Yesterday, June 20, 2012, I stopped consultations and had another talk with Dr Vanessa and Dr Daniel seated opposite me to the left and right respectively, in the consultation room at around 12 noon. I know it is extremely difficult to get vets to buy into my vision to make Toa Payoh Vets a top 5 veterinary practice in Singapore.
It is always difficult in any business for the leader to execute a vision because each employee or associate vet has his or her own agendas.
1. "First Impression Counts," I said to Dr Daniel. "If a vet can be bothered to shave, it gives the impression that he can't be bothered to take good care of the customer's pets." I looked at Dr Vanessa's feet and said to Dr Daniel: "Wearing flip-flops and clogs to work is not permitted and a vet had done this in Toa Payoh Vets for some months."
2. My.hints and advices are ignored. "If vets don't accept hints to change their mindset to improve their standard of care, I will be frank. If vets bring down Toa Payoh Vets to the bottom 5 practice in Singapore, I will not hesitate to fire them. Simple as that. I will just close down the practice when I am unable to work. I don't believe in passing the practice to the next generation. I don't believe in leaving my legacy to the next generation. Dr Daniel will have to earn his stripes.
3. Practise evidence-based medicine and know what to do. For example, the rabbit came in with a jaw abscess and there was no advice from the vet to get an X-rays done to check the extent and location of the impacted and infected roots of the cheek teeth. This will not be tolerated by me. In this case, the owner was very knowledgeable about medical practices and was agreeable to the X-ray being done. But the associate vet did not even mention this. This should not be happening again nowadays when litigation and complaints are getting more common.
4. There are around 50 vet practices in Singapore. Why should the client come to Toa Payoh Vets if the practitioners are mediocre and cannot produce excellent clinical outcomes?
It is very hard to execute a vision to be top 5. Failure of associate vets to adopt best practices need to be monitored. Associate vets who don't meet my standards to implement my vision will have to go. It is no more open a practice and clients will come as in 20 years ago. A practice must be sustainable and not losing money over the years as operational costs keep escalating while fees are kept low due to competition. It is quite easy to lose money if the vets are not of a high standard to perform and so it will be better that they work elsewhere.
5. Working in a corporation. Employee and associate vets may feel they are independent contractors and don't take instructions from the licensee. In real life, the licensee is held accountable and if associate vets dress what they like and bring disrepute to the practice, it is best to fire them and just be a small surgery with good referrals and profitability rather than be a multi-doctor practice.