Growth Strategy for a Veterinary Practice


When it comes to growth strategies, what advice do you give to medical professionals (I am a veterinarian) who tend to not only be the "CEO" but also the main revenue generator?   It seems that my business structure is more of a diamond shape, if you will, with myself being the top and bottom, instead of the more classical pyramid shape with a single top executive and a large base of revenue generators.  I have discovered that for someone that is trying to keep Godly priorities this arrangement begins to reach a ceiling in what one man can do by himself.


I would recommend the following growth strategies for a medical practitioner that is trying to create as much growth leverage as possible:

  1. Focus on the high value-added and skill-laden tasks of surgery and automate or delegate as many of the low value-added tasks (usually non-surgery tasks) as possible by following this fairly typical path:
    • Automate as much of the non value-added tasks as possible (appointment scheduling, practice management and billing software, automated patient note transcriptions, etc.)
    • Hire staff or vendors to do all of the non-valued added tasks that cannot be automated (office administration, reception, billing, collections, marketing, etc.)
    • Hire staff to do all of the pre- and post-op work as much as possible (in your case veterinary technicians, for MDs, nurses and nurse practitioners)
    • Schedule as many surgeries as possible so that you are going from one patient/animal to another with as little down time as possible, thereby maximizing your revenue
  2. Grow your practice as the market allows and hire/train junior surgical staff to expand your scope and scale.  This may include moving from an expertise of, say "large animal" and adding "small animal" or adding animal dentistry or animal chiropractic care or other capability.  It also may simply be expanding what you currently do with additional surgical staff to increase your output (again, as demand allows – I would never suggest ramping up your staff and expenses in the hopes of increasing sales).
  3. If revenue growth (as in #2 above) seems impossible, then you should at least optimize, specialize and re-price your services as necessary to make sure that each procedure is as profitable as possible as the market allows.
  4. Attempt to create recurring revenue opportunities, such as animal care plans, e.g. $X per year for X # of visits per year to handle vaccinations, de-worming, etc. for the pet owner that you know will sign up for ongoing pet care.
  5. Attempt to expand into other revenue-generating activities if your interest and the market demand dictates.  This might include pet food, pet supplements, pet grooming supplies, pet care whitepapers or booklets, etc.

I know one veterinarian that has a large family and his older children join him at his practice as soon as they are finished with school.  He enjoys spending time with them and training them, while benefitting from the leverage they provide.  His oldest son -- for example -- can perform all routine animal surgeries (as a young teen) and not only enjoys himself immensely, but he knows he is contributing to his father's business and the family economy.  One business broker that was evaluating this veterinary practice for a potential sale was absolutely floored at how profitable the business was (compared to a typical veterinary practice) because of the contributions and leverage of the veterinarian's family.

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