Could a franchise help you make the most of your veterinary practice?
Running a veterinary practice, like any other business, means risks.
The main risk comes not from your clinical skills - you studied for years to develop them. It comes from the business itself. If you don’t get your business model right, if you don’t have enough clients and work to keep you busy, your practice could become unprofitable, lossmaking - and eventually need to close up altogether.
When it’s your own business, you must avoid that risk. But how can you become an expert in the challenges of running a business as well as a hands-on vet?
The answer may be to take on a franchise.
Franchising is becoming an important factor in the veterinary profession and for a very good reason - among many other benefits, it can provide you with the expertise you need to run your business better. Becoming a franchisee within a major veterinary group could allow you the freedom and independence to run your own practice while giving you the benefits of a proven business model and practical support.
Running your own franchised veterinary practice could put the resources of a nationwide group and a major marketing force behind your business. It could help you increase client numbers and support you in providing the standards of care you set yourself.
"I’ve worked as an associate, as an emergency vet and as a locum - and I was looking for the next step up in my career. But I am a vet, not an entrepreneur, and the business side looked daunting. I found a franchise that allowed me to own, manage and run my own practice but without all of the headaches and stress of going it alone.”
The positives and the negatives
Buying a franchise will require a major investment. The precise costs involved will vary, and the different franchisors have very different arrangements. Most will include a substantial initial fee and expect you to commit to substantial investment to bring your practice in line with their branding and provide the appropriate level of equipment and facilities.
There may be a monthly fee and additional expenses to consider once you are up and running.
In return, you will get support at every stage. Some franchises will provide marketing which can equate to a guaranteed level of referrals each month. Others will set out to provide a complete support package - from helping you find premises and staff, to the software you need to run your business, from appointments to bookkeeping and accounts, and ensuring that you meet all the requirements of industry regulators and the taxman.
“By becoming a franchisee you are part of a large successful veterinary group and brand - but you stay in complete control of your business.”
These days it can provide access to substantial marketing budgets, with email campaigns, appropriate sales funnels and paid ad placements all managed on your behalf. Marketing experts can help you to identify local marketing opportunities and run targeted marketing and PR campaigns, with initiatives like managed client reminders and recall letters to ensure healthy footfall and build client loyalty.
There will be opportunities to save on supplies by taking advantage of group buying discounts. Many franchisors will offer financial administration, including paying your invoices and managing your cashflow, running payroll, VAT and tax responsibilities.
In most cases, a franchise can include detailed monthly KPI (Key Performance Indicators) to set business targets and identify important areas of opportunity to keep your development on track, and the ongoing support of an experienced business mentor.
It can remove the business risks of running your vets practice.
Dealing with the costs
You are unlikely to find a veterinary franchise with funding less than £50,000, and most franchises will require an investment several times that. Despite the costs, there can be a sound business case for franchising, and many vets have found that it has provided a real boost to their business.
However, many business lenders, such as banks, may not be able to help. Even if you have run the practice for years, with a new franchise your business is technically a start-up, lacking a business history. The cost of taking on a franchise can be substantial, with an initial franchise fee, training fee, rent on premises, shopfitting, vehicle costs, stock, equipment, working capital and promotional costs to cover.
How Rangewell can help you become a franchised vet
If you are considering a franchise, getting the necessary finance in place is vital and needs to be arranged as early as possible.
We believe that it should actually be one of your first steps if you are considering a franchise for your practice. At Rangewell, our team of business finance experts have an in-depth understanding of the levels of funding required by many of the major franchise providers.
The money you borrow to set up your franchise will have to be repaid, with interest, from the profits you make. You must be able to demonstrate that your franchise is capable of generating sufficient funds. Our team will be able to explain the sums involved even before you have settled on the franchise you want. They can certainly use their expertise to find you the most appropriate lenders and to help you secure the funding to support your plans.
“It was a big investment, but we found ways that we could afford it with Rangewell’s help.”
We know the specialist lenders who can help with purpose-built Franchise Loans. They will look at your experience, your business proposal and the potential of the franchise you have chosen - giving you the chance to benefit from their expertise, as well as the finance you need.
Simply call us to discuss your plans and turn your practice dreams into reality.