Veterinary experts: "Knowing what I know now..."
We asked veterinarians who just built practices what advice they'd give a peer who was about to embark on this adventure-and they offered up six lessons they learned the trenches.
1. Consider your culture
Stay very involved in the programming and design of your practice. Work directly with your architect to ensure that the new design complements your existing practice culture.
–Dr. Todd Tobias, Memphis Veterinary Specialists, Cordova, Tenn.
2. Weigh cost vs. value
Don't just hire the cheapest architect and contractor. There is great value in expertise and reliability.
–Drs. Lloyd Meisels and Bruce Sullivan, Coral Springs Animal Hospital, Coral Springs, Fla.
3. Gather lots of ideas
Start early and gather as much information as possible. Keep a file of all the ideas you come across. You won't use them all when it's time to make decisions, but even the ideas you don't use could inspire something else.
–Dr. Ryan Steen, Frey Pet Hospital, Cedar Rapids, Iowa
4. Refine your vision
Before you engage an architect, visit other veterinary hospitals, review the Merit Award winners in Veterinary Economics, attend CE conferences on design where you can talk to architects. And when you have your plans, talk to at least three contractors. The time you spend discovering what you really want will save time and money in the long run.
–Drs. Howard Schutzman and Arnold Gutlaizer, Antioch Veterinary Hospital, Antioch, Calif.
5. Stay focused
Stay true to your philosophy and your design goals. You want to consider staff efficiency, the team environment, the function of the facility, and your plans for the future. And revel in the process. Design and building is a very exciting and scary time!
–Drs. Alan Green and David Sachs, Charleston Veterinary Referral Center, Charleston, S.C.
6. Build a strong team
Enlist an architect with specific knowledge in veterinary hospital design. Choose a bank and lending agent who will keep your best interest in mind and be willing to work with you. Make sure your contractor will listen and share your vision. This is a huge undertaking, and everyone needs to pull together. Don't settle for less.
–Dr. Marilee Kind, Anderson Veterinary Clinic, Anderson, Calif.