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Playing the percentages Beware of pay pitfalls
Center Valley Veterinary Hospital; Springfield, Calif.


"Will he quit? Will he understand?" Gene thought to himself.

"I will have to tell him – do I have the courage?" he mumbled under his breath.

Gene looked at the clock and went over to the morning schedule. They would be through with clients in just a few minutes. He started to sweat profusely and noticed an unpleasant fullness in his abdomen. He excused himself and sat down in the office. He opened a side drawer and took a long drag from a bottle of Pepto-Bismol. A pink mustache appeared, unnoticed.

Finally Gene got up and asked Ben into the room.

Ben strode in with youthful vigor and quiet anticipation. Usually, these meetings were to discuss cases and go over scheduling conflicts. But today would be different.

Gene broke the awkward silence.

"Ben, the practice is doing pretty well, but we don't seem able to get over the hump."

Ben was clueless, but took note of the pink mustache.

"Your production and salary based on production continue to increase and that is good. But our cash flow continues to drop in spite of this."

Gene coughed and began to belch but managed to keep the impolite activity sequestered in the back of his throat.

He licked his lips and continued:

"I have allowed you to take most of the new clients so that your production would increase and so that you could see the value in production pay. It seems to have worked out too well from that standpoint. I have gone over the numbers until I am blue in the face and cannot understand why things aren't working out."

Ben was stumped. He knew nothing about veterinary business management and wasn't particularly interested. He just wanted to be a great veterinarian – and to be paid accordingly.

Finally, Dr. Moss got to the point:

"I would like to continue giving you all the benefits we agreed on, but I am going to have to cut your percentage to 22 percent or maybe even a bit lower."

Gene's body felt suddenly cool and his hair stood up on his arms as he looked at the associate.

Ben was shocked.

"Dr. Moss, with all due respect, I have been working hard and feel that I have earned my keep. I give myself my own raises if I work hard, and you have given me a guaranteed salary if I don't. But this seems to be unfair."

Ben stopped a moment and thought to himself, "Gene must be managing the practice badly — how can this be?"

Gene looked away.

"I am sorry, Ben, but the practice cannot continue unless I make this change."

Ben got up and left the room.

Gene reopened the drawer and reached for the pink liquid.

Thursday evening

Dr. Ben Collier fumbled with the small numbers on his cell phone. Finally the correct combination appeared on the screen.

Ben was nervous as the line activated.


"Hello, Lou, this is Ben Collier. Could we do lunch sometime?"

Percentage pay

Somewhere in the not-so-distant vapors of practice management, the stars seemed to align and provide the impetus for gurus to pronounce that percentage pay for doctors of veterinary medicine was the way to go.

What glorious gross income and happiness lay ahead for those practices leading the vanguard to this form of remuneration for associates!


Source: DVM360 MAGAZINE,
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