Be an Observer for a Day and you Can Save Your Veterinary Practice Thousands of Dollars in Missed Charges
Can we talk about missed charges? Every day, events happen that make me think “Boy, if I was that business owner, I’d pay a lot more attention to the little things.” Seemingly insignificant events can have far-reaching consequences, and if employees aren’t aware (or worse, don’t care), you are setting yourself up for self-imposed business whoopin’.
I grabbed take-out lunch yesterday at Chipotle, made sure it almost conformed to my Paleo diet, and was waiting for my burrito bowl preparer to write in black magic marker on the aluminum cover the “C” for chicken and the “G” for guacamole. He wrote only the “C”, so when the cashier wrung up my total, she only charged me for chicken, not the additional $1.95 for a healthy scoop of guacamole. Good parents formed the honest CPA that I am, so I told her that she did not charge me for the guacamole. She grunted at me and handed back my change, essentially giving me a healthy dose of monounsaturated fat fruit for free. I notified her that I really wanted to pay for what I received, so charge me for it. She had trouble with the new change amount due to a math issue (that’s another story), but I got the intended result and my point,$ 1.95 worth, across.
Is there a point here? Yup. If the preparer of my food was not properly trained and did not know that guacamole should be noted on the aluminum cover when dispensed to a patron, one or two a day may not be a costly error. But if he serves 1,500 patrons per day (entirely possible in this very busy location), the lost revenue from missed charges is a costly one. Poor training, forgetting his training, and other employees not eager to fix his mistake are symptoms of something much larger. How do you catch this problem, whatever it is? Just be there. That’s it. A manager or owner should just observe during the busiest, and other random “day-part” (restaurant speak) times. Watch how employees interact with each other, with patrons, with managers, with subordinates. Don’t do anything, don’t say anything, just sit or stand there. You’ll derive a bigger insight into operations by being a fly on the wall than by jumping in to correct everybody. Unless you can’t take it for that long. In that case, at the end of the busiest time or at the end of the shift, devise a plan to have management staff correct and train for successful outcomes.
One of our clients, an optometrist with a very busy practice, has a great, dependable and loyal staff. One day my wife, a patient of the optometrist, was sitting in the waiting room prior to her appointment. The office manager was speaking to another patient about testing that was required for his particular eye condition. There was an optional test that would bring greater diagnostic insight that needed to be scheduled, and may not be covered by his health plan. But the office manager told the patient that he could “get away without the test because it cost too much”. I got a full report on this, then emailed our client vacationing on Martha’s Vineyard, and I think I heard a scream from 129 miles away seconds after I hit “send”. We spoke when her vocal cords returned to normal, and the gist of the conversation was that a uniform message of treatment needed to be sent, and oh yeah, how do we pay for the special equipment that says our treatment is cutting edge?
Veterinary Practice Owners: It pays to take some time out of your busy day and just observe, nothing more. Those missed charges add up over time and that is something you cannot afford to lose.