Strategic Veterinary Practice Purchase: Expand the Market by Reaching the Underserved
Published December 2, 2022
If you’re the kind of veterinarian who would build their own practice, chances are you won’t rest on your laurels once it’s up and running – and turning a profit. You’ll want to expand, but is opening another veterinary hospital really the best way to go?
Although you may find satisfaction in many aspects of running an animal hospital, you’ve probably discovered just as many surprise stressors. Delivering more bad news than good news to clients about their pets. Knowing that you have the means to help more animals if only more pet parents were able, or willing, to pay. A seemingly ceaseless demand for appointments. Staffing turnover from dealing with all of these things together.
Then there’s the strategic aspect of your veterinary practice purchase. Will opening another animal hospital draw away clients from your current one, doubling your work while depleting your customer base? And do you want to add a multi-city commute to your already stressful work week?
All of these factors may have you feeling paralyzed as you ask yourself: “What’s next?”
Thinking Outside the Full-Service Hospital Box
Thankfully, there’s a surprisingly effective answer to this challenging question: satellite clinics. A satellite clinic is defined as any kind of smaller clinic that serves simple, non-emergency treatment needs. They’re often prevention-based, focusing on vaccines and check-ups. Some perform minor illness care as well.
Satellite clinics can expand your practice without cutting into your current market – and without requiring that you sprawl practices throughout disparate regions. A satellite clinic can help your primary hospital be more efficient, since you will be able to divert preventative and minor illness care to the clinic to make the most of hospital facilities designed to serve patients needing advanced diagnostics, surgery, and more complex treatment. If that sounds good, you’ll be even more pleased to hear that it helps more pets and pet parents too, because a strategically located satellite clinic can help you grow your client base. Have you considered opening a satellite clinic at your local Walmart store, for example?
More Numerous Clinics ≠ More Competition
The key to the satellite clinic solution is market diversification. In other words, different clients seek out different types of veterinary care, so you see relatively little overlap between the customers of animal hospitals and preventative clinics.
Establishing a greater number of small clinics also allows you to access more of your region’s population. This is especially the case if your animal hospital is the main veterinary practice in a rural area.
Think of it as converting lost sales into appointments. Clients who would have skipped a routine exam to avoid driving two hours roundtrip to your hospital might opt to book an exam at the preventative care clinic 20 minutes away from them, especially at a retailer they frequent regularly. In addition, when a standard check-up yields a more serious diagnosis, you’ll be able to refer them to your hospital right away. This equals more customer traffic, not less, for both of your practices.
It’s Easier to Make Preventative Services Affordable
Pet parents are more likely to choose your satellite clinic for reasons outside of geography, too.
According to many studies, cost is one of the most prominent reported barriers to preventive care, but you’ll be able to offer preventive care services at more affordable prices, because these wellness clinics have far lower overhead.
Consider what goes into the start-up of a small clinic practice:
- Less renovation and build-out required, because you won’t need as many specialized rooms, i.e. limited lab work on-site, only one or two exam rooms.
- Simpler equipment needs, since you won’t be running complicated medical procedures or boarding pets overnight.
- Fewer staff – as little as one veterinarian and one technician can hold down the fort.
All of these things mean lower prices, which will help convert sales that wouldn’t have happened into successful bookings.
You Save Pets Suffering in the Long Run
Last, but certainly not least, you’ll be uplifting the health of animals in your community by providing a viable stepping stone to consistent vaccinations, check-ups, and simple routine care. You’ve probably delivered the unfortunate news to pet parents at your animal hospital many times: “If you had brought him in sooner…. If we had caught it sooner…”
With a satellite clinic, you are helping pet parents make that choice of sooner rather than later. This greatly increases the chance of treatment success, which means happy, healthy pets get to enjoy more years with their pet parents. It’s a win-win situation for practicing veterinarians and their clients.
Essential Tip: Want to learn more about opening an affordable preventive care clinic? Essentials PetCare is helping savvy private practice owners do just that.