Veterinarian Business Challenges

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Veterinarian Business Challenges

The top challenges that veterinarian clinics have to face in day-to-day operations include the rise of corporate giants, finding good staff and training them, financial goals, expensive services, and potential lawsuits.

Corporate Giants

  • As of 2018, there are 3,000 corporate-owned veterinary medical firms out of 26,000. The rise of corporate giants is one of the more significant challenges veterinarian clinics have to face.
  • Patty Khuly, an experienced veterinarian, considers this to be a problem, stating that it is not suitable for veterinarians in the “trenches.”
  • Corporate giants affect smaller clinics because they have the funds and the ability to supersede small clinics. The competition is not healthy for everyday operations either, especially when corporate giants can afford to offer cheaper and beneficial services for their consumers. This can lead to some day-to-day clients looking towards the corporate giants to provide services for them.
  • The clinics themselves must deal with the consolidation of clinics under the umbrella of corporate giants, and it is up to them whether they find it beneficial to join the giants or not.

Finding Good Staff

  • Having pleasant staff is considered to be the “make or break” for most veterinarian clinics. The clinic staff is always part of a clinic’s everyday processes.
  • Finding excellent staff for smaller veterinary clinics is a problem because many veterinarians who have just entered the field are looking for ways to pay their student debts. This does not help smaller veterinarian clinics because big clinics offer these veterinarians in the field six-figure salaries and plan to pay their student debts to join them.
  • Additionally, once a clinic finds excellent staff, training them is essential to prevent future problems in the clinic.
  • Choosing between improving the skills of the veterinarian or the team can be costly for smaller clinics.
  • The costs of finding good staff members is up to the owner of the clinic. However, corporate-owned clinics usually do not worry about this, as the corporation would handle the cost and the effort in finding and training good staff members.

Financial Goals

  • Running a clinic is expensive. The Balance Career stated that it would at least take $1 million to start a clinic. This includes renovations, equipment, fixtures, and many others, and this does not yet include everyday operations.
  • Banking, suppliers, and other essential services for day-to-day operations also tend to be tight when it comes to clinic start-ups.
  • Marketing is one of the critical departments when it comes to promoting the clinic. However, this is one of the reasons why it makes financing a clinic a challenge. Smaller clinics have to worry about managing and making various departments which include marketing, financing, public relations, and others.
  • Moreover, some clients may require special services, which are usually outsourced to other professions. These can prove to be expensive for veterinarian clinics.
  • The owner of the clinic usually handles financial problems that come in day-to-day operations. Unless, the clinic has a dedicated finance department.

Expensive Services

  • Veterinary services are expensive because of the training veterinarians go through.
  • Additionally, bills go to paying staff, specialty services, and others. This can lead to more expensive services which can prove to be a problem for both the clinic and clients.
  • A clinician in debt can also lead to more expensive services, which can lead to losing clients.
  • Moreover, clients from different financial backgrounds can prove to be a challenge in day-to-day clinic operations. Some can pay for the services and those who cannot afford it. It is a challenge for clinics to whether to accept those who can only pay for services and leave those who cannot afford it behind. (4) This can lead to losing some day-to-day clients.
  • It is up to the veterinarian to find ways to reduce the costs of expensive services.

Unregulated Practice and Lawsuits

  • The concerns of clients when it comes to their pets can lead to lawsuits, which can affect the everyday operations of the clinic.
  • Although it does not happen quite often due to the highly unregulated nature of the practice, clients nowadays are changing this perspective and are willing to take veterinarians and clinics to the “mat,” when it comes to harm caused by clinics who are taking care of their pets. This can lead to an increase in expensive lawsuits that clinics should start preparing for.
  • When it comes to a lawsuit, a settlement is usually dictated by the clinic. An example of the cost of lawsuits is from Marc Bluestone, in where he sued a veterinarian in 2004 and was awarded $39,000.
  • Moreover, an article from Bloomberg further explained lawsuits that can come from various institutions, not just from clients. It also put into detail the risks that veterinarian clinics have to face when it comes to their unregulated practice.

Research Strategy

The research team started the search by looking for pre-compiled information about the different pain points when it comes to running a veterinary clinic. JOTOPR listed three pain points, and we decided to delve further into those three pain points and look for insights on why they exist. An article from Cornell University corroborated some pain points from JOTOPR. Additionally, the article also stated the differences between running a small veterinary clinic compared to corporate-owned ones. Additionally, we also found more information about the challenges of running a clinic and the practice in general from Veterinary Practice News. The team then decided to look into these challenges further to provide insights about them. We visited reputable sources such as Chron, Vet Street, and others to provide further insights into these challenges and why they exist.


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