The Internet will also divulge expected population growth, our third essential number. Identify the area within a three-mile
radius of your hospital or proposed location. Find the 2017 population projection and divide that by the 2012 population.
This is important. If you get anything less than the the national average of 5.8 percent, beware—this means all businesses
in the area will be scrambling for fewer clients. If this is the case, you might want to think "satellite."
Four hundred square feet of strip mall space, an exam table, a few exam instruments and three portable cages will provide
you with a whole new population to dilute the expensive overhead of your completely equipped state-of-the-art facility—the
one you need more clients for.
Satellites should be no more than 15 miles (or minutes) from the home base. If you feed the satellite facility phone into
your main location, it's easy to schedule appointments. The home base team handles all surgery, radiographs, diagnostics and
hospitalized treatments. The pet may be returned to the satellite location for pickup in the afternoon or, at the owner's
discretion, be picked up at the main hospital.
If the levels of income and population growth are greater at your satellite clinic than your main location, don't be surprised
if the two facilities swap roles in a few years. It's a common occurrence. Some of the largest and finest veterinary facilities
in this country were established as satellites feeding into one well-equipped central facility.
While others may argue the specifics, a population of 6,000 is needed to support one veterinarian. A population of this size
provides about 3,500 pet owners and 2,000 pet owners who will use veterinary services. That's right—40 percent of pet owners
do nothing medically for their pets ever.
See, it's all in the numbers. Just three clients per day will add about $330 daily or $100,000 annually at the $37 exam fee
hospital (assuming a standard 307-day working year) and $525 per day or $160,000 in the $57 exam fee facility. Three clients
per day on their own wouldn't be enough to sustain a standalone hospital, but they would act as a powerful overhead dilutor
in a hospital with a satellite.
If your fully equipped hospital is failing for lack of client transactions, you may want to research a viable site within
15 miles and move all you have now to the new site, leaving the old hospital to function as a satellite. This way you keep
all the clients who have invested in your personality and skills while minimizing your time on site.
The bottom line is to find yourself the best location to ensure success, and you do this by performing demographic research,
both on your own and through professional advisors, to arrive at the appropriate fees. You would send samples to the lab on
your least challenging medical case—is your practice's future any less important?
5.8% Population growth rate needed for future practice success—based on the national average
Dr. Gerald Snyder publishes Veterinary Productivity, a newsletter for practice productivity. He can be reached at 217 Clinton
St., Hoboken NJ 07030; (800) 292-7995; or