Growing Your Veterinary Practice as a Business: Tactics for Veterinary Entrepreneurs
Expanding a veterinary practice into a thriving business takes more than just being a talented veterinarian. In fact, over half of all veterinary practices in the UK are owned by just six companies. This growth in corporate veterinary practices highlights the importance of prioritizing business strategy to remain competitive.
So, how can you grow your veterinary practice as a business? Here are a few key strategies you can implement to start growing your business.
Set Goals for Your Practice
The first critical step is outlining both your short and long-term goals. Short-term goals focus on objectives for the next 1-3 years. For example, you may set targets like increasing revenue by 25%, adding 2 new exam rooms, or installing digital radiology equipment. These smaller goals help you incrementally work towards more ambitious long-term visions.
Long-term goals require looking 3-5 years ahead. Envision where you want your practice to be and set objectives like opening a satellite location, expanding services, or even franchising your brand. Know your current capabilities in terms of space, staff, and operational bandwidth to set realistic growth rates. Then create milestones with target dates to help you execute major goals.
Find Available Financing Sources
Expanding any business requires capital, whether it’s to open a new location, hire additional staff, upgrade technology, or market your services. Veterinary entrepreneurs have several financing options to fund growth initiatives:
Business loans and lines of credit from banks can provide accessible funding with better rates and terms compared to credit cards. Lenders will assess your business’ financials to qualify your eligibility and loan amount. You can also look for government-backed start-up loans as an alternative source of funding with lower interest rates.
Leasing Instead of Purchasing
Leasing specialized veterinary equipment is often a smart financial move as well since you only pay for the equipment during the lease term rather than laying out cash upfront. Equipment leases also include maintenance and upgrades giving you more consistent costs.
Short-Term Loans and Credit Cards
If you need a quick influx of cash, short-term working capital loans can cover costs like payroll, inventory, renovations, or new marketing campaigns until repaid in 6-12 months. You can also use business credit cards to earn points, miles, or cashback on large purchases like supplies and materials.
Create Customer Service Systems
Delivering exceptional customer service is essential for any growing service business. There are several strategies veterinary practices can use to ensure high-quality care and improve retention:
- Create detailed service standards for all customer interactions – phone calls, appointments, follow-up, etc. Educate your entire staff on exceeding expectations.
- Actively monitor online reviews and social media mentions. Send surveys via email or mail. Identify potential areas of improvement.
- Invest in initial and ongoing customer service training for front desk staff, vet techs, and doctors. Teach practical skills for calming anxious pets, explaining procedures, handling complaints, and de-escalating difficult situations.
- Offer wellness or preventative care memberships to increase retention. Monthly fees provide owners with discounted services while guaranteeing you recurring revenue.
- Leverage online booking, text reminders, pet profiles, and apps to provide convenience, communication, and customization.
By training staff, monitoring feedback, and leveraging technology, you can optimize every client and pet interaction.
As a business owner, your time is valuable. Streamlining workflows using technology can optimize efficiency, freeing up more of your time for high-level strategy and growth initiatives. Here are a few ways you can streamline and automate processes:
- Practice management software offers a single platform to integrate scheduling, billing, inventory, and patient records. This creates seamless workflows and provides data-driven insights. Cloud-based options allow remote access.
- Digital radiology and imaging solutions speed up x-ray imaging times. Images can be instantly accessed on any connected device. Some systems flag possible issues.
- Telemedicine platforms allow remote video consultations, prescription renewals, and follow-ups. This expands care options for established patients.
- Inventory management systems track medication and supply levels to automatically place reorders and alert appropriate parties. This reduces stockouts.
- Document management solutions digitize all records and notes for easy searching and sharing from any location.
- Analytics dashboards that monitor KPIs like patient visits, referral volumes, and revenue. Business intelligence empowers data-driven decisions.
Expand to Multiple Locations
When the time comes to expand your veterinary practice, careful planning and preparation will set you up for success. First, determine your expansion goals – do you want to open multiple clinics locally or build a regional presence? Narrow your focus before scouting potential territories and sites.
Do your homework beforehand by analysing the population, household incomes, and competitive clinics in your target areas. This will help you gauge the demand for your services.
Have funding lined up through traditional financing or personal investments to cover expenses like real estate, equipment, marketing, and staffing – don’t wait until after signing a lease.
And consider bringing on an experienced clinic manager or consultant to oversee hiring and logistics for new locations. Their expertise can ensure your new clinic launches smoothly.
While expanding, be sure to maintain consistent branding, services, and software across all locations so clients recognise and trust your growing brand. Opening additional clinics is an excellent tactic for increasing your customer base.
Renovate and Improve Existing Locations
In addition to expansion efforts, it’s critical to continuously improve your current veterinary clinics as well. Assess your layouts, equipment, and workflow for opportunities to boost efficiency and capacity. Consider adding specialty services like rehabilitation, acupuncture, or 24/7 care.
Upgrading to integrated practice management software and high-tech equipment like digital radiology can improve productivity and patient care. And renovating your lobby, exam rooms or facilities keeps your practice looking updated, clean, and appealing.
Curb appeal is important too – refreshing exterior signage, landscaping, and parking can further reinforce your brand image by making a great first impression. Investments back into your current clinics demonstrate your commitment to quality.
Growing a thriving veterinary practice goes beyond providing great veterinary care. It also requires an understanding of business principles. Learning to set goals for your practice, access financing, build systems, and expand gives you the skills you need to take opportunities for growth and build a lasting company across multiple offices.