Fall, Holidays, HR, Organizing, Stress Reduction, Team, Team Building, Veterinary Management

5 Steps To A Holiday-Ready Practice. It’s Not Too Late!

It’s the most wonderfully stressful time of the year in a veterinary hospital.  Especially stressful for practice managers.  We get a lot thrown at us on the daily.  Here are a few of my tips for what you can do to make it a little less tense for yourself and your team this holiday season.  If you have any cool tips and tricks please leave them in the comments below.  I’d love to hear from you!

1.) Staff Holiday Party

      If you haven’t already started planning this annual event, if you have one that is, then you need to jump on it.  

  • Ugly SweaterMake a reservation for a venue; Make plans to have it at work or some other location.
  • You should start this earlier in the year but it’s not too late! You can still pull off an awesome party.
  • Check Pinterest for some great party ideas!
  • Teamwork is the best way to plan a party.
    • Get some of your staff together to form a  holiday party planning committee, then brainstorm fun staff party ideas.  They may surprise you with their creativity.
    • Remember to give them a budget and basic expectations; like no alcohol allowed and families are invited, etc.
  • Bonuses-I gave bonuses out during the holiday party.  You can give them out whenever works best for payroll, schedules, etc.
    • Prepare a list of all employees to give to the owners.
    • include hire dates
    • pertinent info the owner might need to know about the employee.
    • Get a list from your accountant of the previous year’s bonuses

Meet with the owner privately and have a bonus writing party.  Have holiday-themed cards ready so the owner can sign them and the checks in one sitting.  You can be filling out the rest of the payment info on the checks and address the cards to the employee.


2.) Fall Freshen Up

Get the team involved in this extended event.  I don’t like waiting until spring to do “Spring” cleaning.  Spring cleaning never made sense to me because you are already a couple of months into the NEW YEAR.  Let’s start the NEW year FRESH.  I like doing a Fall Freshen Up.  There will be more foot traffic from clients coming through this time of year; especially if you offer boarding and grooming.  You want to be ship shape.

Hospital-Wide Clean Out– by department

cleaning bucket

  • cabinets and countertops
  • trays, cubbies, and shelves
  • get rid of the boxes that get stacked around and overlooked
  • Straighten up the storage rooms
  • Deep clean the sinks, floors, countertops, cabinets, equipment, doors, windows, hallways, rooms, boarding area, grooming area, retail area, bathrooms, reception area
  • power wash the outside entryway and anywhere the pets and clients walk

These tasks can be added to each department’s daily checklist and can be done over a period of time if everyone works on it throughout the Fall.  Then you head into the New Year fresh and clean. AAAAHH! It’s so nice.

3.). Stock up on Holiday supplies for the departments

  • Holiday Bandanas-Try to stay away from overly religious-themed bandanas or ribbons
  • Holiday scented shampoos and sprays- These are great for the grooming, boarding, and routine bathing pets.  There is nothing better than a happy, freshly bathed sugar cookie scented Labrador!
  • Holiday colored bandage wrap- Red, Green, White, Yellow, Blue and so on!

Snowman Bandage Art

4.) Prepare the staff for shenanigans

Holidays are tough on a lot of people and probably even more so for those serving in a compassion related industry like veterinary medicine.  Clients are going to be cranky and from my years managing a practice, I noticed they were more so around the holidays.  They are spending lots of money on gifts, meals, parties and vet bills.  Ugh. This is also recognized unofficially as euthanasia season.  There is usually a marked increase in euthanasia procedures during the fall months. It’s sad and very emotionally draining on everyone: clients, veterinarians and their staff.  Here are some tips to combat these stressors.

  • Plan a motivational meeting with your staff in the weeks before Thanksgiving to go over pertinent information they need to be successful with the clients.
  • Give a brief refresher or dealing with difficult client situations.
  • Give them a reminder of important dates for closures, boarding staffing needs, etc.
  • Go over the holiday time off expectations; who can take time off; how far advance can they request it, etc.

Lastly, Give them the encouragement they need to stay positive and happy throughout the holiday season.

5.) Keep the stress in check! 


Don’t lose it!  There is a lot to do at the end of the year for managers and sometimes the staff and owners aren’t always aware of it.  Step away from the job when you go home at night.  Here are some of my favorite holiday stress busters:

  • Spend time with family
  • Enjoy the holiday parties
  • Savor warm drinks by the fire; or cool drinks outside in the fresh air
  • Drive around and look for holiday lights
  • Say NO to some of the invitations! It’s okay to stay in and chill.
  • Meditate– really, give it a try.  Read my post about it!
  • Listen to an uplifting book that soothes your soul
  • Listen to Christmas music

I would love to hear from you! Send me your end of the year hospital prep tips, you may be featured in a future blog post!  Email me at rhonda@dogdaysconsulting.com with your tips or clever tricks as well as your contact info.  Don’t forget to subscribe for more blog posts.  Follow me on Twitter @RhondaBCVPM or find me on Facebook @dogdaysconsulting.  Thanks for reading!


Happy Holidays!



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