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Flexing Your Veterinary Staff to Meet Doctors' Schedules During the Summer


Summer is a vibrant yet challenging time for veterinary practices. With vacation plans in full swing, it's crucial to ensure your staff schedule aligns perfectly with your doctors' availability. Failing to do so can lead to inflated labor costs, ultimately causing a dip in your EBITDA (Earnings Before Interest, Taxes, Depreciation, and Amortization). Here’s a guide on how to flex your staff effectively during the summer to maintain operational efficiency and profitability.


Understanding Flexing Staff


Flexing staff refers to the strategic adjustment of your workforce to match the working schedules of your doctors. It involves aligning the number of on-duty staff members with the number of available doctors to ensure optimal resource utilization. The goal is to prevent overstaffing or understaffing, both of which can impact your practice’s financial health and service quality.


The Importance of Early Planning


To successfully flex your staff, it’s imperative that your doctors submit their time-off requests well in advance. This foresight allows you to:


  1. Create a Balanced Schedule: Knowing when your doctors will be off helps you plan the shifts of other staff members. If a doctor is on leave, you can schedule fewer technicians or administrative staff, reducing unnecessary labor costs.

  2. Coordinate Staff Vacations: If a doctor’s absence coincides with a period when other staff members want to take time off, you can approve those requests without compromising your practice’s operational efficiency.

  3. Avoid Last-Minute Adjustments: Early planning minimizes the need for last-minute scheduling changes, which can be disruptive and costly.


Monitoring and Adjusting Hours


During weeks when doctors are on vacation, closely monitor your practice’s hours and payroll. Here are some strategies:


  1. Send Staff Home Early: If the patient load is light, consider sending staff home early or offering them the option to leave. This helps in keeping labor costs under control.

  2. Adjust Shifts: Reschedule shifts to ensure you have the right number of staff members on duty at all times. For instance, having one high-paid staff member off might be sufficient, or you might opt for multiple lower-paid staff members to take time off, depending on your practice’s needs.

  3. Flexible Scheduling: Implement flexible scheduling practices such as split shifts or part-time hours during low-demand periods.


Leveraging Technology for Efficiency

Use scheduling software to help manage your staff flexing efforts. These tools can provide valuable insights into staffing patterns, allowing you to make data-driven decisions. They can also facilitate communication with your team, making it easier to coordinate shifts and manage time-off requests.


Additional Ways to Flex Staff


  1. Cross-Training Employees: Train your staff to handle multiple roles within the practice. This flexibility allows you to cover various tasks with fewer people when needed.

  2. Temporary Staffing: Consider hiring temporary staff or part-timers to fill in gaps during peak vacation times. This is where high school and college students can really help as well as gain experience for the future.

  3. Job Sharing: Implement job-sharing arrangements where two employees share the responsibilities of one full-time position. This can help maintain coverage while allowing for more flexible schedules.


Conclusion


Flexing your staff to meet your doctors’ schedules during the summer is essential for maintaining operational efficiency and financial health. By planning ahead, monitoring hours, and using strategic scheduling practices, you can prevent labor costs from ballooning and ensure your EBITDA remains robust. Implementing these strategies will not only help you navigate the summer months smoothly but also set a foundation for efficient staffing practices year-round.

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