APL Accounting News February 2014

The Four Decisions every practice owner needs to make

In any business, including veterinary practice, there are four important areas where the leader of the business must make regular decisions. Narrowing key decisions down to four areas makes it easy to remember and maintain focus as the business leader, so here goes a discussion at helping you focus on how to grow your business!

What are the four key areas? Probably in order of importance they are People, Strategy, Execution and Cash. And this is actually old news, not just a revelation we here at APL Accountants have had, in fact a recent article we received via the internet dealing with these areas in other businesses prompted us to analyse the importance of these areas in
veterinary practice.

People challenges impact your happiness and can be either source of energy or an emotional drain. People issues can include conflicts with a partner,a key employee or two that’s disrupting the rest of the practice’s effectiveness, or challenges at home. Or you might simply lack enough employees to serve your customers and be unable to recruit an additional vet. If people are your problem, then hone in on your ‘people’ skills and if required get some advice from a consultant. We have taken this approach, changed our management style and never regretted it.

In this newsletter, we have reminded you of the Recruitment Bootcamp for vets, something we would strongly advise for anyone who is experiencing ‘people’ problems in their business. How do you know if you have people problems in your organisation? A good indicator is when you are spending most of your time micro-managing people and having difficulty in getting your team to perform even the most basic tasks consistently, for example getting email addresses and mobile numbers from clients at the reception desk.

How do you know if you have a problem with your strategies? Simple, if your revenue is not increasing every year or if it is decreasing, then you have a problem with strategy. Your business needs to change direction, establish a point of difference and apply different marketing and sales tactics. Did we say the word ‘sales’?, and how on earth can that have anything to do with Veterinary business where you just wait for clients to come to the door with sick pets?

The truth is that as veterinarians we are never prepped for business strategy, but rather as ‘problem solvers’ where we find our comfort zone lies in the area of identifying and treating a problem. This takes us away from the forward looking strategy of ‘how am I going to grow my revenue in the next 12 months’ – essentially what every other successful business does as a 12 month strategic plan. So, unfortunately for us, we do have to consider sales in the sense of promoting services such as dentistry, or drive revenue by virtue of detailing pet insurance to pet owners, or by running puppy pre-schools to gain new clients with young pets.

How do you know if you have an ‘execution’ problem? We see this often when we evaluate some veterinary businesses for a few subsequent years. The revenue of the business increases but the profits remain the same or decrease. It’s logical that if your strategies are working and you are getting more business, but if your internal processes, efficiencies and pricing are not correct, then you are not ‘executing’ or completing the work in an efficient manner. The classic scenario of finding yourself working harder and harder for no more money. If this sounds familiar then you have a problem in this

Many business owners complain that they simply do not know where their cash goes. With regular payments such as superannuation and BAS, coupled with the seasonality of veterinary business, it’s not surprising that some find themselves short of cash. This can also happen at a personal level, where the business appears to be fine and even have a good net profit, but the owners find themselves short of funds on a personal level due to school fees for children and loans on property.

The solution here is to ask for more frequent reporting on your business (quarterly reporting) and forecasting. On a business and personal level, the tax planning and financial planning services we offer can help. Even putting your personal accounts on a small accounting package can help you gain control of your personal finances vs your business

In summary, if you feel your business is not going as well as you would like, categorise your problems in these four main areas – this will help you to IDENTIFY the problems more easily. Identify the one or two most significant issues and address these. Don’t try to tackle all your problems at once, just the one or two most important ones – This will help you to FOCUS and not waste time on less important matters.



Reminder About Recruitment Bootcamp For Vets In March-April

Just a reminder about this event that will deal with what we feel is one of the most important challenges in maintaining practice profitability – Your team. How do you get them to buy in and how do you motivate all the different personality types.

Dates are:
Gold Coast – 25th March
Melbourne – 27th March
Sydney – set April
Perth – 3rd April

The recruitment bootcamp for vets is run by two very knowledgeable people:
Nancy Slessenger who is a Human Resources consultant whom we have personally used at APL Accountants.Dr Dave Nicol who needs little introduction and is a well know speaker on various business related topics within the industry.

Together, we are sure that this team will present some very interesting topics on one of the most important issues influencing veterinary practice profitability – the people who work there.

You can get more information at:



Bottom of the pack – Introducing a new member to the ‘pack’

Zack is a dog who is a couch potato and has an unusual life experience. His owners who were once exciting vets have now become boring accountants. They used to bring him into the exciting vet practice every day, now they bring him into a boring accounting office every day. This gives him a unique dog’s eye view on both professions.

I’m a Beagle, so that makes me a pack dog. The more the merrier as far as I’m concerned, especially because it then increases my chances of getting treats over lunch time.

As a result, I am happy to announce a new member has joined our APL Accountants’pack’:

When we realised that we needed a new senior accountant, the challenge was raised as to who could maintain the quality of work you expect AND still bring in more experience to the pack? Simply putting an advertisement out there for anyone to apply did not seem right, after all, we would not want to expose you to a Rottweiler or Pit Bull, both of which could make you (and me)nervous.

So then I had a light bulb moment! Surely, the only person who could bring more to you than Anne already does would
be her mentor. The person who originally supervised Anne and taught her all she knows about public practice –
Peta Paterson! With over 20 years in public practice, having owned her own practice and also having worked as a financial planner, Peta would bring a wealth of knowledge to you(and more treats to lunch).

Now Anne was very concerned about asking her old supervisor to come work with us, but as it turns out, she felt we were a very proactive, exciting bunch and really loved the concept of business support that could be offered to the veterinary profession,so she accepted. We would like to give Peta a warm welcome and needless to say we are sure that she will be a valuable part of our team here (and she loves dogs!)



Please Note: Many of the comments in this publication are general in nature and anyone intending to apply the
information to practical circumstances should seek professional advice to independently verify their interpretation
and the information’s applicability to their particular circumstances.