There are currently over 74,540 veterinarians employed throughout the country. Instead of working for someone else, why not start your own veterinary practice instead? You can become an entrepreneur, establish your own business, and help pets in need!
Before starting a veterinary practice and opening your doors, there are a few steps you’ll need to take first.
Here are the eight essential steps you need to complete before starting a vet practice. With these tips, you can avoid missing anything important. Then, you’ll open your doors feeling set for success!
Start the path toward opening your own veterinary practice with these tips today.
Table of Contents
1. Make a Plan
The first step to starting a veterinary practice of your own is to make a plan. Your business plan should cover everything, including your:
- Name of the clinic
- Budget (startup and ongoing costs)
- Target audience (including demographics)
- Services and costs
The location you choose can have a big impact on your practice’s success and your startup costs. Do you plan on taking in farm animals or only smaller house pets? These factors can impact your target audience as well.
When considering your budget, make sure to include:
- Waiting room setup
- Examination room set up
- Bookkeeping setup
- Management software
- Medical and surgical equipment
- Lab equipment
- Kennel equipment
You’ll need to consider ongoing expenses as well. These can include your payroll, marketing, and inventory. Make sure to leave room in your monthly budget for these costs.
Consider how your practice will start making money. What services will you provide? How much will you charge for each one?
Consider how much you’ll mark up medications and treatments, too.
Set Yourself Up to Grow
When developing your business plan, don’t forget to consider your estimated growth. Calculate the estimated growth at the one-year and five-year mark after you open your doors.
Then, think of ways you can make your veterinary practice more profitable. Maybe you want to become a pet insurance provider or take other forms of payment. Consider becoming certified with The American College of Veterinary Surgeons, too.
This certification will allow you to specialize in emergencies and serious conditions.
Don’t forget your name! Once you’re set on a name, make sure no one else in the state uses the same one. Check online to see if it’s available as a domain name, too.
2. Establish a Legal Entity
When starting a veterinary practice, it’s important to establish a legal business entity. You can choose between DBA’s, LLC’s, Corporations, and other options.
Establishing the practice will ensure you’re not held responsible in the event the practice gets sued.
If you want to remain compliant and ensure your privacy, you can also use a registered agent service.
3. Money Matters
Before you can open your veterinary clinic, you’ll need to register for state and federal taxes. To register, you’ll need to acquire your Employer Identification Number (EIN). You can get this number from the IRS.
Next, you’ll need to open your business bank account. This step can also help you protect your personal assets. Otherwise, you could risk your valuables if someone sues the practice.
Don’t forget a business credit card! A separate credit card will help you build your company’s credit history.
Next, you’ll need to set up your accounting. Have a plan for recording expenses and income sources to track your practice’s financial success.
4. Choose a Location
Remember, your clinic’s location can have a big impact on your success. Make sure your clinic is easy for clients to find and access.
Look for an area that doesn’t have too much competition nearby.
Then, determine if you want to rent or buy. Your budget will likely influence the decision.
You’ll need to acquire the right permits and licenses before starting a veterinary practice. Make sure you have your veterinary license. The other state permits and licenses you need can vary based on your location.
Make sure your business complies with labor safety requirements. Do you have a Certificate of Occupancy yet? You’ll need one if you plan on purchasing or building your clinic.
Otherwise, it’s the landlord’s responsibility to get one.
5. Start Staffing
You don’t have to go through the process of starting a vet practice alone. Think about the team you’ll need, including receptionists, an accountant, and technicians. Let your budget help you determine what you can afford.
Take the time to screen each member of your staff. Otherwise, you could end up with a team that will slow you down.
6. Price It Right
Pet owners spend about $235 each year for recurring medical costs for a dog and $160 for a cat. Diagnostic procedures alone cost between $1,000 and $2,000. Keep your target audience in mind before you start pricing.
First, research your competitors. If you price too high, clients might turn to other vets in the area instead.
Consider the maximum amount your customers are willing to pay. Try to determine the average before pricing accordingly.
You can also use the cost-plus method for pricing. Add your profit margin to the cost incurred for each service. Don’t forget to consider your budget and growth projection as you develop your pricing.
7. Gather Equipment
As you continue working on your business plan, you’ll need to consider the equipment you need, too. Your equipment can include kennel supplies, medical supplements, and lab instruments.
Consider vet office designs, too. How do you want your offices to look and feel?
Make sure you have everything you need before opening your doors.
8. Start Marketing
Once you start using these tips, it’s important to market your clinic. You can either create a marketing plan yourself or work with a professional agency.
Consider different marketing strategies, including search engine optimization (SEO) and pay-per-click (PPC) advertising. Don’t forget to create an eye-catching website and develop your social media presence. Content marketing and print materials are great ways to reach your audience, too!
Become a Tail-Wagging Success: 8 Essential Tips for Starting a Veterinary Practice
Ready to set your veterinary practice up for success? Keep these eight tips in mind as you begin the process. With these tips, you can avoid making costly errors that would otherwise slow you down.
Once you open your doors, you can reach new clients, draw them in, and grow your practice!
Looking for more helpful tips for your practice? Explore our latest Business posts today.