On Thursday, May 17, 2012, 12
noon, I had a meeting with Dr Vanessa and Dr
facing me with serious faces across the
consultation table. A client came but I asked her to wait. My
management meetings do get interrupted and the
train of thoughts get de-railed and so I ask
some clients to wait a while and keep my talk short and sharp. Walking
the talk to make Toa Payoh Vets the top 5
veterinary surgery in Singapore is an uphill
task, requiring frequent checks and balances
on the staff performances.
For this meeting, I got a big book and
recorded down the meeting points.
1. Strategy. Being the top 5 veterinary
surgery in Singapore. I said: "It is easy
to talk about my vision of Toa Payoh Vets
being the top 5, especially in veterinary
surgery. Talk is cheap. Talk is easy. I have
implemented certain checks on your work and
you may not like my frankness in pointing out
deficiencies. But this is part of management
and part of continuing education.
2. "Keeping meticulous records is part of
this vision. How can Toa Payoh Vets be the
top 5 if its vets don't keep meticulous
records?" I illustrated a case of a vet's
sedation of a Beagle with the bladder tumour
which was a "trust and audit" case done by me
to check on the standard of care.
The injection given was 30% of Dom and Ket as
instructed by me and was injected. The dog was
old, had fits, low red blood cell count and
was dribbling bloodied urine. The figure
written was 50% as no amendment was
made. "Meticulous records in anaesthesia and
surgery provide a strong defence in the case
of litigation," I said. "There will be more
litigation and complaints as Singaporeans get
more educated and demanding. So, meticulous
recording by the vet provides a strong
defence. I will be printing serial number
record books soon and the operating vet will
be personally responsible."
3. Keeping associate vets happy so that
they will stay with Toa Payoh Vets. The
vet is the prime mover but that does not mean
that he or she can order any drug he or she
likes and not be aware of the high costs.
"Keeping the associate vet happy does not
guarantee his or her loyalty to Toa Payoh
Vets," I had said privately to Dr Daniel.
"With sufficient clientele and easy access to
money from parents or joint start ups with
another vet, I don't expect associate vets to
stay long and be loyal to Toa Payoh Vets.
"We have a few cases where the rich parents
finance the start up of new vet practices. No
sweat for the younger vets as regards the need
to earn sufficiently before opening because
the money is already provided by the parents."
4. Leaving a legacy for the 2nd generation. I
have stated to my associate vets, Dr Vanessa
and Dr Jason that I do not build up Toa Payoh
Vets for Dr Daniel or the second generation. I
will just sell off the practice and retire
when I am unable to practise. I don't worry
about legacy. If the 2nd generation can't
perform, so be it. In any case, the Toa Payoh
Vets will just decline as there will be more
intense competition over the years. The
practice will die off as excellent performance
counts a lot in a vet practice as referrals
come in from other parts of Singapore.
are around 45 vet practices in Singapore and
there will be at least one near Pasir Ris and
Jurong East and the majority of Singaporean
pet owners will go to the vet based on
5. USP. "One Unique Selling Proposition"
of Toa Payoh Vets is that there is no need to
come back for stitch removal," I said. "Yet Dr
Vanessa asks clients of spayed and neutered
dogs to come back in 14 days' time." There is
a need to be consistent in veterinary surgery
amongst the vets here." I said.
6. There were other issues such as vet cost
and the vets gave their feedback. "Ultimately,
in a corporate world, associate vets have to
take instructions from the superior or boss.
If not, they better open their own practice,
order expensive drugs they like and do
consultations of half an hour per average
case." There is a need to provide
affordable vet costs and reduce waiting
time. Obviously if the associate vet spends
half an hour per case and keep the others
waiting 2 hours, there will be much
dissatisfaction in many others as Singaporeans
In conclusion, real world business needs to be
profitable. Otherwise, associate vets will get
lesser pay and will just go to another
practice. As simple as that. A happy working
environment with poor profits will not retain
any associate vet even if the management makes
them happy at work. There is the bottom line
and the need to recover a decent return on
investment for the founder too. Many vets
don't know how to do the financial analysis. A
high revenue with high expenses does not mean
that the business is making money! Same for
the government running a country.