Management structure affects customer service

Jan 19, 2017 by Edward L. Blach, DVM, MS, MBA

Practice ownership brings with it requirements to make some management decisions.  And those decisions will determine how customers are served, but management will vary according to various ownership structures.

In single owner practices, owners will be required to make all decisions that affect or assign management responsibilities.  They decide who to hire, the requirements of the position, and all other aspects of how their practice is managed.  

In multi-owner practices, decision-making is less clear.  In most cases, veterinarians who become partners or shareholders in multi-owner practices typically have some expectation to have a say in how the practice is managed.  It is very common for some owners in multi-owner practices to express a desire to never give up any decision-making to others.  They admit being enamored with 'control', and would prefer to have a say in all decisions.  As a result, in multi-owner practices governance by democracy is the typical process, until the practice grows to a point that chaos results.  The practice reaches a size that 

In these situations, it is very important for multi-owner practices to make a decision to assign specific management responsibilities rather than leave them to 'rule by group'.  When nobody is assigned responsibility, nobody will be responsible.  This form of governance leads to inconsistent and poor service.  Employees will experience frustration, because they don't know who to go to for answers.  They will get different answers from different owners on the same issue.  This will create chaos and inconsistency.  Customers will experience inconsistent or poor service as a result, because nobody will take responsibility.  

As practices grow, it is very important to create a defined management structure, with role definition, reporting structure, and assignment of responsibilities.  Owners will have to accept that they will need to learn to be less hands-on and avoid micromanagement.  Assign responsibility and hold those who are responsible accountable.  This will create a structure that supports future growth.  

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