I had been working as a relief veterinarian when I decided to open my own practice. Although I had intended to buy an existing practice, I wound up buying two. Bright-eyed and bushy-tailed, I innocently looked forward to managing my new business.
No one in my family had ever run a business so I had no one to turn to for advice. Instead, I managed by the seat of my pants. When it came to finding staff, I would hire an applicant just because the person needed a job, not because they were qualified. As a result, I had high staff turnover which meant starting over from zero with each new hire. The costly mistakes and confusions of the new staff wore away at my profits.
My personal life also unraveled. I went through a bitter divorce and had a nasty run-in with the IRS. The practice was gutted financially by the divorce and the distraction of it all. I went from sitting on top of the world to the very bottom.
One day, I received a card in the mail from Sterling which said, “Bottomed out? We can help.” That hit home. I checked into Sterling’s consulting and signed up as a client. Other consulting companies I had dabbled with all took a cookie-cutter approach, “This worked for me, it should work for you.” Sterling took a customized approach. They trained me on proven management principles I could think with and they tailored them to the way I did business.
Using their hiring and testing procedures, I was able to hire the right staff. With good staff and Sterling’s training methods, including job descriptions, we were able to have current employees successfully train new ones. The expertise of the organization stayed with the practice regardless of staff turnover. This had never happened before.
The results speak for themselves. Before Sterling, my practice was producing $300,000 per year. Now it is producing $2 million. In my part of the country, some 90 veterinary hospitals closed during the recession. We survived and continued to grow.
I realized the biggest hindrance to my practice was me. Despite being pretty bright, I was still a blithering idiot in business. Sterling showed me how to run a practice. Now my practice works for me instead of me working for the practice. It even runs without my having to be there which means I have a life of my own. That’s the biggest benefit of all.
Mark Setser, DVM