Rural practice owners Rexanne Struve, DVM, of Manning, Iowa, and Steven Hjartarson, DVM, of Cut Bank, Mont., believe in the mixed practice business model—rather than limiting themselves to caring only for large animals. “There are only so many small animals or large animals in a small town from which to build your business,” Struve says.
Struve has seen times of plenty and some much leaner times in her 37 years of practice. She says her “bulldog tenacity” has gotten her through, as have great staff members, smart business decisions and a willingness to serve many types of patients that others might not see. “Our client numbers and average charges are, on average, increasing regularly,” she says.
Hjartarson says his gross receipts have grown 157 percent since 2009 when he bought his practice. Both the large and small animal segments are growing steadily, with small animal slightly faster. With a growing business, he has recently added one full-time staff member. “There are times when we need more staff members, and other times when it’s just me out on calls and staff members trying to keep busy at the office,” he says. “It gets tricky to gauge how many staff members you need, so I try to shoot for the middle.”
Struve says she works toward industry benchmarks for production goals and holds annual planning meetings with her team to determine how to keep moving forward. “We do what we can to keep everyone busy, and to charge appropriately for our services and provide the best care we can,” she says.