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. Wanting to start your own practice but drawn to the benefits of joining a veterinary franchise? Take a look at what options for finance you have or apply today 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. This means that a special type of Franchise Loan package may be essential. At Rangewell we can help you find the funding you need with specialised Franchise Loans for vets. 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.
The secret that will make your clients love you
Keeping in the good graces of your clients is a must when managing your veterinary surgery. To pet owners, their animals are more than just pets, they’re an important part of their family. As such, they want their animals to receive nothing short of the best care available. To ensure that they return to your surgery for future check-ups and emergency care, fostering strong relationships is key. However, where do you draw the line? At what point can such relationships become a hindrance to the operations of your practice? “Veterinarians must learn to manage pricing and communicate the value of regular care to avoid deterring pet owners from making annual visits a priority,” said Ron Brakke, in a report for Brakke Consulting. “Veterinarians can take specific actions to grow client traffic and improve pet care. As a profession, veterinarians need a consistent message about the importance and frequency of veterinary care. It is likely that the trend can be reversed, if the proper actions are taken.” Have your staff agree upon a consensus outlining your practice’s dedication to providing the highest quality animal care and transparency. Ideally, this should be written up and hung inside waiting areas, reassuring clients. Staff should also memorise key points so to avoid contradicting each other during consultations. Suppliers If your medical supplier decides to increase their prices or your current revenue stream isn’t sustainable, raising the cost of treatment becomes a necessity. Though clients are never happy about price hikes, they’re more understanding if you explain that it’s necessary for maintaining high levels of quality care in the long run. “On one level, it can be such a positive for the practice when clients bond with a specific doctor,” reveals Oswego Veterinary Hospital’s administrator, Jessie Merit. “But there must be consistent standards of care in place and a culture where doctors, and the entire staff for that matter, always support one another and show solidarity.” “When clients sense or experience disagreement or contradiction among colleagues, it can become toxic on so many levels,” Merritt continues. “In that situation, the client may not only form a positive bond with one doctor but harbour negative opinions regarding the others.” Picking favourites threatens the harmony of your practice. If clients can’t see their favourite vet it could lead to them arguing and slandering the performance of other veterinary staff to coerce their way into their schedule. Clients may also run down staff to other animal owners, recommending the services of a particular staff member. This embroils your surgery in a toxic atmosphere where staff smile at each other through gritted teeth. If not managed properly, it can affect your finances too. Under pressure from their clients, your staff may feel the need to offer reductions. You must ensure that each vet fully understands the financial impact this causes and why your prices are what they are. Explaining the financial needs of your surgery can make them less likely to cave to client demands. Although familiarising yourself with a client’s situation is important, it’s important that you educate staff on where to draw the line. They must understand the routine of their client’s animal and their existing conditions to create targeted treatment plans. Though vets can sometimes feel the need to go the extra mile, you must make certain that they know where the boundaries stand and must be aware of when to intervene should they cross it.
The veterinarian’s guide to equipment finance
Veterinary practices depend on a wide range of equipment, so ways to finance those assets are essential. Asset finance can be used for everything from large x-ray processors to smaller tools like stethoscopes and thermometers. The amount of loan products available within Asset Finance is overwhelming, but we’ve narrowed it down to the two that are most applicable to the veterinary sector: leases and hire purchase. Hire Purchase Hire purchase is a way for businesses to purchase physical assets such as examination tables, scales, or microscopes without paying for them outright. It has the advantage of working as an installment plan – once the business has finished making the payments, they’ll own the asset permanently. The process will begin with a deposit, which will be a percentage of the total value of the equipment. Once the business pays the deposit they will have immediate access to the equipment, and they’ll continue by making monthly payments that include interest. As with other forms of asset finance, hire purchase comes with built-in security, so approval rates are usually high – but just like every loan, this depends on the business’ situation. If they have poor credit, they might have a harder time being approved. Leases Unlike hire purchase, the monthly payments a business makes for a lease don’t add up to the total cost of the asset, so they won’t own it once the terms are up – they’ll only have the option to continue leasing it or return it. Because the asset acts as its own security, approval rates for leases are generally high as well – but like any other loan this depends on the business’ history and credit rating. There are two main forms of leases: finance leases and operating leases. The difference between the two lies in the terms – the terms of a finance lease generally last as long as the equipment will be useful (a period determined by the lender) while an operating lease usually goes on for less than the asset’s useful life. This means that operating leases can be a better option if a business only needs the equipment temporarily. Why Rangewell? When you're looking for the most cost-effective deal for your practice equipment - from heated operating tables to scales for reception - you need a lender who understands your sector. That's why, at Rangewell, we work with vets across the UK to find the most appropriate funding solutions for their needs. Find out more about funding for your veterinary practice or apply today.