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Asking for a Raise: 5 Steps

Bill Kearley, DVM, MBA, Veterinary Practice Success, Boise, Idaho

June 2014|Peer Reviewed

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You have been working at your current practice long enough to know you have been doing a good job, working up cases, and gaining new clients. Do you think your current salary is reasonable for the dollars you bring into the practice? If not, how do you ask for a raise?

Ideally, your contract should state specifically when and how raises will be determined, but often this is not the case.

Related Article: How to Ask for a Raise―and Get It!

Salary Types

There are 2 primary methods of compensating associates: traditional salary or commission-based pay, with various combinations. Salary may be preferred, although all compensation needs to be established primarily by production. The practice should be able to afford a salary while remaining profitable, and team members need to be fairly compensated for time worked and services performed.

Most of the time, a raise is requested by an associate on a salary-based system; a commission-based system allows for a raise by increasing gross billing for veterinary services. However, if a graduated percentage system is used, increasing the production percentage may be requested.

Related Article: 6 Steps to Successful Negotiation

Step Up

Take these 5 steps to ask for a raise:

1. Document your progress. Track your production even if on salary. The practice should provide access to this information, but keep a running total yourself. Be able to at least identify income from medical services, pharmacy sales, laboratory services, and imaging. Also, keep a list of nonproduction projects or activities in which you have participated.

2. Seek feedback regularly. Ask for input on how you can improve your personal performance in the practice. Do not wait for a formal performance review—constantly seek feedback and work to implement suggestions. Document steps you take to improve, and support this improvement with actual production numbers. Have this information readily available when the time comes to share it with your employer.

3. Negotiate additional benefits. Consider other benefits in addition to salary. Some fringe benefits can provide tax advantages for both you and the practice (eg, medical insurance, additional paid time off, an additional allowance for continuing education). Consider pursuing new skills or training that the practice could assist with (eg, time off, expenses), or even additional support staff to help increase your personal production.

4. Prepare before you ask. Plan your strategy before asking for a conference. Determine whether a raise is financially feasible for the practice. Know your personal production and the justification for an increased salary. A written proposal for your employer explaining the rationale for seeking a raise will help.

5. Ask. This step is often neglected or postponed for too long. The primary reason a raise is not given is that one was never requested. Do not rely on an employer to bring up the issue. As long as every team member is willing to work at his or her current salary, the practice owner or manager often assumes everyone is satisfied. Voice your opinion if you are not.

Related Article: Compensating Doctors by Salary Still Works!

State Your Case

Be straightforward and confident. Simply state your case and back it up with facts. Determine beforehand what you truly desire and what you are willing to accept. Your ultimate goal is to agree on a figure somewhere in between.

Lastly, consider beforehand if you are willing to walk away if you do not receive a fair compensation figure.


For global readers, a calculator to convert laboratory values, dosages, and other measurements to SI units can be found here.

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