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Factoring growth into your vet practice fit-out

A new veterinary fit-out renews and refreshes your practice but should be undertaken with the future in mind

When a vet decides to undertake a fit-out of their practice, they’re normally doing it for one of two reasons—they’re either going into private practice for themselves or are reshaping their current practice. A new fit-out gives the practice owner the opportunity to optimise the layout, expand the practice and prepare for future growth.

“A new fit-out works to your advantage because when clients see a stylish, contemporary practice, it subconsciously improves the impression they hold of your business,” says BOQ Specialist’s Senior Finance Consultant, Colin Taylor. He says a new fit-out provides advantages for the way a practice is managed, as well as the culture at work. “Creating a comfortable and efficient environment encourages staff to take pride in their employment. That, in turn, helps with staff retention - when you improve the overall experience, it makes for a happier, better work environment.”

First step

“The first thing to do when considering a new fit-out is to put together a business plan,” says Colin. “This should provide an accurate idea of your current situation and your plans for the future.”

He suggests you consider a number of questions. What's your competitive advantage? What's going to be the cost? What's the long-term plan? It’s an opportunity to weigh the pros and cons, and ensure your practice is moving in the right direction.

“A good strategy is to start with the end goal in mind, identify where you want to be in 10 years, and work back to what you have to do today to achieve that goal,” says Colin.

Future growth

A new fit-out is a major financial cost and to maximise the value of the outlay, future growth and practice potential must be considered. If you’re planning to add surgeries or more consultation rooms down the track, fittings should be put in place to make the process as easy as possible. There are many companies that provide professional fit-out services and Colin recommends utilising a reputable company rather than trying to do it yourself.

“It’s important that everything is done right the first time,” he says. “Drawers shouldn’t be positioned behind doors that need to be closed in order to gain access. Small details like that can get incredibly frustrating. You want the rooms to flow well to create a logical and efficient workflow. It’s very obvious when a practice has been put together piecemeal versus one that's been designed from start to finish.”

Council regulations

A big stumbling block often comes in the form of development approvals (DAs) and council regulations. They can be a time-consuming and frustrating experience, especially if heritage issues are involved.

“Rules and regulations vary from location to location and council to council,” says Colin. “Outsourcing that to a specialised company saves time and headaches. Any fit-out has to be compliant with current rules, including disability standards. Hallway width, door height, and access all need to adhere to code.”

Equipment decisions

As every vet knows, new equipment is expensive and a major cost when undertaking a fit-out. Does it make sense to always go top of the range or can cheaper versions do the job?

“It comes down to the specific piece of equipment and how much you normally use that piece,” says Colin. “If you only use an X-ray unit a couple of times a week, middle of the range or even second-hand is fine. If you’re using it 10 times a day, you want to make sure it’s top notch. It has to be reliable, give sharp images and preferably come with a warranty.”

Budget restrictions

When you decide to go ahead with a fit-out, it’s very easy to overcapitalise. The allure of the new and cutting edge can easily put you over budget. “You want to understand the costing from the start,” says Colin. “Get quotes upfront, including joinery, flooring, cabinetry and equipment. A fit-out company will look at your preferred equipment and ensure that it fits in the room without being crowded.”

Once you have all your costs upfront, you can look at repayments over the life cycle of the fit-out. You can decide what sort of return you should get and how it will help improve the business. Plan for the future and consider a five-year and 10-year plan.

Colin says “The money you put into your practice should build value within it. Even if you're in the later stages of your career, a new fit-out will increase the value of your business. Not only will it be more appealing to potential buyers, but you can depreciate those assets and potentially benefit from some nice tax deductions.”


To find out more ways we can help you with fitting out a practice, contact your local finance specialist today on 1300 160 160 or or to learn more, take a look at our fit-out finance options to see how we can tailor a finance solution for you.

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      The issuer and credit provider of these products and services is BOQ Specialist – a division of Bank of Queensland Limited ABN 32 009 656 740 AFSL and Australian credit licence no. 244616 (“BOQ Specialist”). Terms, conditions, fees, charges, eligibility and lending criteria apply. Any information is of a general nature only. We have not taken into account your objectives, financial situation, or needs when preparing it. Before acting on this information, you should consider if it is appropriate for your situation. BOQ Specialist is not offering financial, tax or legal advice. You should obtain independent financial, tax and legal advice as appropriate.