Most vets dream of owning their own veterinary practice or building one from scratch at some point over the course of their career. They want to practice high quality medicine, build a like-minded team, enjoy more freedom, and reap the financial rewards of their hard work.
However, this isn’t the only option when it comes to veterinary practice ownership. Over the last few years, veterinary partnerships have seen a surge in popularity as they offer much of the same freedom of practice ownership but with a more flexible workload, reduced financial risk and better support.
If you’re thinking of becoming a practice owner, you should carefully weigh up your options and consider the pros and cons of each before you come to a decision. Here are some of the factors to bear in mind.
If you love the idea of owning a veterinary practice but you’d prefer to avoid the headaches of starting from scratch, taking over an existing practice can be the savvy choice. This gives you the freedom to control every aspect of the business including who you hire, which medicines you stock, working schedules, pricing and even whether you incorporate complementary medicine or auxiliary services in your practice.
By buying a veterinary practice of your own, you’ll also have greater earning potential than if you simply joined an existing practice. You won’t have to divide profits with anyone and can continue to invest in your own future, nurturing an asset with the potential to grow over the course of your career.
However, becoming a practice owner does have several downsides which you should consider before making your investment. The responsibility of owning a practice can be stressful and lead to a heavy workload, even if you have a strong team of talented staff. You’ll find it more difficult to take time off or go on vacation when the success of your business lies on your shoulders alone. This makes it challenging if you like to travel or you plan to have children. It also involves owning any financial risk, even if you’re investing in an established business with a customer base.
For those who love the idea of practice ownership but want to reduce the potential stress and financial risk, buying into a veterinary practice is a potentially advantageous option. Although you won’t have the same degree of personal choice when it comes to designing the intricacies of the business, you will have another person with whom you can strategize and create the optimal business plan.
If you choose your partner carefully, you may be able to complement each other’s skills and therefore assign tasks based on strengths and talents. Partnerships also allow for greater flexibility to travel, have a family, and adjust your working hours according to your needs. You’ll know that your practice is in safe hands every step of the way.
Of course, one of the most attractive features of partnership is the reduced financial burden compared to buying your own solo veterinary practice. It may be a cost-effective option, from initial capital investment to affording the equipment you need to operate a successful business. While this reduces the amount of debt you need to take on, it can also reduce your potential income as your practice profits will need to be shared.
However, when operating as a partnership, you also run the risk of disagreements. These can be devastating to your veterinary practice as a whole and may force you to compromise on the overall vision for your business and day to day operations. Ensuring you and your potential partner are on the same page is important in a good working relationship.
Whether you buy a veterinary practice or you join an existing practice as a partner, it’s essential that you make the right choice for you, both on a financial and a personal level. What suits you best? That’s a question for you and your advisors to discuss. Both have their pros and cons which should be weighed carefully before you commit to buying or buying into a practice.