A is for Accounting, B is for Business…P is for Dr. Paolo Lencioni.

Meet Dr. Paolo Lencioni. After graduating veterinary school in South Africa, Dr. Lencioni worked as a veterinary surgeon in the UK before opening his own clinic. Whilst working as a vet, he was able to obtain a Diploma in Computer Applications Programming and a Masters in Professional Accounting. Since then he has worked as an accounting software consultant, founded ‘VillageBee’ which produced BeeFree, a veterinary practice management system, and created ‘SmartVetApp’. To add to the list, Dr. Lencioni is a partner at APL Accountants, an accounting firm that exclusively deals with veterinarians, and a proud Member of the Association of Taxation and Management Accountants.

Dr. Lencioni certainly proves that one path can lead us to many different places. Read on to learn some tips and tricks for a successful career.

Wow. You have done a lot in your time. What prompted the switch from being a Veterinarian to Accounting?

I needed to know more about business processes, this was not taught properly at vet school!

What are 3 top things to consider when buying a practice?
1. Position / location
2. Active client base
3. Profitability

Where do practices loose most of the money?

Improper team / staff management and expectation setting.

Tell us more about the SmartVetApp and Profit Diagnostix.

It is an automated and efficient system to help you manage your team, your business and to perform health checks on your business performance. It automatically benchmarks your business processes against national averages and top performers.

What have you learned from experience that you didn’t learn from a textbook? What practical advice would you offer fellow vets?

You can’t learn anything without experiencing it, but first you must know, read, listen, and hear about it. So it’s a process – learn first, then be brave and implement / experience / apply your knowledge.

How can practice owners learn more about running a business? 

Subscribe to some online courses, they don’t have to be business degrees, there is so much out there online. Buy some books about the subject and read them. Apply the things you learn, try them out and accept that a lot of what you do will fail.

How would you advise new graduates be more financially successful in their career?

Be open minded about the fact that to succeed financially, eventually you are going to have to become comfortable with learning about business AND promoting services to pet owners.

Who is the most influential person in your life?

My wife, Anne. She is highly motivated, efficient and does 10 times more than I do without even breaking a sweat and with a smile on her face.

If you could meet anyone in the world, who would it be and why?

Sir Richard Branson. He is one of the few true entrepreneurs. He is ethical, amicable and interesting.

What is your favourite quote or saying?

I can make another dollar but I can’t make another minute. Time is the most valuable asset.

Thank you Dr. P Paolo Lencioni

Contact information:
tel: 07 34880131
Website: www.aplaccountants.com.au, www.profitdiagnostix.com


“It’s not your business”…..says Simon Palmer after he helps you sell it!!!

Simon Palmer has a Bachelors of Arts, a Bachelor of Economics and is a Licensed Real Estate Agent and Business Broker. He has extensive experience working in healthcare recruitment and practice sales, and is founder of Australia’s largest dental and vet brokerage- Practice Sale Search. His company sells more than 60 practices a year, and runs workshops and seminars on exit planning and practice sales throughout Australia.
VetPrac would like to welcome Simon Palmer to the education team…Read on to learn more about him!

Simon, you are the Founder and Managing Director of Practice Sale Search. Tell us how you got into this line of work?

I come from a dental/medical family and, between family members and their clinical friends, I saw many clinicians with great practices stumble when it came time to sell their practice.

They were either trying to do it themselves at the end of a long day, or using a non-industry-specific agent who didn’t understand their business. The process was always frustrating and stressful and the results were almost always compromised.

I had been working in dental recruitment for some time and understood the business intimately. We had a great database, so I decided to fill the gap in the marketplace, and we quickly became busy.

A few years ago, I met Tony Thelander, and we saw a similar need in the vet marketplace. Between the two of us, Tony had an intimate knowledge of vet business and, by that stage, I knew practice sales inside out, so we decided to join forces in Vet brokerage.

What are the top 3 things to consider when selling a practice?

1. There is an old saying that if you have two hours to cut down a tree, spend the first hour sharpening your axe. A similar sentiment can be said of practice sales. To make sure you have a clear run at the finish line, you need to spend time in preparation before you even start to ensure that you aren’t scrambling around when you have a buyer ready to go. This means gathering documentation like financials, major equipment inventory, leases on premises, council permits, associateship agreements, etc. You also need to have clear success criteria and know the post-sale commitment you are willing to give.

2. There is a reason why world records are broken in a race environment, rather than a man alone on a track. It often takes competition biting at our heels to bring the best results. The same is true in practice sales. Dealing with a single buyer alone is rarely going to achieve the best results. You need competitive tension and fear of missing out to bring the best offers forward.

3. There is a tendency among many people to engage a friend or relative to represent them as a lawyer in their practice sale, regardless of their suitability or experience with the task. Commercial law is different from family law or conveyancing, and the stakes are too high for a vendor to risk getting it wrong with a friend that is learning on the job. I would strongly encourage anyone selling a business to engage a commercial lawyer experienced in your type of transactions

Many business owners will attempt to sell their own business. Tell us the benefit of seeking professional advice.

There are several reasons why a vet practice owner should engage a professional to help them sell their practice:

1. A professional broker has access to mny buyers, which an individual vendor will not.

2. Most vets are time poor. A sale involves many, many hours of the vendor’s time in gathering and collating documentation, negotiation, getting legals done, etc. When this is done by a vendor, between clients, or at the end of the day, it is often tainted by fatigue or lack of time.

2. I think that most people would acknowledge that a professional in any field will almost always achieve better results than a first-timer. A professional knows the variables, the pressure points, the common pitfalls and how to achieve optimal results.

Most home owners recognise the value of engaging a real estate agent to sell their house, rather than putting a home-made sign on their lawn and trying to sell it themselves as a D.I.Y project. However, when they are selling their business, an asset that is often the result of a lifetime of hard work, people often have a false sense of security handling it themselves. The results of the sale should make a big difference to the vendor’s quality of life post-sale. When the stakes are that high, it might be time to call in a professional.

In today’s market, do you find that younger or older people are investing in owning a practice?

There isn’t a dominant profile among buyers. Purchasers who approach us are young and old, recent graduates and experienced, first-time owners and old hands at ownership, owner operators and corporates. These different profiles are often competing for the same practice.

In your opinion, what is the most common reason for owners wanting to sell their practice?

It’s hard to pinpoint one main reason that people sell. There are, however, a few common reasons I have come across. These include retirement, selling to focus on other interests or business opportunities, breakdown of a partnership, and divorce. Sometimes people find that being a business owner comes with a lot of stress and paperwork and they just want to work as a clinician and not have the burdens of ownership. Unfortunately, we also become involved with distressed sales (where the owner is selling due to illness) from time to time.

What do you like to do to wind down?

I have two young kids, so I spend a lot of time hanging out with them, which, while tiring, is a great way to unwind. I also run, enjoy reading, and have recently gotten into gardening.

Contact information:
(02) 9328 4678

The Path of a Specialist – Meet Dr Andrew Levien

In vet school, Dr. Levien was worried about becoming a surgeon, but he made the cut…Just Kidding.

Some people stumble through life, whereas others have a clear vision of who they are and what they want to become. The latter was the case for Dr. Andrew Levien.  Growing up around dogs and horses and spending large amounts of his spare time being a spectator at an equine specialist surgical facility was where it all started. When asked about the defining moment when he wanted to be a surgeon, his answer was “It was around age 15 years old, I knew I wanted to be a veterinarian and a surgeon. As time went on I realised that small animal surgery was a broader field (in terms of surgical diseases) and so I switched from equine to small animals in my final year of veterinary school”.

Whilst studying to be a veterinarian, Andrew was already setting the bar high by being granted 7 different awards before graduating with his BVSc (Hons). Since then, he found himself travelling to London for a rotating internship at the Royal Veterinary Collage from 2009-2010, then a surgical Internship at Louisiana State University from 2010-2011, a surgical residency at Animal Medical Centre in Manhattan NY from 2011-2014, was a staff surgeon at Veterinary Surgical Centers in Washington DC from 2014-2016 and is now the proud Director of Veterinary Specialists of Sydney. Within this time he has also found the time to publish several journal articles and present at a handful of conferences.

Spending a large amount of his career overseas, we asked Dr. Levien what he missed the most about being away. “The first 6 months you seem to miss everything about Australia.  As time goes on, I begin to love being away and embracing all that is different about living in a foreign country. Aside from friends and family, the thing that I missed the most about Australia was our lovely white sand beaches and moderate climate. The warm winters and pleasant Sydney summers are a treat compared to New York and London!”.

Fair enough! We are glad the unwelcoming winters brought him back to Aus and VetPrac is certain that vets here can benefit from his knowledge and expertise.  For those that wish to further their education or specialise in surgery, Andrew has some great advice for you: “Have a plan, but be flexible in where you would be prepared to work.  Consider international opportunities. Be prepared to work hard, study hard and write publications. It is a demanding time of your life, but well worth it”!  Also, for all the general practitioners doing the day to day surgeries, remember “you don’t know what you don’t know! Read widely, learn from experienced vets, be logical, and take your time. Like sports, practice makes perfect”.

Although his expertise covers all spectrums of surgery in small animals, Andrew has a soft spot for knees and elbows!  We were very curious what he enjoyed most about these joints and we couldn’t help but love the response…”Knee surgery: That TPLO is brilliant…!  It is an ingenious versatile solution to a complex problem. Transforming a “tripod” pet to a “sound pet” in a few weeks, to an “athlete” in a matter of months is quite amazing.   Elbows: I really enjoy arthroscopic removal of fragmented medial coronoid processes…there is a satisfaction in not only removing the fragments, but in performing minimally invasive surgeries and seeing the pet being able to walk on their limb the same day!”.

Spoken like a true specialist and mentor- or dare I say superhero…

To gain a little bit more insight into who Dr. Andrew Levine really is, we asked him some random questions.

Dr. Levine, if you could have any superhero power in the world, what would it be and why?

“To fly- it would be an amazing feeling to experience life like a bird!  I envy those birds (not the plovers)”!

What is the smallest patient you have performed surgery on? What about the largest?

“I repaired a femur fracture (with butterfly fragment) in a rat (went great!). Sad to say, that the largest is probably on a horse or a cow.”

Who is the most influential person in your life?

“There have been a couple of role model surgeons in my life that I have aspired to be… my friend and mentor Dr. Bill Liska from the USA is a close surgeon friend that I look up to. He is most well known for performing the most number of total hip replacements in the world (over 2000!) and I was fortunate that he taught me how to do them! Now I am, sadly addicted to hip replacements also… it’s super satisfying surgery to do in dogs as small as Yorkies, to those as large as Mastiffs!”

Even though Dr. Levien has already achieved so much, he has lots of ideas for further research projects.  Also, he is currently working by bringing high-quality, affordable surgery to general practices through his new mobile surgical company – Veterinary Specialists of Sydney.  In the future Dr. Levien “would like to refine the way we perform cranial cruciate ligament surgery”- and there is no doubt that he’ll eventually achieve that as well.

How does he do it all and have a life as well? “Time management is key…find ways to simplify your life, perhaps by delegation or release or responsibility, so that you can have more time to do the “other things” you love doing! You may help animals, but don’t forget about helping yourself!”

Thank you, Dr. Andrew Levien, for giving us an insight into you and all you have accomplished.  Check out his business HERE and he is happy for the VetPrac community to contact him.  Better yet – meet him in person at that upcoming Stifle Surgery workshop later this year!

 Wrriten by Alena Felkai.