My office manager has been out for a full week, and will be gone for at least one more. My office manager, who has singlehandedly taken ownership of the clinic (in a good way), made sure that records are logged, bills are paid, papers are filed, forms are filled out and customers feel loved; my office manager, who I stay awake at night fearing she might someday leave me and wondering what else I can do to keep her happily employed. Needless to say, I was slightly panicky at the thought of her being gone.
But really, it has been a good thing. Certainly I wish she was here, but her being gone has allowed two things:
1. For my other, excellent staff to step up. I have one other assistant who is fully trained on everything, and three “kennel assistants” whose primary responsibility has been taking care of the kennel, but as they are all smart, able-bodied people who are eager to learn and help out they have enjoyed learning the ropes up front. One has already been pretty much fully trained for awhile, and the other two are picking it up admirably.
When I worked for other people, I always tried to be invaluable enough that they couldn’t, or would never want, to lose me. But now as an employer, I can appreciate the “hit by the bus” rule: never be in a position such that you would be crippled by the loss of an employee. Truth be told, I think I’d be extremely sad and lame if my OM did really leave, but at least this week has shown me that I wouldn’t actually be crippled.
2. For me to get back to the basics of running a business. Huge confession: Sometimes I fear that I like the logistics of running a business more than I like veterinary medicine. I know! Gasp! But it’s true. I love managing money, figuring out how to increase efficiency, decrease bills, appeal to clients, etc. Love it. I think I love it because it is more concrete easier than say, managing a dog in kidney failure. Ugh, having to figure out the calcium and phosphate and which meds to choose and explaining why a renal diet really is worth it, etc….that’s stressful. And it’s risky – screw up and your patient DIES. Screw up at business and you lose your money. Which obviously is not good, but still. Better than death.
So anyway, I’ve kind of enjoyed getting my hands dirty with all the stuff that I ALWAYS did my first year of business – managing inventory, talking to absolutely everyone who walks in the door or calls, making deposits, etc. Just the little stuff. Taking out the trash. Sweeping floors.
I often say that my clinic is my first baby, but my boy is my favorite baby. And it’s true – my love for my boy is deeper and sweeter and better than anything else I could imagine. Fling myself off a cliff to ensure his well being? Just show me to the edge. Would I fling myself off a cliff for my clinic? Um, no. Not even close. But really, I love it so much. I LOVE my staff. I love my tiny little building. I really love my clients. I love being able to walk into the backyard and be surrounded by 8 little yapping dogs who are here for boarding. And I’m really proud of it. I’m proud that this is something that I have created.
So as happy as I will surely be when my OM returns, I am somewhat grateful for being forced to remember how things “used to be”, and from whence I came.