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The future of veterinary medicine is veterinary ownership
A Q&A with CityVet Founder Chip Cannon
Practice ownership is often the dream of many veterinarians. With the proliferation of veterinary corporations known as aggregators sweeping up privately owned veterinary practices into groups, veterinarians may find it hard to enter into practice ownership. Practice ownership is a hallmark of veterinary medicine, and many times, it is the introduction that helps young children solidify their dream to become a veterinarian when visiting their family veterinarian in a locally owned veterinary practice.
While the path to practice ownership might seem daunting for many reasons, there is a veterinary company that will partner with veterinarians to open their own veterinary practices. This partnership supports new practice owners with all aspects of owning a veterinary practice. This support encompasses help with finding the best location, design, construction, financing, human resources, managerial and business coaching with a proven system, 20 years in the making. Veterinary practice ownership allows wealth building, autonomy, and equity sharing within the company.
Introduction to CityVet
In the last couple of decades, veterinarians may have shied away from practice ownership due to cost of ownership, desire for more medical training post veterinary school, tuition debt, and fear of business management alone. CityVet has answers to those concerns. They offer a collaborative business partnership model that places the owner veterinarian at the center of their own businesses while providing the safety net. This in turn provides an environment for the owner veterinarian to concentrate on autonomous medical care, leading a medical team and realizing a dream of business ownership that not only builds wealth for them and their family, but for their team and associate veterinarians as well.
This author recently had an opportunity to speak to the founder of CityVet, Chip Cannon. Let’s find out more about his vision and how CityVet is keeping veterinary medicine in the hands of veterinarians as owners.
Pam Hale, DVM, MBA: You started CityVet over 20 years ago and now have grown to more than 25-veterinarian owned clinics. Tell us about CityVet and what made you decide to expand this model to benefit DVMs across the country?
Chip Cannon, DVM: I opened the first CityVet location in 1999 with the mission to serve people by providing client-centered, quality pet care. Having the opportunity to operate my own clinic and observe my peers, it became evident to me the obstacles many veterinarians face when opening their own practice. I knew I had created a sustainable model with CityVet and wanted to share the tools I had created to help other DVMs fulfill their calling the same way I had.
As we’ve grown, our mission has remained steadfast, and we’ve partnered with veterinarians who share the same goal. Our model is empowered with a purpose to keep veterinarians at the core of pet care and provide them with the tools to build and own their own practice within the CityVet system. We are driven to grow and make CityVet more accessible; not only so we can continue to provide the highest quality care for pets and a great experience for their humans, but also continue to benefit veterinarians with our unique vet ownership model.
Hale: Cost of entry is often one of the biggest hurdles new DVM graduates face when considering opening their own practice. How does CityVet’s model make this process more accessible for veterinarians?
Cannon: It’s no secret that starting your own practice from the ground up can be very expensive, especially for recent graduates coming out of school with large amounts of debt. On top of the obvious costs associated with opening a practice, one must also consider the cost of staffing the practice, marketing, overhead, the list goes on. Additionally, it’s a competitive field that can be truly daunting to get started in on your own, which is why we wanted to offer a more accessible solution.
Our ownership model allows our DVM partners to own part of their clinics while enjoying financial and back-of-house support from CityVet. Currently, we are offering a $100,000 sign-on bonus for lead practitioners who sign on to join CityVet, which easily covers the down payment to become an owner. The financial barrier of entry is much more achievable at CityVet than starting a clinic from the ground up, with some of our youngest owner/partners starting as soon as 3 to 4 years out of veterinary school, and on average our CityVet DVM partners have generated over $3 million in personal equity value.
Additionally, our unique business model equips DVMs with progressive, high-end facilities and back-of-house technology, allowing them to focus on what they are passionate about while offering a scalable business model to provide financial stability and success.
Hale: One of the benefits of owning a practice is the ability to more rapidly build wealth. Do you have any examples of DVMs within your group who have had success stories?
Cannon: Yes, we have many success stories of DVMs who have achieved financial stability and seen incredible returns on their investments through their CityVet clinics. One great example that comes to mind is of a DVM owner/partner who decided to retire at the age of 41 to spend more time with her kids and family. After owning her clinic for a little more than 7 years, she was able to sell her clinic and retire due to the wealth she had accumulated from her CityVet clinic.
Hale: Something many DVMs don’t think about but can be very daunting is back-of-office tasks, such as recruiting, hiring, invoicing, setting up technology, and more. CityVet offers complete back of office support to its DVM owner-partners. Can you tell me a little bit about that?
Cannon: Most veterinarians get into the industry because of their passion for animals but end up getting bogged down with administrative work once they open their own clinics. Our mission is to alleviate the stress of day-to-day processes and back-end administrative and business management from veterinarians so they can focus on what they were called to do. Additionally, we offer a mentorship program and continued training to help new grads learn real life tools for after leaving veterinary school.
Hale: Speaking of support, you’ve recently launched CityVet Academy. What is the goal of this additional training and what can those that join the team expect?
Cannon: CityVet Academy launched last year as a way to train DVMs to become leaders in the industry and help them continue to hone their skills. Here, everyone from newly graduated to experienced CityVet DVM’s learn about key leadership building skills from how to have crucial conversations to understanding a financial statement, personality profiling and more. It’s really about teaching our team members real life, tactical skills that they might not learn in school or the clinic.
Hale: Is there anything else you’d like to add that we haven’t covered?
Cannon: I think the most fulfilling part of what we’ve been able to achieve at CityVet is seeing other DVM’s carry out what they are driven to do. Veterinarian medicine isn’t just a job for DVM’s, it’s a passion. Being able to help veterinarians open practices and provide tools that allow them to focus on what they love to do so they can deliver the best care to pets and pet parents is more rewarding than I ever could have imagined.
We are thrilled with the growth and support of CityVet with our valued partners over the past 23 years and look forward to bringing our incredible pet and people care philosophy to more neighborhoods across the state and country. We plan to open an additional 10 to 15 units in the next year with expansion into 12 new metropolitan markets including Austin, Texas; Houston, Texas; Atlanta, Georgia; Tampa, Florida; and Phoenix, Arizona; and growth within Dallas, Texas, San Antonio, Texas, and Denver, Colorado.