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Automation gets the job done

You don’t have to do everything as a practice owner. From bookkeeping to budgeting, technology will save you time and money.

Automation gets the job done

I was listening to the dreams of a soon-to-be owner of a one-doctor veterinary clinic. The young gentleman was truly excited, and he was inspired to implement trendy solutions to change the old practice.

His ideas were bold but humble in timing. One step at a time was his motto — renovate an abandoned building, redesign the outdated website, start online appointment booking, open a boarding facility, refresh the social media channels, do in-house marketing. I was impressed, as every idea seemed well thought out and his sparkling eyes showed me the passion behind them.

I asked how much time he would devote to managing the practice, as he didn’t plan to hire a practice manager. He replied, “I will practice medicine during the clinic’s hours and do the managerial things over the lunch break and in the evening.”

How is that possible? While filled with enthusiasm and great ideas, he hadn’t thought about the importance of having current, meaningful information at his fingertips from which to manage. He had overlooked the need for financial automation.

Automation is a big deal in today’s business world. But first, what is it exactly?

Wikipedia: “The technology by which a process or procedure is performed with minimal human assistance.”

Dictionary: “The technique, method or system of operating or controlling a process by highly automatic means, as by electronic devices, reducing human intervention to a minimum.”

We’re in the golden era of automation. Reducing or eliminating laborious tasks delivers higher quality results and, most importantly, efficiency. If you are not on the automation train, board now. You’ll love the ride.

Here’s what automation can do for your veterinary practice.

Bookkeeping

Credit cards and bank accounts will automatically feed your accounting system if you partner with the right bank. Feed? Let’s say you go on Amazon to purchase office supplies and pay with your credit card. The transaction, as soon as it moves from “pending” to “cleared,” will automatically show in your accounting system. You have eliminated entry creation and achieved automation. Minimal human assistance is required. (For more information, explore Xero or QuickBooks.)

Accounts Payable and Receipts

Imagine the example above, but now you have an addition application that integrates with your accounting system. By integration, I mean the two communicate without anyone downloading and reuploading transactions. The Amazon receipt is automatically emailed to the application, which processes the transaction and magically transfers the receipt to the accounting software. The same things works with bills. It’s hard to describe it, but when you see it, you will be like, “Yay! This is cool.” Another cool feature is the purchase receipt will be attached and visible in case the ultrasound machine breaks down and the insurance company wants to see the receipt, or you need to file a warranty claim. (Explore Hubdoc or ReceiptBank.)

Veterinary Software

If your practice management software and accounting software aren’t integrated, you are wasting a lot of money on a bookkeeper or your own precious time. Most of these systems integrate with one another in some way. If you are not sure, reach out to your software rep and ask. Always ask how the integration works — both ways or only one way? Do each invoice and each customer sync? How about payments? Here are just two examples:

  • EzyVet integrates with Xero. No need to push, export or import anything.
  • AVImark and Cornerstone integrate with QuickBooks.

Payroll and Timesheets

The only thing you should do is approve or reject timecards. There is no reason to manually calculate overtime hours, keep up to date on payroll taxes or figure out how to issue a W-2 at year’s end. Payroll automation is even better if you use integrated timecards . (Check out Gusto, Rippling, Tsheets or Deputy.)

Sales Tax Payments

Yes, there’s an app for that. (Look into Avalara, for one.)

Financial Statements, Budgeting, Projecting, Social Media, Google Reviews Improvement

Yep, more apps. Learn more at Buffer.com, FathomHQ.com and GetBetterReviews.com.

Let’s say you already outsource bookkeeping, accounts payable, payroll and sales tax payments. Should you care about automation? Yes, absolutely. With automation, you get real-time data. There is no need to wait to see how you did in the previous month.

If you haven’t seen a financial statement in months, now is the time for a change. How else can you make an informed decision, be fast and accurate when making big purchases, do tax planning, or justify increasing your associate veterinarian’s wages? Don’t settle.

If you can’t jump all in, try one by one. Start by feeding your bank accounts and credit cards into your accounting software. Then try accounts payable.

Can you remove all humans from the process? No, and you don’t want to, as controls need to be in place. You’ll still want to approve large purchases and confirm that people you actually employ are being paid for the hours they actually worked.

Automation minimizes human interactions, prevents errors and boosts efficiency. May automation be with you!

Mira Johnson is managing partner with JF Bell Group, a CPA firm serving exclusively veterinarians. To learn more, visit www.jfbellgroup.com.

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