Dr Brett Boling was happy running a mobile clinic in Adelaide, South Australia, until he realised the potential of starting a more permanent practice. Read more.
He may have become a vet by accident but little of what Dr Brett Boling has said or done since has been left to chance. Having decided to become a vet late in high school “for no particular reason”, Dr Boling graduated from the University of Melbourne and began his veterinary service in a rural mixed practice. He then moved to a small animal practice just over a decade later.
Working for 10 years in an emergency clinic, as well as two years’ work as a locum in the interim, provided a great opportunity to hit the road and branch out for himself with a practice aptly named Adelaide Mobile Vet.
Creating a mobile vet practice
“The mobile service appealed as it was a business not restricted by location and also had a niche appeal which was attractive. We initially used rented premises for our hospital and surgical cases [but] we did not consult from the building due to its location. The beauty of the mobile service was that it could be located almost anywhere within our territory.”
Initial consultations, vaccinations, euthanasia as well as pet pick-up and delivery was offered as part of the mobile practice while all surgical procedures, X-rays, ultrasounds, ECGs, anaesthetic monitoring and puppy preschool services were done at the rented clinic.
Having extensive experience in orthopaedic surgery, soft tissue surgery, cardiac and respiratory medicine, advanced diagnostic and clinical therapeutics, Dr Boling was confident he offered a complete service. He says it soon became obvious the economics of having a clinic would improve if he could maximise its use, so the decision was made to begin the search for a start-up traditional practice.
Moving to set up a bricks-and-mortar clinic
Having the existing mature business allowed him to justify the large cost of a purpose-built facility. “Our clinic in Parafield Gardens was completed in 2009. We already had a significant number of mobile clients in this area and it had good access to a number of arterial roads, which was important for the mobile work. We started consulting from the building, establishing a new traditional practice—The Gardens Vet clinic—which was branded as a completely separate entity.”
Dr Boling says strategically his plan was to develop the new business to the point where it supported the building on its own and then to repeat the process. Mobile work can be very challenging, he says, where vets work mostly without the assistance or facilities available in the clinic environment.
In addition, the idea of diversifying and owning assets for the future also appealed. “[With the mobile clinic] I spent a lot of time on my knees in kitchens and lounge rooms. It is not the type of work that would suit a lot of vets; therefore, we felt it would be hard to duplicate my role, making expansion of the business difficult.”
Growing into a new veterinary practice
In 2014, the time felt right to begin duplicating the process. Shortly thereafter a site was identified in the high growth area of Adelaide’s Munno Para, a residential suburb where Dr Boling had an existing mobile client base. "We knew of BOQ Specialist consultant Paul Richardson, having dealt with him many years ago in a previous practice, so we asked him for assistance," explains Dr Boling. "Within 48 hours of providing the existing documentation, our finance was approved. Since then, Paul has been instrumental in the expansion and restructuring of the financial aspects of the business."
The new clinic, Playford Vet clinic, was launched in January this year.
While being the owner of three busy practices means a large personal and professional commitment, Dr Boling says this has been made significantly easier by decisions he made from the onset about staff deployment.
“One thing I realised early on was that my time was best spent working as a vet rather than an administrator so I employed a practice manager almost from day one. She has been able to maximise my time so I have the least distance between calls, and takes care of the ever-increasing paperwork. “Her role has now expanded to administering the staff, marketing, accounting and client services.”
Dr Boling says in the short term he will allow the new clinic to be bedded in before considering further expansion. However, it is clear the next decision may not be his alone. “Long term, we see no reason this process couldn’t be repeated as long as my wife will tolerate the extra hours I work in the initial phase of each clinic.”
Thinking about starting a practice? Click on the link to find out more about our tailored financial solutions for setting up a practice. Ready to take the next step? Contact us to find out how we can tailor a practice finance solution for you, or call us on 1300 131 141.
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