5 Financing Options to Consider
Whether you’re looking to grow your veterinary practice or purchase a new clinic, ask yourself these five questions before applying for a loan.
As an expert in the field of veterinary medicine, you are confident in your ability to provide the best possible care for your patients. You know how to diagnose a corneal ulcer in a dog, the remedy for a cat’s allergies and what to tell new parents when their puppy eats a baby pacifier, or two. Your devotion to your patients — and expertise in your subject matter — alleviates fears, gives peace of mind and allows you to run a successful practice, all while providing care and compassion; even when people sometimes make odd requests of you and your staff.
As your business grows or changes, there may come a time when exploring financing options will become vital to the continued success of your practice. Whether you are looking to open your own hospital, hoping to expand your existing one or are planning significant building improvements, it is important to consider all your financial options for this endeavor and work with experts who understand not only lending but lending within the veterinary field.
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When looking for financing options, a veterinary-specific lender may be the perfect option because they are conditioned to help when financial needs arise and can tailor solutions to meet the specific needs of small business owners.
A veterinary-specific lender understands that most doctors have high debt-to-income ratios, including student loans, and can therefore offer more financial options, making growth a real possibility. Furthermore, working with a veterinary lending specialist can provide a level of knowledge and care comparable to what you offer your own patients.
Before choosing your lender and applying for a loan, there are some questions to consider. It is vital that you understand and examine the long-term impact of any financial assistance on your business and finances. These considerations will also help determine if a particular lender is the right one for you to do business with because not every lender is going to be a perfect fit for all customers.
Think through these, and then talk through them in-depth with potential lenders.
How much money will you need to complete your project?
It is in your best interest to take a loan for only what you need now and potentially in the near future. Be careful to not to take a larger loan than necessary.
Where are your needs, and for what purpose will you use these funds?
Any lender will request very specific details concerning how you plan to use any funds allocated to you. Whether it is for a startup practice, expanding an existing one, purchasing new commercial real estate, partner buy-outs, refinancing or other business needs, knowing exactly what the money will be used for will quickly help you align with the right lender.
When do you need the funding, and how long will it take you to repay?
If you have a specific time by which you absolutely must have these funds (for example in the event of a partner buy-out or refinancing deadline on an existing loan), be sure that this information is clearly outlined in your first conversation with any lender. Go into these discussions with a detailed plan; one that is financially feasible and will not cause undue hardship on either your personal or professional finances.
Are your projections reasonable and supported by documented historical information?
Accurate and comprehensive documentation is crucial to getting your loan approved in a timely and efficient manner. Your lending process will run smoothly and more quickly if you are prepared with the right information from the start.
Are you prepared for a “worst-case” scenario?
No one wants to plan for the worst, but sometimes those situations are unavoidable. Should external factors negatively affect your business, will you be able to repay your loan?
If you take the time to think through each of these items in advance, you will more quickly align yourself with the correct lender, ultimately getting this journey started on a faster, more positive note. A good lender will help you identify the best loan to meet your needs and will take the time to walk you through every aspect of the application process, ensuring that you understand and are comfortable with each step before moving forward.
While it may seem like working with any financial institution that provides lending will garner the same result, it makes a difference when you work with an institution that has a comprehensive understanding of the industry and what it takes to have a successful practice. Working with an expert in the field of veterinary financing will allow you to focus on doing what you do best — being an expert and devoted caregiver in the treatment of our beloved furry, and not so furry, family members.
Kelly Jackson is the senior vice president and medical and veterinary sales manager for United Community Bank. Jackson has over 10 years of banking and financial management experience. With United, Jackson provides financing options and guidance to medical professionals through the bank’s national SBA lending programs. Jackson advises veterinary practice owners on growth initiatives, profitability and strategies for practice selling.