From the butterfly garden to the rattan furniture, the high-touch environment at Chico Hospital for Cats in Chico, Calif., reflects the emphasis on client comfort and reassures clients that team members treat their cats with dignity.
Q. I’ve worked as an associate at an equine clinic for several years. Now I’m ready to start my own mobile practice, but I signed a noncompete agreement with the clinic I currently work for. Can I still practice in this area, or do I need to move to another location? What other legal issues do I need to consider?
Dr. Richard Piepgras started working at Lakeland Veterinary Hospital his senior year of high school. During the summer visit to his family’s vacation cabin, he worked in the kennel, mowed the lawn, and even assisted in surgery. "I’ve been here a long time," says the 1967 Iowa State graduate, chuckling. Little did he know that he would someday own the practice—and build an award-winning facility to house it.
Dr. Bill Wodiske, a 1982 Washington State University graduate and owner of three veterinary hospitals in the greater Phoenix area, has worked with architects and contractors to complete five separate building projects, including three leasehold designs, a leasehold remodel, and a free-standing facility. And apparently, the fifth project was the charm: Mountain Park Ranch Animal Hospital and Pet Resort took home a Merit Award in Veterinary Economics' Hospital Design Competition.
If you're thinking of relocating your hospital, your current clients can "point" you in the right direction. Post an area map on corkboard in your reception area and invite clients to mark their neighborhood with a pushpin, says Dr. Sue Summers, an associate in Midwest City, Okla.
Q. I've owned a small animal practice in a suburb for nearly a year, and business is fair. There's one big problem, though: No one can find my practice. It's not on a main thoroughfare or a corner lot, so we don't attract many new clients--if any--from drive-by traffic. Even my established clients complain the hospital's too far off the beaten path. Are we sunk in this location? Is there anything we can do to try and make it work?
As a senior in veterinary school, Dr. Glenn Park worked on a class project with an architecture student to create the hospital of his dreams. Eleven years later, Dr. Park made his project a reality. And his 10,000-square-foot Courtyard Animal Hospital won a merit award in Veterinary Economics' 2001 Hospital Design Competition.