Susie and I met while attending veterinary school at Colorado State University, and after graduation moved to Phoenix to take over from a retiring doctor. We built an extremely successful practice; it seemed like anything we did made us money. We raised our prices, we charged a fee to become a client, and we just kept getting busier and busier. We could have kept that up forever, but the government had other plans and condemned our property in order to put in a light rail system. While they did offer us fair market value for the land itself, there was no compensation for the value of the business or the decade we had spent building it.
So we closed our practice, packed up our three young daughters and moved to Western Colorado in 2009. We thought it would be simple enough to replicate the success we had had in Phoenix. It wasn’t. Although we were delivering the best veterinary care in the area, we were going bankrupt day by day and cashing in Jeff’s IRAs just to stay afloat. Things continued to go downhill until September 2013, with our production bottoming out at one-fifth the level we were accustomed to in Phoenix.
Then Susie got a DVD from Sterling outlining their practice management program. After watching that DVD, we spoke to one of their consultants to find out specifically what they could do to help us. The Sterling program has turned out to be the best investment we ever made.
The main problems we had were in the area of personnel: selecting the right employees and then keeping them on track and motivated. Sterling’s training and consulting have helped tremendously in both areas. Where we used to go through ten new employees before we would find someone good, now we might hire two people for every position we finally fill. And with the training Jeff received from Sterling in communication and management, we have a smoothly running team that keeps reaching for more. In late 2014, for example, we could see that we were going to get at least a 20% growth for the year – which would’ve been great – but the staff were pushing to hit 30% instead.
After a year with Sterling, there is still work to do, but we are paying off the bills and can see the light at the end of the tunnel. However, it isn’t all about the money. For us, success doesn’t mean working 80 hours a week and not having time to do the things you want with your family. With the Sterling program in place, Jeff has been able to cut the hours he spends in the practice and instead spend it with our children. Even better, with less stress and better communication skills, time spent with the kids is much more enjoyable. As one of our daughters put it one day, “Can Dad go back to Sterling, because when he does he is a better dad?” You can’t get a better endorsement than that.
Even if you’re not in as bad a shape as we were, you owe it to yourself to check out what Sterling has to offer. Call 1-800-933-7538 or click here for a free practice management DVD and complimentary consultation.
Jeff Hirsch, DVM and Susie Hirsch, DVM