Setting up your own veterinary practice is a big deal.
Bringing new pet services to your local area, and ensuring the dogs, cats, and little critters live healthy and long lives is a great way to give back to the community. But how hard is it to set up a clinic like this? You’re forming a business here, just like any other, but the medical element makes it a little more complicated to get up and running.
But it’s a worthy pursuit, especially if you’re newly qualified and know there are a lot of pets who need help out there. And that’s why we’ve compiled the tips below; starting your own vet clinic takes a lot of time and effort, but knowing what you’re up against early on will dramatically shorten the process. Here are the main points you need to keep in mind about the formation.
Pad Out Your Qualifications First
Becoming a fully qualified vet takes around 5 years, and once you’re out of vet school, it’s only natural to want to jump straight in with your clinic dreams! And most vet degree programs also require you to get some hands-on experience working in veterinary environments, to ensure you’re up to the task. All in all, you’re usually well qualified as soon as you graduate from your course.
However, if you want to run an entire practice off of your own back, it’s best to find work in another practice first of all. Get some long-term experience about the day-to-day running before you jump in head first. Find out what it takes to provide medical care to a number of animals all at once, what kind of medicine stock room you need to keep, how many staff members are required, and how to schedule appointments in a productive way.
Take Your Time Finding the Perfect Premises
Your vet clinic needs to have plenty of room. You need a reception and a waiting area, a separate area to deal with larger animals, and a place to showcase the items you sell without getting in the way. Similarly, the average amount of consultation rooms is about 3 for a small practice, so this is the least you should aim for. All in all, you need a good sized practice that can cope with around 4 or 5 pet owners coming in at once.
And these specifications can be hard to find! As such, you need to take your time and scout out as many locations as possible. Once you’ve found a good building, you’ll then need to register it as a veterinary practice, to ensure the right licenses can be awarded and any inspections can be carried out. This takes time and a bit of your budget will be swallowed up following your foreclosure, but it’s a necessary step to get out of the way.
Build Your Team
Then it’s time to start thinking about the team you want to work with. You’ve probably already got a few ideas in mind – friends from vet school, etc. – but you should also think about the business side of things as well. You’ll need all kinds of outside help, just like any other small business would, and that means bringing people like accountants and data entry professionals on board.
You can outsource as much as you want here; you’re a vet practice, so you don’t necessarily need traditional admin team members to be full time. However, do your research for filling these positions early. Find the people you want to work with, scout out some services with good reputations, and even network closely to form connections that will be beneficial in the long run.
Do Plenty of Funding Research
You’re unlikely to be able to open up your vet clinic entirely off of your own back. You’re going to need funding options here, and that takes a lot of legwork. You may be tracking down potential investors and applying for loans for months before you get anywhere. Don’t let this discourage you; it’s better to have a few offers at your disposal and for them to take a long time than for nothing to happen at all.
Thankfully veterinary medicine is a very profitable area, even more so than traditional medical practices. You can draw in quite a few interested parties if you’ve got a clear business plan to go through, a captive market to sell to, and clear interest from the community you’re trying to set up in. If you can also provide names and numbers for the other veterinary staff you’re planning to draft in, you’ll come across as an already functioning unit that deserves a good bit of capital behind it.
Check for Assistance Programs in Your Area
Following on from the above point, you can also look into assistance programs that may be offered by your local government. Depending on where you are in the world, you can have access to a variety of non-profits who are keen to help out with your mission to heal pets in your area. For example, you can apply for a spay neuter assistance program to make sure pet owners can make responsible decisions regarding their dogs and cats for little to no cost.
Aside from this, you could also get financial help for small services, such as claw clippings and pest control. These are the very basic levels of pet care in the modern era, and offering these out for next to nothing can attract a lot of custom your way. Indeed, many vet clinics offer monthly subscriptions to customers to cover the costs of various non-invasive procedures. You could do the same if you were backed by a funding group!
Set Up an Effective Marketing Campaign
Veterinary marketing is a little different to traditional marketing, in that there’s a lot more tried and tested creativity you can employ. For example, people love animals and always look up when they see a cute dog or cat on a billboard or website banner! Use this to full effect when you’re trying to drum up some attention.
Similarly, it’s best to target local marketing most of all, as your customers will be mostly people from the surrounding area. So get your name out there! Sponsor animal focused events, partner with local shelters, and design your SEO around veterinary needs in your town or city. Plus you can offer a number of discounts on your services for new customers, which is a great way to entice someone in and show them what you can do.
Remember, You’re Running a Business
This is really the long and short of it. When you’re running a veterinary clinic, you’re also running a business. You’ve got to set up in the same manner, generate funding, invest in equipment, and market your services to bring pet owners to your door.
So when you’re trying to think of your practice’s USP, apply the same techniques any other business would use! Take your time getting the right paperwork in, cast your hiring net wide, and make sure you’re ready to face the working world.
Opening your own veterinary clinic is a very involved process, but it should be! You’re offering out medical services to beloved pets, and that takes a lot of trust. So take your time with forming your new business; put your team together early, look into multiple funding initiatives, and make sure you’re ready to head up a practice of your own.