Even if you're planning to build a new, bigger facility, you need to make the most of your space. These tips from Tony L. Cochrane, AIA, a principal with Gates Hafen Cochrane Architects PC in Boulder, Colo., can help:
The premise of the TV show "Ed" isn't original: lawyer Ed opens a professional practice in a bowling alley. Dr. Kovacic beat NBC to the punch in 1988 when he moved Animal Emergency Center in Milwaukee into a leased space in a bowling alley. Dr. Rebecca Kirby, Dipl. ACVIM, Dipl. ACVECC, once a partner and now sole shareholder, remembers the location fondly: "We couldn't tell if it was thundering or someone made a strike," she says.
Q. My old exam rooms contain tile floors and rubber baseboards. Waxing maintains the tile, but the baseboards attract dirt and cat hair, and the seam between the floor and boards gets very grimy. What can I do?
If you think constant barking is maddening, add the steady pounding of jackhammers. Then work under those conditions for a year. Partners Drs. Scott Griffin, Ann Allen Salter, and Bill VanHooser sacrificed quiet to add 6,613 square feet to their 7,295-square-foot Carriage Hills Animal Hospital and Pet Resort in Montgomery, Ala.
Q. After 23 years in the same location, my veterinary practice is landlocked. Parking space is almost nonexistent, and traffic is so heavy clients sometimes struggle to even enter the lot. My wife suggested we move into an area where housing is booming. But our practice is still growing where we are, and I don't want to move too far from this location. In a city with 80,000 people and nine other clinics, how far can I move without losing my client base?
Dr. Timothy J. Thompson wanted to own a practice so much, he says he would've bought a lemonade stand with a dog run attached. So he and his wife, Dr. Shannon A. Thompson, both 1994 Texas A&M University graduates, only spent a year as associates before buying Hope Animal Clinic in Marble Falls, Texas. They leased the 850-square-foot building and within a year bought land to build the mixed animal facility of their dreams.
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: