Since enrolling in a vet school, or perhaps from a far younger age, you’ve likely fantasized about the day you take risks and build your own veterinary practice. While beginning any business can be a challenge, with much determination and cautious planning, you can finish your career as a veterinary associate within an established practice and successfully set up your own clinic.
Create a business plan
Though you are trained as a medical professional, when setting up your own veterinary practice, you must also instantly become a shrewd business person. As a vet clinic owner, you can no longer concentrate only on patient care; you must also take measures to make sure your practice is able to consistently remain funded, open, and functional. As such, creating a business plan is a critical first step in opening your practice.
The business plan is the map of any business. Setting up any practice without one would be unwise and perhaps even incautious. Your business plan should preferably include detailed information on your vision for your clinic: what type of practice you want to run, structural, staffing, and funding requirements and sources, financial forecasts and plans, marketing plans and more. The more fastidiously you plan your business, the easier it will be to turn those plans into action and build a vet clinic that can practically operate and meet intended needs.
Collect a ‘launch team’
You wouldn’t build a home on your own. You would likely collect a team of industry experts, contractors, plumbers, electricians, designers, etc. They help turn your plan into a three-dimensional representation of your vision. The same applies to starting a vet clinic. Your launch team will likely be made up of an accountant, a lawyer, a real estate agent, an architect or interior designer, a financial planner or bank liaison and a marketing manager. Together, your team will stick to your business plan and help to prepare your new practice for launch by:
- Registering your new practice as a legal entity – and obtaining the essential insurance.
- Registering for taxes – allowing the government to know you are practising and in agreement with all finical regulations.
- Setting up accounting practices – opening a business bank account and keeping precise and effective.
- Securing funding – to be able to afford expenses related to running and sustaining a successful vet practice.
- Acquiring necessary certificates and licenses – for opening a business, providing pet health care and more.
- Establishing your brand – to make your business distinct from competitors and permit your customers to know precisely what care their beloved pets will receive.
- Creating a web presence – Making use of the power of digital and social media marketing to find new potential pet owners, updating your target audience on new treatments and services and consistently increasing visibility – and your bottom line.
Choose a location for your clinic
It is necessary to talk with your real estate agent and architect/designer and determine whether you will lease or buy a clinic location if you will operate out of an existing place, which you will likely need to renovate, build your own clinic from scratch, or choose to invest in a mobile veterinary clinic and save money on location-related costs. Each option has its visible benefits and drawbacks and should be completely researched before an offer is made on any space or property. Making sure the property has a clear title and is free of liens, taxes or easements is a necessary issue.
Significant considerations when choosing a clinic location include its closeness to major roads and highways, available parking spaces and the amount of (construction) work you would have to put into the space to change it into the veterinary practice of your dreams. Something else to bring into consideration is the immediate outdoor area surrounding your clinic. As your patients are animals, it would be best if there was at least a small area for pets to alleviate themselves outdoors, before entering your clinic.
Hire professional staff
To provide your pet patients and their worried owners with the best possible remedy and care, you will need to staff your practice with qualified, committed and knowledgeable employees. It is up to you to decide precisely what types of employees to hire, though the following positions tend to be standard at most vet practices:
- Another qualified veterinarian, apart from yourself – to help handle patient overflow and cover when you’re unavailable
- Veterinary technicians
- A receptionist or office manager and other ancillary staff
You may also decide to hire kennel assistants and groomers or make business associations with kennels and groomers in the area. This decision depends on budget limitations as well as personal preferences. Some vet clinic owners would rather keep staff on the smaller side, to create a more intimate practice environment, while others want to make a one-stop shop for all their pet patients’ needs.
You can choose an employment agency or veterinary job search engine to help make staffing your veterinary practice as high-quality and as fast as can be.
Order equipment and supplies
Once you have found and renovated your location and obtained all necessary permits, you will need to supply your new vet clinic with standard medical equipment, laboratory tools, medications and other items. Necessary items can range from examining tables, cages, surgical knives and antibiotics to pet food, shampoo and chew toys. And of course, you will need to buy specialty sterilization equipment, to make sure your instruments are patient-ready and impurity free. Depending on the size and scope of your practice, you may also decide to gain specialty equipment, such as cardiac or orthopedic technological devices.
What are the necessary expenses for a veterinary practice?
Veterinary clinics must hold a fixed supply of prescription medicine on hand at all times since their patients’ lives often depend upon it. Your inventory of medicine and specialty food will prove to be one of the biggest ongoing expenses. Until your business expands, you’ll also need to allocate a portion of your monthly budget for a marketing strategy.
Your largest and most significant expense, however, will be payroll. Your staff is both on the frontline and behind the scenes ensuring the business works like a well-oiled machine. Clients will come in contact with them more than anyone else. Treat your employees as the precious asset they are and the business will thrive.
Who is the target market?
If you’ve decided to enter into a more specialized veterinary field, such as equine, surgical, or emergency care, the majority of your customers will fall under that category. Standard veterinary clinics cure lizards, birds, and everything in between, for both routine and “sick” visits.
How does a veterinary practice make money?
Veterinary clinics receive a flat visit fee. Services such as testing, X-rays, and prescribed medications are added to the bill separately, depending on the needs of the patient.
How much can you charge patients?
Clinic visit payments vary from $35 to $150, depending on the standards of your area. To help you make competitive pricing, acquire a price list from others in your general area. Traditional prescription medications are usually marked up 2.5 times the cost, while preventives and chronic-use medications are fixed at roughly 1.5-2 times the cost. Vaccine prices can be determined based on historical pricing.