Dr Nicole Laurence created a practice where animals could feel at ease
Dr Nicole Laurence didn’t want to treat scared and stressed animals. She wanted to create a practice that makes them feel relaxed, safe and happy.Learn More
Beachside location? Tick. Engaging young vet who’s also a runner and drummer? Tick. A special interest in the behavioural issues of pets? Tick. For the producers of Australia’s hit TV show, Bondi Vet, The Vet Collective on Queensland’s Gold Coast had all the right ingredients to take over from Dr Chris.
But for Dr Rich Seymour, founder and owner of The Vet Collective in Miami, television stardom was not to be. “They were looking for people to carry the program on into the next series, and I threw my hat into the ring along with something like 450 vets across the nation,” he says. “I ended up at number eight.”
With a two-year-old practice to run, Dr Seymour doesn’t spend much time dwelling on his close brush with fame. “While it was disappointing to miss out, I realised that it probably would have been a blessing and a curse, as well as a massive time constraint,” he says.
Founded in March 2016, The Vet Collective is designed and run with a philosophy to minimise the stress pets and their owners feel when visiting a vet. “Some of the stuff we have to do can be scary for pets and their owners; the rubber gloves, thermometers and needles. But there are many ways we can make things better and easier.”
Behavioural management is another particular interest for Dr Seymour. “It’s like vet psychology,” he says. “We deal with behavioural problems, not so much from a training perspective, but to try understand why they’re doing what they’re doing. That can come in at the clinical level too, because lots of pets don’t like going to the vet for all sorts of reasons.”
Establishing his own clinic was the culmination of a lifelong dream for Dr Seymour, who first expressed a desire to become a vet as a young boy. “It’s a little bit macabre, but it was when we were putting my childhood cat to sleep,” he explains. “Apparently at that point in time I told my parents I was going to be a vet. I stayed strong with that through until the end of high school, and then I went straight from high school to vet school. That was a pretty linear progression.”
After university in Brisbane, a move to the Gold Coast beckoned when his wife, a fellow vet, was completing an internship. The coastal life suited the couple—“We stayed for the lifestyle,” he says—and Dr Seymour began working in a private practice. When it was bought out by a corporate veterinary group, he stayed on to run the group’s clinic in Surfers Paradise. “I spent six or seven years with them, which was a good learning curve,” he says. “There were things that I learnt from that experience that I wouldn’t have learnt if I had have stayed in private practice alone.”
Keen for a break from a corporate-owned clinic, Dr Seymour started thinking about moving back to private practice. When he discovered the enormous asking prices of existing private clinics on the Gold Coast, so he quickly ruled out that option and decided that starting from scratch was the answer.
After a recommendation from a friend, Dr Seymour contacted the team at BOQ Specialist, who helped him with everything from finance to business planning. “BOQ Specialist made things ridiculously simple for me, which is good because I have zero concept of the banking and finance world,” he says.
For Dr Seymour, finding the right location for his new practice was key. He used what he describes tongue-in-cheek as a “high-tech” approach: buying a large map of the Gold Coast and putting pins in the location of every existing practice. “We then did a bit of basic research about areas, demographics and pet ownership,” he explains. “We even spent some time hanging out in the suburb looking at who was around, and how many pets were around, and going to the local dog parks.”
It was while having coffee with a friend that Dr Seymour noticed a ‘For Lease’ sign in the window of a shop. The space was in a small strip just off the Gold Coast Highway, only 800 metres from the beach and with plenty of car parking. It was meant to be. “We don’t have a lot of exposure, but now all the locals know where we are,” he says.
While it hasn’t all been smooth sailing, for the most part, Dr Seymour says running The Vet Collective has been “pretty fun”.
With behind-the-scenes help from his wife, Dr Seymour operates the practice with a team of three nurses and another vet who works part-time. Building up the practice has also meant establishing a social media following, including both an Instagram and Facebook page. “We get lots of cute happy faces in the clinic, so we have a great Instagram feed of little fluffy puppies and other animals,” he says. “The staff at the clinic love grabbing cute puppy photos.”
Next on the agenda for Dr Seymour is developing his interest in behavioural management. “There are some things I would like to do in general practice that aren’t being done anywhere that I’ve seen,” he says.
“I want to make life with pets easier in those regular visits.”
Thinking about starting or growing a practice? Click on the link to find out more about our tailored financial solutions for expanding your practice. Or 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 160 160.
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