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How To Open A Vet Practice

By Maria Hickey on April 1st, 2022

The veterinary profession is as fulfilling as it is challenging, and it can be an incredibly rewarding profession. For you, opening a vet practice may be the next step in your career that you have been waiting for. It is an excellent way to continue working within the field that has always been your passion, whilst also exercising independence and autonomy when it comes to making decisions for you and your patients.

Opening a veterinary practice can be a daunting prospect, even for experienced veterinarians. As a practice owner, you want to provide exceptional care to your patients while generating a reasonable income for yourself and your employees. To achieve these goals, it’s important to consider obtaining veterinary insurance, which can help protect your business and give you peace of mind. In this article, we will explore the complexities of opening a vet practice that not only meets high standards of care but is also a successful business.

  1. Business Plan And Location
  2. Financing Your Vet Practice
  3. Legal Requirements

Business Plan And Location

Starting a business isn’t without its difficulties, and working within a vet practice will probably be considerably easier than opening one of your own. It is for this reason that your desire to open a vet practice demonstrates your passion and commitment, and this is something, which should be reflected in your business plan. By writing down your vision for your vet practice, you are creating a tangible goal that you can work towards.

You can then consider the more practical aspects of owning a vet practice, such as the location and type of premises, whether you will be leasing or purchasing, any financial arrangements, your employment policy, how you will attract clients as well as your predicted profits and forecasted revenue. One of your foremost considerations will be the location. It should be located somewhere that is accessible to not only yourself and your employees, but your clients and patients as well.

Understand the demographics of the local community, for example a residential area will probably have many pet owners, but this will be influenced by their income levels, family dynamics, house values and whether they are homeowners or renters. Many renters will be restricted when it comes to pet ownership, for example, so a residential area with a higher percentage of homeowners may be preferable.

What’s more, you should investigate whether there are any vet practices in the vicinity of your chosen location. If there are, then you should research what clientele they serve and what their specialism is.  You can use this information to determine whether there is a demand for your services or if you should look further afield where there isn’t a well-established vet practice.

Financing Your Vet Practice

There are several options that are available to you when it comes to financing your vet practice. For example, you may have investments or savings of your own that are sufficient to cover the starting costs. Alternatively, you may want to supplement or just entirely source your funding from a loan provider. This could be a start-up loan or a business loan, and it is always helpful to compare and contrast different providers so that you can make an informed decision.

Initial costs will probably cover such things as the premises itself, licensing and equipment. On-going costs will usually be the payroll for your staff, supplies such as syringes and gloves and repairs and maintenance for your equipment. Another recurrent cost will be the repayments for any loans that you took to lease or purchase the premises, as well as for any equipment if that wasn’t purchased outright. The interest will inevitably raise the repayments that you make.

The objective should be that the revenue your vet practice generates should cover these on-going costs, whilst also leaving space for profit. You should therefore ensure that you’re the money your practice turns over can comfortably accommodate everything from your lease and debt payments, to your employees’ pay and your own salary. And don’t forget to budget for the costs for repairing, maintaining and replacing your equipment. Your revenue will be generated from appointment bookings, consultations, diagnostics, surgeries, inpatient care, as well as selling medications and pet supplies to your clients.

It is also essential that you provide your clients with accessible and convenient payment options. More and more businesses are offering their clients finance options, and vet practices are no exception. Rather than paying for an appointment, procedure or a medication at once, the client has the option to distribute their payment across several instalments. This ensures that yourself as well as your clients have greater flexibility when it comes to transferring cash, and eliminating the barriers that your clients may have.

Legal Requirements

Veterinarians are required to register with RCVS (Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons) if they are to practice within the United Kingdom. RCVS also has an application process for registering vet practices, which is known as the Registration of Veterinary Practice Premises. In accordance with the government’s Veterinary Medicines Regulations 2013, vets are only permitted to supply veterinary medical products from a vet practice that is on the Register of Veterinary Practice Premises.

When you open your practice, you will therefore have to register your premises by filling out the form and paying the fee of £34, which will then be payable on an annual basis every April. The authorities may then conduct risk-based assessments of your vet practice, in order to ensure that you are in compliance with the necessary legislation. Within your practice, it is important that you follow the law when it comes to purchasing, stocking, prescribing and disposing of veterinary medications.

It is also recommended that you protect yourself with a pet surgery insurance policy. Risk is inherent in business, and there is no way to accommodate for or anticipate every potential risk. When you own a vet practice, it is advised that you purchase a tailored cover rather than a standard one. The reason for this is because you will have address many unique risks as a vet practice that are typically not associated with business, whether it is handling controlled medications, conducting surgical procedures and using surgical tools and medical equipment.

Unexpected circumstances and unforeseen events can happen at anytime, the impact of which could be devastating for your vet practice. With appropriate insurance, you can safeguard your business, your clients and of course your patients. In the event of an incident or a claim against your vet practice, your insurance policy will cover any legal expenses, loss of income or compensation costs. Our team of business insurance experts is committed to helping you navigate the complexities of policy terms and conditions.

Maria Hickey

For more than 20 years, Maria has worked in the insurance sector and has extensive underwriting and customer service expertise. Maria is an experienced Senior Underwriter with a particular specialism for shop, office and surgery related insurance.

All articles by Maria Hickey

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