Need to lay off a veterinary associate? Read this first - DVM
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Need to lay off a veterinary associate? Read this first
The answer to shrinking profits isn't always to shrink your practice.


All calls are routed to your less-than-busy main practice. An Internet connection and tablet computer let you integrate with the home practice's software. Associates at the main practice can rotate through the satellite along with technical staff as dictated by the number of appointments scheduled. Any patient seen in the morning and in need of diagnostics, radiology or surgery is transported at noon to the main practice and returned to the satellite in the afternoon. Patients having surgery can be brought back the next day or, at the owner's option, picked up at the main facility.

With the fixed overhead of the main practice shared by the expanding client base produced by the satellite, your bottom line expands rapidly. Everyone is fully employed and your world is much more secure.

However, what may happen is that the satellite grows and grows, justifying expansion and sometimes eclipsing the parent practice. In other cases, you might add additional satellites again and again, feeding the expanded central hospital.

Have a location study performed by a veterinary consultant detailing the most ideal neighborhoods for expansion. These studies examine future growth projections, discretionary income, per capita pet spending and other keys to successful veterinary practice. (The same study can also predict with remarkable accuracy how your current facility will be performing five years from now.)

Most hospitals built in the last decade cost about $100 to $150 per square foot. So a 3,000-square-foot facility means an investment of at least $400,000 today. A satellite, however, can be functional for an investment of $5,000 or even less. Success is more achievable because you avoid the constant desire to add expensive equipment and staff members since they're already present in the main practice. Associate and technician salaries are already being paid; you're just maximizing their previously underutilized professional capabilities.

But numbers aside, the greatest effect of a satellite is the almost miraculous gratitude new clients will show to you for opening in a location more convenient to them. In the early stages, the on-site staff will bond with these new clients by having more time to spend with them and their pets. Clients love the chance to chat more extensively with their pet care provider. In fact, many successful satellites have been developed across the street from busy university clinics that have less time to spend with their clients.

In practice, as in any business, you are either growing or dying. Gross revenues that don't increase must cover overhead that never stops growing. If this sounds like you, it's time to act before the economics drown you along with your associates.

Dr. Gerald Snyder publishes Veterinary Productivity, a newsletter for practice productivity. He can be reached at 536 Grand St., Hoboken NJ 07030; (800) 292-7995; or


Source: DVM360 MAGAZINE,
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