Improvements start with tough questions, then a plan

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If you’re planning the future of your business, you start asking the simple questions: What are our biggest challenges? Which employees are responsible for what? If business owners want to see real results, they must dig deeper to uncover their needs, said Kathleen Jost, DVM, H & H Veterinary Service, Benson, Minnesota.

Kathleen Jost, DVM, (front middle) and the team at H & H Veterinary Service, Benson, Minnesota,
take a more proactive approach to help identify important needs for the practice long-term. Plan
your future at

“We’re a busy mixed-animal practice,” Dr. Jost said. “We have multiple calls — not only in the clinic but also out on the road. You’re in and out, and it’s really difficult to find to time to sit down, enter invoices and make sure the costs are right. These are the kinds of things that fall behind, especially when you’re on a call and there’s an emergency waiting.”

Dr. Jost believes that most veterinarians know where inefficiencies are in their business. The challenge is finding the time, and taking the time, to fix them.

“It’s hard enough to find time to better your medical and surgical skills, let alone learn and improve the business,” Dr. Jost said. “It can be overwhelming.”

Dr. Jost first began to notice problems in clinic management regarding basic tasks, such as inventory and accounts.

“We were aware of some of the main challenges, but a few more came to the forefront that we never even thought about,” she said. “We really needed to tighten up our inventory control and billing systems. We needed to get more focused on what our real goals were as a practice.

“We had reached a point where we needed to make some changes.”

That’s when H & H Veterinary Service teamed up with former practicing veterinarian Bob McManus, who is now a senior consultant with the PeopleFirst™ Strategic Planning Services program from Zoetis.

Throughout their strategic planning process, the team at H & H Veterinary Service took the time to collaborate, go back to basics and uncover goals as a practice. 

“There is tremendous value in everyone working together to build the plan. The team develops awareness and understanding of the issues and opportunities for the business, helping to ‘line up the arrows’ so everyone can connect the work they do with overall intended outcomes,” Dr. McManus said. “It’s a great tool to align a team around a common vision, set long-term goals and then measure performance and progress against those goals.”

Dr. Jost was surprised to see just how interested the staff was in the health of the business.

“It amazed me how invested they were personally in wanting the business to succeed and doing their part to make sure it can,” she said. “And because we did set goals for financial growth, it’s easy to see that. We’ve exceeded about 15% growth in revenues each month. Without a doubt, the program has paid off more than we ever expected it to — it paid for itself.”

Recognizing the need for change is the first step, Dr. McManus said.

“Clinics and customers who get to the point where they recognize that things need to change can really benefit from this process,” Dr. McManus said. “Most will recognize a problem but might not know how to tackle it. We help them build their road map for success. It allows everybody to be involved to take advantage of opportunities.”

Prior to the program, Dr. Jost said, the plan was simply to stay afloat during the difficult economy. That’s changed.

“We were just going to do what we could to manage the staff and inventory,” Dr. Jost said. “Now we’re taking a more proactive approach. We’re adding some value-added services, hoping to expand our offerings and sending out surveys to our clients to better meet their needs. It helps to grow the practice and is a renewed excitement for us and for our customers.”

For information on how PeopleFirst consultants can assist your business, practice or operation or to sign up for a program or course in your area, contact your local Zoetis representative or read more about Strategic Planning Services at

About Zoetis

Zoetis (zō-EH-tis) is the leading animal health company, dedicated to supporting its customers and their businesses. Building on more than 60 years of experience in animal health, Zoetis discovers, develops, manufactures and markets veterinary vaccines and medicines, complemented by diagnostic products and genetic tests and supported by a range of services. In 2013, the company generated annual revenues of $4.6 billion. With approximately 9,800 employees worldwide at the beginning of 2014, Zoetis has a local presence in approximately 70 countries, including 27 manufacturing facilities in 10 countries. Its products serve veterinarians, livestock producers and people who raise and care for farm and companion animals in 120 countries. For more information, visit
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