6 Ways A Veterinary Team Member Could Embezzle from Your Practice

by easyDVM

You may not want to think about it, but you could have a thief in your midst. For many veterinary team members, the temptation to embezzle from their employer is real. Sometimes no one may even notice until the culprit’s made off with a substantial amount of money.

Take control of the situation. Here are six all-too-common ways team members on all levels can steal from your practice, and some simple ways to avoid fraud.

1) Deleting or altering invoices.

Your invoices are the lifeblood of your business. They’re how clients and other businesses know what to pay you.

At many businesses, it’s easy to change or even delete an invoice. By changing the amount on an invoice after the customer receives it, an employee could take some of the money paid by the customer. By deleting an invoice, the employee could walk off with all the money, or even provide services to family and friends for free.

This problem exists because there’s no paper trail. In these cases, practice management software is invaluable: it allows management to password protect invoice changes and deletions, and track changes made.

2) Taking cash.

Cash provides your employees an easy way to embezzle. It’s easy for a team member to skim the till. Alternately, if clients aren’t diligent about checking their receipts (or taking a receipt at all), a team member can request more cash than they’ve rung up the client for, and can pocket the difference.

As a rule of thumb, any time there’s cash changing hands, there should be two team members there. All clients should receive receipts, and practices should audit cash registers and receipts regularly.

Worried about tracking invoice deletions? With easyDVM, we can help…

3) Making personal purchases on the company’s credit card.

This one is straightforward: team members use the company credit card for personal expenditures. It’s a classic way of embezzling.

Only select members of your team should be able to use the company credit card. Veterinary practice management software helps managers run reports on spending and see where money’s going. Immediately question unusual purchases.

4) Paying fake vendors.

It can be surprisingly easy to make fake purchases on a company’s behalf. A team member could easily authorize a payment to themselves or a friend.

Veterinary practice software helps businesses run reports on their payments, and detect any purchases that don’t match the practice’s normal routine. Again: if you see a payment to someone you don’t recognize, look into it.

5) Taking inventory home and selling it online.

Normally the profits from selling flea or heartworm products go directly to your business. But a savvy team member can figure out how to take those profits for themselves, without ever touching company money. Team members can swipe drugs or tools, sell them online, and pocket the profits. Particularly brazen team members may even claim the item never came, forcing the supplier to eat the cost and send duplicate items.

Another way is to set up their own account at a vendor that you are paying for.  The products ship directly to the employee’s home and you get stuck with the bill.

To counteract this, keep security cameras up, and assign team members to take inventory regularly. Ideally, the team member taking inventory shouldn’t be the same one who’s unpacking items.  And use your practice management software to track inventory and cross-reference what you received in the software with the invoices you are paying.

6) Logging hours they didn’t work.

Many businesses let employees report their own hours. Some team members will take advantage of this, logging hours they didn’t work.

Veterinary practice management software will usually let managers see the hours a team member has logged, at a glance. Managers should be present and engaged enough to know if that actually reflects the employee’s presence in the office, or their work.  Our easyDVM software even shows the ip address of the device where they clocked in allowing you to easily check that they are in the right place at the right time.

There are many ways to embezzle money from a veterinary practice. By staying diligent, keeping an eye on expenditures, and running regular reports on your veterinary practice management software, you can make sure your employees are on the straight and narrow. Most of your employees are completely honest and your due diligence protects them from being set up by that one bad apple.

Top 5 New Years Resolutions a Veterinarian Should Make

by easyDVM

The start of a new year is the perfect time to make positive changes in your career and personal life. As a veterinarian, the holiday period is a chance to take a break from your busy schedule, reflect on your work-life balance, and work out how you can more effectively work toward achieving your career goals. Here are five resolutions that could make a big difference to your life.

1. Look After Number One

Stress and burnout can prevent any veterinarian from achieving their full potential. This year, resolve to take care of your health and wellbeing. Why not take up an active hobby, such as dance classes, yoga, climbing, hiking, or jogging with a local running club? These hobbies can help to clear your mind as well as improve your fitness. If you think you don’t have time for hobbies in your busy schedule, think again: structuring leisure activities into your schedule could help you work more efficiently.

2. Make Time for Family and Friends

At the beginning of the year, make a calendar of all the important birthdays, weddings, reunions, family get-togethers, and other important events that you want to attend. Make a plan now that will allow you to attend these functions. Arrange for another veterinarian to cover your shifts or be on call during the time you plan to spend with your family and friends. As a busy professional, you need a strong support network around you to help you cope during stressful periods. This year, resolve to foster strong relationships with the people you care about.

3. Appreciate Your Team

Strong relationships with your team are also vital to ensure success in a veterinary career. Show your veterinarians, administrative staff, and technicians that you value everything they do by taking the time to praise them this year. Throughout the year, set aside time to listen to your team members and act on any ideas they have for improving the working environment. While you’re thinking about ways to appreciate your team, add National Veterinary Technician Week to your calendar in October. This is the perfect time to plan a party or social outing for your veterinary team to show how much you value them.

4. Learn Something New

Veterinary medicine is changing all the time, which means you can never stop learning if you want to stay at the forefront of your field. This year, put aside an hour or two each week to read about new developments in veterinary medicine. Consider attending a veterinary conference to network with other veterinarians and learn about the latest research.

5. Use Technology to Free Up Time

Technology can help veterinarians work more efficiently. For example, easyDVM veterinary practice management software can help you track and store medical records, invoice clients, and prepare reports. This software stores all your data in the cloud, which means you don’t need to worry about storing and backing it up yourself. When all your records are available in a format that is easy to access and share, you can spend more quality time interacting with patients, coworkers, friends and family.

Before January 1 rolls around, take the time to make plans for the year ahead. Purchase veterinary practice management software to help you work more efficiently, add important events to your calendar, and set aside time each week to appreciate your team and continue your education. These resolutions should set you up for an enjoyable and successful new year.

EasyDVM Practice Software is a cloud-based veterinary practice management software system. We pride ourselves in offering a system that is user-friendly, easy to learn for new team members, full-featured and elegant in its simplicity. Best of all, all devices, multiple users, all your clients and patients, always affordable.

Indirect Veterinary Customer Service: Technology and the Employee-Customer Dynamic

by Hunter Little

I’ve got to say, I am really proud of the title of this blog. If nothing else, I’ve managed to make something that is, at its core, a very simple concept and transform it into a seemingly complicated theory (there is always something humorous about over-complicating simple ideas). When I say “Indirect Customer Service”, what I’m really referring to is the notion of improving customer service by improving other aspects of your business that do not directly deal with customer service. That is to say, addressing customer service indirectly by addressing other areas of your business. Also included in the title is this notion of the employee-customer dynamic, or more specifically, the daily interactions that occur between employees and customers (we can even include employee-to-employee and customer-to-customer interactions).

My theory is quite simple, and is ultimately based on a few basic observations within the workplace. By implementing a few key technological improvements into the lives of employees (with the idea being that these technological installments are meant to make the employees’ work easier), the employees would ultimately be happier and more productive (I promise, this is not some kind of pseudo-communist plot). This direct influence on employees has indirect benefits for customer service. A happier employee is bound to have a pleasant interaction with the customer. If you have ever been introduced to any kind of behavioral-based psychology, then you know that people oftentimes direct emotions at outlets other than the source of their emotions. Thus, an employee that is, for example, stressed out about the complicated process for inputing a new client’s medical history into the medical records database may be more likely to imbue that employee-client interaction with their negative emotions regarding their practice software. The client ends up being the recipient of an employee’s frustration, and thus has a negative customer service experience. Yet, this negative experience had nothing to do with the client. Thus, because we failed to directly address a problem or inefficiency within the workflow dynamic (or the workplace as it applies to the employees), we have indirectly influenced our customer service.

This notion of indirect customer service was one of the driving factors behind the creation of EasyDVM veterinary practice software in the first place. We wanted to create something that was entirely based on a customer-centric model, emphasizing the importance of customer service before anything else. This means that, when we began designing the software, we designed it through trial and error, utilizing the input of our employees throughout the creation process. It is easy to design a software platform that is aesthetically pleasing and loaded with tons of features. but none of that matters if your employees can’t use it. Functionality and ease-of-use became imperative to the creative process behind EasyDVM veterinary practice management software. What I ultimately found was how this indirectly affected customer service. If employees are happy, then clients are happy. It may sound simple or a little overreaching, but I challenge you to try it. Like I have done before, I challenge you to put customer service at the forefront of your business, and see what changes come with that new approach.

EasyDVM Practice Software is a cloud-based veterinary practice management software system. We pride ourselves in offering a system that is user-friendly, easy to learn for new team members, full-featured and elegant in its simplicity. Best of all, all devices, multiple users, all your clients and patients, always affordable.

Is Veterinary Staff Turnover Really a Bad Thing?

by Sam D Meisler DVM

“How much employee turnover do you have at your veterinary hospital?” I squirmed down into my seat as I reflected on the high turnover that we had last year. It was late January and I had just finished printing out W2 forms the week before. For those of you outside the United States, W2s are a tax form that you have to send to each employee – current or former – that worked for you that year at the end of the year . The number of forms that were to be sent to former employees was quite significant. And now the veterinary associate candidate posing the question was expecting an answer.

I dug in my heels and vowing not to sound too defensive, I replied to her question with the following analysis. First of all, I divide turnover into two categories: “good” turnover and “bad” turnover – sort of like “good” cholesterol and “bad” cholesterol. Good turnover counts those employees who did not fit in with the hospital and have now left – either voluntarily or involuntarily. Bad turnover, of course, counts those employees who you really wished would have stayed.

Every year after printing my W2s, I sort through them and divide them into the following piles: current employees, fired employees, those who left and we were happy about it, and those who left and we were sad about it. I then take the number in the first pile (current employees) and divide it by the total number of employees minus the number in the two middle piles. That is my true “retention rate”. In other words, I am most interested in what percentage of employees who succeeded at the hospital did I actually keep.

This brings one to an important statistic; how many employees were actually encouraged to leave or were terminated? A competent practice manager will not be afraid to make tough decisions where necessary. There are many practices where no one is ever terminated; either the hiring process is so fine-tuned that only great employees are hired or someone at the top cannot terminate anyone. Usually, the latter is true. And in these practices, great employees tend to stagnate as they see co-workers get away with subpar performance.

When I do lose a great staff member, I usually have to hire up to 7 employees before I find a suitable replacement. You can imagine what that does to your turnover rate if you only looked at it in the traditional sense.

So the next time someone asks you about your employee turnover, be proud if you have made tough decisions that year in order to cultivate a great staff.

Unfortunately no matter how you classify it, turnover has costs. With each new hire, you incur the cost of time and money spent looking for him or her, the cost of training, and the cost of incompetency. Your time is valuable and time spent placing advertisements, going through applications and interviewing must be factored in. The cost of training includes the hours paid for training the new hire before they are even exposed to their work environment, the cost of slowing down your other employees as they mentor the new hire, and the cost of the new hire as you double them up with one of your current employees shifts until they are ready to handle the shift on their own. The cost of incompetency includes the charges a new hire will potentially miss, the services the new hire will potentially not sell, and the potential clients the new hire will turn away. As you may note, these costs can convert to quite a significant monetary amount. As such, preventing “bad” turnover – losing valued employees – and limiting the cost of “good” turnover – replacing incompetent employees – becomes imperative.

To avoid losing valued employees, many factors come into play. Employees leave for a variety of reasons which include but are not limited to the following: poor work atmosphere and inadequate compensation. These reasons are not mutually exclusive. For example, employees will work at a hospital with a poor work environment if the compensation is high enough and vice versa.

Enhancing the work environment is a whole topic onto itself. One should start with an assessment of your hospital’s work environment by surveying your employees. At SurveyMonkey.com, a free basic membership allows you to conduct an online survey with up to 10 questions for up to 100 employees.  The survey should be done anonymously. To make sure that an employee does not submit more than one survey, have everyone pick fictitious names or numbers out of a hat which they can use to identify themselves on their surveys. Include questions about their feelings on their current compensation, the amount of recognition they receive, whether or not they are currently seeking employment elsewhere, how they feel about their co-workers in a general way, whether or not they enjoy coming to work every day, etc. Include a suggestion area at the end. Be prepared for some interesting answers. Revealing these answers to your employees may be helpful (make sure that you edit out anything that might reveal an individual’s identity). You now have a good foundation to start from to enhance your employee’s work environment.

Enhancing compensation may not be that simple. Generally, twenty percent of hospital revenues are budgeted for overall non-veterinarian employee compensation. The only way to increase this budgeted amount relative to the amount of employees is to increase prices. The immediate effect of increasing prices is either to increase revenues allowing you to pay your employees more or to decrease the relative amount of services performed freeing up your employees time or a little of both.  As an aside, the best way to immediately improve the quality of care in any hospital is to raise prices to the point that clients begin to opt for fewer services per patient; your employees now have more time available to deliver these chosen services. Many veterinarians would then argue that you are compromising your patient’s care by doing this. On the contrary, you have made an ethical decision that you will not undervalue your services to the extent that your employees can not spend the needed amount of time on them. Curiously, as your employees are paid more and have more time to communicate the value of needed services to your clients, revenues now increase due to more services being sold.

Obviously once prices are set, the budget limits overall compensation. Individual compensation, however, is only limited by an individual’s productivity. Three very talented employees may produce as much as four or more not so talented employees and as a group deserve the same overall compensation. Being willing to terminate incompetent employees – “good” turnover – allows one the opportunity to find these very talented employees. Cultivating these talented employees depends on having both an excellent training program and an encouraging work environment.

EasyDVM Practice Software is a cloud-based veterinary practice management software system. We pride ourselves in offering a system that is user-friendly, easy to learn for new team members, full-featured and elegant in its simplicity. Best of all, all devices, multiple users, all your clients and patients, always affordable.