Sarah A.Chadwick, assistant editor
Is your practice crying out for a new look? And is your budget screaming, "No!"? Well, help is here. Our team of design experts, all members of the Veterinary Economics Editorial Advisory Board, knows you probably can't afford a complete hospital overhaul. But you can give your practice a makeover--just take it one room at a time. These eight tips will help you get started:
Q. I lease space in a strip mall that imposes strict regulations on signage. For instance, my sign must sit flush against the building and not stick up above the roof, I have to use muted colors, and it must say "Veterinary Hospital" instead of my clinic name. Without a distinct building and sign, how can I make my presence known?
You'd probably like to own an ultrasound machine, but before spending your hard-earned money, take time to determine whether you really need and will use one. "Ultrasound is to soft tissues what radiographs are to the bone, and we certainly see more soft tissue injuries than we do bone injuries," says Dr. Tracy Turner, Professor of Large Animal Surgery at the University of Minnesota in St. Paul, Minn. "You can't live without an ultrasound machine if you do lots of reproduction and lameness work. And it's also useful for visualizing the heart, lungs, pleural cavity, intestines, and other internal organs."
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?
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?
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?