1. Running a veterinary practice is expensive, and the economy is slowly climbing out of the toilet.
Practice owners always talk about how it’s so expensive to run the business and times are tough. (Insert eye roll. They also walked 10 miles to veterinary school uphill—both ways—right?) Is it just an excuse? Not really.
Fact check: It is expensive to run a practice and times really are tougher than before. For every dollar that comes into the practice, about 10 cents is left over after your boss pays all normal and necessary expenses.
That 10 cents—or 10 percent of what comes in—must pay for everything else: new equipment, additional team members, a return on investment for the owner, upgrading the building, raises and more.
You may still want—and deserve—to be paid more. But it’s more productive to focus on how your contributions can make the practice stronger and make it easier for the owner to pay you more.
So now you’re thinking, “I get it. Show me the money!”
2. But are you sure you’ve got the skills to pay the bills?
Be honest with yourself. What are you bringing to the table? Use this quick self-test:
1. If the other technicians in the practice make more, is it because they can all perform dentals and monitor anesthesia better than you can? Are the receptionists or managers taking on more responsibilities in areas including client care and practice marketing?
2. What kind of ratings do you get for technical performance on your performance evaluation?
3. Can you perform all the duties on your job description well?
Even if you don’t have a recent performance evaluation or job description, compare yourself to others and to what you are expected to do regularly. If your skills aren’t as strong as others, use these steps:
> Ask for additional training.
> Come in on your day off and shadow someone.
> Seek opportunities to practice your skills during your scheduled shift.
So we get it. You’ve got the skills. It must be your boss, right?
3. Perhaps your boss doesn’t know the going rate for your job.
Sometimes practice owners are clueless. They don’t realize how much pay scales have changed since they opened the practice a billion years ago. But don’t just assume that’s what’s going on based on one conversation you have with Susie over at ABC Animal Clinic, where the sun always shines and the pets poop rainbows that smell like roses. Do some research. Gather information from compensation surveys, such as the 2015 Firstline Career Path Study, and from local veterinary technician schools. Then review your findings with your bosses. Ask them to consider the data you’ve gathered, respectfully point out the harm low pay can cause the practice and discuss how you’re contributing to the practice’s success.
Sure, it’s all your boss’s fault. Unless ...
4. You’re regularly late to work, you’re the first to complain and you run out the door three minutes before your shift ends.
Uncross your fingers and answer these questions:
> Do you show up for work a few minutes early, get your coffee and you’re ready to go when your shift starts? Or are you regularly late because you can’t find your car keys, your teenager won’t get out of bed and your alarm clock’s been busted for the last decade?
> When you finish your specified job duties, do you stand around and chat about the latest episode of Bachelor in Paradise (Joe is such a dog, how could he and Samantha do that to poor Juelia?!) or do you look for other ways to pitch in around the practice?
> When your coworker Kelly’s being an arse, do you try to work it out with her or do you flounce away and complain to your owner about how your practice needs Kelly like a fish needs a bicycle?
Your bosses want employees who make their lives easier and build the business. They don’t want employees who act like they belong in the McDonald’s Playplace. And they aren’t going to pay the entitled 5 year olds nearly what they will pay the team members with better attitudes and better work ethics.
If you have a little niggling feeling this might be you, fix it. It may take a while for your boss to notice the 2.0 version of you, but it will pay off in the long run.
But really, we’re pretty sure it’s your boss’s fault. Maybe.
5. Because your boss may not see how much you do for the practice.
Sometimes your bosses have so much on their plates that they just don’t notice who does what or how much you really contribute. So it’s important to brag a little, in a professional and not obnoxious way.
For example, if you had a spare 15 minutes and cleaned out the dark corners of the food room, tell your boss: “I rearranged the food in the back of the food room, and I found some torn bags. Can we return these? And could we get some pallets to put the food on so next time we don’t have this problem?”
Comments like this are low key, but they highlight your efforts and offer some helpful suggestions for the future.
A final thought: When you do have a meeting with your boss about your performance or raise, come prepared with a list of the things you’ve done that went beyond your job duties. This way you have concrete examples of your efforts to build the business.