Ohio DVMs report decline in profits, remain optimistic

Ohio DVMs report decline in profits, remain optimistic

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Apr 01, 2012

COLUMBUS, OHIO — More than half of Ohio veterinarians who participated in a recent economic survey say their profits have decreased since 2009, but they are still optimistic about the future.

The online survey, conducted by the Ohio Veterinary Medical Association (OVMA), was meant to take a snapshot of the economic climate for veterinarians in Ohio and to compare it with similar national surveys like the Bayer Veterinary Care Usage Study conducted by Brakke Consulting, the National Commission of Veterinary Economic Issues (NCVEI) and Bayer Animal Health.

Results of Ohio's survey were similar in many ways to the national report, explains OVMA's Executive Director Jack Advent. One of the goals of the survey was to help Midwest practitioners understand they are not alone in their struggles over slumped caseloads and declining revenues.

The majority of survey respondents reported that, since 2009, client visits and gross income had decreased, while fees have increased. More than half of veterinary owners who completed the survey say their net profits have decreased, with 26.6 percent reporting a drop of more than 5 percent. Another 34 percent reported net profit increases, and 15 percent said their profits have remained the same since 2009.

In terms of fees, most of the veterinarians surveyed say their fees were "about right." About 26 percent of respondents believed their hospital's fees were too low. Only 12 percent of the survey respondents said their fees were too high.

About a quarter of survey respondents reported a decrease in support staff, while another 16 percent reported an increase in veterinarians in the practice. The majority of respondents said neither the number of veterinarians or support staff nor their hours of operation had changed significantly.

Purchases made since 2009 were most often for laboratory/diagnostic, radiology, surgery or anesthesia equipment. While survey respondents were optimistic about the future overall, few had plans to expand or sell their practices or add any new associates in the near future.

A mere 23 percent said they would add one or more veterinarians to their practice, and less than 3 percent reported plans to reduce their number of associates.

Few of the respondents said they plan on making major changes as a result of the current economic state. Nearly 43 percent of the veterinary associates surveyed say they plan to stay at their current practice for the next three years, while 33 percent anticipated a possible move to another practice.

As far as growth, the majority of veterinarians predicted growth in client visits and gross income over the next three years. Less than 13 percent predicted declines in both client visits and gross income.

In terms of competition, Ohio's respondents listed non-profit entities as the most damaging competitor in their area, followed by new competition from veterinary practices, changes in veterinary protocols leading to less frequent visits, the Internet and "big box" retailers. Despite years of economic decline, respondents ranked the poor economy and high national unemployment as the least damaging threat to their practices.