Starting a Veterinary Practice

4 Key Steps to Take When Starting a Veterinary Practice

According to this KATU article, there will be a shortage of roughly 15,000 veterinarians in the US by 2030, with a below-average annual rate of graduates. In addition, research from Mars Veterinary Health shows that America will need over 41,000 veterinarians to enter the industry to meet the country’s need for animal care in the next ten years.

These numbers may be the sign you need to start your veterinary practice. If you have researched for a bit, you’re probably already aware of the challenges of starting your practice, such as the high cost of construction materials and the growing cost of medical and office supplies. These issues can make starting a veterinary practice a daunting endeavor, but still possible.

With the proper knowledge and strategies, you can capitalize on the opportunities that come with having and running your veterinary practice, such as:

  • Honing your leadership and communication skills
  • Growing your finances & increasing your profit
  • Gaining more control over your professional well-being and quality of life

Here are four key steps for starting a veterinary practice.


STEP ONE: Create a Strategic Business Model & Plan

When starting a veterinary practice – regardless of specialization – you must first identify your goals by creating a business model and plan. These should include your launching plan, the patient needs you to plan to accommodate, and how you intend to get paid.

Your business model will ultimately be the foundation for your practice’s processes. Furthermore, creating a business plan will help you identify the type of veterinary service that is most in demand, your earning potential, the talent you need, marketing strategies, and growth opportunities.


STEP TWO: Strategically Choose Your Practice’s Location

After you create a solid game plan for starting your practice, scouring for the best location to launch will be your next step. One effective way to find the ideal practice addresses is to use the DVM-to-population ratio. The ratio helps you identify the viability of a new practice in a specific location. Are there too many competitors? Does the number of pets overwhelm the number of veterinarians? Is there a strong demand for the services you plan to offer?

Aside from external factors, choosing a location also entails finding the best facility to house your practice. Do you plan on leasing or buying a property? How big do you need your space to be? Does your proposed budget allow you to maintain the space? Do you need an exclusive parking space for pet owners? Choose a practice location that maximizes your professional and financial growth.


STEP THREE: Funding Your Practice

It’s no secret that running your practice comes with financial gains, but you need to meet specific funding requirements first. Veterinary practices need cash for categories such as:

  • Human resources payroll
  • Clinic supply and amenities
  • Facility and equipment maintenance
  • Sales and marketing
  • Logistics
  • Property rent and taxes

The funding you need will determine how fast your practice becomes profitable, and there are many options to meet your needs. Traditional financing methods like business loans might seem bad because of rising interest rates. However, once your practice gains financial traction and develops the financial track history to support repayment for a large debt load, the second round of financing will become significantly easier.

Alternatively, joint-venture models are becoming a popular option for practice startups. The model entails forming an agreement with another party to develop a “joint” veterinary practice. The wise thing about this approach is that there is less risk on your end because two or more parties are involved.


STEP FOUR: Building Your Team

All practices are busy, especially those that specialize in veterinary medicine. Even if you can juggle multiple tasks at once, you will need a team of people to help you carry out your day-to-day tasks, such as maintaining your space, logging and maintaining veterinary records, and facilitating the billing.

Your practice is more than the facility itself and the services you offer. It is also the people who help you do what you do, which makes reliable staff a vital part of any veterinary practice. Because of this, you need to recruit people with the necessary skills, attitude, and know-how to work with you in growing your practice’s vision.

To further lay the groundwork for success, you should leverage creative staffing solutions such as veterinary virtual assistants that work remotely and use their own space and equipment. Often at a much lower salary due to the benefits they receive by working from home. This would allow a massive chunk of your practice’s funding can go to something other than building an in-house team because, with virtual assistants, you can achieve more without the additional overhead costs! Virtual assistant job roles for veterinary practices include:

Veterinary Receptionist: Handling call, appointments, insurance verification, prescriptions and clerical services
Veterinary Scribe: Working virtually alongside veterinarians during pet exams and updating EMR / pet health record software.
Veterinary Billing: Verifying insurance, updating billing software, setting up payment plans, and more.


Can You Start Your Own Practice?

In addition to these four key steps, there is more expert advice you can apply to build your veterinary practice from the ground up. According to a St. George’s University resource, you must be adaptable, expect bumps in the road and prepare for any outcome. This way, you’ll be more confident in pursuing your career and more prepared to break through challenges you might encounter.


Want to know more about how hiring a VA can support your veterinary practice? Discover more at My Mountain Mover today!