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  • Pamela Barnhill

A Comprehensive Guide to Veterinary Practice Strategic Planning

pets being checked into a vet office

Strategic planning serves as a cornerstone of success for every dynamic veterinary organization. As experts in veterinary practice strategic planning, we at MSS Business Transformation Advisory (MSSBTA) are eager to share our playbook—a comprehensive guide designed to help veterinary practices navigate the complexities of rolling 3-year strategic planning and chart a course for long-term success.

Understanding the Importance of Veterinary Practice Strategic Planning

At its core, strategic planning is about setting clear goals, defining actionable strategies, and aligning resources to achieve desired outcomes. In the context of veterinary practice management, strategic planning is essential for guiding decision-making, fostering growth, capital planning, and ensuring the sustainability of the practice. Strategic planning provides a roadmap that outlines the practice's mission, vision, values, and overarching objectives. By articulating a clear direction and purpose, strategic planning enables veterinary practices to make informed decisions, allocate resources effectively, and adapt to changing market conditions with agility and resilience.

Assessing the Current State of the Practice

First, MSSBTA utilizes a complete workbook to conduct a comprehensive assessment of the current state of the practice. This involves evaluating various aspects of the practice, including community outreach, IT infrastructure, staffing, operations, finances, and supporting metrics, as well as internal capabilities and external market dynamics. As one client told us following the first year, “I didn’t know how much I needed a Business Consultant.  In 2022 we lost $94,000 and in 2023 after working together for the year we made $2000”.  With MSSBTA, we have structured calls as we run through the workbook and touch on concepts such as:

  • What drives 80-90% of top line revenue?

  • Is that the right service mix for us as we work toward our 1-, 2- and 3-year goals?

  • What are we charging for each service compared to what are the competitors charging?

  • How much do we pay for each product and what is our profit margin on each product?

This also includes client satisfaction metrics, as well as competitive pressures, regulatory mandates, technological advancements, and shifts in client service preferences.

Setting Clear Goals and Objectives

With a solid understanding of the practice's current state, the next step is to set clear and achievable goals and objectives that align with the practice's mission, vision, and values. Goals should be specific, measurable, attainable, relevant, and time-bound (SMART), allowing for effective tracking and evaluation of progress.  This is a process that is conducted for year 1, year 3 with year 2 as the last focus.  These are reviewed quarterly and are always a rolling 3 years.

Common strategic goals for veterinary practices may include increasing patient volume and revenue, improving client satisfaction and retention, expanding service offerings and geographic reach, optimizing operational efficiency and staff productivity, and fostering a positive workplace culture and team engagement.


Developing Actionable Strategies and Initiatives

Once goals and objectives are established, the next phase of strategic planning involves developing actionable strategies and initiatives to achieve them. This includes identifying key focus areas and priority initiatives, allocating resources and responsibilities, establishing timelines and milestones, and implementing performance metrics to track progress and measure success.

Strategies may encompass a wide range of areas, including marketing and client acquisition, clinical excellence and service differentiation, operational efficiency, financial management and revenue optimization, staff training and development, technology adoption and innovation, and community engagement.  We have a benchmarked rolling 3-year strategic plan with metrics and accountability that will transform your practice.

Monitoring and Adapting

Strategic planning is not a one-time event but rather an ongoing process of monitoring, evaluation, and adaptation. It never ends!  Veterinary practices must regularly review progress against strategic goals and objectives, analyze performance metrics and KPIs, solicit feedback from stakeholders, and adjust strategies and tactics as needed to stay aligned with evolving market dynamics and internal capabilities.

By fostering a culture of continuous improvement and learning, veterinary practices can adapt to changing circumstances, capitalize on emerging opportunities, and mitigate potential risks and challenges, ultimately positioning themselves for long-term success and sustainability in a competitive marketplace.

At MSSBTA, we believe there is a better approach.

Strategic planning is a critical component of veterinary practice management, providing a roadmap for success and guiding decision-making in an increasingly complex and competitive industry landscape. By following our playbook of workbook, budgeting, and rolling 3-year strategic planning, combined with 1:1 coaching, veterinary practices can navigate challenges, capitalize on opportunities, and achieve their goals of delivering exceptional patient care, driving practice growth, and fostering a culture of excellence and innovation.


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