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Want to buy a veterinary practice? Here’s a guide to get you started

Owning a veterinary practice isn’t an easy job. But if you’re looking to be the captain of your own ship, it is best to buy a practice that is duly established. To do this, you need to conduct ample research and ask the right questions to the seller. Over the next few sections, we will discuss all of these factors in detail. Keep reading to know everything you wanted to know about owning and operating a vet business. Since this guide encompasses some vital questions, we hope you’ll have all your queries addressed as you keep scanning through the lines.

 

How much do veterinary practices sell for?

The cost of veterinary practices depends on a range of factors and they aren’t necessarily the same for all businesses. That said, you can follow either or all of the methods to value a vet business. Here’s what you need to know about them.

 

Income

As evident from the name itself, this method will assess the profitability of a certain clinic and set its worth accordingly. The final value will depend on the total profit the clinic made during a given period of time. Note that this is also an excellent determinant of the goodwill of a specific practice.

 

Cost

While this isn’t the best way to ascertain the value of a vet clinic, some buyers prefer following this route. The idea here is to calculate the total operational costs of the vet business and come up with a price accordingly. Note that this also involves a fairly depreciated value of the vet equipment in the store. While it is certainly useful, most individuals consider it more suitable for valuing the equipment and the overall inventory of a clinic.

 

Market

This is probably the most commonly used method when it comes to appraising the value of a vet clinic. As a part of this method, several similar vet businesses in the same area are taken into account and compared for efficiency and value. Note that while this method is useful, it only makes sense in the areas where vet businesses have been extensively purchased or sold. Additionally, the seller too needs to put the entire price in public.

While each of these methods is useful, it is best to calculate the cost by considering the value of multiple factors. Ideally, the gross revenues of the clinic over three to five years should be taken into account. This will also check and assess the practice’s goodwill. It is better to combine multiple valuation models as one can only get the accurate value by considering multiple factors at hand.

 

Equipment Needed for a Vet Clinic

If you’re looking to buy a vet clinic, it is important to get the right equipment as well. In this section, we will discuss the top equipment required for the success of a vet clinic.

 

Procedure Tables

Procedure tables are an absolute must-have’ as they play a major role in examining and eventually treating the various pet patients. As per the unique requirements of the clinic, you can pick from v-top tables, a range lift-based tables, or electric tables. All of these tables will ensure stability, proper mobility, and complete versatility while you use them. The defining aspect of these tables lies in the fact that their surface can be duly tweaked for accommodating the size and the total girth of the patient in question. They can also be placed for proper access to the area requiring examination. The best part: unlike a regular table, these procedural tables can be disinfected and cleaned with absolute convenience.

 

Light

Being a vet, it is important for you to have complete visibility of the pet you are treating. Unless you have the right light, you can never make an accurate assessment of the ailment, nor will you be able to treat physical damages as conveniently. As of now, there are multiple lighting variants when it comes to vet clinics. One can explore their options from the larger and brighter lights to the smaller and more concentrated variants. Additionally, you can also choose an exam light or a dedicated headlight for the job. Check your budget concerns and come up with the right light accordingly.

 

Stethoscope

No vet clinic can successfully run without the right stethoscope. That is why it is important to get the best one available for your practice. Note that making this purchase is absolutely essential as the stethoscope will help to bypass the fur and the animal muscle, allowing you to get an actual assessment of the heart sounds and lung sounds of the diseased pet. It is important to invest in a quality stethoscope as it will help ascertain the sounds regardless of the size of the animal. This usually happens due to the special acoustic cups of the stethoscope. Note that this tool can also vary in size. It can either be big or small, but regardless of that, it will be extremely lightweight and portable.

 

Ultrasounds

Ultrasound imaging is used by vets to check the accurate images within the pet’s body. This further helps in making a proper diagnosis resulting in a quick and viable treatment. Regardless of the size of the clinic, you will need proper diagnostic imaging devices like an ultrasound machine. For the uninitiated, this machine will use a range of external cameras for reducing the exam time and offering detailed and accurate images of the various bodily systems of the animals. The right machine will also allow you to share this live to telemedicine via sonographers. They will also require minimum guesswork in terms of diagnosis.

If the vet practice involves making timely house calls, it is important to invest in a portable ultrasound device that will help you achieve quick results regarding the condition of the animal irrespective of their location.

So even if you have a large pet that lives remotely in an area that doesn’t have a full-service clinic, you can easily use this device for making quick and evidence powered conclusions as per the condition of the pet. Your treatment can save their lives and also help a range of pregnant farm animals during their season of breeding.

 

Digital X-Raying Machines

DR, also known as digital radiology or radiography is becoming extremely vital for veterinarians. It helps them to get clear images of the pet animals’ bones, internal organs, muscles and other such parts of the body. This can be efficiently and speedily without the need to use x-ray films. There also will not be the need to use darkroom processing or the use of chemicals. When you have digital x-raying technology available at the vet clinic, it also enables you to enhance the images, and make it more focused and diagnosis and understanding of the problem becomes that much simpler and easier. The images can also be stored onto a digital database and can be used at a future date. It can be shared across mails and other forms of communication to other veterinarians and some other stakeholders. There are many types of DR systems and each use different technologies for obtaining digital images. The vets can do the right research and choose the DR technology that suits their needs and requirements perfectly.

 

Anaesthesia Machines

Many pets require invasive exams, scans and other procedures. The challenge is to ensure that the pets stay still during such operations and procedures. Further, you also would not like them to suffer from pain during injuries, procedures and surgeries and other such treatment protocols. In such situations, the need for high quality veterinary anaesthesia machines is quite important. They are certainly a must-have item if the vet unit has to function efficiently and smoothly. Anaesthesia is very commonly used on a host of pets like cats, dogs, birds and various other animals. However, we need to understand that compared to human beings, the dosages of anaesthesia is very low and therefore you need these special machines to administer the right dosage. The dosage would depend on a number of factors like the age of the pet, its weight, the time period for which the anaesthesia is required amongst other things. These machines are different from the ones that are used on human beings and they give out very low doses of anaesthesia that can be monitored quite easily. They are considered to be extremely safe as far as animal use is concerned.

 

IV Pumps

There hardly would be any veterinary clinics that do not use IV pumps for administering drugs, fluids and various other supplements. This happens during surgeries and various other treatments. These IV pumps are considered to be the most convenient method for ensuring controlled and accurate infusion of various vital fluids, medications and supplements. It would be better to go in for high quality and reusable, sterilized and non-disposable options, though they may cost a bit more when compared to the cheap use and throw-away options. But many vets prefer the latter option because they are totally risk free as far as infections and other such problems are concerned.

 

Sterilizers And Autoclaves

Sterilization of medical tools at all points in time is extremely important and vets must give it the importance it deserves. This makes the entire process of operation, procedures, medical ingestion and other such jobs totally safe and contamination-free. It also helps in extending the overall life of the many commonly used instruments. Without proper sterilization and maintenance, these expensive equipment and accessories may get damaged by harsh chemicals and organic chemicals. When vets invest in the right type of autoclaves, they can be sure that all the vet tools are properly disinfected and sterilized. This will ensure optimal pet-patient outcomes.

 

Having The Right Tools Is Vital & Critical

While the above would have given the readers a brief idea about the various things you need to buy a veterinary practice, you must also have a full-fledged and exhaustive checklist of the various tools that you would need. The list is quite big and it would be extremely difficult to list down each and every one of them. However, we are listing down a few of the tools that are considered to be importance when you are planning to run a vet unit successfully and professionally. These include defibrillators, electrosurgical units, calculators, microscopes, magnifying glasses, and various other such things. You must also ensure that each and every tool or item that you buy for your veterinary unit must be of the best quality and you should not compromise on quality under any circumstances. Doing so will prove to be costly and it would be a case of being pennywise pound-foolish. The tools should also be infection, maintainable apart from being durable.

 

Do You Have A Business Plan In Place?

While we have spent quite a bit of time talking about the various tools, equipment and speciality items that any good vet clinic should have, it all boils down to profitability of the business. You should never get started without having a complete, foolproof and professional business plan. A business plan is vital because it will give the right direction for setting up and running of the clinic. It also will allow you to exercise better control over your business. Your business plan should be clear about the patient based, the segment of customers you will be targeting, and the fee you will be charging and so on. Your business plan must also take into account the turnaround time needed. It is quite obvious that you cannot expect your clinic to start earning surplus revenues from month one. At the same time, you cannot expect the turnaround time to drag on for months and years and your business must be in the green within the shortest period of time. Otherwise it does not make any sense to buy a veterinary practice.

You may have to add a few more services and remove a few that are already in vogue before purchasing the services. This again should be purely a business and professional decision taking into account your overall objectives things.

 

Research Competition

Buying an existing vet clinic is fine, but it should be done only after the buyer is aware about the competition that he or she might encounter. A thorough research must be done about the existing vets in and around the catchment area where you plan to buy an existing vet clinic. It would be better to know discreetly the real reason behind the sale of the vet clinic by the prospective seller. It would not be right to totally believe what the prospective seller has to say. Competition will be there and you should not be overwhelmed by it. There is a growing market for veterinary clinics and you must try and find out ways by which you will be able to stand out from the crowd. Think of the various add ons and special privileges and benefits that you can offer to your neighbourhood. The customers should have some real reasons to move away from competition and come to you.

 

Finances

You must have a foolproof and professional finance and accounting system available from day one. This will help you to monitor your cash flow from the very first day. Hire an accountant or a finance specialist instead of trying to do it all by yourself. They will be able to come out with a better structure as far as your finances are concerned. They will also take into account the specific needs and requirements of your clinic and come out with a financial plan. Allocation of available funds and finances is important and they will be able to do it based on you valuable inputs as a veterinary specialist. You must take control of your financial situation from the beginning and spend some time monitoring it on a daily basis. Do a regular health-check of your finances because it could help cut down on expenses that may be unnecessary.

 

Be On The Right Side of The Law

Running a veterinary practice also requires the owners to adhere to certain compliance and legal obligations. There are a number of legal obligations that should be taken into account before you decide to buy a veterinary practice. You must not delay appointing a legal professional and seek his or her help as your complete the process of buyout of the clinic. It also would be a good idea to involve your financial specialist about the various insurance policies that you must have to protect the business as well as personal assets of your clinic and also the healthcare practitioners.

 

Build A Team Of Quality Employees, Professionals & Advisors

You need a team of assistants to run the clinic. The must also be qualified vets so that they are able to take care of regular works while you handle the specialized processes, procedures, surgeries and other such things. Further, you also must not hesitate in hiring the best of finance professionals, accountant and legal advisor for your vet clinic. This will make the buyout process less stressful and you will be able to concentrate more on ways to expand and improve your business. Otherwise, you will end up being bogged down with the administrative, legal and accounting works.

 

Have A Marketing Strategy In Place

It is quite possible that the existing vet clinic that you are planning to buy would have its own strengths and its own list of customers. You must do all it takes to retain them but also look for new customers. You need a good marketing strategy that could help in increasing your patient numbers quite significantly and that too within a short period of time. You must think about marketing programs that will attract the attention of new customers apart from helping retain the existing ones. Find out ways by which you continue to be in touch with your customer as well as prospective customer-based. It will help you promote special offers and also help in improving goodwill and reputation of your new veterinary business.

 

Conclusion

To sum up, while there is nothing wrong in your decision to buy a veterinary practice, you must ensure that you go through the entire process very carefully. Run the entire project through a fine comb and break it up into modules and sub modules. This will ensure that there are no loose ends of significance. Take your time and do not hurry through the process under any circumstances. Do it well the first time rather than correcting mistakes later.

 

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