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The costliest mistakes you can make in your veterinary practice

Posted in Management @ Aug 2nd 2016 - By Dr Diederik Gelderman, Turbo Charge Your Veterinary Practice
The Costliest Mistakes You Can Make In Your Veterinary Practice 1 And 2

What are the two costliest mistakes you can make in your veterinary practice?

Today I just want to quickly explore the two biggest and costliest mistakes that you can make in your Vet practice. And these are mistakes that are easy to make and hard to avoid, until……. You’re really deep in the doo doo….


This mistake is one that is made by many if not MOST Veterinary practices…. It’s the mistake of no leader or poor leadership.

Having a practice manager is important, but having a leader is not just important, it is essential. Essential that is if you want to grow, prosper and attain that FREEDOM that you deserve.

Think of all the iconic companies; Apple, Facebook, Linked-In, Microsoft, I could go on….

Their big commonality – a LEADER and a Purpose espoused by that leader which engaged the team, bonded them together and gave them outcomes far greater than any they would have had, had they not had that leader.

Just have a read of Jim Collins’ seminal book, ‘From Good to Great’ and you’ll get a real understanding of what your practice needs.

Leadership: A Definition.

According to the idea of transformational leadership, an effective leader is a person who does the following:

Creates an inspiring vision of the future. Motivates and inspires people to engage with that vision.

Are you currently doing that, motivating and inspiring your team to ‘follow’ that vision of pet care excellence that you espouse?

My Definition: I put it this way; leadership is the difference between having to get out of bed and come to work and getting to get out of bed to come to work at the practice.

A leader makes you feel so good about what you’re doing, what the practice is doing that you look forward to GETTING to get up to come to work.

And let’s be real here too – maybe not every day…… Maybe getting up out of bed joyously to come to work doesn’t happen every day, but sure as heck, it happens the MAJORITY of the time.

Hey – that’s you I’m talking about, motivating your team with leadership, because sure as eggs, trust me when I say, the money you pay them is NOT going to do it!! 

Now you can see the importance and yet the simplicity of good leadership. You don’t have to be a Gandhi or a Martin Luther King Jnr. or even a Steve Jobs.

You just have to be YOU. 

Figuratively speaking, look around you…. You’ve meet lots of really excellent leaders in your life. There might have been a favourite teacher who inspired you or a football coach, perhaps an uncle or an aunt, perhaps even a character from a book or a ‘Super Hero' you admired from your childhood.

Leaders come in all shapes and sizes, wearing all sorts of disguises.


- I know that your Veterinary School most likely didn’t have a course on leadership in the curriculum. 

- I know that you went to school to be an ‘animal doctor’ and to make a difference in the lives of those you treat. 

- I know that you didn’t go to school to become a ‘leader’ or to manage people

- I could go on in this vein but let’s cut to the chase.

If you want your practice to work really well, someone has to do some leadership duties for an hour or so a week, give or take.

The GREAT THING is that you don’t have to be BORN a leader, these skills can be easily learned by anyone.

Is it perhaps time that you enrolled yourself in that (leadership) class….


If you are past the start-up practice phase, then you'll be more than familiar with the following stat:

Even the best Vet practices have 35% to 45% percent of its operating costs consumed by salaries and wages. WOW.

And the not-so-good practices have EVEN higher wages expenses.


That's an awfully big slice of the overhead pie. Huge. However, as frightening as that statistic is, the true depth of payroll expense cannot be measured in ‘hours-in/dollars-out’ terms. 

That would be misleading and far too simple. There is a secret, unspoken dark side to practice payrolls that many practice owners and managers don't understand or even know exists until it's too late and they have been ‘beating their head against the wall’ for far too long, because of it.

What is this crippling overhead expense? It's the unofficial price tag that comes with poor hiring choices - and poor includes the good, the bad, and the ugly employees.

Here is the truth about each of them...

The Good:

You want good people on your team, right? Wrong! A typical ‘good’ employee only works at about half capacity. By the time you factor in water cooler chitchat, Internet, email, personal business and a thousand other daily distractions, half capacity might even be optimistic. The average ‘good’ employee simply isn't all that productive.

All you want on your Team are ‘A’ employees. They aren’t just 2 or 3 or 4 times ‘better’, they are EXPONENTIALLY better. What’s even better, is that ‘A’ employees are FREE. That’s right – they’re FREE.

The Bad:

Merely one step below the ‘good’ employees, things get much worse. Unwilling, disengaged employees destroy morale, make costly mistakes, alienate clients, and have all the productivity of road kill. These employees will cost you much more in intangible damages than the hourly wage you already pay them.

The Ugly:

When I say ‘ugly’, I'm not talking about poor fashion or bad dental work. I'm talking about the actual financial costs of hiring the wrong person. If you add up the cost of recruiting, paying, training, maintaining, and severing a poorly performing employee, along with his or her mistakes, missed opportunities, and failures, the average cost of a bad hire is about 6 to 15 times the person's annual salary.

"By keeping bad employees you are cutting them a check to make you broke and miserable."

- Darren Hardy

Click here to read Part 2: Another 3 costly mistakes that even smart veterinary practice owners make (regulalry)

If you’d like to know more about these practice pitfalls, send me an email at and I’ll send you a great article.

About Diederik

Dr. Gelderman is a certified NLP Master Practitioner and Trainer. He began coaching veterinary professionals with his Turbo Charge Your Veterinary Practice seminar, in 2004, to a small group of associates. In 2009, the seminars expanding internationally to Hong Kong, NZ, Europe and the US.

Dr. Gelderman has coached and consulted with more than 350 Small to Medium Enterprises in a diverse range of industries. For more information visit 'Turbo Charge Your Practice'.

Click here to visit the Turbo Charge Your Practice Page in the Vetanswers Business Directory


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