If 2022 is the year you will finally take the plunge and set up your own veterinary practice, there is a lot to think about – whether you’re newly qualified or an old hand. Of course, going it alone can be very rewarding, giving you the opportunity to build a business you can be proud of by providing quality care to customers and their pets.1
On the other hand, establishing any new business is a big step with no cast-iron guarantees of success – so detailed planning and preparation are vitally important. In short, thinking carefully about every aspect of your new veterinary practice before you take the plunge can really make the difference between success and failure.
The first step is to think about your goals in setting up a veterinary practice. That means being clear about the services and treatments you’d like to offer, doing your research to get a feel for local demand, and weighing that against any competition you’ll be up against.
That thinking will form an important basis for your business plan, which should be detailed and realistic – and give you a framework to help guide further planning around many things, from your veterinary practice location and equipment to staffing.1
Choosing a Veterinary Business Location
Location is all-important, and a little research can go a long way towards helping you get it right. Look at everything from the level of pet ownership in nearby communities to parking and access – convenience might not be a primary customer concern, but making your surgery easy to visit could still make a big difference.1
Equally, don’t overlook the detail because trying to adapt an unsuitable property to your needs could add unwanted costs. Remember that disabled access is important, as well as ventilation for plant equipment, and the overall size of the premises – if all goes well, you may need room for growth. Finally, consider the internal look and feel of your surgery, bearing in mind that a professional look and feel can help to build customer confidence.1
How Much Does it Cost to Open a Vet Clinic?
In most cases, there are significant set-up costs associated with establishing a veterinary practice, so set a realistic budget and be sure to update it if things change. Your budget should include all start-up costs, such as premises, refurbishment, equipment, staff costs, marketing and any other expenses you can realistically foresee.1
Coupled with your business plan, which should include revenue projections and ongoing expenses too, this detailed budget will help you to make a strong business case if you need to approach lenders or investors for funding.1
Employing Veterinary Practice Staff
You may not need a large staff base from the word go, but it is also important to avoid stretching yourself too thinly by trying to do it all yourself. Clearly, your success will come down to delivering quality veterinary care, but excellent customer service, good administration and a productive, stress-free team are just as important to your long-term success.1
With that in mind, think carefully and realistically about your needs – you may require a small team to look after issues such as infection prevention and control, compliance, customer enquiries, ordering supplies, cleaning and more.1
Veterinary Practice Equipment
Starting your veterinary practice will also involve acquiring specialist equipment, either bought or leased. As well as general office furniture, that will include veterinary equipment – from thermometers to x-ray machines and examination tables – though the exact equipment you need will depend on the services and treatments you will offer.2
Remember too, that once you have equipment in place, it will require regular maintenance, so be sure to factor those costs into your ongoing business plan.
Setting up a Veterinary Practice: Regulation and Compliance
Veterinary is a closely regulated sector – overseen by the Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons (RCVS) which, among other things, keeps the Register of Veterinary Surgeons and supervises the professional conduct of veterinary surgeons.3
Therefore, any new veterinary practice in the UK must be registered with the RCVS and it is vital you remain up-to-date with its Codes of Professional Conduct. For further detail on regulation and compliance, the RCVS has produced detailed guidance on its practice standards scheme.
Vet Practice Insurance and Risks
When setting up a veterinary practice it may be tempting to see insurance for your veterinary practice as just another cost.
In truth, however, the right insurance can play a crucial role in helping to ensure the success of your veterinary practice. It’s about peace of mind, the knowledge that your veterinary practice insurance will protect you and your business against unexpected mishaps.
The right cover should help to protect you and your veterinary practice from liabilities arising from treatments you perform or medication you prescribe, or if an employee or customer is injured or suffers property damage while at your practice – as well as incidents affecting your premises and equipment.4
Need More Information?
Quotes from well-known and specialist insurers, including: