There's strength in numbers, the saying goes. But for the veterinarians at Findlay Animal Hospital in Findlay, Ohio, strength comes not only from the number of doctors but also from the number of hospitals they own around town.
Looking at the 18,832-square-foot Veterinary Referral Center of Colorado in Englewood, Colo., it's hard to imagine the practice's humble beginnings. In 1991, Dr. Sam Romano's emergency practice merged with Dr. Steve Wheeler's internal medicine practice and Dr. Marlon Neely's mobile surgical practice in an 1,100-square-foot garage. Three years later they added oncologist Dr. Robyn Elmslie, Dipl. ACVIM, and moved into a 5,600-square-foot converted dental facility.
If you come to work every day, park in back, and hurry in the staff entrance, you may be missing out on the little things that detract from clients' impressions of your facility. To identify areas where your practice falls short, look at your hospital the way pet owners do. Here's a guide:
You're finally ready to build your dream hospital or expand your existing facility. For years, you've read design articles in Veterinary Economics and carefully studied every floor plan. You've also planned to hire an award-winning veterinary architect. But one of your clients is an architect, and you like her work.
Do veterinarians and staff members constantly trip over each other's feet at your practice? Or maybe you round corners with caution to avoid taking out unsuspecting clients. Even remodeling or expanding your facility may not fix the problem if you don't develop an efficient floor plan.
Q. I lease space for my hospital but want to purchase some land and build a facility when my lease expires in three years. My Individual Retirement Account (IRA) contains enough money to cover the down payment on the land. Is this a wise use of my IRA funds?
When people shop for used cars, they kick the tires and check under the hood. When they shop for veterinary services, the evaluation is more subtle. But in both cases, they form lasting opinions based on first impressions. That's why it's critical to minimize noise and odor. Simply put, if your clinic stinks, clients may worry that your medical care stinks, too.
Good luck and support from her family made all the difference when Dr. Sue A. Stiff was building a new facility for Kiln Creek Animal Care in Newport News, Va. Most business owners in this seaside locale can't afford land. But fortune smiled when Dr. Stiff secured a 2.7-acre site in an exclusive golf community--for half its value. In addition, her husband, a local emergency veterinarian, kept an eye on the practice while she devoted her time to the building project.
Consulting with clients over a picnic table, housing patients in the restroom, and stacking portable cages to the ceiling may sound like a bad dream to most veterinarians. Dr. Neil Shaw and his team endured this daily reality for more than two years at Florida Veterinary Specialists, a 1,500-square-foot leasehold hospital in Tampa, Fla.