). It is always difficult to find the time to stop and analyse what needs to be accomplished to make real, measured progress.  

The importance of budgets

Creating a budget can also be a challenge but the benefits outweigh the initial work. Being cognisant with your budget also empowers you to evaluate your current bills, identify unnecessary expenses and remove those areas which stop you from achieving your KPIs.  Budgeting and sound financial controls also allow practices to feel confident in determining client fees accurately and purchasing additional equipment or hiring new staff. It also gives you the power to determine ‘If I purchase this endoscope I know I need to increase my consults per day to X’. 

Before you can make sound business decisions.....

So in a nutshell, before practices can truly make sound business decisions, careful planning and thought must be given to the ‘Now, Where, How’ philosophy. Where am I now financially? Where do I want to go financially? How am I going to get there?  

  • Know where you stand NOW. Utilise practice programs such as VisionVPM to extract your data and do a ‘year in review’.
  • Prioritise time to do a budget. There are plenty of templates, programs and workshops which can assist you with this. 
  • Know where you want to go - set a WHERE target.  Liaise with your Associates and staff to do a SWOT analysis on your ideas and figures.  Your staff will be the key to driving your goals.
  • Spend quality time devising your HOW plan.  This process involves creating the steps required to walk towards success, who is responsible and timeframes for tasks. 

If you wish to increase your average income per consult, you need to plan how it will be implemented, who will drive it and how the veterinarians will be trained to make it happen.  It is the same principle for staffing – if you need another nurse, consider how you are going to afford this additional salary.

A good financial plan will determine which area of the business must step up.

Being clear with the team in these areas also offers solutions whilst giving them their own key performance indicators.

Need help developing the direction for your practice? Want to learn more about leading your team and managing your practice? Join CCG at the upcoming Practice Management School.

Find out more online: or

About Sue

Sue is acknowledged as a leading speaker, trainer and consultant across Australasia in the areas of practice and organisational development, strategic planning, communication excellence & staff development and management. She has a Bachelor of Business, majoring in Human Resources and Marketing, as well as her Diploma in Company Directorship (GAICD) and a Masters in NLP.

Sue invests time working as the HR Manager for Provet and maintaining a weekend role as a veterinary nurse in a quality mixed practice in Brisbane.

Click here to visit the Crampton Consulting Group Page in the Vetanswers Business Directory



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