Your Veterinary Voice, Episode 16: Meet John Volk

Your Veterinary Voice, Episode 16: Meet John Volk

The veterinary super analyst takes us through preventive care, corporate takeovers, industry burnout and back again in dvm360's podcast.

If you've done any research on the topic of veterinary business—whether through dvm360 or anywhere else—you've likely come across the work of analyst, data guru and Fetch dvm360 conference speaker John Volk. He has scrutinized the veterinary industry for decades, watching trends come and go, and has contributed to the business literature of the field. One notable achievement: the groundbreaking Bayer Veterinary Care Usage Study. So it was a no-brainer to invite him to be our guest on Your Veterinary Voice. Our conversation with John Volk starts with the Bayer study, specifically what has surprised him in the years since its unveiling. It's all about preventive care plans: Clients want them, but practices—especially independent practices—don't necessarily offer them.

"Now that we see corporate practices adopting preventive care plans, at some point competitive pressures are going to force independent practitioners to adopt them, or they’re going to start losing clients," he says.

Veterinarians: You should be glad there's someone like John Volk who will connect the dots between disparate data sets like household income, percentage of homeowners versus renters and willingness of population groups to outsource services. This is his wheelhouse. So we had to ask if he is seeing a shift in pet owner demographics. Jump to 9:13 to get into this topic.

Speaking of trends, there’s been a lot of talk about the pros and cons of corporate practice takeovers—should you panic or go with the flow? And what about the profitable practices that won’t be bought, but will still shutter due to the spread of big box clinics? We asked John about a possible wave of consolidation and its effect on practice ownership. It turns out all hope is not lost.

"There are still a lot of associate veterinarians who want to be practice owners. If I were advising them, I’d encourage them to look at one- and two-doctor practices that are healthy practices, that are in communities where there’s opportunity for growth," he says.

Click to 15:50 to hear all about it.

Lest you think he's strictly "by the numbers," John Volk is aware of the emotional problems prevalent in the veterinary field. And he has thoughtful speculation on the future of the professionals with whom he has worked for so long. This discussion is at 21:47.

Of course, Volk does divine his opinions from data analysis, so we asked him what his dream research project would be. See if his answer sounds familiar: He wants to know what keeps clinically trained veterinarians from excelling at (or even being interested in) business operation?

"Do we need to form a cadre of mentors for young practice owners who help them through those kinds of things, who spoon feed them good management advice?" he wonders. "I don’t know, but I’d like to learn more about how we can help people adapt into practice ownership."

Take a listen at 26:14.