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Relief Vets: Harnessing Value in These Under-Tapped Resources

happy veterinarian with dog
Jun 10, 2020 at 1:32 pm
Cindy Trice, DVM

“Marsha, Marsha, Marsha!”

For those of you who don’t get this reference, it’s from the 1970’s hit TV show The Brady Bunch. Jan Brady whined this when her sister Marsha was getting all the attention at a party, and she just couldn’t contain her frustration anymore.

I feel you, Jan. COVID, COVID, COVID.

Although this global pandemic is wreaking havoc on so many livelihoods and lives, it has also given us the opportunity to evaluate our businesses and look for creative solutions in providing services to our clients. Practices are adopting technology to connect with pet owners via text and video. Many are well on their way to perfecting the curbside and drop-off workflow. Others are streamlining the check-in and check-out processes in ways that will remain smart and relevant post pandemic. And, some are extracting latent tech support, crisis management, and marketing skills in their staff.

happy veterinarian with dog and owner

But, there’s an untapped resource many of you may be overlooking: relief vets. These professional business-to-business service providers can increase your practice revenue and relieve some of your workload by:

  • Representing your practice directly via the telehealth platform of your choice. Don’t have a telehealth platform in place, and don’t have time to figure it out? Let them do it for you. This gives your clients white-glove service from a veterinarian who can professionally represent your practice, and not just some random vet or technician who may be answering their questions on a teletriage call. Your pet owners will feel supported, and this will increase both goodwill and practice revenue by driving patients to your hospital for care.
  • Expanding your practice’s service offerings. Take the time to interview your relief vets and meet some new ones. Learn their areas of expertise, and consider how you can incorporate them into your practice. Relief vets, like all vets, have a plethora of special skills and interests that could be utilized to serve your clients and increase your revenue. Think behavior consults, nutritional counseling, or rehabilitation as some examples.
  • Integrating entirely new services: How about offering house-call services for your pet owners? You may not have the time to do this in a busy practice, but a relief vet could help you set up this service, providing value to your clients, revenue for your practice, and support for your colleagues. (This service, of course, will depend on where you are geographically located, and if it is considered safe.)
  • Researching products and/or services: Relief vets know a lot about various products and services by virtue of working with so many different hospitals. Hire a relief vet to do research and give you insight if you are considering making these types of investments. They can give you a veterinarian’s perspective and provide a summarized review of your options.
  • Consulting services: Relief vets who have worked at multiple clinics will inevitably start creating the perfect practice in their minds by amalgamating the workflows, management systems, staff proficiencies, and hospital layouts that seem to work best. We see the same bottlenecks over and over, and also some elegant practice solutions, that could be replicated or refined for the benefit of other hospitals.
  • Covering your open shifts: Serving your practice by providing medical expertise to care for your clients and patients, supporting the client’s bond to your practice, and generating revenue for your hospital are still the mainstays of our value to you. Relief vets will remain an important resource to help you confidently step away from your clinical work while having a professional care for your business.

Although COVID-19 is getting all the attention, the party doesn’t have to be ruined. Let’s use this shake-up to see our businesses, customers, and colleagues through new eyes, and look for innovative ways to collaborate and create opportunity where everyone wins.

Take another good look at relief vets. Get to know as many as you can, and let these professionals help build resilient practices that will serve your clients needs now and in the future.

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Cindy Trice, DVM
As a relief veterinarian with over 15 years of small animal practice experience in four states and 50+ unique GP, ER, and shelter clinics, Dr. Cindy Trice finds great satisfaction helping other vets take those much-deserved breaks. In 2018, Cindy founded Relief Rover, a resource to connect relief vets to jobs, each other, resources, and service providers who can help them grow their businesses. In addition to relief practice, Cindy is a consultant and speaker. Following graduation in 2004 from the University of California Davis School of Veterinary Medicine, Cindy interned at Florida Veterinary Specialists (now Blue Pearl Veterinary Partners), in Tampa, Florida. In her spare time, she loves to volunteer, cook, paddleboard, and scheme travel plans.

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