Constance Hardesty

Just before AAHA's yearly conference, I sat like a fly on the wall in a North American Business Association (NABA) group meeting. I was curious about NABA--everyone raves about it. I wondered what more I could learn about practice management after 10 years at AAHA. And, as AAHA's editor in chief, I wanted to glean ideas for new products and services that help practices thrive. 

This is what I learned: NABA is it. If you are an AAHA-accredited practice, you'd be crazy to pass up this benefit. Imagine spending 20 hours of intense peer counseling twice a year with owners and managers who are at least as good--or waaayy better--at creating practice value than you are. 

In the group I visited, there were six practices. Two were Blue Chip, three were climbing out of a hole, and one was scrambling. You'd think the Blue Chips would be the group gurus, but they weren't. 

That's because NABA isn't about the current condition of your practice. It's about always improving. And if there's one thing NABA people know, it's that present value is no indicator of future performance. 

Of the three practices climbing out of a hole, one is owned by a serial entrepreneur who flips practices the way Property Brothers flip houses. With eyes wide open, the second owner took on a practice that had been mired for years--so she could grow and hold it. And the third owner took on significant debt to build the facility she needed to prosper. 

Every one of these owners is already experienced, savvy, and successful. It's easy to see why they're in NABA: They're never satisfied; they want to push and be pushed, to never stop growing. 

Most of us succeed on our own, progressing by serendipitous baby steps over our 40-year careers. NABA people don't go slowly. Instead, they pool their intelligence and experience to fuel giant steps. 

When I invited myself to the NABA group, I promised to keep all the trade secrets, but here's one no one considers a secret because it's taken for granted: The practice managers are equally as important as the practice owners in creating high-performing practices. 

"What goal should we set for COGS next year?" In NABA groups, the practice managers can drive that decision. Managers tell owners hard truths--and vice versa. Managers help formulate business goals and hold the owners accountable for meeting the goals. That's why NABA requires both owners and managers to attend meetings.

Do you want your practice to grow faster than the industry average? NABA will challenge you to: 

...open your books and stack your performance up against your peers' to see who really has the best-run practice and why.

...trust experienced, successful peers to show you your blind spots and challenge your assumptions.

...commit to group goals and individual actions that drive your practice to a higher level.

...hold one another accountable for meeting those commitments.

...win "most improved" awards on key metrics, like radiology income, that boost practice value.

...be put on probation or dismissed from the group for failing to strive. 

NABA practices help one another thrive, to earn maximum return on delivering quality of life for pets and quality workplaces for staff.

I visited NABA groups in Tampa because I am often frustrated with the limits of what I can do through publishing. I can inform and educate, I can make tools that perform key management tasks. I can lead all the horses to water, but I can't make even one of them drink. What more can I do? 

At the risk of talking myself out of a job, here's my answer: Stop reading. Start doing. Join NABA

Constance Hardesty is AAHA's editor in chief. 

Comments (2) -

Debbie Boone, BS, CCS, CVPM
Debbie Boone, BS, CCS, CVPMUnited States
4/24/2015 1:57:20 PM #

  Great article.  I was pleased to sit on a discussion panel when AAHA was launching the NABA initiative.  I am so pleased with the tremendous benefit these groups have shown to their members in a relatively short period of time.  I encourage practice owners who want to really have extraordinary hospitals that support their owners, team, patients and clients to participate in these groups.  The power of many focused minds is an amazing thing.  There is nothing better than to have someone to call who completely understands your situation and can offer a sympathetic ear and good solid advice.

Here is my "power" quote from you,.... " practice managers are equally as important as the practice owners in creating high-performing practices" .  AMEN!  

Thanks for writing about NABA!

Best Wishes,
Debbie Boone, BS, CCS, CVPM
Debbie Boone- 2 Manage Vets Consulting, LLC

Aan Gonsalves
Aan GonsalvesUnited States
5/1/2015 11:24:16 AM #


NABA 1 welcomed having you and your insight and experience. Your article was nicely put, for all of you out there still not sure. If you want to grow and be challenged join a NABA group!!!

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