This is the fifth in a series of blog posts written by Louise S. Dunn, who’s partnered with VetMatrix to provide educational content for veterinarians in different areas of their practice. Louise has 45+ years of experience in the veterinary field. She’s the owner of Snowgoose Veterinary Management Consulting, author of multiple books including “The 5 Minute Consult,” “Pathways to Ownership,” and “Veterinary Clinics of North America,” she is also a Fear Free certified professional.Conducting

It’s first and then – the offense huddles before executing the play. It’s down to a buzzer-beater – the team gathers around the coach for the strategy. Almost every sport has a time when the players gather to get insights for the next play. No long meeting, no sit down for an hour to discuss options, just a quick recap of what has transpired. In comes the game plan of what is needed to score or stop the opponent from advancing. Businesses took notice of the concept and the results – and the ‘huddle’ moved from the playing field to the office.

In the veterinary office, the daily huddle can be one of the best ways to encourage teamwork, provide clarity and reduce chaos. Huddles are brief (10 minutes) standup meetings occurring at the start of each shift. The purpose can vary from veterinary hospital to hospital, but the most common focus is looking ahead at the day’s schedule.

Benefits Of The Huddle

Take a moment and go back to this morning at your vet hospital. Clients are arriving, the phone is ringing, and patients are getting checked in….when the client service representative (CSR) asks if it is ok to squeeze in a sick cat? Those within earshot start grumbling about having no time. Hospitalized patients still need to be looked at, and the kennel attendant called off sick. Suddenly, it’s like the CSR is a clueless bad guy trying to ruin the day. What if the day started with a huddle?

Before the phone calls and check-ins, the team huddles in the treatment area. They are inform about the kennel attendant calling off and who will be filling in. The hospital census is review on the whiteboard, the appointment book is look at. Then spots to squeeze in a sick pet are identifi beforehand. Now, when the CSR answers the phone, they already know the game plan to execute this morning. Prior to the start of the next shift, there is a review of the morning results, a discussion of potential trouble spots, an update on the hospital census, and a new game plan communicated to the team.

Online calendar, scheduling meetings.

Improving Daily Productivity
Huddles can help the team avoid confusion and identify bottlenecks that can wreak havoc on patient care, client service, and team performance.

They can allow the team to raise issues for immediate solutions or escalate issues to a manager or practice owner. In addition, huddles can provide an opportunity to close the loop on prior concerns. As well as give praise to team members, announce new patients or clients coming today.

Plus, update the status of practice goals, or share important notices about changes to policies or procedures during your daily huddle. Save your team time and energy by avoiding poor decisions and the redundancy of tasks. The huddle ensures timely answers and enforces team accountability.

To start doing huddles, know why you want to conduct huddles, set the start time……7:52 AM, 12:48 PM. Your choice, but most experts recommend choosing an odd time because it gets people’s attention. Stick to the time limit such as 5 minutes but no more than 15 minutes), display the agenda (see examples in the next section – but do not make it too long for your time limit), and close on time.

Developing A Huddle Agenda

Example 1:

It’s essential to follow a plan – call it a checklist or an agenda. There is no single agenda that works in every practice – this is where each practice’s strategic imperatives come into play.

The following are examples of huddle agendas:

Example 2:

1.What did we do ‘right’ yesterday (or previous shift) – any honorable mentions of team members who went the extra mile?
2.Review schedule – potential trouble spots for emergencies
3.Identify new clients/new patients – prep welcome kits, prepare for typical questions
4.Follow-up calls – update patient status from post-op or post-appointment calls
Social Media/Testimonial/Reviews – share updates from clients, what the practice is posting

Example 3:

Check-in With the team
Review today’s schedule & identify scheduling opportunities
Discuss special patient needs for today
Share practice updates, policy changes
Share a client compliment or social media testimonials

Victories from yesterday
Priorities for today
Anything that has you stuck

Example 4:

Are there any unconfirmed appointments?
Do any clients have outstanding balances?
Who are the new clients/patients?
Are there any potential scheduling conflicts today?

Example 5:

What’s up – what are some accomplishments since the last huddle
The numbers – critical metrics we are monitoring
Roadblocks – bottlenecks experienc

Our values and ideology

As evident by the examples, the huddle agenda can take many different forms. Tailor your agenda to meet specific areas if the practice is large enough for each area to conduct its own huddle (i.e., CSR, Lab, Surgery, Kennel). The critical factor in creating the huddle agenda is what does the practice want to accomplish?

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