VETERINARY ECONOMICS, Dec 1, 2004 - Veterinary Economics
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VETERINARY ECONOMICS, Dec 1, 2004
Cover Story
Focus on associates: What are you worth?
By Mark Opperman, CVPM
Follow this step-by-step guide to figure your current value to your practice. Then adopt four key strategies to make sure you're worth your weight in gold.
"I Survived!"
An early exit out of practice
By Larry Peetz, DVM
Making money doesn't guarantee a successful and rewarding career or an enjoyable retirement. What you do with the money's far more important.
Vetcetera
Children gain confidence reading to dogs
In libraries and schools in 40 states, children who are afraid to read aloud to adults build their confidence and reading skills by reading to friendly, nonjudgmental four-legged friends, also known as Reading Education Assistance Dogs (READ). Intermountain Therapy Animals started the READ program five years ago in Salt Lake City, and it's grown to include more than 350 READ teams. The group says reading to dogs can relax children, boost their self-confidence, and improve their reading scores.
Doctor Communication
Talking about touchy subjects
By W. Bradford Swift, DVM
Growing up in the South, I quickly learned that there were certain subjects one simply should not talk about in mixed company--religion, politics, and money. There are similar touchy topics in business, such as pay raises and compensation plans, staff disagreements, a desire to make important changes in the practice, and disagreement about management styles. Although we'd like to avoid these topics, they need to be discussed.
Personal Finances
Ensuring that you're insured
By Fritz Wood, CPA, CFP
Small business owners are particularly vulnerable to the risks of a prolonged illness or disability, because they're often the business's main asset. In other words, the business's success often depends on the owner's ability to earn income. As a business owner, you need to protect both your personal and business income. And the right insurance provides that protection.
The essential components of a financial plan
By Larry Peetz, DVM
Financial planning early in your career is perhaps the most important thing you can do to make sure you accomplish your personal and professional goals. In fact, the day you leave school would be a great time to start planning. But regardless of your age or career stage, it's never too late to gain value from a hard look at your financial situation and advice from a financial advisor who can help you identify and implement your financial plan. Here are the essential components of a financial plan:
Practice Management Q&A
Addressing the needs of older clients
By Ernest Ward Jr., DVM
I have an elderly client who I don't think can properly care for her pet any longer. How should I approach her?
Vacation benefits with production-based pay
By Gary Glassman, CPA
I'm thinking of paying my associate based on her production. If I do, how would I handle vacation days and holidays? She wouldn't automatically receive compensation for those days off, would she?
Attaining accurate inventory counts
By Ronald Althaus
We're having trouble monitoring the counts of specified items, calculating an accurate budget for inventory costs, and staying within that budget. We've identified our A, B, and C inventory items. What more can we do to get inventory under control?
Reacting to erroneous estimates
By Don Dooley
A patient complained that my office manager quoted a fee of $250 for a procedure, but he was billed $300. It turns out the procedure was done a few days after our new fees went into effect. Should we refund the difference?
Practice Tips
Pet angels get their wings
Pets that passed away during the year get their wings during the holiday season at Companion Animal Hospital of Selinsgrove in Selinsgrove, Penn. Assistant office manager Laura Bickhart suggested making angel wings to hang on the hospital's Christmas tree in the reception area to honor patients who had passed away.
Blue folder special
Bit & Spur Animal Hospital in Mobile, Ala., was about to begin a senior pet care plan. But hospital manager Kelley Wilbur knew they needed a better system to recognize senior pets.
State unemployment tax audits: Employee or independent contractor?
By Gary Glassman, CPA
The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) cares about accurate classification of employees and independent contractors, but so does your state unemployment tax department. No one ever thinks he or she will get audited, and many practitioners are surprised to learn that state unemployment departments often audit more frequently than the IRS.
Year in review: How did you measure up?
Every year, practice owners review their employees, telling them what they did well and how they could improve. But have you ever taken time to give yourself a year-end review? Whether you're the boss, an associate, or a support staff member, you can benefit from evaluating your year, says Jinny Ditzler, author of Your Best Year Yet! A Proven Method for Making the Next Twelve Months the Most Successful Ever (Warner Books, 2000).
The key to practice security
By Stephanie Slahor, Ph.D., JD
Of course, you use keys and locks to keep valuables secure, but you lose some of the benefits if you don't control the keys. Think about these questions to decide whether you need to tighten up security:
Hard-learned lessons about hiring
By Bob Levoy
The No. 1 characteristic of companies that move from good to great is finding and keeping the right people, says consultant Jim Collins in Good To Great: Why Some Companies Make the Leap . . . and Others Don't (HarperCollins, 2001). But finding the right people isn't easy. To avoid costly hiring mistakes, take these hard-learned lessons to heart.
Before you accept that job...
If you're thinking of pulling up the stakes and moving to another practice in another state, do some number crunching first. Yes, the salary offered looks great, but have you considered how much more you'll have to earn to live the life you want in that city?

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