I'm getting ready to take over as practice manager. It's my first leadership role, so I'm a little intimidated. What are the biggest things I should avoid in the beginning?
The dumbest thing a veterinary practice manager could do is start working at a practice without a plan. So plan, plan, plan. This is especially true for larger practices that bring in more than $750,000 in annual revenue. Set strategic goals—one-year, three-year, and five-year goals—then determine your budget and figure out what you need to do to meet those goals. In addition to setting yourself up for success down the road—after all, you should always know where you're going and how you're going to get there—doing this will help you focus on your duties as a manager. Without a plan, your team members will run the practice and you'll spend your days putting out fires.
The next step to making your transition successful is to keep the lines of communication open at all times. That means talking to your practice owner about where he or she wants the practice to go. Instead of running the practice aimlessly, wondering if you're managing the right way, talk about the practice owner's visions, ideas, frustrations, and goals. If the two of you are on the same page, you're on your way to running a successful and profitable practice.
Shawn McVey, MA, MSW, is a member of the Firstline and Veterinary Economics editorial advisory boards and is CEO of McVey Management Solutions in Phoenix. For videos and articles containing more of McVey's tips and tricks on issues relating to veterinary personnel management, conflict, and communication, visit