For Dani McVety, DVM, the business she founded to provide flexibility and fulfillment in her professional life has evolved into a franchise operating with 34 doctors in 13 states. Lap of Love Veterinary Hospice provides in-home palliative care for patients between terminal illness and euthanasia.
“Veterinarians are increasingly looking for more fulfilling, engaging and flexible work that allows them family time without giving up much income,” McVety says. McVety has the freedom to schedule her appointments around family time but says she still makes a full-time salary.
With a volunteer background in human hospice, McVety developed the franchise model along with her longtime friend and co-founder Mary Gardner, DVM, who has a background in software management, design and marketing. The partners also created a Web-based practice management system called “Sunshine” that’s designed strictly for veterinary hospice and euthanasia practices.
McVety says she saw a need for this type of business model as more and more veterinarians have opted not to own traditional practices due to large student loan debt and little business experience. “We train our doctors in all facets of the business and support them in their new venture,” Gardner said in a release. “In addition to providing all the print material they need, we also facilitate their Internet marketing, local advertising and editorial campaigns and provide them strong vehicles for social media communications. Most veterinarians don’t want to spend time fine-tuning search engine optimization rules for their website or analyzing Web traffic. We take that off their plate so they can focus on their clients.”
McVety and Gardner train their franchise veterinarians through online help documents and videos and audio resources. “It walks our vets through everything from Sunshine to how to pack your doctor bag to putting a pet on a stretcher and so much more,” McVety says. “On the business side, we talk about how to handle credit cards and payment requests and how to get the word out to the community more to increase awareness about this type of service.”
Franchise applicants are evaluated on how well they communicate. McVety says applicants must be compassionate, empathetic and have excellent personal skills to be successful hospice and euthanasia providers. Veterinarians selected for franchise are paid on average $150 to $200 per appointment based on the demographics of their area, travel and additional services requested by the client.
Lap of Love takes a percentage of the appointment fee but nothing from travel, after-hours care, cremation, drug sales or any other additional charges the client incurs. “This ensures that the more work/time the vet puts into the appointment, the more they are compensated for their efforts,” McVety says. Lap of Love does not provide any diagnostics such as blood work or radiographs, and it doesn’t provide long-term pain management. McVety wants to be clear with clients that Lap of Love is a short-term service. It is hospice care--a bridge between curing and euthanasia. “We want the client to maintain a good relationship with their regular veterinarian; we’ll step in when the client or pet can no longer be brought to the clinic--or they just don’t want to,” McVety says. “We don’t want to become the regular veterinarian; we simply want to be an ancillary service to assist in the end-of-life time.”
McVety and Gardner want their veterinarians to support families in the last days and weeks of a pet’s life. “The main goal of hospice care is to ensure the family is educated, prepared and feels confident that they know what, how and why to make the decision to euthanize if they need to.”
For more information about Lap of Love, go to lapoflove.com.