5 Tips to Help Grow Your Veterinary Practice
Keith W. Gruebele
Looking to grow your existing practice or acquire a new one? Check out these 5 tips to help set you in the right direction and maximize your return on investment.
Growing an existing veterinary practice or starting a new one can be both exhilarating and overwhelming. While growth means more potential to build your customer base and increase revenue, it also brings a lot of questions. First and foremost, now that you’ve decided to grow your business, what is the first step?
Below are a few tips to get you put your best foot forward. Whether you’re considering an acquisition, merger, or new building, these pointers will help get the ideas flowing.
1. Build the Right Team
If you’re thinking about expansion or acquisition, don’t brave it alone. If you’re already managing customers, then consider forming a consulting team you can trust to help counsel you to make informed business decisions. Having these key players on your team will put you in the right direction:
- Financial adviser: An advisor who can manage your finances can take a weight off of your shoulders and help put together a financial plan so you can be sure you’re clear on investments and returns.
- Legal expert: If you’re planning to expand outward into new property, a legal expert’s advice can be crucial. Large industry associations often offer resources for members to help navigate any legal issues or questions that may arise.
- Lending partner: It’s always best practice to keep your business finances separate from your personal finances. Whether you need working capital, debt consolidation or a business loan, you’ll need a lender you can trust and that understands your industry.
2. Expand Your Footprint
If you’re ready for growth by adding another clinic to your portfolio, you can either acquire an existing office or start new. Each has its pros and cons, and your team of experts can help you determine the right choice for you.
An acquisition model offers you the security of purchasing an established practice with an existing customer base, staff in place and recurring cash flow. Buying into a practice with an existing owner lets you purchase part of the business (typically 25% or 50%) and then buy the rest out when the seller retires. Working directly alongside the original owner can enable an easy transition to eventual full ownership.
Starting a new a practice from the ground up allows you begin with a clean slate and build exactly what you envision. Building your own clinic comes with a hefty price tag, though, with the average cost per square foot of $225 to $350.
3. Market Yourself
If adding an office to your portfolio is not a priority at the moment, but growing your current business is, then think marketing. While it may be far from your mind as you’re juggling customer schedules and managing staff, marketing is a crucial part of expanding your practice and building name recognition. You can start small—perhaps with an email marketing campaign — or go big — by launching a new website or advertising campaign. An investment in marketing can really pay off in the long run.
4. Modernize Your Clinic
Upgrading to newer and better equipment is an investment that can provide huge returns for your clinic. Having the most up-to-date technology can increase your practice’s efficiency, broaden and improve the treatments you offer, and improve every customer’s experience.
5. Manage Your Online Reputation
It’s no secret that people look to the Internet when searching for a new veterinarian; are you showing up (in the right ways) when they query in your region? A search can lead people to social media pages and review sites that have ratings and comments from past and present customers.
It’s important to be aware of these review sites and understand that a poor rating is a surefire way to cause potential customers to look elsewhere. Try to maintain a positive reputation to help you attract new clients and grow your practice. Encourage current happy customers to leave online reviews of their experiences. Also, scour existing reviews and address anything negative right away while expressing appreciation for the positive reviews.
Whether you’re ready to grow your practice today or you’re developing a strategy for the future, there are a number of ways to make investments to help you reach your goals.
Keith W. Gruebele is senior vice president at Bankers Healthcare Group (BHG), where he oversees all loan originations. If you’d like more information about partnering with BHG, the premier provider of hassle-free financial solutions to health care professionals, to finance your new medical equipment with fixed rates and flexible terms, have one of our experts reach out to you directly. Not ready to take the next step? Visit our cash flow calculator to better understand whether your monthly cash flow is sufficient to meet your expansion and career goals.