Many families see pets not only as a companion but as an integral part of the family. People care for pets as if their livelihoods depended on them, and for some, a pet may be the only family they have left. This is why the work of a veterinarian is of utmost importance; so that when disaster strikes with a pet, they are there to put all the pieces of the puzzle back together and fix what was broken. Veterinary work is not for everyone, and many individuals couldn’t bear to see an animal suffer, let alone have it as their nine to five job. Veterinarians are, therefore, hidden angels of some sort and serve their purpose as your fluffy family member’s doctor with the utmost care. However, the qualifications required to become a full-fledged vet don’t come easy. Paired with seven years of non-stop studies as well as countless hours of apprenticeships, these professionals are entirely competent to care for your pet by the time they receive their degrees. That said, opening your vet is nothing short of starting a business, and you may feel as if you’re not quite sure where to begin. Down below, you’ll find the steps necessary on the road to opening a vet – have a look!
#1 Map out the business
Now that you’re on your way to starting your very own veterinary practice, you’ll need to put it down on paper and consider the more detailed aspects of the business – this is called a business plan. Your business plan will map out the specifics of the clinic, such as the objectives, your target market, the name of your business, your goals as well as the time frames involved. One essential of the business plan is the initial costs involved – the startup capital will be necessary to cover all the expenses undergone during the clinic setup. To get some answers, ask yourself the following questions: What is the expected growth of your business within the first three years? What are the costs of everything you’ll need to open the clinic? What are your goals for the company, and how quickly do you think your business can reach these goals realistically? What will your overheads be each month? Thinking about all of the above will help you gain some further insight into factors you may not have considered before, and it will help give you a clearer picture of what to expect moving forward.
#2 Acquire the startup capital
As mentioned earlier, you’ll need a sum to cover the initial expenses of your clinic while setting everything up. The startup capital required to open a vet can range from $100,000 – $120,000, depending on the size and standard of the clinic. This is a substantial amount of money and isn’t the kind of funds that every person has available immediately. Luckily, there are other options you can consider to aid in funding the startup expenses. One option is seeking the assistance of an investor who would be willing to invest capital in a veterinary clinic. The great thing about an investor is they will be able to act as a mentor and guide you through the business end of things, like running and managing a profitable company that has continuity. An investor will also be able to be a partner with whom you can brainstorm ideas and share accountability, improving your chances of success ultimately. Another option to consider if you would instead run your business by yourself is applying for a business loan; both of these options will require you to have a business plan ready to present.
#3 The legalities
After acquiring the startup capital, you will need to register your veterinary clinic as a legal entity – this will protect you as an individual from being held personally responsible should your clinic be sued anywhere in the future. By registering as a legal entity, you will also need to register for federal and state taxes in order to be able to trade. Be sure to have a look at your local tax policies and make sure you are compliant with all the relevant regulations.
In today’s fast-paced world, it would be highly advisable to have an online presence so people can reach you and communicate. A website has various benefits from which you can reap substantial rewards, such as exponential business exposure. People from all over will be able to find you should they seek the assistance of a vet online, meaning you’ll have a much larger market as well. A website is also a convenient place where people can view your rates, book appointments, and buy your products, meaning you’ll save loads of time on administration and paperwork than if they were to call you to do all of the above. Think about it this way; all your competitors have been around longer and probably have websites – you need to do everything in your power to cast a large net and attract clientele from every direction. Your website will also make promoting your business much more straightforward.
#5 Find a location
The location of your clinic will be of utmost importance for the success of the business. Most veterinary practices tend to be conveniently located nearby residential neighborhoods or somewhere people often go for other purposes, such as a center. Make sure you find a large enough space for all the different tasks your clinic will undertake, like laboratories, examination rooms, kennels, a reception area, etc. Also, choose a location that fits your budget because there is nothing as stressful as having to worry about rent at the end of the month after working your hardest to make ends meet. There are plenty of office rentals to choose from usually, so don’t settle for the first one if it doesn’t fit your needs and budget perfectly.
#6 Purchase the equipment
There are many moving parts required to make a veterinary clinic work – all of which will be covered by the startup capital. Some of the equipment includes digital x-ray machines, IV pumps, anesthesia machines, kennels, cauterizing machines, reception furniture, and veterinary ultrasounds. The essential equipment needed can cost up to $5,000 and can be bought after you’ve found the correct location and have decided where everything should be placed. You will also need to purchase proper uniforms for yourself and your staff; you can find the best quality scrubs at Uniform Advantage to look your best while saving pets’ lives.
#7 Hire and train staff
Teamwork makes the dream work, and you’ll need a dream team to help you take the business to new heights. During this process, you’ll need to take enough time to go through applications and interview candidates properly. You’ll need a receptionist to manage the administration, as well as an assistant to help you with examinations and procedures. Also, consider hiring an individual to handle patients’ accounts and follow up on outstanding payments. After hiring staff, be sure to give them adequate training to ensure a smooth sailing ship from day one – communicate the way you want things done clearly to avoid any confusion and be open to questions and suggestions. Training is vital to evaluate your employees’ skills and equip them with the know-how needed to perform their tasks to the best of their abilities. You’ll also need to have funds designated for salaries, health insurance, and additional benefits regarding staff.
Your marketing campaign will determine the amount of business you receive in the beginning. You will also need to let people know that you’re open for business as well as your location. A marketing campaign is where your business will earn its stripes among competitors, and your website will be the place people go to when finding out about you. Your marketing strategies and your website will also walk hand-in-hand in terms of the techniques you use. For example, if you utilize search engine optimization tools to promote your business, your website will rank much higher on Google when anyone searches for something related to veterinary services. You can also use paid social media marketing to boost business exposure and promote any discounts on services you may be offering. At the end of the day, a new business’ marketing is the deciding factor of its sustainability at first, seeing as you are fresh in the industry and still need to build a reputation and regular client base.
Your veterinary clinic will require loads of attention to detail from your side as well as countless hours of decision-making and hard work, but it will all be worth it in the end. Years from now, you may look back on this time in your life and be grateful for when you were brave enough to take a chance and start your own business! The above guidelines may be helpful to break a monumental task into smaller pieces and tackle each and every step one by one – before you know it, you’ll be saving lives in your hard-earned clinic!