APL Accounting News November 2017

IMPORTANT – Our address is changing

Note that as of 6 November, our new address will be:

2 Genoa Court, Cleveland, QLD 4163
Our postal address/PO Box will remain the same: PO Box 245, Cleveland, QLD 4163
Our telephone numbers and fax numbers also remain unchanged: Tel: 07 3488 0131 Fax: 07 3488 2224

Most importantly, the team remains unchanged and our office is even more dog friendly than ever so all the dogs are rearing to go. As you can see, Daisy in the driving seat, Chica and Stella riding shotgun and as always, Strudel at the back playing second fiddle to all the ladies:

With with the move comes a suitable quarterly theme –  The ABBA posters have come down, mirror ball has been ripped off the ceiling and inflatable guitars ripped off the walls thus ending our 70’s disco theme.

To celebrate our office move and focus on getting everything running smoothly at the new location, this quarter welcomes ‘Greener Pastures’. We can wait to get the new place decked out with anything green!

You would have to be CRAZY to give a competitor a list of all your clients! Well, actually it can happen very easily.

At APL we want to make sure that your most precious asset is well looked after and the most precious asset of any veterinary practice is your client list.
How would you feel if an associate vet left your business, taking with them a list of all your clients so that they could potentially contact them later!
When this has happened to veterinary business owners, they have rightly been able to look for legal compensation because a prior employee is not allowed to take intellectual property that belongs to a business. Yes of course a prior employee may draw some clients away, but if it can be proved that they took copies of client lists from your business then legal action can be taken.

But just like an undetected cancer, the dangers of your client list going into the wrong hands is not necessarily as obvious as in the above scenario. It really can be the wolf in sheeps clothing, where you willingly give your customer information away and therefore may have little legal recourse.

With the recent advent of so many third party apps and services that can do everything for you like reminders, online appointments and marketing automations through the internet, the risk exposing your customer list to the wrong hands becomes a reality once again. In these instances you should make yourself aware of what the third party service does, what data it collects and most importantly what it is allowed to do with your data.

By all means, don’t take this as a message that you should not use third party services on the internet. In fact we highly encourage you to do so because many of these reminder, appointment and reporting services will allow you to compete on a level playing field with larger corporate practices. In fact you could argue that using some of these systems could be one of the factors that allow smaller independent vets to survive. However you must ask the questions and select who you use wisely:
1. What is this provider allowed to do with my data?  Do they explicitly say in their terms that your data cannot be used for other marketing purposes?
2. What data are they collecting?
3. Who are they aligned to and do they have my best interest at heart?

Recently we were in a discussion with some clients at a workshop, and to our horror they said that they were going to subscribe to a customer feedback program run by one of the larger corporate veterinary clinics.
Are you insane? This is a competitor, and no matter what they say publicly, they can (and will) take customers away from you with no apology if they open a branch in your vicinity.
So ask the questions:
1. What are they allowed to do with my data?  Even it they state it would never be used, how can they assure you that every single one of their thousands of staff would not be tempted to have a ‘quick look’ at the client list of a nearby competitor. Contracts and data protection only work so well and prevent a company from disseminating data to other companies, but the ‘internal use’ of this data would leave very little evidence of any foul play and would be much harder to prove.
2. What data are they collecting? With a ‘customer feedback’ survey it could be anything. They could ask for the customers email address or mobile number. They could put tracking cookies on the persons web browser and advertise their specific services to them whist they are on the internet.
3. Who are they aligned to and do they have your best interest at heart? You would have to be very naive to believe that when management at the top starts to apply pressure and jobs are on the line, the people working for these companies will put your interests first!

So once again, we urge the profession to take some care. Read the fine print in the terms and conditions of any business providing these internet based services.
Most of all, understand that regardless of any terms, you would have to be crazy to hand over your customer communications and customer list to a corporate competitor.

Dog tails (the office dogs get their say)

So mom and dad went away on roadshows this month to run a series of client workshops. This meant that we were left with a pet-sitter! As you know, the APL dogs simply do not ‘do the dog kennel thing’  – it’s not five star enough for us.

So, how do you get a pet-sitter to perform?

Firstly, you need to make sure that their goals are aligned with yours? If they don’t like dogs for example, then simply bite their achilles and send them out the door – they are simply not the right material for us. After all, who would want a pet-sitter that does not like dogs! Getting them to perform would be like swimming against a current. Selecting the correct human is critical.

If they like dogs, then it gets a whole lot easier. The next step would be to set clear objectives. For example:
-Enter house and tickle us
-Give us a treat
-Tickle some more
-Give us dinner
-Sit on couch with us and give treats whist watching television
-Go to bed and allow us to sleep on bed with you
-Wake up at 6am and tickle
-Feed us breakfast.

We find humans need regular feedback so if the above are not being performed to standard we must give constructive feedback. For example:
Did not tickle when required – put very sad and dejected look on face, roll on back and expose tummy. This generally gets immediate results without hurting the pet-sitters feelings.
Forgot to give dinner – appear very restless and panicked. Make noise so that pet sitter cannot settle to watching televison. Gaze longingly at pantry cabinet in between making noises. This seems to work well.
As long as the said pet-sitter is a dog lover the above techniques work. We also find that once we have applied these techniques for 2 days, the human starts to just do it by habit.

One could wrongly be tempted to ‘bite pet-sitter’ if they do not perform, but we find this does not give us desirable results. Bitten pet-sitters do not seem to maintain a consistent/ sustainable level of performance although Chica still occasionally likes to experiment with this. It probably has someting to do with a human requirement to feel happy and safe in the workplace. So biting the pet-sitter only applies to the non-dog loving kind which we don’t want around us anyway.

It seems humans are pretty easy to manipulate when they are given a comfortable and enjoyable environment, and we dogs are pretty good at it. We always wonder why human managers struggle so much to apply the same principles to their teams.

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 informations applicability to their particular circumstances. In particular, please note that the APL dogs who often prepare this newsletter do not have opposable thumbs so have to type with their noses.