When two veterinarians decided to set up their own practice, personal service was at the forefront of their business plan. They just needed a bit of help.
By the time Drs Sam Jones and Cybele May decided to open their own veterinary practice, they had years of experience and qualifications behind them. They studied together at the University of Queensland before going their separate ways, staying in touch along the way. When an opportunity to work together presented they knew they had the same vision to take the next step.
The idea behind their new practice was simple: create an environment where veterinarians could do their best work, and where clients receive the best personal service. And so My Local Vet was born.
Building a good business for vets
“Our ideas and values for starting the business were borne out of frustration with a lot of the vet surgeries that we had worked in. We found that the conditions for veterinarians were pretty appalling,” says Dr Jones, whose practice is located in Alexandra Hills. “We wanted to create an environment where veterinarians would flourish and be able to do their best work, enjoy their job and would be surrounded by nurses who felt the same.”
According to Dr Jones, the backbone of the business model is personalised care. Vets and nurses ensure clients are given the advice that best suits their circumstance, rather than handed a product that has the highest profit margin. The surgery is branded as a boutique veterinarian clinic so clients know that they are getting exceptional and bespoke service. Staff members explain every detail of disease management and treatment so clients understand what is going to happen to their animal at the hospital.
The consultant sessions go as long as needed; if they go beyond the 30 minutes allocated, another vet steps in and covers the next patient so not to disrupt the discussion. Clients are informed throughout the treatment about how their pet is going.
Building a good business for pets
“Often, it’s hard for people to determine who is a good vet and who isn’t, simply because they’re not a vet themselves and they don’t know what to look for,” says Dr Jones. “I think it’s immediately obvious to them when they come into our clinic that we’re one of the good ones. It’s clean, it’s tidy, it’s new and our staff are well presented, which reflects on the quality of our veterinary work.”
The team even goes as far as sending clients pictures of their pets as they recover, showing their owners that they’re doing well. Dr Jones says this has brought many clients to tears, knowing that their pets are being well looked after.
Moving the veterinary practice to bigger premises
My Local Vet was originally situated on the lower level of a shopping centre, the practice’s facade obscured by the building’s carpark. “When we moved, a lot of people said they didn’t even know there was a veterinary clinic nearby,” Dr Jones says.
A move to a vacant space upstairs in the shopping centre was an obvious choice. “There would be no confusion and no chance that we would lose our clientele because there was no inconvenience for them. Also, we didn’t have to move into the territory of a competitor so we maintained our own zone of clients and our own competitive area.”
The other great thing about moving just upstairs is that My Local Vet continued to operate without any disruption. Dr Jones was able to monitor the progress of the fit-out on a daily basis and liaise with the foreman regularly, ensuring the new premises was built to the team’s exact specifications.
Overcoming hurdles to growth
While there were a couple of obstacles the business partners faced, including council and compliance, both agree that BOQ Specialist was phenomenal in its service. Having the ability to communicate with his BOQ Specialist consultant on a daily basis proved invaluable, especially as he was flexible with meetings, set aside enough time to talk Drs Jones and May through all aspects of their finances, and was available after hours.
According to Dr Jones, his BOQ specialist helped overcome unexpected problems. “At one stage, we felt we may have overcommitted with a $30,000 purchase of lab equipment. Cybele ruptured her appendix and needed emergency surgery. She was out of action for two weeks so we had a whole lot of bookkeeping to catch up on, which was going to cost us an extra couple of grand. It was a perfect storm,” he says. “So, we arranged an emergency meeting with BOQ Specialist to figure out whether we should hold off on purchasing the equipment."
The help didn’t stop there. The pair’s budget was reviewed a number of times, allowing them financial flexibility when hurdles such as extra plumbing costs cropped up. And it even spanned beyond financial. “Our banker from BOQ Specialist even offered to come and help us move our equipment from downstairs to the new site,” says Dr Jones. “Of course, we respectfully declined, but if that’s not going above and beyond, I’m not sure what is.”
Thinking about starting or growing your 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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