Is Opening Your Own Veterinary Clinic Right For You?
For many veterinarians, opening a practice is the realization of their dream. Owning your own practice gives you the freedom to build your veterinary practice exactly how you want and the responsibility to make the biggest decisions.
Of course, one of the challenges vets face is making the leap from studying medicine to running a business. Unfamiliarity with the business side of veterinary practices can make the prospect of opening your own practice intimidating. There are financing, hiring, marketing, equipment, supplies, and more variables that a new practice owner has to gain a handle on.
But, as one of our clients, veterinarian Dr. Kim Morey, told us, “This is the way you’re going to make your money, as opposed to working in a corporate practice. This is the way you control your life. I was able to raise my sons in my practice, and I had to balance that, but it was up to me to decide. I think the freedom of owning your own business outweighs the stress many times over.”
The Benefits of Owning Your Own Veterinary Clinic
Freedom and the possibility of increased earnings are significant benefits — but let’s dig deeper into the reasons why you might want to open a veterinary practice.
Instead of being beholden to a corporation or another veterinarian’s vision, you’ll be the primary decision maker. Now you can begin building toward your ideal practice. This could include deciding the approach to veterinary medicine, such as using cutting-edge technology or implementing holistic services.
Owning your own practice also means that you build your supporting team. From administrative assistants to vet techs, you’ll be able to find the people (and pets — maybe your housecat can pick up a shift as a greeter) that fit your dream culture.
Working at someone else’s practice often means you’re just an employee and are compensated accordingly. As a practice owner, your earnings will be based on the success of the business.
Increased earnings can go beyond a bump in pay. As you gain customers, your brand and business will grow in value. This value can be realized if you ever decide to sell your practice (maybe you’re thinking about retirement) or can be leveraged to invest in additional locations.
Starting out as a vet can mean working at locations that give you the best opportunity or experience. Once you gain experience and envision what your own practice would look like, you may begin daydreaming about owning a practice in Miami. Maybe you’d just like a shorter commute and practice close to family and friends.
Wherever your ideal practice is located, opening your own gives you the power to choose. If you’re at the point in your practice’s journey where you’re planning new locations, we wrote a blog on what to consider with the help of our real estate development team.
While owning your own practice will consume more time than working for a practice, it does offer more flexibility in terms of deciding your schedule. As Dr. Kim Morey mentioned earlier, you’ll be free to introduce your personal life into your business, which can make managing both easier.
Real Estate Investment
How exactly does real estate investment lead to long-term wealth? We wrote a blog that breaks down why real estate is such a good investment.
Opening a successful practice, which is a boon to communities, only adds to the value of your real estate and creates the opportunity for you to own two valuable assets: your practice and real estate.
It may feel like an impossible challenge to open a practice on your own, but the personal growth that comes with opening your own business is another reason to consider practice ownership. Not only will you continue to develop your veterinarian skills in the areas you want to, but you’ll also develop business acumen and leadership skills.
Plus, as a business owner, you’ll be able to have a greater stake in your community. This can include developing initiatives for animal welfare or organizing events for education or animal adoption. All of which can add to an already rewarding career path.
What to Consider
The upside of owning your practice is high, but owning any business comes with inherent risk and requires a high degree of commitment. Here are some of the areas to consider before planning your own practice.
As the practice owner, the first variable to consider should be yourself. Are you ready to commit the time and resources necessary to start a successful veterinary practice? Take stock of where your personal relationships and your professional goals are and where you envision them in the near future — do they align with opening your own business?
As we mentioned earlier, once you’ve decided to make the commitment to opening your own practice the next biggest hurdle is gaining an understanding of the business side of veterinary practices. As a business leader, you may not need to become an expert in the areas of accounting or marketing, but you’ll need to become well-versed enough to build a team around you. Though, depending on the size of your practice or whether you plan to outsource business services you may need to jump in to help or prepare to make the macro decisions.
Business preparation can also include developing a business plan, which may make your potential practice more attractive to investors. A veterinary practice business plan may include:
- Big-picture goals
- Primary services offered and pricing
- Marketing strategy, including market analysis if a location is chosen and determining how your company will differentiate and position itself
- Competitor analysis
- Day-to-day operations
- Facility and equipment
How will you finance your new practice? Estimate the possible costs involved such as developing a facility, equipment, staff, permits, and legal expenses.
Assess your available capital — is there a significant gap between what you have and what you need? Are you still paying off that pesky student loan debt? Begin exploring funding options such as investors or business loans. Remember to plan enough funding for the startup and the ongoing expenses until your practice is profitable.
The general location may be one of the first things to decide, as it can impact funding and your personal commitment. We mentioned our previous blog on choosing your best practice location, here are the quick takeaways:
- Find your target demographic
- Consider the competition
- Think about visibility, accessibility, and overall attractiveness
- Think about the long-term prospects and viability of the area
There is incredible upside to opening your own veterinary practice, but significant hurdles and challenges to face before you cut the ribbon and open your doors. It’ll take not only commitment from yourself but help and support from those around you. At Ashton Gray, we’ve built our business on delivering full-service real estate development and business services to help veterinarians fulfill their dream of opening their ideal practices. Discover how Ashton Gray helps you think BIG from concept to retirement.