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Kelley Lay, DVM

Nashville, Tennessee

Blue Heron Consulting

Dr. Kelley Lay self-started her pursuit of business knowledge like most veterinary students. During her time at the University of Tennessee, she realized there was a general deficit for business and leadership skills in the curriculum, so she served in a lead capacity of several student organizations such as President of the VBMA, Student Leader of the American Animal Hospital Association (AAHA), and Director of Professional Development on the AAHA Student North American Business Association’s National Leadership Team. After graduation, Dr. Lay moved to Nashville and now calls Music City home. She has worked in numerous small animal and emergency settings, often mixing it up with relief work and finding ways to help teams all over Nashville. This has opened her eyes to different environments, enabled a vision for what works and what doesn’t, as well as solidified a belief that the culture of a practice is its greatest asset. She advocates that without the framework of a great team around us, we are all less successful than we could be. She has a passion for guiding and encouraging others, so while still practicing, she joined the TVMA’s Power of Ten Leadership Program and most recently Blue Heron Consulting’s team of coaching experts. Dr. Lay is not only one of Blue Heron Consulting’s Operational Coaches but is also the Director of Student and Early Career Programs. She develops mentorship opportunities for students and recent grads, and lectures to young veterinarians at CVM’s and conferences across the U.S. Thanks to her own personal experience, she has the ultimate conviction that the next generation should be empowered to control their destiny, pursue dreams of practice ownership, and be able to navigate “the early years” through challenges and unknowns while still finding well-being and fulfillment in their career. She is helping to build more leaders in our evolving profession regardless of their background, and by doing so, believes we can form a profession of people who take care of each other even better than we take care of our clients and patients.

Topic #1: "Private Practice Ownership - How to Make a Competitive Offer when Competing Against Corporate Consolidators"

Description: The ability of corporate consolidators to offer higher than fair market prices for veterinary hospitals can make it difficult for private owners to pursue their dream of practice ownership. In this session, we’ll delve into the valuation process and discuss specific strategies private practitioners can employ to boost their appeal to sellers.

Topic #2: "Great Expectations"

Description: Frustration and disappointment usually stem from mismatched or unfulfilled expectations. This workshop will teach attendees effective communication strategies to clearly define, communicate, and set expectations for employees. After the discussion, attendees will know how to identify and set goals with employees, the importance of showing appreciation in various ways to employees, steps for conducting effective feedback and having high courage conversations, strategies and tools for creating a culture of accountability, and what to do when expectations are not met. This is an interactive workshop with small group discussions.

Topic #3: "Profit and Loss Statements – Obtaining a Practice's "Pulse" in 15 Minutes or Less"

Description: This interactive discussion will teach attendees how to dissect the key components of a P&L such as COGS (cost of goods sold), payroll, rent and net income, and apply the necessary adjustments to improve practice profitability. At the end of this session, attendees will be able to look at key P&L metrics and compare with those of best practices, make adjustments and realize the profound impact those adjustments have on net income, and utilize strategies discussed in the session to improve practice profitability and practice value.

Topic #4: "Negotiating, Acing the Face to Face, and Landing your Dream Job"

Description: In this presentation, we will learn tips to uncover potential employment opportunities, screening strategies to help you assess a practice, and ultimately land a job at the right hospital for you. We will review all stages of the job negotiation process from resources new graduates can utilize to find the right job, to questions you should be asking potential employers, and to the art of negotiation itself. We will evaluate interviewing strategies to ensure you make the right first impression, as well as discuss, in an interactive small group format, standard components of an employment agreement including compensation, benefits and non-competes and discuss strategies for earning a competitive package.

Topic #5: "The Partnership Perspective"

Description: Dreams of private practice ownership can be accomplished by several different routes. Knowing that leadership is lonely, but that you can "have you cake and eat it too" are key components to entertaining the idea of a Partnership to reach your goal of being a practice owner. In this discussion, we will review the nature of private practice ownership in general, explore the potential pitfalls and beautiful benefits of being a partner, and ensure that those interested are aware of what they will need to make that relationship a lasting and profitable one for all involved.

Speaker Fees: Since student groups (especially the VBMA) are near and dear to her heart, Dr. Lay does not require an honorarium! Cost for her to speak only includes reimbursement for travel costs and expenses.


Phone Number: (931) 625-0720


Topics Covered

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